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Over the past decade or so, bartenders have restored the cocktail to its pre-Prohibition glory. Consumers have benefited from the rebirth: Artistically carved ice cubes, aromatic flourishes, and perfectly balanced sips are practically an expectation. The prices of these drinks, however, are more difficult to celebrate. No matter how delicious that $15 cocktail might be, it’s still a rare indulgence rather than a habitual treat.
That’s exactly why the Arvada Tavern is such a tall drink of, well, something better than water. The space has been operating since Prohibition ended in 1933, and subtle nods to its history abound. A backdrop of jazz emits from the speakers while the lipsticked and coiffed waitstaff flits about in swingy ’50s garb beneath the pressed-tin ceiling; the whole scene is bathed in the glow of a vintage Coors sign. As a nod to the Tavern’s immigrant founder, Adrian Kline, the menu retains plenty of German influence. (The pierogi, chicken schnitzel, and jalapeño-and-poblano-stuffed pretzel are good bets.) But the real reason I go: The cocktails are exceptional, and the majority cost $10 or less apiece.
While nabbing an aviation or Negroni for $9 is enough of a deal to make you suspicious, one sip and you’ll know you’re in good hands. I’ve enjoyed a flawless Sazerac (made with Rittenhouse rye and absinthe) as well as the Black Fashioned, the bar’s updated old fashioned, a concoction of W.L. Weller 12-year bourbon, black tea syrup, Calvados, Blackstrap bitters, and Fee Brothers Barrel-Aged bitters.
Like the country’s most fashionable cocktail bars, the Tavern emphasizes local spirits and seasonal produce, and the drinks feature top ingredients such as house-made ginger beer and lavender sugar. The Arvada Tavern’s cocktails are enticing, but it’s the lack of sticker shock that has turned me into a regular.
The Black Fashioned: $12
Suffering Bastard: $10
The Tavern Burger: $10