Local establishments offer to-go cocktails as pandemic wears on
As the pandemic continues and businesses wait for level red restrictions to be lifted, one pre-pandemic enjoyment some people around Summit County may be missing is the opportunity to sit inside and enjoy a nice cocktail.
Amid level red, local restaurants and bars are not allowed to offer indoor dining, but that doesn’t preclude the opportunity to enjoy a locally crafted cocktail at home. Early on in the pandemic the state relaxed some of the rules around offering takeout alcohol and delivery, and many Summit County establishments quickly took advantage of the opportunity to expand their to-go offerings.
“We did very well with them,” said Tanecia Spagnolia, co-owner of Timberline Craft Kitchen & Cocktails in Silverthorne.
Timberline has been offering most of its usual house-made cocktails in premixed 8- and 16-ounce bottles, which Spagnolia was able to procure from their other venture: Tree Line Bloody Mary Mixes. She said the option to offer the cocktails has helped the business along as it continues to wait out a year she described as “the nightmare that just won’t end.”
Castaways Cove in Breckenridge also has decided to offer premixed cocktails. The pandemic has required the restaurant to shift all of their bar staff to the kitchen, so offering cocktails on tap has helped to maintain the option to offer drinks, said co-owner Michael Beseda, who added that the restaurant also is open to helping people with specific drink requests.
Breckenridge Brewery & Pub isn’t allowed to sell anything outside of malt beverages due to state regulations, but the company has recently rolled out what Culture Czar Todd Thibault called “speakeasy-style malt cocktails” that are available by the can at the brewpub in Breckenridge.
Thibault said the three varieties have a feel similar to an egg-white cocktail but use nitrogen gas to achieve the creamy head instead of eggs. They should appeal to those who aren’t necessarily in the mood for a beer when they visit the pub.
The Breckenridge Distillery is mainly focusing on ready-made cocktails for its to-go menu, though Liquid Chef Billie Keithley said it is not offering any hot cocktails out the door. Keithley said the distillery also has prebottled cocktails, which will serve four to six people per bottle, on its Christmas menu.
She said one advantage of buying a bottled cocktail for holiday celebrations is that the person buying it doesn’t have to worry about procuring and preparing all of the ingredients.
“All the work is done with us,” Keithley said, adding that the final steps involve pouring the drink over ice and possibly adding a festive garnish.
That’s a sentiment that’s echoed by J.D. Hindorff, general manager at Rising Sun Distillery, which offers individual cocktails from its menu as well as five varieties of bottled cocktails at its Frisco tasting room.
“If you’re not good at making them at home, let the professionals do it,” he said.
In addition to the mixed drink itself, Rising Sun also is packaging garnishes with some of the drinks, including special ice cubes for the Old-Fashioned, which can help people feel some of the festive bar atmosphere at home.
Lauren Otto, co-owner of Apres Handcrafted Libations, said atmosphere is one of the things the bar’s customers had come to rely on. Not being able to allow people to drink inside has hurt sales, she said.
“Cocktails are our jam, and we’re really hurting with the lack of in-person consumption …” she said. “In-person really is a big part of our thing.”
Apres Handcrafted Libations offers to-go cocktails and is selling cocktail kits for people who want to make their own. Even if someone isn’t able to fully re-create the experience of drinking inside an establishment, Otto said, they will enjoy their drink more if they try to make it a nicer experience, including pouring it into an appropriate container.
“You can drink out of a Solo cup, but a $14 drink isn’t going to taste as good,” she added.
As an establishment that’s more focused on brews, Dillon Dam Brewery has opted for simplicity in its to-go cocktail options, but General Manager Kim Nix said she’s been surprised at how popular their cocktail offerings have been. The brewery recently started rolling out online ordering and has had several cocktail orders come through the new system. The cocktails are made to order with everything in the cup.
Although the state government recently has created more options for getting takeout cocktails, there are still several rules in place that patrons should be aware of.
State law requires every cocktail to be served with a tamper-evident seal, and it’s illegal for the seal to be broken in an automobile, which would violate the state’s open container law. Individual cocktails served in a cup also are required to have seals over any straw holes.
Current laws do allow delivery, but contactless delivery is not allowed for alcoholic drinks since IDs must be verified.
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