After two years in the making, Ste. Ellie, the subterranean speakeasy from the owners of Colt & Gray , finally opened in November. The sexy ivory space (pictured), exceptionally well-crafted cocktails, and hospitable bartenders bring new meaning to the phrase “all good things come to those who wait.”
On a recent frosty night, the watering hole was packed with other cocktail lovers, yet there wasn’t the slightest air of intimidation at the door. My husband and I were quickly seated at a petite, circular two-top where we perused a thoughtful menu of libations and snacks. Beverage director Kevin Burke and his team—Matty Durgin (Steuben’s , Adrift ), Ryan Conklin (Euclid Hall , Old Major ), and Kaitlin Jones (Oak at Fourteenth , Acorn )—put together an opening menu that includes classics, but emphasizes quirky house cocktails. Take the Stupid & Clever, which features Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Laird’s apple brandy, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters. All of the drinks are labeled with two straightforward icons: One that indicates whether the tipple is stirred or shaken; and another that shows whether to expect it in a coupe, collins glass, or double old fashioned. (In the case of the Tiki Secret—an off-menu regular’s favorite—expect a tall, white, plastic sea salt canister.) The list of snacks and small plates from chef Jenna Hodges offers items such as curried corn nuts, octopus a la plancha, and duck poutine with green peppercorn gravy. But it is the trotter terrine, beef tongue pastrami, and other meats hung in Colt & Gray’s new, dedicated charcuterie kitchen that are not to be missed.
Sneak Peek: 5280 recently nabbed a preview of the cocktails that Burke will debut next week on the “Sophomore Menu.” For round two, Ste. Ellie will serve an in-vogue  Sherry Sherry Daq Daq, which is a combination of manzanilla sherry, Drambuie, lime, and sage-scented honey syrup; and the Premature Direction, which features a broken milk punch of hibiscus- and green-tea-infused vodka combined with 170-degree milk and citric acid before the mixture is strained. In addition, Burke will pour the Rural Juror, which mixes El Dorado five-year rum, Zucca rhubarb amaro, Bénédictine, lime, and coffee bitters. “Zucca…has a specific earthiness that reminds me of chicory root and New Orleans coffee,” Burke says. “It’s this sense-memory that created this cocktail.” I, for one, can’t wait to create more memories of my own at Ste. Ellie.
1553 Platte St., 303-477-1447
—Image courtesy of Ryan Conklin , Ste. Ellie