Who says that you can’t open a bar in downtown Denver a year into the pandemic? Not Hudson Hill and Lady Jane co-owner Jake Soffes, who began welcoming locals into his newest spot, the Wild, across the street from Union Station on February 16.
It’s a lovely bar, all light woods and green plants and luminous watercolor artwork from Denver painter Noelle Phares on the walls. Tucked away off a Wynkoop Street alley across the street from Next Door American Eatery, in what was formerly an Edward Jones Investments financial office, Soffes and Denver architecture firm Unum Collaborative worked together to transform the space into an urban oasis of sorts, complete with lots of natural light during the day and comfortable places to sit at any time, both inside and, in the coming weeks, outside, on the Wild’s forthcoming walled patio.
There are also snacks and sips, just like at Hudson Hill, that will take you from your morning latte and croissant to your after-dinner cheese plate and craft cocktail. Anders Lehto is the coffee director, and his caffeinated program is built around Denver’s Middle State Coffee. “It’s a responsible brand that cares about and respects the farmers,” he says. Anders serves Middle State’s beans as classic espresso drinks and creative daily specials at the Wild. If the morning bun latte is available when you’re there, give it a try; the creamy concoction is fragrant with cardamom, cinnamon, and orange peel, and tastes like a beautiful marriage of espresso and sweet baking spices.
Reunion Bread Co.’s pastries are on hand to go with the coffee drinks, including baker Ismael de Sousa’s marvelous sweet-and-savory Venezuelan sticky buns (golfeados), churro croissants, and fruit squares, as well as crunchy granola for eating with berries and milk or atop local Noosa yogurt. Bacon and veggie breakfast burritos come from Denver’s Dis Burrito (the “new burrito game in town,” says Soffes), and there’s also the option of lighter repasts like grapefruit with local honey.
There are snacky things for afternoon and evening bites, too, from the salty house cocktail mix of almonds, fried chickpeas, and corn nuts to a tinned sardine set-up to cheese and charcuterie plates, which come with Rebel Bread’s crackly baguettes and swipes of seasonal jam. The current flavor is blueberry-bourbon, which goes beautifully with aged French mimolette cheese.
James Keiser, a native Texan, is the creative lead and bar manager for the trio of concepts under the Pearl Street Hospitality group. His cocktail list at the Wild is concise and cosmopolitan, featuring favorites like old fashioneds and daiquiris but also new drinks sure to become local classics. The Ode to Samantha is, in fact, a take on a cosmo, named for the sultry Sex and the City character, while the Another Century cocktail is Keiser’s smooth, dark play on a negroni, made with coffee-infused Campari, Eagle Rare 10-year bourbon, and Carpano Antica vermouth. The Crown is another winner, a floral-nutty-tart combination of citrusy Junipero gin, house-made pistachio orgeat, and fresh lemon.
Wine plays a larger role at the Wild than at Soffes’ other spots, with a 40-bottle list (10 options offered by the glass) curated by sommelier and general manager Suzanne Roberts, who just moved to Denver from San Francisco. She comes to the Wild with front-of-house experience at the Bay Area’s Tartine Manufacturing, the Mina Group, and Atelier Crenn. A self-proclaimed wine nerd, Roberts’ list is a testament to her passion for minimal intervention winemaking and small producers, showcasing everything from organic Olga Raffault Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley to mineral-driven Foradori Manzoni Bianco Fontanasanta from Trentino in Italy.
It all adds up to the kind of place where you long to linger over coffee and your laptop or with a glass of something more potent and a bite to eat before or after dinner. Soffes calls the Wild a modern neighborhood bar, a quiet hangout in an urban space meant to foster connection and community. We call it a welcome addition to downtown.
1660 Wynkoop St., Suite 100. The Wild is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.