Vodka and Whiskey and Aquavit, Oh My: A Look at Denver's New Distilleries
Two New Distilleries Open in Denver
By Katie Coakley
There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, as Denver’s burgeoning crafts spirits scene illustrates.
After two new businesses opened this year, we’re up to a whopping 14 craft distilleries in the Denver metro area, with more on the way. But you won’t hear hard liquor enthusiasts complaining. After all, variety is the spice of life, and the addition of Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse, as well as Mythology Distillery offers new opportunities to sample a one-of-a-kind whiskey or an insanely sip-able aquavit. Here’s the rundown on two of Denver’s newest watering holes.
Situated on the ground floor of the Barrel Lofts at Tejon Street and West 36th Avenue, Mythology Distillery feels a bit like your cool aunt’s house — the single aunt who travels around the world and knows how to make a perfect daiquiri because she may or may not have had a brief affair with Ernest Hemingway. From the Indian door carved with elephants that now serves as a communal table to the tiles on the bar, the décor is distinctly global — with good reason. The owners, a group of friends who decided to open a distillery while on a heli-skiing trip to Alaska, are wanderers.
“We all travel a lot, which is a lot of the inspiration for the cocktail bar,” said co-owner Scott Yeates. “We want to bring back some of the tastes, flavors and experiences we’ve had.”
The cocktail menu reflects the peripatetic influence. Try the Honi Honi, made with Mythology whiskey, orange juice, orgeat and demerara syrups, and a spiced wine float. Or the Jabber-Ruski, which combines Mythology’s rye vodka, pamplemousse liqueur, agave, lime, rhubarb bitters, chili tincture and a ruby port float, served with a black salt rim and a flower.
Mythology is currently bottling and pouring the Chatter Wolf Rye Vodka, Feather Jester Silver Rum, Needle Pig Mountain Gin, made with botanicals from the Denver Botanical Garden, and Hell Bear American Whiskey, a proprietary blend of straight rye whiskey and straight bourbon from head distiller Scott Coburn, formerly of High West Distillery in Utah. Two Station 26 beers are on tap, as well as a selection of canned beers and a
If you go
Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse
Though Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse opened in August, it feels like it’s been a part of the RiNo art district for years. In a way, it has. Founders Robbie Adams and Kallyn Peterson took over the former Ironton Studio and Gallery, transforming the interior while retaining the artistic spirit. The expansive patio area contains multiple seating areas and plenty of eye candy, including a wine-bottle spout fountain, swinging lift chairs and beautifully verdant landscaping. Inside, you can warm up next to the fireplace or belly up to the copper bar.
Head Distiller Laura Moore (formerly of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey) has created a solid selection of spirits including vodka, a traditional gin (made with botanicals from Ironton’s own garden), Genièvre gin (a Dutch-style gin made from malted barley), a rye aquavit (an herbal Scandanavian spirit) and amaro, cacao, coffee, ginger, mint and orange liqueurs.
Ironton’s garden is for more than looks. In addition to providing ingredients for the gin, the garden also provides herbs and vegetables for the cocktails. For example, the Garden Variety is made with Ironton’s Aquavit, fresh veggies and basil oil, and is garnished with a dried vegetable rim. Another favorite is the Thai Gin Fizz, made with Ironton’s Colorado Native Gin, lemon, nitro coconut cream, soda water and a lemongrass and lime leaf garnish — add in an umbrella and you could be soaking up the sun in Phuket.
Ironton will add spirits as they’re ready, including a whiskey and an old-world style rum from a recipe that “has been lost over the years,” Adams said.
In addition to cocktails and tasting flights of their spirits and liqueurs, Ironton also serves wine and beer, including Ironmoon, a blueberry Berliner Weisse from neighboring Blue Moon Brewery.