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Fittingly located in a dim alleyway just off Golden’s Washington Avenue, Golden Moon Speakeasy isn’t hard to find—the door is well marked, and entry doesn’t involve a password. On the frigid winter night I visited, an exquisite golden moon hung in the sky overhead, bathing the entire scene in a warm glow.
In a town dominated by beer, the speakeasy is a unique venture. The small tasting room only serves libations featuring the outstanding spirits from the nearby distillery of the same name. Golden Moon Distillery founder Stephen Gould is renowned for his highly original, often archaically inspired tipples, which he spends years researching and perfecting. Bottles of Golden Moon’s spirits are also available for purchase at the speakeasy.
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The candle-lit lounge is filled with nods to Golden’s Western roots, like the mountain scenes on the walls and a large buck statue presiding over the bar. A small stage, lit by strands of Christmas lights, hosts live music as many as five nights a week. Though the cozy booths beckon, I recommend pulling up to the large and gorgeous bar. The stock of multi-hued tinctures, bitters, and eccentric decanters and tools functions as both eye candy and conversation starters.
If you’re lucky enough, as I was, to amble inside during happy hour, you’ll find a menu of simple, mostly two-component cocktails. Organized by color in a nod to Reservoir Dogs, these drinks are all priced at a reasonable $7 each. Another plus: Golden Moon’s spirits take center stage in these simple concoctions. The slightly minty gin brings herbal complexity to the Mr. Pink, where it’s paired with San Pellegrino’s pomegranate soda. The smoky, seven-year Gun Fighter Bourbon stars alongside a gingery tamarind soda in the Mr. Brown.
But it’s the distillery’s more esoteric spirits that really wow. The Mr. Green is a favorite, featuring the distillery’s mind-blowing Redux Absinthe Verte and grapefruit San Pellegrino soda. Though simple on paper, it delivers a brisk balance of acid, sweetness, and licorice-tinged botanicals. The Mr. Purple, a feminine blend of the lusciously floral crème de violette with sangria soda, is also a winner.
When happy hour came to a close, I capped the night with a demitasse of rich drinking chocolate. Flanked with a nip of Golden Moon’s fruity-yet-dry Apple Jack brandy, it was the perfect end to a winter’s eve. As we stepped from the speakeasy’s warm glow back into the cold of the alley, I vowed to return. Next time maybe I’ll catch some music and or dig into some of the menu’s more complicated cocktails. Or maybe I’ll just keep it simple.
Upcoming live music:
February 13, Chance Trio, 8 to 11 p.m.
February 14 (Valentine’s Day), Aural Elixir, 8 to 11 p.m.
February 15, Bad JuJu, 7 to 9:30 p.m.
1111 Miner’s Alley, Golden, 720-638-1155, goldenmoonspeak.com