Denver speakeasies are an intoxicating adventure
By Eric Elkins
What is a speakeasy, really? Back during prohibition, a super-secret entrance was a necessity when it came to serving up illegal booze under the radar. But now? Slipping through a sham facade to get into a dimly lit cocktail bar is more a matter of storytelling than hiding out from the feds. Still, surrendering to the spell of a well-crafted tale can be its own special pleasure.
Especially when you’re soaking up spirits by the glassful.
Denver is replete with speakeasy cocktail bars, from the throwback feel of Williams & Graham to the decidedly modern style of Retrograde. What they all have in common, though, is a meticulous approach to every aspect of the customer experience — from the way you get through the door, to the sources of ingredients and spirits, to the overall vibe of the room.
The granddaddy of them all is Green Russell, part of chef Frank Bonnano’s empire of chef-driven restaurants. You might miss the entrance if you’re not looking for it as you stroll along Larimer Square’s many options for bites and beverages. Follow the signs down the stairs to Wednesday’s Pie (three kinds daily), a legit storefront that leads into the subterranean bar itself.
And though it may be a tad fussy in its “house rules” – standing at the bar is prohibited and use of your cellphone for a call is an ejectable offense — the array of botanicals, fresh herbs, and unique, handmade bitters and sodas is truly impressive. Sure, you could select a cocktail from the menu, but if you really want to try something different, give your bartender the flavor profiles you’re craving (Base spirit? Sweet or spicy? Spirit forward, or not so much?) and let him or her concoct something special just for you.
For the full-on, prohibition-style, speakeasy experience, make your way over to the LoHi neighborhood for a visit to Williams & Graham, named (or nominated as) Best American Bar at the Spirited Awards several years in a row. What looks like a corner bookstore (do they make those anymore?) is actually an essential stop on any Denver drinking adventure. If you can’t get a reservation, your best bet is to arrive a little before opening and stand in line. Behind a swing-out bookcase, you’ll find a novel-length cocktail menu broken down by spirit preference. But the seasonal specials are where you’ll want to kill some brain cells. And don’t forget to dig into the small plates and desserts created by the talented Chef Matthew Thompson.
Insider tip: The lookout booth is the best spot in the house. From there, you can watch the stellar bartenders at work while taking in the comings and goings of Denver’s cocktail lovers.
Interested in the speakeasy experience but not so excited about the mustache and suspender crowd? Retrograde in Uptown may be more your thing. You’ll wonder if you’re in the right spot when you enter the brightly lit Frozen Matter ice cream shop, with its inventive flavors and homemade sodas. But don’t be fooled; that stainless-steel walk-in freezer door opens to a cozy Willy Wonka-esque bar that’s cool in all the right ways. I’m particularly fond of the Fox Mulder cocktail, but you’ll find your own rocket to outer space on the sci-fi-inspired menu.
Millers & Rossi is another speakeasy with a contemporary feel. The front room is a spacious art gallery with an eclectic rotation of modern works, but walk through the door at the back, and you’ll find yourself in a warmly lit den that almost feels like a friend’s living room (if that pal were partial to Edison bulbs and a wraparound bar). The cocktails range from updated classics (Smoked Old Fashioned, anyone?) to locally sourced creations. The bar is a bit out of the way, so maybe stop in for a drink or two before walking a couple blocks to Hop Alley for dinner, then make a night of it and visit RiNo Art District’s many hip joints and art galleries along Larimer Street.
Sometimes a speakeasy is less about the secret entrance and more about how you find it in the first place. B&GC in Cherry Creek North is a gem, hidden away in the bowels of the Halcyon hotel. Text (don’t call) 720.925.8598 for a reservation, and you’ll be directed to
ring the bronze bell outside an alley door. A host will lead you down a stairwell, past HVAC equipment, and along a hallway to the intimate room, which is well-equipped with some of the most adept bartenders in the whole damn city. The cocktail menu is eclectic, and you’ll be enchanted by the array of potions along the top of the bar.
What’s the line between a speakeasy and one that elicits the style and experience of one? The elegant Ste. Ellie doesn’t have a secret entrance or a storefront façade. And though the frosted glass door to the bar on Platte Street is understated, it certainly isn’t hidden. But descend the stairs to the sister bar and restaurant underneath big brother Colt & Gray, and you’ll find one of the loveliest rooms anywhere. Whether you settle into a cushy round booth or post up at the gorgeous marble bar, the Ellie’s friendly staff will set you up with some of the best food and drink you’ll find in Denver. Choose from the dynamic cocktail menu, or request a bartender to do up something unique. Ask Minetta to make you one of her signature tiki- inspired cocktails in a fish-shaped vessel, if you’re feeling especially courageous.
The food menu is affordable and delectable, too, and the kitchen is open until 1 a.m. Don’t miss the signature sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
Eric’s Best Bets
Though the speakeasies change up their menus often, most of them have a set of signature cocktails.
Here are some favorites to try:
Green Russell: Barrel Aged Blend
The concoction changes regularly, but whatever’s been aged is going to have a mellow, oaky flavor to complement the spirits inside. Always a winner.
Williams & Graham: Blackberry Sage Smash
Sweet and herby, with a hint of lemon. It tastes fresh and delicious, like an afternoon hike in the foothills.
Retrograde: Fox Mulder
It’s not actually on the menu anymore, but the bartenders will make it for you if you ask nicely. With two kiwnds of whiskey, chocolate bitters, and Yellow Chartreuse, you, too, will want to believe.
Millers & Rossi: The Wakeup Call
A whiskey-based cocktail with the bite of Byrrh, but what makes the drink special is the espresso and custom chocolate sourced from Hotbox Roasters and Temper Chocolates, just a few blocks away.
B&GC: Suit Separates
An unexpected pleasure, with Suntory Whiskey and Plymouth Sloe Gin, all warmed up with sherry and pineapple gum syrup. Try not to guzzle it down.
Ste. Ellie: The Loneliest Monk
Rye, Yellow Chartreuse, Underberg bitters, and one giant rock. My favorite bittersweet comfort cocktail always makes me feel a little less lonely.
Union Lodge #1: Red White Blue Blazer
The fiery floor show is just the beginning.
Is Union Lodge No. 1 a speakeasy? Not strictly,. Set in a storefront on Champa Street downtown, there’s nothing hidden about the place. But step inside, and the vibe is pure vintage, from the 19th century pre-prohibition cocktails to the old-timey attire (and attention to detail and customer service) of the staff. Co-owned by Williams & Graham alum and award-winning bartender Jason Patz, Union Lodge has everything you’d want in a speakeasy experience. The intimate room is warm, the bartenders are ridiculously friendly, and you can even order a drink they’ll set on fire.
Whichever speakeasies you choose to visit, embrace the romance of the experience. Chat with your servers and bartenders and learn what their favorites are. Let them know your tastes and preferences so they can steer you to something new and delicious. And always, always tip well.
Eric Elkins spends way too much time and money on cocktails and delicious dishes. He’s the CEO of WideFoc.us Corp, a social media agency celebrating 10 years in business, and writes young adult novels on the side. His blog about being a single father is datingdad.com.
THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO COLORADO’S BEST GOLF COURSES
by DAVID R. HOLLAND
Miller Barber, the late PGA Tour player with 11 championships, said it best about travel and golf. “I’m happiest when I have a hotel room key in my pocket.”
Denver’s golf lineup has it all – beauty, challenge, history and perfect summer weather that extends well into late fall. But many visitors don’t know that golf can be played year round in the Denver area as long as the snow stays away.
Get me talking about golf in the Denver metro area and I always return to the glory days of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club, which brought together three modern golf legends: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. If you know a member of Cherry Hills, try to snag an invitation.
After the crash and burn of The International, a long-running PGA Tour event held at the Golf Club at Castle Pines, welcome news came following the return of the PGA Tour to Cherry Hills with the BMW Championship in 2014. And one can’t forget that Parker hosted the 2013 Solheim Cup at the private Colorado Golf Club.
So what’s the good news? A couple of years ago it was announced that the state’s first new golf course in years will be built in Windsor, north of Denver. RainDance National Golf Club, designed by Fred Funk, will be located less than three miles from its sister course – the 27-hole Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club.
Here in Denver, where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains, a travel golfer can stage his or her own bit of Colorado golf glory at a multitude of daily-fee and municipal golf courses. Here are some of my favorites.
Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton
You could wander the planet for 100 years and might not find a setting so incredible for a golf course. Located in Roxborough State Park just south of Denver, geologists say it took 300 million years for the slanted, jagged cerise rocks to form.
It took Robert Trent Jones Jr. a fraction of that time to design Arrowhead Golf Club, one of the most-photographed golf courses in the world. Jones said the cathedral-like conglomerate rocks and the rolling terrain make it a must-play.
“When I first saw the site of the golf course at Roxborough Park, I was overwhelmed by the magnificent gifts that nature has bestowed on the property. The cathedral-like rocks that jut up from the rolling terrain at the foothills of the Rockies is a majestic setting in which to establish a unique golf course,” Jones said.
Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield
Built in 1999 by David Graham and Gary Panks, the Omni Interlocken Resort has inspiring vistas of the Rockies between Denver and Boulder and is a year-round resort with only the best hotel amenities.
Eighteen-hole combinations measure more than 7,000 yards with the nines named Eldorado, Vista and Sunshine. The terrain is rolling hills and more than 300 acres, but was almost treeless until nearly 3,000 were planted.
CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora
CommonGround Golf Course is a prime example of what happens when you take an old Air Force base golf course that has already been renamed once and put it in the hands of Tom Doak, one of America’s best classical, minimalist course architects.
What you get is a parkland/links mixture that is walkable and affordable – just what the Colorado Golf Association, owners of the course, ordered.
This plot of land was once the Lowry AFB Golf Course, but when the base closed in the mid-1990s, the course morphed into Mira Vista Golf Course. The CGA’s and CWGA’s dream, however, was a completely new golf course. That’s when Doak and his Michigan-based Renaissance Golf Design team were hired to transform the 350-acre site.
Today CommonGround is dedicated to growing the game with a learning center for kids and adults, plus a caddie program for girls and boys who have finished the eighth grade.
Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course in Castle Rock
Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course is a dream course that gathers sweeping views of the front range from Long’s Peak to Pike’s Peak. High points, rocky buttes, thick native grasses and scrub oak feature lots of wildlife. Fairways are wide with big landing areas framed by large, grassy moguls, bunkers, greenside lakes bumped against sand and stacked rock, and massive, contoured, bentgrass greens with tough, thick collars.
The City of Castle Rock wanted a fun course, and that’s what golf course architect Jim Engh delivered. Engh took city administrators to a high ridgeline that defined the back nine and pointed to placement of holes. The vision transferred from Engh to the administrators. Light bulbs went off in their heads – fun.
Fossil Trace Golf Course Club in Golden
Busy and fun, Fossil Trace Golf Club is in the shadows of Table Moutain, within sight of the Coors Brewery, and it only takes one stroke to notice the history of this land. The chimney of a brick kiln remains in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 first hole – right in the sightline of your second stroke.
Examine the 20-foot pillars of sandstone positioned in the fairway of the par-5 12th, and then determine how to hit over them on your journey to the green. This hole serves as a reminder of the property’s quarry history. Clay-mining equipment remains in place where, 64 million years ago, bird tracks, palm fronds and triceratops footprints were frozen in time. A split-rail fence near the green leads to a viewing area for the fossils.
Golf course architect Jim Engh, a native of North Dakota, built an impressive portfolio, beginning with offices in Colorado and now known throughout the world. His award-winners in Colorado besides Fossil Trace include the ultra-exclusive private Sanctuary in Sedalia; Red Hawk Ridge in Castle Rock; Four Mile Ranch in Canon City; Lakota Canyon in Newcastle; Redlands Mesa in Grand Junction; Harmony Club in Tinmath; and Pradera in Parker.
The Ridge at Castle Pines North in Castle Rock
Some dime novelists say Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody once described the area where The Ridge at Castle Pines North sits as one of their favorite stomping grounds.
The Ridge at Castle Pines North is considered by many as the premier upscale, public-access golf course in Colorado. Since opening in July 1997, the Tom Weiskopf design has won awards from just about every golf population – national and statewide – and was once ranked No. 49 on Golf Magazine’s list of top 100 public-access golf courses.
Look west and the panorama includes Pikes Peak, Devil’s Head and Mt. Evans. Look closer and you find front-range foothill scenes that feature sandstone rock formations, gambel oaks, Ponderosa pines and many varieties of wildlife. In fact, The Ridge left room to roam for migrating elk. Its double-loop layout preserves wildlife corridors.
Hilton Denver Inverness in Englewood
One of the only semi-private golf courses in the Denver area, this J. Press Maxwell championship course is beautiful, playable and challenging. It requires strategy and a thoughtful approach, thanks to gentle but unforgiving slopes, rolling hills and deep bunkers. Water comes into play on 11 of the 18 holes, and the golf course’s par-3 holes test the precision of even the best golfers.
As for the hotel, there’s a view of the Rocky Mountains in its front yard and an 18-hole championship golf course in its backyard. President Bill Clinton slept here and took on the tight, sloping fairways, rolling hills and fast, undulating greens.
Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Tom Babb opened the course in 1973 and did plenty for Colorado golf during his 27 years of working here. Babb served as director of golf at Inverness from 1973 to 2000. He was there from the very beginning, helping prepare the course for its opening, even to the point of operating some heavy earth-moving equipment as the holes were constructed.
Shortly after John Elway arrived to play quarterback for the Denver Broncos, his first contact to improve his game was Babb. The friendship evolved into the John Elway Celebrity Classic.
Today you can enjoy all the work and landscaping beauty of Babb and his associates with this classic golf course south of downtown Denver.
Did you know there are two excellent daily-fee golf courses near Denver International Airport? Here’s a synopsis of the two awesome layouts.
Murphy Creek Golf Course in Aurora
Bring your “A” game when you play Murphy Creek, a high-plains gem just minutes from the airport. It was opened in 2000 and was designed by Ken Kavanaugh of Arizona.
Murphy Creek is a high-plains test. It will also reward you with one of the most enjoyable, affordable rounds of golf you will find in a new golf course today. Watch out for its arroyos, wiry and thick fescue rough, and bunkers surrounded by more rough.
Be sure to spend some time in the clubhouse, dine in Murphy’s Tavern, and see the sites. The 1920s farmhouse decor includes white siding with steep-pitched green roofs, and the cart barn replicates a real barn. The range ball machine is housed in a silo, and former alfalfa fields are littered with old, rusting farm equipment, a horse-drawn wagon and an original barn.
Murphy Creek was ranked in Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 10 Best New Courses for 2002” and was the site of the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver
Welcome to Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, Denver’s premiere golf facility. Just minutes from DIA, this beauty is home to an award-winning 18-hole Championship course, the popular 9-hole par-3 course, and a great practice facility.
It has also hosted the Colorado Open numerous times and was designed by Denver’s Perry Dye, son of legendary designer Pete Dye. This is big, bold prairie golf that was 12 years in the making.
The drive to the course is all prairie, then suddenly here’s a wall of old cottonwoods and wetlands. Six holes are sculpted around the protected native areas and offer strategic shots. No. 10, a 417-yard par4, is encircled by dense growth. Other holes present open prairie tests running along a ridge.
“Golf courses near DIA are just a natural for businessmen and their clients flying to Denver,” Dye said. “And at Green Valley Ranch you can’t even hear an airline. You are going to see more businessmen playing morning golf, then leaving for the airport and arriving at their gate in 30-40 minutes.”
Longing For Some Competition?
The Colorado Open heads a list of many tournaments scheduled each year in the Denver Metro area. The Colorado Open is a yearly championship staged for seniors, women and adults. 2017 marks the 14th men’s running of this championship at the beautiful Green Valley Ranch Golf Club.
City Park Golf Course also hosts the Denver City Amateur Championships each summer with men’s and senior’s divisions. Call for information.
There are also countless charity events, so if you want to play Sanctuary, a bucket list golf course, just give them a call and ask about scheduled charity events.
Sky Ridge Medical Center is also hosting a tournament series this summer that includes four separate events staged at Inverness, The Ridge at Castle Pines North, Blackstone Country Club and Colorado National Golf Club. Another worthy tournament is the 15th Annual Ortho Colorado Triple Play Golf Tournament benefiting The First Tee of Denver, set for June at City Park Golf Courses.
GOLDEN, COLORADO SHINES OUT WEST
by BRITTANY BANDEMER
It’s no secret that Colorado’s real estate market is booming, spurred by an influx of out-of-staters making the Centennial state their home. While many consider Denver or Boulder favorable places to settle down, they often overlook one of Colorado’s most beautiful and understated municipalities: the city of Golden.
Golden rests in a basin against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, below the North and South Table Mountains. On one side the city is marked by the prominent “M” for the School of Mines; on the other with the infamous “G” of Golden. Golden’s prime location serves as a focal point between Denver, Boulder and Evergreen, and offers a direct route to Black Hawk and canyon access – bypassing traffic to the slopes.
The city’s history is traced to its establishment in 1859. Proudly proclaimed across its welcome banner in the heart of downtown, Golden’s slogan is simply, “Where the West Lives,” and this declaration couldn’t be truer. This city is rich in history and continues to embody that spirit with barn wood trimmings, stucco-styled homes and architecture reminiscent of the Old West.
Yet for all its storied past, Golden is becoming increasingly modern, with red cobbled brick lining pedestrian walkways and immaculate landscaping – lending the town the uniquely dichotic feeling of being in two periods at the same time.
While technically a college town, home to the School of Mines, Golden does not resonate with that trait. A top-notch university, The School of Mines was recently rated the top engineering school in the nation by College Factual. Clearly, the college is not home to lackadaisical students. In fact, these students are ambitious and disciplined learners, attending the university not for a good time, but for the most advantageous career achievable. While they may go out on the weekends to the Swig Tavern, students are more likely to spend their free time studying or experiencing the great outdoors.
Golden’s myriad outdoor activities attract athletic enthusiasts by the droves. Colin Endsley, an outdoor adventurer who has lived in Golden for a little over a year says, “Golden is great in that you can walk in any direction from town and find some trail to fall into,” and truly there aren’t enough trails to behold. Golden’s trails are perfect for hikers and cyclists – Lookout Mountain serving as a popular route for the avid cyclist – and the views from each trail are spectacular, ranging from downtown Denver to DIA and back to the formidable Rockies.
Yet the ample trails are just a sampling of what Golden offers. There are also water sports such as tubing and kayaking (when the water flow is safe) from the Clear Creek River, and fishing for Rainbow and Brown trout for the avid angler.
Of special note is Golden’s popularity for the extreme sport of hang gliding. Windy Saddle Park offers a great launch point for hang gliders, and these colorful contraptions can be seen sashaying down the mountain most Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months.
Outdoors aside, one of Golden’s leading attractions is its quaint downtown, a charming and unassuming destination for tourists and locals alike. Downtown Golden is privileged to have so many locally owned restaurants and shops that could keep the body feasting and the mind entertained for days. Home to the infamous Coors Brewery and seasonal farmer’s market, the area embodies everything regionally Colorado.
Notable boutiques include Spinster Sisters Co., which now offers three locations in the Denver metro area (Golden serving as its home base). Opened in 2011, its founder Kelly Perkins calls her products “an alternative to the witches’ brew of
chemicals that many mod
ern skin care products represent.” From body scrubs to men’s shaving cream, Perkins and her team will keep your skin singing and fantastically fresh, no matter how dry Colorado’s air may be.
Sharing a storefront with Spinster Sisters is Baby Doe’s, a retailer showcasing relaxed and bohemian styles for the laid-back mountainista, as well as the craftsmanship of more than 40 regional artisans. Now under new ownership, Baby Doe’s offers a fresh look and feel that is sure to keep visitors stopping in to shop at one of the downtown area’s well-known establishments.
While the shopping is great
, the dining options are varied and delicious. If you’re looking for a good beer and a good time, there’s the Golden Moon Speakeasy and Buffalo Rose with live music weekly. If you’re following your taste buds and looking for superb dishes, you can venture over to Woody’s Pizza or Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar; Indulge has perhaps the best iced tea in Colorado, which they’ll bring to you by the pitcher.
When you’re ready for dessert, a must-visit is the family-owned and operated Gold Mine Cupcakes. Recently named by MSN.com as one of the top 16 best bakeries in the U.S., the bakery offers delicious, made-from-scratch creations served fresh by an even sweeter staff. Gold Mine Cupcakes will surely satisfy your sweet tooth with its assortment of 35 flavors and specials daily.
With all these successful businesses and the city’s incredible geography, it’s no wonder people are choosing to explore and settle down in Golden. The once outdated homes are constantly under renovation and are becoming prime real estate for those looking to live the mountain lifestyle, while not sacrificing proximity to the Denver area.
In the future, more local businesses will continue to take root and make their home in Golden. Thoughtful development and growth will only add to the area’s allure as a destination spot for visitors looking for something unique and special, and locals wanting to stake their claim in this unsung gem of Colorado’s landscape.
SUMMER VACATION AWAITS IN CLARK, COLORADO
by MONICA PARPAL STOCKBRIDGE
When it comes to vacation, many people just want to get away from it all. Whether that means powering down from a high-stress job in the city, or physically abandoning day-to-day obligations, we often feel compelled to leave home in order to relax, rest and perhaps even enjoy a new adventure.
Arriving for the first time at The Home Ranch – the state’s only Relais & Chateaux affiliated guest ranch and all-inclusive, family-friendly summer vacation destination – there’s a very real, very refreshing sense of isolation. Nestled in the heart of the Elk River Valley, 18 miles north of Steamboat Springs and bordering thousands of acres of Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest land, you immediately feel a long distance from wherever you journeyed. But that distance is welcome. You begin to unwind from the bustling, city-light drenched, mile-a-minute lives we lead. Fresh mountain air expands your lungs, and blue skies dazzle your view. As General Manager Brooks Bradbury and Guest Services Manager Selina Heintz greet you upon check-in, they take your bags with warm smiles and a delightfully unexpected greeting: “Welcome Home.”
Finding Home in Clark, Colorado
It all began nearly 40 years ago, when Toledo, Ohio residents Ann and Steve Stranahan (brother of George Stranahan of Colorado whiskey fame) met Ken and Sharon Jones, cattle ranchers from Montana. The four decided they would start their own ranch. The Stranahans were vacationing in Steamboat Springs with their four children when they discovered a 580-acre swath of alpine ranchland in the Elk River Valley, in a small settlement called Clark. This was during what locals call a “Three-wire-winter” – meaning the snow was so high that it reached the tops of the barbed-wire fences separating the roads from the cattle ranches.
From first glance, the Stranahans were transfixed with the area. Later, Ann would write a poem about the experience of seeing the land for the first time, exploring the several hundred acres on cross-country skis with Steve.
The Stranahans purchased that land, “laying impermanent claim,” as Ann writes, to the natural beauty they discovered there. The land they would eventually transform into a guest ranch would change their lives, and change the face of Clark itself. It was here they established The Home Ranch.
Staying at The Home Ranch
The owners intentionally modeled the ranch after early western homesteads – not the imitation ski chalets popular in the late 1970s, but a more rustic, low-lying look somewhere between a high-country cabin and a farm cottage. As the property has grown, they have added private cabins alongside the main lodge house. Today, there’s a barn that hosts Wednesday night dances, and a spot for weekly bonfire cookouts. There’s a garden and greenhouse, a downright swanky chicken coop, and a hay pasture for grazing horses – 78 of them to be precise, including an irritable yet adorable miniature horse and a beloved donkey named Poncho.
All of this creates a summertime playground for guests of all ages and abilities, who plan their weeklong stays with equal parts respite and recreation. You might learn to fly fish in the gently babbling Elk River, or perfect your horsemanship skills on long back-country rides. You might choose to join a guided hiking trip along the 11-mile Zirkel Circle – practically untouched by Front Range 14er-baggers – or charter a hot air balloon ride for an exhilarating journey high above the rugged peaks. There are constant diversions for kids, from horseback riding to pond fishing to arts and crafts – and, of course, plenty of afternoon ice cream breaks at the local Clark Store.
For many, simply wandering the property between hearty gourmet meals proves fulfilling. That’s because The Home Ranch treats guests to all-inclusive haute cuisine by Executive Chef Jonathon Gillespie, who sources locally (and we mean locally) as much as possible. Beef comes from neighboring Sand Mountain Cattle Company, and charcuterie is made in-house. Pork, poultry and produce, including lettuce, carrots, corn, peas and radishes, along with herbs and flowers, are raised and grown onsite. Plus, desserts by Pastry Chef Douglas Short round out every meal, and freshly baked cookies stacked on a platter in the foyer make irresistible late-night snacks.
During meals, guests sit at long community tables, sipping rare wines and Colorado craft beers, unwittingly laying the foundation for lifelong friendships. What might begin as a conversation over breakfast flapjacks and fresh-squeezed orange juice will often continue over barbecued chicken and grilled whitefish on the patio at lunch. By dinnertime, over dishes of Colorado lamb chops or Parisian-style gnocchi with Home Ranch garden greens, those same guests are exchanging family photos and email addresses, already making plans for a return trip at the same time next year.
The Ranching Way of Life
Part of the magic of The Home Ranch is how it trots the line between high-class and high-country. There’s an admirable success in providing a luxury experience on an otherwise harsh landscape (the growing season is an impossible 59 days, and winters regularly reach 40 degrees below zero). Yet, that unflinching emphasis on hospitality lives alongside an undying respect for the land and those who have lived and worked it for generations.
In fact, the Home Ranch and its neighboring ranches have made it a mission over the years not only to create a destination getaway for discerning travelers, but to protect and preserve the surrounding land and ranching way of life by placing more than 8,000 acres of the Upper Elk River Valley into a permanent conservation easement, meaning the land will remain undeveloped for generations to come.
This wasn’t always a popular notion in a place where land developers mine profits in hills that were once mined for gold. Finding like-minded individuals to keep the land pure and undeveloped, however, has enhanced the beauty of the landscape. Over its lifetime, The Home Ranch has grown from 580 acres to 4,000 – land that encompasses hayfields and hillsides where horses graze and calves are born in the spring, where herds of deer gather and graze, and where guests can hike, bike, and fish on land that likely will remain this beautiful for centuries.
It may seem impossible that this place – with its vibrant green hills, distant frosted peaks, gentle horses and graceful river – could ever truly be home. But in the communities that form over meals and around bonfires, in the shared experiences on the land, and in the stories of days gone by, there lies an inescapable sense of belonging. You may be far from home, but you’re right where you need to be.
Learn more and book your stay at homeranch.com
A Home of Your Own
Some guests visit The Home Ranch year after year before finally deciding to move permanently to Clark. For those who cannot imagine life anywhere else, there’s the Murphy-Larsen Ranch: a conservation-oriented residential project managed by The Home Ranch that offers ownership opportunities in a breathtaking setting. Learn more at www.murphy-larsen.com
A GUIDE TO COLORADO’S TOP SUMMER FESTIVALS
by MARIAN TUIN
Picture yourself surrounded by the peaks of the Rocky Mountains; a pristine mountain breeze whispers across your skin, and rays from Colorado’s warm summer sunshine engulf you. You stand in the open air, perhaps holding a locally crafted beer or a crisp glass of wine. The music reverberates; sounds authored by the likes of Grammy award-winning country sensation Keith Urban, or the bluesy funk of Colorado’s own Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats.
Summer is the epicenter of Colorado’s festival season! It’s a place where your senses are stimulated by the sights, sounds, tastes and experiences embedded in our beautiful, sundrenched days and warm, star-filled nights. There are plenty of offerings from the city limits to the mountain valleys. And the collective 2017 lineup promises something for everyone: from music and bike enthusiasts to brewers, balloonists and wine connoisseurs … we even tracked down festivals for yogis!
If you’re ready for the freedom that the vibe of summer and outdoor experience brings, you don’t have to miss a beat researching and planning because we’ve done the work for you. We have compiled a list that highlights some of Colorado’s unique festivals scheduled for 2017, and captured exclusive insight from some of the state’s leading festival founders and producers.
So whether you find yourself surrounded by the peaks of Telluride or the lofty cityscape of Denver, you are bound to have a memorable experience.
FOR THE MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL SEEKER:
Jazz Aspen Snowmass
June Experience – Aspen
“The festival that we do at the end of June is how Jazz Aspen started back in 1991,” according to Jim Horowitz, founder and curator of the elite Jazz Aspen Snowmass June and Labor Day Experiences.
The experience features four nights of headline concerts at the Benedict Music Tent in Aspen. In addition, there are multiple shows at the JAS Cafe upstairs at the Aspen Art Museum and downstairs at The Little Nell. They also host nightly complimentary Lawn Parties on the music tent grounds before the main shows, featuring live bands and an upscale array of food and beverage.
June 23 – July 1, 2017
July 1 – August 4, 2017
BRAVO! VAIL Music Festival – Vail
The festival’s 30th season features four of the world’s greatest orchestras, internationally renowned musicians and acclaimed soloists. In the breathtaking setting of the Rocky Mountains, revel in classical masterworks, soulful jazz and electrifying pops programs. Featuring residencies by four returning ensembles: The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Soloists include violinists Joshua Bell, Simone Lamsma, James Ehnes, Gil Shaham and Leonida Kavakos; cellist Steven Isserlis; trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling; and pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Yefim Bronfman and Inon Barnatan.
Hot Air Balloon Rodeo – Steamboat Springs
The Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park events explore the beauty of artistry and color both on canvas and in the sky. This stunningly visual weekend brings the sleepy offseason to life in Steamboat Springs and is a celebration of summertime.
July 8-9, 2017
Telluride Yoga Festival
This four-day event is a paradise for yogis and features more than 100 different activities including yoga, meditation, music, hiking, dining, SUP yoga and more. Guests have access to more than 50 inspiring and motivating presenters contrasted by the intimate and historic venues throughout the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village.
July 20-23 | tellurideyogafestival.com
Rockygrass Festival – Lyons
Rockygrass is the second of three events Planet Bluegrass produces annually and serves as a celebration of the town of Lyons’ strength and resilience. Originally held just 10 months after historic 500-year floods devastated the town, it is known today as one of the great traditional bluegrass festivals in the world.
Planet Bluegrass’ Brian Eyster gave us more insight into the history saying, “In 1992, the volunteer-run Rocky Mountain Bluegrass reached out to Planet Bluegrass to keep the festival alive. We found a property in Lyons along the St. Vrain River to host that event and two years later we purchased the property, known today as the Planet Bluegrass Ranch.”
July 28-20, 2017 | bluegrass.com/rockygrass
Breckenridge Food & Wine -Breckenridge
Breckenridge’s Main Street Station Plaza transforms into a charming mountainside vineyard each year to host the Food and Wine Festival. Delivering a unique wine-tasting experience, you’ll find an array of varietals created by fine wineries. From the soft and smooth to the unabashedly bold, wine lovers will get more than their fair share of delicious sips.
July 29, 2017
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival – Lyons
Rounding out the three events produced by Planet Bluegrass, the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival is dedicated to spending a glorious summer weekend celebrating songs and stories from around the musical and geographic world.
Brian Eyster shared that community is at the heart of the event. “I love to walk through the crowd or the campgrounds and watch this unique spirit of community,” he says. “At our festivals, there is only one single stage. Guests set up their tarps and spend the entire day sharing music, making lasting friendships with their neighbors and reconnecting with friends from past festivals. People aren’t on their phones, they’re very present, connecting with their fellow Festivarians through this communal music experience in this profoundly beautiful place.”
August 18-20, 2017 | bluegrass.com/folks
Vail Jazz Party – Vail
The Vail Jazz Party could be considered a maestro ushering in the grand finale of the Vail Jazz Festival and the beautiful Colorado summer season. It serves its patrons a jam-packed lineup with more than 35 headliners, who join together to play in group performances, multi-artist jam sessions, and inspiring multimedia tributes to jazz legends.
Aug 31 – Sep 4, 2017 | vailjazz.org
Jazz Aspen Snowmass – Snowmass
Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Experience is nestled in the ethereal setting of Snowmass Village Town Park. This luxurious open-air event is a dance-oriented extravaganza of popular, R&B, rock, funk, blues, world, and soul music. With the spectacular Elk Mountain Range as a backdrop, this three-day experience welcomes to the stage Keith Urban andMaroon Five, among others in 2017.
Event visionary and mastermind Jim Horo-witz disclosed, “The biggest challenges over the years is what it takes to put together a stellar, world-class program of artists. We’ve managed, but clearly that’s the hardest part of what we do. It all flows from there because if the program isn’t good enough, then the people don’t come, or they don’t buy as many tickets.” Summarizing, “That really is our DNA. We are a music presenter, whether it is for 150 people listening to jazz or 10,000 people listening to Stevie Wonder. People are coming to us to hear a great musical performance.”
September 1-4, 2017 | jazzaspensnowmass.org
Telluride Blues & Brews – Telluride
Known as the festival capital of Colorado, Telluride begins to wind down its festival season with Blues & Brews. This celebration of blues, funk, jam bands, indie, rock, gospel and soul performances is paired with some of the best microbreweries in the country.
September 15-17, 2017 | tellurideblues.com
FOR THE URBAN FESTIVAL GOER:
Central City Opera 2017 Festival
This acclaimed summer festival features Bizet’s Carmen and Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, performed in repertory in the historic Central City Opera House, and three one-act operas with limited runs: Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace, Douglas Moore’s Gallantry, and Amy Beach’s Cabildo, performed in smaller venues in Central City. Founded in 1932, Central City Opera is the fifth-oldest professional opera company in the country, renowned for its exquisite world-class productions. Just 35 miles west of Denver in the charming mountain town of Central City, the company owns 28 Victorian-era properties, including the 550-seat jewel box opera house built in 1878. This is a must-see for opera aficionados!
July 8 – August 6, 2017
Greeley Stampede – Greeley
Greeley boasts one of Colorado’s largest and most historic summer festivals and rodeos. Dating back to the 1800’s, Greeley’s Fourth of July celebration keeps the “Yeehaw!” in Colorado’s Western culture.
June 23 – July 4, 2017 | greeleystampede.org
Global Dance Festival – Denver
Global Dance showcases Colorado’s passion for dance music annually and has grown to become one of the premiere summer music festivals statewide. After spending years at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the dance party expands its boundaries and finds a new home at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in 2017!
July 21-22, 2017 | globaldancefestival.com
Underground Music Showcase (UMS) – Denver
The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase marks its 17th anniversary in 2017. It lays claim as the biggest independent music festival in the Rocky Mountain region and, more importantly, is the premiere showcase for Denver’s incredible local music!
July 27-30, 2017 | theums.com
ARISE Music Festival – Loveland
Arise boasts that it is more than a music festival, rather a movement. It is a music, yoga, activism and co-creative camping event located 65 miles north of Denver, at Sunrise Ranch. Now in its fifth year, it is proving its staying power, and this year’s lineup includes headliners Atmosphere and Ani DeFranco.
August 4-7, 2017 | arisefestival.com
Velorama – RiNo Arts District, Denver
This three-day biking, food, music, shopping and crafting extravaganza will overtake 12 blocks of the RiNo Art District for a street party that celebrates biking culture in Colorado. Daily family-friendly festivities are offered, making this an all-ages event that promises something for everyone.
August 11-13, 2017 | veloramacolorado.com
Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest – Fort Collins
Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a free music festival held in historic downtown Fort Collins. Prominently featuring a Colorado-based lineup, they host a variety of genres, including a one-of-a-kind, family-centered Kids’ Music Adventure.
August 11-13,2017 | bohemiannights.org/
A Taste of Colorado – Denver
One of Denver’s most delicious weekends serves up some of the state’s favorite food. More than 50 Colorado restaurants and food establishments gather in downtown Denver’s streets over Labor Day weekend to give patrons A Taste of Colorado. Combined with six stages playing live music, carnival rides, shopping and much more, this is hands down one of Colorado’s biggest celebrations of the year.
September 1-4, 2017 | atasteofcolorado.com
BY MARIAN TUIN
In its two and a half decades, Country Jam has built much more than a festival. This four day country music-camping-pool party-extravaganza is considered one of the biggest parties in Colorado. Celebrating their 26th year in 2017, they hosted nearly 92,000 attendees who welcomed to the stage some of the most iconic country artists like Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean and Thomas Rhett.
We had boots on the ground to give you an exclusive glimpse into this quintessential Colorado experience. One that has captured the essence of community that comes together to celebrate country music. Every year their community grows to include new attendees, but its core group thrives and continues to returns time and again, some of them for upwards of ten years. We met a few. They camped near us.
Country Jam is more easily described as an energy. It’s people who release the mundane restrictions of life and exchange them for a few days to dance, camp and party. For those who indulge, it awards freedom – of spirit, mind and body. It’s where the base instinct of humanity finds a moment to exhale and freely live life without schedules or limitations. For a few days, life is simpler and reminds those that experience it, it is a good way to live.
Country Jam is a place where megastars like Jason Aldean come to play and stay on stage well into the early morning hours saying, “I’m not going to do much talking. I figure you all came to listen to music and get drunk, so I’m going to play you some music.”
Its stage is a place where artists like Randy Houser expresses gratitude proudly to his talented band and loyal fans, acknowledging he wouldn’t be standing there without both. It’s a place where Frankie Ballard asks to borrow a hat from a fan in attendance to keep the setting sun out of his eyes as he performed, and is generously given one.
Country Jam is lighters to the sky, inspired by songs that promise a better day. It’s a place where a perfect stranger sings in unison with you because your bond is universal, it’s music. It’s hot, it’s dusty. If you camp, it is basic. Sometimes in between sets, you fall asleep. It’s okay. Many do. It’s essential when you are experiencing the unmatched energy Country Jam emits.
We learned that Country Jam is a festival that no review could encapsulate entirely. It is best experienced. And it’s certainly not too early to dust off your boots and brush up on your two step. Country Jam will be back for their 27th season in 2018 and has already announced Florida Georgia Line as the headliner of what promises to be another irresistibly danceable, star studded party.
By Melanie Locke
If you’ve ever set foot in Denver you may have noticed the many bars and breweries that appear everywhere you look. Denverites are fond of all things beer — which explains the staggering number of breweries based out of Denver. With more than fifty craft breweries in the city, there’s never a shortage of beer on tap.
With Denver’s ever-expanding population and popularity, there’s no scarcity of thirsty customers ready to brew-hop throughout the city. The growing population, and Denver’s reputation as a mecca for young adults, caters perfectly to craft brewery culture. With environmentally-friendly modes of travel like biking, walking, and public transportation growing in popularity throughout Colorado (we’re looking at you bike-crazy Boulder and Fort Collins), getting home safely from the local bar is easier than ever before. And with craft breweries popping up everywhere you look, Denverites have more than one locale to choose from.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the coolest craft breweries in Denver. Whether it’s a quirky and cool environment or a long-standing craft beer powerhouse, these seven breweries deserve a taste.
Renegade Brewing Company
925 W 9th Ave
The Renegade Brewing Company story begins with a home brewing kit. From there it grew to be a Denver beer-enthusiast favorite. With exposed brick walls and glass garage doors that open for warmer weather, this warehouse-style establishment is known for thinking outside the box with their “Offensively Delicious” taproom choices.
Beer to try: Hiatus — This oatmeal ale is infused with cold coffee for a dark and bold flavor.
Great Divide Brewing Company
2201 Arapahoe St
This Denver craft-brewing landmark is known throughout the country for their flavors, and their environmentally and socially responsible business philosophy is an added bonus. With an awards list as long as your arm, Great Divide has been brewing award-winning beers since the beginning. Located in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood, stop by before or after a Rockies game for great brews and an open, friendly environment.
Beer to try: Orabelle — A Belgian-style ale brewed with barley, wheat, oats, and rye.
Wynkoop Brewing Company
1634 18th St
Hailed as Denver’s first brewpub, Wynkoop is the brain-child of Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Jerry Williams, Mark Schiffler and Russel Schehrer. They’re not afraid to experiment, with brews in the past that have included gummy bears and green chiles. Located in the bustling neighborhood of LoDo, this brewpub is a Denver institution. They have about thirty beers on an often-rotating tap and an extensive menu for American eats to compliment your beer.
Beer to try: Patty’s Chile Beer — A golden ale aged with Anaheim, Serrano and ancho peppers.
TRVE Brewing Company
227 Broadway #101
This Denver brewery is for all the heavy metal lovers. Founded on the Summer Solstice of 2011, this brewery channels the Norse god of mischief and chaos with their creative brews. Embrace your inner metal head in this black-walled brewery.
Beer to try: Wanderlust — A Belgo-American Pale Ale.
1290 S Broadway
This craft brewery specializes in creating exciting ales through spontaneous fermentation. Their owner and brew master James Howat allows their microbe cultures to evolve between batches which creates varying flavors within the same beer flavor. With exposed brick and lighting, this Denver hotspot is a cool and classy exploration of craft brewing flavors.
Beer to try: Oxcart — A blend of 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old beers.
Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company
2810 Larimer St
With their giant techno-color mural adorning the front of the building and their open, airy environment, its no wonder Our Mutual Friend has become a gathering place for craft beer connoisseur. Located in the River North neighborhood, this brewery celebrates connection and craft with award winning brews.
Beer to try: Lux Unlimited — An Imperial Belgium wit on raspberries and blackberries.
1477 Monroe St
A Doctor of Physical Therapy, microbiologist and international benefits consultant walk into a bar…And the punch line is Cerebral Brewing. By approaching craft brewing with scientific methodology they create memorable and refreshing brews in an open airy warehouse environment. And you can’t miss the giant brain mural adorning the front of their building.
Beer to try: Letters & Numbers: XJA2/436 — This experimental IPA is brewed with oats, wheat and spelt. It has an experimental hop from South Africa.
BY REBECCA TREON
The Wild Animal Sanctuary offers a fresh start for animals.
Imagine spending your life in a small cage that is barely big enough to turn around in. Never seeing another of your kind, surviving as part of a roadside zoo, circus, or existing malnourished and underfed. Then imagine being rescued, nursed back to health, receiving regular feed- ings, and best of all, meeting animals of your own ilk. Space to roam and a clean, warm place to sleep. Welcome to the Wild Ani- mal Sanctuary, a fabulous slice of paradise located just 40 minutes from downtown Denver, and a welcome refuge for more than 450 rescued captive-born animals, primarily large carnivores like tigers, lions, bears and wolves.
The majority of these animals come from individuals who use the animals as attractions at roadside zoos or other profit-making schemes, or they’ve been kept by people desiring a large predator as a pet. In fact, each of the 50 states in the U.S. have different laws and regulations when it comes to keeping these animals – and some states have no laws at all. It’s believed that across the country, there are some 20,000 large carnivores kept outside of zoos – including 4,000 tigers in Texas alone (where these animals are allowed with a permit). Sadly, most of these animals are kept in deplorable conditions, languishing in too-small quarters, abused, abandoned, neglected, malnourished. When they are confiscated by law enforcement or animal welfare agencies, they find a ready home at the Wild Animal Sanctuary – and are allowed to ‘retire’ from being subject to the whims of unscrupulous people.
When the animals arrive at the sanctuary, their residency begins with a full health exam and extensive rehabilitation. Many arrive underweight and mal- nourished, and immediately undertake a program to augment their diet; others need dental work or have no muscle tone. Notably, though, a huge part of the animals’ rehab process is on the social and psychological side of things. So many of the animals that make their way to the sanctuary have never seen another of their breed, learned to bellow the sounds they make in the wild (i.e. lions who have never learned to roar), or don’t know how to be part of a social group like a pack or pride.
The animals are slowly introduced to the other animals, sometimes living in smaller quarters close to the main compound until they are fully rehabilitated and eventually ready to join other animals in large-acreage habitats. In fact, there are a pack of 12 rescue dogs that help younger animals learn how to be a part of social groups – biting, playing, and hierarchy. Once the animals have adjusted to their new home, most are put into large plots of land between five and 25 acres in size. Most of the animals rescued by the Wild Animal Sanctuary arrive underweight. Relying on donations from companies such as Wal-Mart, be- tween 48,000-50,000 pounds of food per week are provided to the animals, roughly half of which is meat, and half of which is fruit and vegetables.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary fills a void since there is no humane society of any kind for large animals. That means that when, for example, 25 Bolivian lions needed a home after the country banned animals in circuses, the Wild Animal Sanctuary got the call. They stepped up to provide a landing spot for the lions.
The sanctuary got its start when a young Pat Craig, who grew up on a farm near Boulder, visited a friend who worked at a zoo and got a behind-the-scenes tour he didn’t expect. What he saw shocked him: multiple animals in small cages were deemed as “extra” animals – no longer attracting visitors, they waited to be euthanized. Craig decided then and there he wanted to dedicate his life to saving these majestic animals, working to learn all he could. In 1980 the Wild Animal Sanctuary was started on a farm near Boulder, before moving to Lyons and finally to its current home, on 720 acres near Keenesburg, Colorado.
Almost by accident, Craig discovered an ideal way to view these majestic rescued animals, and at the same time educate people about the crisis of wild animals held in captivity. He found that if the animals were seen from above, they don’t have the flight or fight reaction to having an unfamiliar person or perceived threat in their living space. To that end, the Wild Animal Sanctuary constructed a raised walkway that allows guests to walk above the animals’ habitats and observe them. The 1.5-mile walkway enables visitors to see foxes, tigers, lions, wolves, bears, and more, all from above.
All the amazing work the Wild Animal Sanctuary performs would not be possible without the support of the public – it operates as a nonprofit and relies on donations from visitors. The sanctuary asks each visitor for a donation or to become an active supporter, whereby a regular donation is made and the member gets unlimited visits. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is well worth the trip for any visitor or resident of Denver. Given its proximity, there’s simply no reason not to go. The educational value of experiencing the important work of the Wild Animal Sanctuary is priceless. It appeals both as a way to observe and get close to these majestic wild animals, and also as an organization doing important work for disenfranchised animals. By giving a voice to these creatures, the sanctuary opens the hearts of young and old alike, showing them how animals live in the wild rather than in captivity. To be among them is both a gift and an unforgettable experience. One tip: don’t forget your binoculars.
Visit www.wildanimalsanctuary.org for more information