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Booze, Eat and Drink

Dairy Block is Getting a Sweet New Cocktail Bar

Denverites can soon sip Deviation Distillling’s gin and whiskey cocktails at a new two-story tasting room, which opens later this summer inside the block.

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After two years of serving up botanical-forward gin cocktails in Denver’s Baker neighborhood, Deviation Distilling is saying goodbye to its current location and opening a new tasting room in Dairy Block.

Later this summer, you’ll be able to sip a refreshing cucumber basil smash or a citrusy gin paloma at Deviation’s two-story, 1,791-square-foot tasting room in LoDo, which will feature an expansive patio in Dairy Block’s alley, two large garage doors, an indoor bar, and an intimate lounge area that’s reservable for private events. At the same time, Deviation is also moving its production facility to Sheridan, south of Denver.

Though leaving Baker is bittersweet, the distillery’s co-founders Cindi and Bob Wiley and Dave Gade say they hope the move will help the brand grow and evolve. Their current tasting room will close sometime within the next two months, but for now, it remains open on Fridays and Saturdays, “We want to shift our business model to be in a more populated area where people will walk by and say, ‘What’s going on down there at Dairy Block? That’s interesting, let’s go walk-through,’” Bob says. “As far as the [tasting room] goes, then you’ll have a lot more foot traffic. This will hopefully really accelerate our brand and our brand recognition.”

The new Dairy Block bar—designed and furnished by architect Jim Pfeiffer and interior designer Chelsea Fish of UNUM: collaborative—is on track to open in late July or early August. For the space’s design, Pfeiffer and Fish drew inspiration from the distillation process, weaving in copper pipes, whiskey barrels, and light fixtures made from gin bottles throughout the space. While Deviation won’t be making its spirits at Dairy Block, it’s carried over a bit of the production facility vibe into the new space, which will also play host to regular cocktail classes and other spirit-focused workshops, Bob says. 

A rendering of Deviation Distilling’s Dairy Block space. Photo courtesy of UNUM: collaborative

The distillery, which first began making spirits in 2017, is the entrepreneurial brainchild of the Wileys and Gade, who wanted to put their own spin on craft spirits. They briefly considered opening a brewery before settling on a distillery four years ago. “We saw craft spirits 10 years or so behind craft beer, so it was the first time to take that leap forward,” Bob says.

The team began by making whiskey but also decided to start making gin while they waited for the spirit to age. Today, Deviation makes three core gin varieties, each flavored with a thoughtful blend of botanicals, grains, and citruses. Its Mountain Herb gin is infused with spruce tips, rosemary, white sage, lemon, and juniper; the Citrus Rosé is made with grains of paradise, grapefruit, tangerine, lavender, and tarragon; and the Spice Trade gin features malted rye, peppercorn, and Thai basil. “We take that culinary approach,” Bob says. “When you taste our gins, obviously there’s juniper in each one, but we really highlight the different botanicals that we put into it. We’re really bringing to life the flavors of the grain base, plus the juniper, and then all the herbs and fruits that we put into it.”

When they open the tasting room, the Deviation team will unveil a new Dairy Block-exclusive blood-orange gin with sweet basil and peppercorn, and plans to bring back the company’s limited-run, barrel-aged Spice Trade gin in the near future. Additionally, a collaboration with nearby Blanchard Family Wines, which also has a location in Dairy Block, will result in the release of an exclusive Deviation bourbon finished in Blanchard wine barrels. 

Deviation’s beautiful gin bottles. Photo courtesy of Deviation Distilling

Early in 2022, the distillery will release its three, four-year-aged whiskeys for the first time: a four-grain bourbon, a 100 percent malted rye, and a 100 percent malted barley, Deviation’s version of an American single malt. Those more traditional whiskeys will join its lineup of Barista Spirits Americano, Aztez, and Mocha whiskeys, produced in collaboration with Copper Door Coffee Roasters and Cultura Craft Chocolate.

With an eye toward travelers visiting Dairy Block, which is adjacent to the Maven hotel, Deviation plans to offer 200-milliliter bottles of its core gins in packs of three—perfect for tucking into a suitcase and taking back home to share with friends or turning into cocktails. Gin’s popularity is on the rise right now, and Deviation hopes to help lead the charge forward with its unique botanical blends. 

“Gin is a very trendy, very upscale spirit, which is great for us because that’s exactly why we wanted to produce gin—for those who are really interested in high-quality spirits,” Bob says. 

Deviation Distilling is currently open Friday and Saturday, 1–9 p.m. at 900 W. 1st Ave, Ste. 150, and will move to its new location at 1821 Blake St. in late July or early August

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