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Let’s face it: You might love the taste of gin, but you drink a classic martini because it gives you a killer buzz. So you will forgive us if we cocked an eyebrow recently when we noticed restaurants and bars featuring cocktails with little or no booze. Turns out, an increasingly health-conscious general public, and social drinkers looking to avoid the sluggish fog of a hangover, are fueling the growth of these so-called “low-to-no” cocktails—which offer the sophistication of a carefully crafted mixed drink with about half the alcohol, if any. “At altitude, we’ve always had to think a bit differently about our drinks,” says Troy Guard, chef-owner at Denver’s TAG Raw Bar. The drinks may still contain a splash of high-proof spirits such as whiskey, but the cocktails are often built around an apéritif wine. The result is a beverage with an alcohol content more akin to a glass of Sauvignon Blanc than a high-octane cocktail such as a margarita. What’s more, many of these low-alcohol cocktails are made with healthy ingredients like kale, beets, apples, and ginger. Sure, they may not be as hearty as a glass of organic kombucha, but they’re probably better than downing a couple of Manhattans.
Oak at Fourteenth
“Eater Does It” — ABV: 14%
Aperol, Grand Marnier, honey syrup, Kila Cava, Oak Fire bitters
This bright, light cocktail has a silky, effervescence and playful nuances of rhubarb and tangerine. oakatfourteenth.com
“Grand Torino” — ABV: 8.9%
Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Grand Marnier, grapefruit juice, lime juice, Angostura bitters, rosemary
With less alcohol than a glass of wine, this drink still has plenty of taste thanks to the Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, which is full-bodied with notes of citrus, tobacco, and cola. rootdowndenver.com
TAG Raw Bar
“Rezal” — ABV: 0%
Fresh squeezed apple juice, mint, ginger, lime, lime dry soda
This mocktail is reminiscent of a mojito, sans the booze. Still, it’s dressed up enough to make you feel like a part of the gang. tagrawbar.com
“La Rosa” — ABV: 6.8%
St. Germain, Aperol, lemon juice, Prosecco, rosemary
This refreshing, citrusy champagne cocktail is good year-round; its robust flavor comes from the Aperol’s notes of rhubarb and bitter orange. lingerdenver.com