V Bar becomes 1806
In mid-2014, Club Q's owners bought The V Bar (19 E. Kiowa St., 635-9599), and bartender Adam Gasper — winner of the Best Overall Bartender Award at this year's Pikes Peak Food & Wine Expo — quietly put the place on the map for crazy cocktails. I don't mean goofy sugar bombs, but often fruit-forward concoctions with elaborate presentations and unexpected ingredients, like a savory vodka martini with 11 spices and herbs, or the Vanilla-Hibiscus Apple Orchard, whose recipe we recently printed in our Dish guide.
Now, Gasper has been gifted the go-ahead to turn the drink spot into a showcase for just that type of mad mixology, and after a few days' closure for redesign, V Bar has reopened as 1806 Craft Bar. It's a bar more in the spirit of Denver's Green Russell and Williams & Graham, minus the bitters obsession and speakeasy vibe.
Gasper says the name refers to the year in which the word "cocktail" first was used to describe a drink in print — on May 13 in The Balance, and Columbian Repository, to be precise. Describing his style, he calls it "culinary-inspired, with super-fresh ingredients, and highly decorated drinks versus the big ice-cube presentation."
Backing the pomp with attitude, new framed signs on the central wall leading up to the bar invite guests to grab a "R.A.W." ("Reduce Awkward Waiting") pre-made cocktail, gratis, while bartenders are busily building beauties (my words — I've bought some). They also implore patience, highlight daily changing "quality" ingredients, and finish with a playfully insulting taunt: "Fuck your simple drink."
Much of the neon is out and new Edison bulbs are in, warmly lighting a rustic wood back-bar wall that Gasper, a tiler and tradesman by day, personally built. And baskets of fruit now grace the bar top with ice-chilled tubs of house infusions and interesting drink mixes like cactus juice and non-common fruit purées, all from Gasper's daily Whole Foods trips.
"I want to make this more of an event than just going out to get drunk," he says. "I want to spark people's imaginations and involve them in the creative aspect. I want to change the scene of cocktails in the Springs."
Local Relic eyes Lincoln
Earlier this month, we told you about Local Relic (localrelic.com), which recently began production of unusual, limited-quantity beers, and already was buzzing about exciting plans to come. Turns out the company is finalizing lease negotiations to be the brewery anchor in the Lincoln School development at 2727 N. Cascade Ave., which also calls for restaurant, retail and residential usage. LR plans to occupy 2,600 square feet for both a production house and tasting room. Co-owner Melissa Lofton hopes to be operational there by spring 2016.
Meanwhile, the brewery just launched its club membership initiative, which Lofton likens to a CSA program for beer. Early subscribers at $45-per-month will receive four "brewer's choice" 500 ml bottles monthly; call the brewery for details.