If you see herds of people entering what looks like a walk-in freezer at Frozen Matter, one of Denver’s newest ice cream shops, don’t be alarmed. Owners and creators Josh Gertzen and Geraldine Kim are running a sweet surprise in the back of the creamery: a speakeasy dubbed Retrograde. And while it may be hidden (you have to ring the bell next to the walk-in door for entry), the 35 seats at this intimate watering hole fill up quick. On a recent Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., there wasn’t a table to spare.
The menu is bountiful with a rotating selection of craft cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as meat and cheese plates. The most important selection, however, may be which flavor of ice cream you want to pair with your drink order. That’s right—although scoop service is only available up front (for now), you can bring your cone back into the bar, where the bartenders are happy to recommend liquor pairings.
After playing around with a few pairings on a recent visit, we found a winner. Nab a scoop of the refreshing watermelon-mint ice up front—the light-yet-complex treat features both apple mint and black peppermint. Then, head back to the bar and order the “Little Green Ghouls, Buddy,” a cocktail made with Death’s Door gin, cucumber ice, and burnt rosemary (the name is an It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia reference). The team makes the cucumber ice by juicing cucumbers, freezing the liquid, and carving it into single-serving blocks. Alternate spoonfuls of the refreshing watermelon-mint ice and sips of the cocktail for the ultimate after-dinner indulgence.
530 E. 19th Ave., 720-600-6358