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While some may view South Asia as a land of religious and cultural orthodoxies, that doesn’t mean excellent liquors aren’t coming out of the region. Several South Asian cities, in fact, have made a name for themselves crafting one-of-a-kind spirits and beer, and Denver-area restaurants are spotlighting them on their drink menus as a way to elevate their dining experiences. Here are six of the Denver metro’s best spots for Indian-inspired drinks.
Spicy food is common in Indian cuisine, but Golden’s Coriander takes it one step further with Shiva the Destroyer, an aptly named tequila cocktail infused with spicy Indian chile peppers, lime juice, and orange liqueur. Another highlight of the drink menu is Old Monk rum, an Indian dark rum with notes of vanilla that’s featured in three of Coriander’s cocktails. The Punjabi Mule mixes Old Monk with ginger beer and lime juice, while the Freedom Fighter swaps the ginger beer for Coca-Cola. Perhaps most unique is the Room Temperature, the perfect choice for lovers of sweet vermouth, complemented once again by the Old Monk rum and orange curaçao. Swing by during Coriander’s daily happy hour (11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:30–6 p.m.) for $3 cocktails. 4968 Tower Road; 14799 W. Sixth Ave., Golden
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In the Nepali language, Himchuli means a “snow-capped mountain peak,” a name that puts the restaurant right at home here in the Centennial State. The bold and fruity Golden Child cocktail is a real treat for fruit lovers, adding lime and passion fruit liqueur to Jin Jiji, an Indian gin distilled with Darjeeling tea. If you want something more full-bodied, the chaitini pairs Himchuli’s house-made masala chai with splashes of vanilla vodka, Irish cream, some Contratto sparkling wine, and mango purée. Other options like the Katman Yak—a remix of the Moscow mule with Himalayan limes—and the Mumbai Mango marg made with fresh mangoes and lime juice. But if none of these sound up your alley, revisit after a few months since Himchuli frequently rotates its drink offerings. 3490 Larimer St.; 3489 W. 32nd Ave.
With four locations scattered across Denver, Little India is a great sipping spot wherever you are in the city. Looking for a sweet-and-sour refresher? Try Little India’s tamarind margarita made with tequila and the restaurant’s in-house tamarind chutney, which pairs well with an order of samosas or crunchy sesame padadam. “When you’re out dining, it’s important to have drink options that complement your food and help wash it down,” says Simeran Baidwan, the restaurant’s founder and owner. “And by bridging India’s flavors with Colorado’s drink scene, we’re able to create something special.” Baidwan also says that Little India will be releasing new beverages soon, like a sparkling raspberry lemonade flavored with garam masala and a Grey Goose–based turmeric and ginger cocktail. Various locations
Mehak India’s Aroma
Mehak India’s Aroma bridges familiar flavors and new culinary frontiers with its lineup of cocktails, whose names perfectly suit their taste profiles. The rye whiskey and bitters-based Strong & Bitter, as its name implies, is indeed strong and bitter, but also has a pleasantly unexpected nuttiness from its infusion of cashews, as well as a peppery aftertaste and an astringent tang. The tequila-based Spicy & Earthy cocktail, meanwhile, is made with a delicious mango chutney and spiced up with red chile, balancing tropical tastes with a fiery finish. Try the Light & Refreshing for a refreshing vodka and coconut water concoction, or grab an star-anise-infused Oak & Acid if you’re in the mood for bourbon—it uses aquafaba (chickpea water) for a richer mouthfeel. 250 Steele St., Suite 100, Arvada
Urban Village Grill
One of 5280’s 25 Best Restaurants in 2022, Urban Village Grill has a beverage for everyone, whether that’s a glass of Amrut, a single malt whiskey hailing from the South Indian city of Bengaluru; a smooth Indian lager like the Kingfisher or the Taj Mahal, or a can of the Bira 91 White, a citrusy wheat beer brewed with Indian coriander seeds. Perhaps its most delicious drink, however, is one of its simplest: Check out the dirty mango lassi, which blends up mango and yogurt with a shot of Old Monk rum. 8505 Park Meadows Center Drive, Suite 2184, Lone Tree
Yak and Yeti
Yak and Yeti sources beers from Spice Trade Brewing, a brewery that operated out of the Indo-Nepalese fusion franchise’s Arvada location before moving into its own brewpub in 2020. If you head to any of Yak and Yeti’s six Colorado outposts, we recommend trying Spice Trade’s Chai Milk Stout, a malt beer blended with a variety of Indian spices, as well as a delicious, Indian-inspired honey and ginger house soda. Sweet and earthy, this lightly carbonated South Asian mixer makes a cameo in a number of Yak and Yeti’s beverage options, from the Kachumber Cooler made with Montanya Oro rum, lime, and cucumber, or the Elderflower Pear, a marriage of local Breckenridge Distillery pear vodka and elderflower liqueur (the plant is a staple of South Asian traditional medicine). Various locations
Read More: the Best Indian Food in Denver
18 of the Best Indian Restaurants on the Front Range
Love This, Eat That: What to Order at Indian Restaurants (Besides Tikka Masala)
Battle of the Indian Buffets: Himchuli vs. Little India
How to Cook with Indian Spices, According to a Colorado Pro
Total Vegan Indian Restaurant Is A Haven for Plant Eaters
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Dessert at Spice Room in Highlands