Scoop Blog Network Fundraiser: Shirts with Perks!

YES, Y’ALL. You can now be the proud owner of your very own Late Night Fort Collins T-shirt! Since the beginning of the year we’ve been planning on a new website ...

The Late Night Fort Collins Poker Run

Big news, everybody! Late Night Fort Collins is throwing a party…and not just any old party. A real, live, 3-day Texas Hold ‘Em poker run, culminating in an epic bash ...

The Happiest Hour: Canyon Chop House vs. Sonny Lubick Steakhouse

It’s happy hour time, y’all! For the budget-conscious cocktail seeker, happy hours are basically the best invention since the martini shaker. Can’t afford a ritzy date night or extravagant celebration at ...

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VIP Reader Party at The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen

Wow, it’s been a busy week of announcements over here! Between my Late Night Fort Collins Poker Run at the Colorado Room on August 9th and the launch of our T-shirt fundraiser to help us pay for a new Scoop Blog Network website, you’d think I’d take some time off to…I don’t know, go fishing or something.

Nope! Instead, we’re bringing you another awesome Scoop Blog Network event – and this time, it’s for readers only.

 

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Join us on Tuesday, August 5th from 8:30-10:30 pm at the Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen in Old Town for a night of food, drinks, and conversation with the Scoop bloggers. Your $10 ticket gets you a drink, appetizers, and lots of fun with all your favorite local bloggers.

This is an limited, ticketed event – we will NOT be selling tickets at the door. So get yours HERE before they sell out!

I can’t wait to meet the faces behind all the readers who’ve traded opinions with me over the last two years. See you next week!

Get your VIP tickets HERE!

The Crooked Cocktail

THIS. This is why you don’t judge a bar on its first week of opening. This is why you give places a second chance. This is why you should forget my First Look and go check out The Crooked Cocktail immediately.

photo (6)When I first visited the Crooked Cocktail early last May, only a week after they opened in the old Gelazzi spot in Old Town, I wasn’t thrilled. I felt they had great potential, but the cocktails didn’t live up to my expectations – or the steep price tag. Frankly, I wasn’t that interested in returning for another drink. But man, am I glad I did.

The first few weeks of opening a bar are rough. You’re still working out the kinks, testing the menu, training new employees, finishing the decor – it’s a lot to handle. More often than not, at least some things are just going to suck.

Fortunately, the Crooked Cocktail was able to figure out what sucked and fix it. They’ve been open for almost three months now, and their menu looks radically different. The biggest gripe I had with their original concept was the price point vs. ambiance. A bar that sits somewhere between Social and the Trailhead, both in price and in atmosphere, sounded like a great idea. Although the original menu at the Crooked Cocktail was way too expensive for the average quality of the drinks, their current cocktail list is a fantastic balance between simple and indulgent – with appropriate pricing to match.

One side of their cocktail menu is full of complex, unusual concoctions in the $7-$9 range. The Crooked Dragon, for example, is a tall glass of Tres Agaves Blanco tequila, mezcal, ginger liqueur, mint, and lime soda. With a spectacular smokey citrus flavor and slight bitterness that remains on the tongue, the Crooked Dragon is one of the more interesting cocktails I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.

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The Crooked Dragon

Other offerings on this side of the menu include the Crooked Ladykiller – green tea-infused white rum, elderflower liqueur, and grapefruit juice – and the Crooked Scurvy – Pyrat dark rum, apricot brandy, lemon, pineapple juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. On the whole, the Crooked Cocktail seems to have dropped their emphasis on house-made bitters. While that’s kind of a bummer, I’m glad they’re focusing on creating great drinks first, instead of trying to showcase 20 different bitters in a bunch of mediocre cocktails.

The other side of the menu is what really makes my student loan-saddled heart beat a little faster – a long, varied list of $3 cocktails…all day, every day. That’s right. For only three bucks, you can get a Raspberry Margarita, Vanilla Whiskey & Coke, Alpine Berry John Daly, and more.

This is exactly what I was picturing when I first heard of the Crooked Cocktail’s concept. As much as I love Social, Ace Gillett’s, Elliot’s, and all the rest, I just can’t afford to go to those places regularly. Freelance writers do not make the big bucks, people.

The Lavender Lemon Gin & Soda is not only a million times better than the Crooked Lavender I tried on my first visit, but also less than half the price.

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Lavender Lemon Gin & Soda

I love that the Crooked Cocktail gives you different options depending on your price range. Maybe you’re in the mood for the Crooked Canadian – Crown Royal, maple syrup, cinnamon, and soda – but you can’t justify an $8 cocktail when rent is due next week. No problem – the $3 Maple Whiskey Soda is almost exactly the same, just with cheaper whiskey. Hey, we can’t all be high rollers.

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Maple Whiskey Soda – and yes, that is a cinnamon rim.

The Crooked Cocktail also offers plenty of beer and wine, with a cute chalkboard menu showing what’s on tap. They actually have chalkboard art throughout most of the bar, interspersed with TVs, black pendant lamps, and lots of two-person booths and tables.

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I’m still not totally in love with the feel of the bar and seating area. It used to be a gelato place, and that’s what it still feels like, despite the red walls and rich wood accents. The bar is too wide, forcing the bartender to reach awkwardly across bottles, sinks, and glassware to deliver your drink, and the rest of the room feels a little too sterile and open – not very conducive to private conversation.

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Unfortunately, it seems like every time I go here, the place is completely dead. When there’s five people inside an Old Town bar at 10:30 on a Friday night, that’s…that’s not good. I like this bar, but unless their numbers pick up soon, I can’t see them lasting very long in such an expensive location.

So, consider this your encouragement to go out and give them a shot – or a second one, if you were disappointed once before. Change is always certain, but in this case, it’s definitely for the better.

Cane & Flower at The 415

When you’re craving brussels sprouts, mac and cheese, patio weather, and delicious cocktails, there’s really only one place to go – The 415. Their back patio – a fully enclosed courtyard with a zen-like water feature and pretty string lights – is one of my favorite places to linger over a light dinner and a few drinks on a warm summer evening.

The cocktail menu here is simple and stylish, featuring only a few signature drinks along with a carefully curated selection of beers and wine. This isn’t a place that offers 2-for-1 wells or an all-you-can-drink buffet of alcoholic beverages. Hell, they don’t even have a full bar. What they do have is five top-shelf spirits – Ketel One vodka, Herradura silver tequila, Bulleit bourbon, Flor de Caña Nicaraguan rum, and Bombay Sapphire gin – plus soda, seltzer, and tonic. If you want to create your own cocktail out of these options, feel free (call drinks are always $4), but I’m always more than happy to select my drink from their menu.

My favorite is their bright, wonderfully sour Paloma made with Herradura and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, although the Gin Mojito – fresh mint and Bombay Sapphire – is always a good choice too.

Last week, I opted to try the Cane & Flower for the first time. A mix of hand-juiced ginger, lime, and Flor de Caña, the Cane & Flower is both spicy and sweet, with just enough of a citrus kick to balance out the rum. It was a fun departure from my usual order, but next time I think I’ll go back to the Paloma – you just can’t beat grapefruit and tequila.

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It’s amazing what The 415 can do with just a handful of high-quality spirits and some fresh herbs and citrus. If you’re in the process of building your own home bar, take a hint from The 415 and always choose quality over quantity.