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For Kitchen & Home
When faced with the eternal dilemma of what to get for your wine-loving sister or bestie with impeccable taste, browse Lakewood-based Alpine Wine Design’s website for sweet gifts made from old wine barrels and crates. Find used staves—charred black or stained deep red in a past life—transformed into attractive cheese boards, table centerpieces, and lazy Susans. On our covet list: elegant wall-mount pot racks and magnetic knife holders, which keep tools organized and within grasp. In-store by appointment, or online; starting at $20
Like fine whiskey, leather gets better with age. These table-savers (made in Denver by the talented folks at Clever Luck) are stamped with Block Distilling’s handsome logo and the slogan “Every Damn Drop.” They’re good looking and functional, and, really, who doesn’t need more coasters? Grab a set in-person at Block Distilling’s RiNo tasting room (along with bottled cocktails to-go) or online; $18.75 for four
Brighton-based Drynkware’s stainless-steel twirlers add flair to any cocktail—and reduce plastic waste; the company cites the 150 billion plastic straws and stirrers that are thrown into the trash each year as inspiration for the brand. The stylish stirrers are sold in sets of four and adorned with such decorations as SLR cameras, antlered deer, pineapples, and fleur-de-Lis. Get ’em long for a highball or short for a rocks glass; plated in gold, if you like; and, with a little planning, custom-stamped with your (or your loved one’s) initials. Find them online or at Stanley Marketplace, Zero Market, and Edgewater Public Market; $19.99–49.99
The master griller on your list will appreciate Spark’s sleek, made-in-Boulder, porcelain-enameled grills, which offer the ease and flexibility of gas grilling with the flavor of wood-fired fare. With the turn of a dial, proprietary wood-charcoal “Briqs” fire up immediately; sensors and probes inside the grill can connect to an app on your smartphone. That means you can set the temp, pop in a hunk of meat to slow-roast for hours, and walk away—your phone will ping you when the food is ready. And, in the spirit of giving, Spark Grills will send a wood cookstove to a family in a developing nation for each grill purchased. How’s that for paying it forward? Online; $599-$999
For the Liquor Cabinet
Treat your gin-loving friends and family members to a trio of gorgeous bottles from Baker-based Deviation Distilling. Its Citrus Rosé gin, tinged pink with citrus zest, herbs, and flowers, is a lovely base for a lavender-lemon martini; the Mountain Herb variety, made with Colorado grains and re-distilled with foraged native plants, smells like a day spent above treeline; and the Spice Trade gin, crafted from 100 percent rye, brims with the warmth of Szechuan peppercorns, cardamom, Thai basil, ginger, and star anise. (And if gin isn’t your spirit of choice, try Deviation’s new line of Barista Spirits, which combine whiskey and coffee beans to delicious effect.) Order online for pick-up at the distillery; $39 for three 200-ml bottles
The cocktail pros at Dry Land Distillers in Longmont dehydrate citrus peels, fruits, and herbs weekly to craft the brand’s bitters, and for the holidays, they’re stuffing gift boxes with everything needed to produce your own custom bitters. Each set contains aromatics, scripts, and ratios, and labeled bottles for the final product. Opt to include the distillery’s base spirit (it’s similar to a white whiskey) or go without—any decent neutral vodka of your choice will work. Get the kit delivered via Dry Land’s festive Holiday Trolley (check their website for dates), in-person at the distillery, or online; $45 or $79 (with the base spirit)
For the oenophile in your life, assemble a case of single-serve organic wines from Wander & Ivy. Denver-based founder Dana Spaulding (a former J.P. Morgan exec and level I sommelier) hand picks each vintage from small, family-run wineries. The California Cabernet is smooth, dark, and roasty; the French rosé crisp and playful; and all are crafted with care. Each box includes eight—or 24, if you’d like to go big—sleek mini-bottles, portioned for a standard six-ounce pour. Online, $63.92 for eight; $191.76 for 24.
In October, Rising Sun Distillery released a 600-bottle run of Dark Angel Whiskey, a complex spirit made for enjoying on the rocks. Produced with malts borrowed from Epic Brewing Company’s Big Bad Baptist imperial stout, then rested in the same brew’s barrels, this bold, dark-amber sipper finishes with whiffs of coffee and chocolate. Order online for distillery pick-up; $58
For the Pantry
Colorado Crafted gift boxes come stuffed with tasty snacks and wares made across the Centennial State, from cookies and coasters to salsa and stationary. Bring joy to your favorite tea drinker with the Homestead Box ($44.50), which includes organic teas from Carbondale’s Two Leaves and a Bud, a Colorado mug, and flour-sack tea towel designed by Counter Couture. Online; starting at $18
Head to Central Park’s Kabod Coffee Roasters for Ethiopian beans that check all the boxes: Fair trade, organic, shade grown, sun dried, and single origin. Kabod’s Sidamo roast—made with beans from small farms in Ethiopia’s Sidamo highlands—makes a true Goldilocks cup: not too dark, not too light, with delicate floral notes, low acid, and a smooth finish. Pick up in-person at Kabod’s coffee shop or order online; $47.97 for a three-pound bundle
Boulder-born KuCha House of Tea, which opened its third teahouse and retail shop in Cherry Creek last year, is a go-to stop on the Front Range for artisan teas. This winter, KuCha is offering a Taste of the Rockies sampler that includes six Rocky Mountain-themed teas, including a potent black breakfast blend sourced from India and China; a yerba mate spiced with chocolate; and an herbal tea with lemongrass and verbena. The set includes a tea ball for steeping and a jar of Copoco’s Honey from Fort Collins. Pick up in-person at any of KuCha’s shops in Boulder, Fort Collins, or Cherry Creek or order online; $39.95
While fragrant, turmeric-tinged stews may abound in the Mile High City, the ones simmered by Ms. Betty’s Cooking chef-owner Tajahi Cooke, who learned all things culinary from his grandmother Betty as a kid in Jamaica, are standout examples. His bold, Caribbean-inspired curry powder—a nod to his grandmother’s spice blends—features a heavy dash of Jamaican all-spice, plus ground chile peppers, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, black pepper, bay leaves, star anise, and much more. Use it on everything from eggs to roasted vegetables. Online; $16 for three ounces
To make her dried pastas, Sfoglina owner Jesse Albertini hand mills whole grains grown in eastern Colorado and Utah; mixes the flour into fresh doughs; and extrudes the hearty pasta into a variety of shapes. Sign a friend (or yourself) up for Sfoglina’s monthly pasta club, and they’ll get a new shape to play with—and an approachable recipe—every four weeks. Need another reason to sign up? Albertini donates five percent of Sfoglina’s profits to charity. Online (local delivery only); $9.03 per month or $108.36 for 12 months.
For the Bookshelf
Like most events, Boulder County’s annual First Bite Restaurant Week looked a lot different this year. Instead of hosting diners in restaurants, the organization released the A Bite of Boulder cookbook instead, a compilation of 40 recipes from 30 Boulder area restaurants. Highlights include paella from Café Aion, kale and apple salad from Oak at Fourteenth, Tajik plov from the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, queso from Centro Mexican Kitchen, and guacamole from Verde. Bonus: 50 percent of proceeds go back to participating restaurants. Online, $29.99
Westword journalist Jonathan Shikes earns his dough keeping up with all the beer news that’s fit to print, including a weekly roundup of what’s on tap, where, and when. His first book, Denver Beer: A History of Mile High Brewing, traces the origins of suds in the Mile High City, from when Colorado brewers were making ales for prospectors back in the 1850s to the current craft beer boom. Pick it up at the Tattered Cover or online; $21.99
There may be no better time to up your home happy hour game than winter 2020, and the pros behind some of Denver’s best bars and restaurants have contributed cocktail and appetizer recipes to this beautiful cookbook to help you on that journey. There are 22 drinks and 18 apps across a range of difficulty levels, as well as industry tips and loads of information on craft cocktail techniques and tools. Renowned and beloved institutions such as Williams & Graham, Green Russell, and the Cooper Lounge contributed recipes, as did newcomers Room for Milly, Brass Tacks, and Dimestore Delibar. If your loved ones enjoy a well-crafted sip and snack—and you want to support Denver’s hospitality industry during this challenging time—this book just might be the ideal way to do it, as all proceeds go back to the contributing bars and restaurants. Available now for pre-order online, Denver pick up only; $36. Orders for nationwide shipping begin on November 26; $49.
For the Sweet Tooth
The Inventing Room’s molecular gastronomist wizard-chef Ian Kleinman whips up unicorn Rice Krispies treats, Gameboy lollipops, and birthday cake marshmallows at his Sunnyside laboratory and sweets shop that please both kids and grown-ups. Order a GobbleBox, an edible gift packed with the best of Kleinman’s boundary-pushing bonbons: organic raspberry cotton candy, edible wallpaper, Etch-a-Sketch lollipops, and unicorn pop rocks. Add glow-in-the dark candies (blacklight included) for an additional $10. Online; $50–60
Miss Peabody’s Southern Tea Cakes founder Pamela Richard likes to say that baking is her way of remembering to love the people around her. This holiday season, love thy neighbor (or partner, friend, sister, brother, or anyone else you appreciate) with Richard’s melt-in-your mouth Southern-style tea cakes. Not familiar? Imagine a shortbread-biscuit-cookie flavored with vanilla, candied yam, lemon curd, bananas foster, or hazelnut chocolate (gluten-free options are also available). If that sort of stocking stuffer isn’t quite right, check out her mini pies in sweet potato, chess, and pecan, or go big with Miss Peabody’s Sweet Box, which includes five desserts baked by Richard and one by a female guest baker. Online; $3-35
Morgan Handmade Rations owner Kyle Morgan’s main business is chips, which he crafts using sunny yellow potatoes from the San Luis Valley, and as of October, Colorado-grown sunflower oil. But in August, Morgan debuted bags of German-style gummi bears (“honig bären”), which he makes with raw clover honey from Bee Squared Apiaries in Berthoud. Silkier and less cloying than Haribos, these treats are a surefire stocking-stuffer hit. And—this just in—the gummi bears are a finalist for a 2021 Good Food Foundation Award. Find them (and the chips) on Sundays at the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market; at shops around town, including Il Porcellino Salumi and St. Killian’s Cheese Shop & Market; or online; $4 for three ounces