Best of Boulder East County 2019 — Drink

James Auer mixes up a cocktail for you at Waterloo.


817 Main St., Louisville, 303-993-2094
Lafayette Winner: William Oliver’s Publick House
Longmont Winner: Pumphouse Brewery and Red Zone
What makes a good bar? Ambiance, service and quality drinks are a good start, and that’s what our readers say Waterloo has in spades. Its craft cocktail menu features plenty of classic drinks, like the Sazerac and Moscow Mule, and innovative creations, like the Cold Brew Martini, with vanilla vodka, Richardo’s coffee liqueur and HotBox nitro cold brew coffee, and the El Coyote Old Fashioned, with añejo tequila, aromatic and orange bitters, cane syrup and orange peel. Local beer, good wine, rooftop seating and friendly, knowledgeable bartenders round out the experience.

STAFF PICK: Best place to take Paul
American Legion Post III, Louisville
1150 Pine Street, Louisville
Paul is a man who enjoys a frosty beverage. But Paul doesn’t like to pay a lot. Sure, Paul has fine tastes, but what tastes finest to Paul is value. That pretty much limits Paul to Bud Light while he’s watching the 49ers roll their way through the NFC North (the Niners remind Paul of how lovely the Bay Area is). And Bud Light is what Paul drinks while he’s watching the Chicago White Sox get rolled in the American League Central Division (the Sox remind Paul of his time in Chicago, specifically the DNC Riots in 1968). Those riots led to Paul’s career in the Navy, and the Navy allowed Paul the chance to knock back those Bud Lights at the American Legion Post III. If you’re thinking of taking Paul out for a drink, take him to the Legion in Louisville. First round’s on him.

Susan France Nate Culbertson serves up a flight at Left Hand Brewing Company.


1265 Boston Ave., Longmont, 303-772-0258
Runner Up, East County: Wibby Brewing
Louisville Winner: Gravity Brewing
Lyons Winner: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
In an industry where the line between craft and crafty gets fuzzier with every passing brewery sale, Left Hand Brewing Company stands “righteously independent” and employee-owned. Since day one, co-founder Eric Wallace has been one of craft beer’s most vibrant spokesmen. Yes, the Nitro Milk Stout (#AmericasStout) is iconic, but so is their original gangster, Sawtooth, an amber ale that’s been cleaning up awards for 25 years and was one of the most popular pours at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival. And with a recent push into sweet treats — White Russian, Flamingo Dreams and Push Pop Party, all nitrogenized — there’s something for everyone at Left Hand.


4600 Sleepytime Drive, Gunbarrel, 303-581-1266
Louisville Winner: The Huckleberry
Lyons Winner: The Stone Cup Café
There aren’t many of our readers who don’t know about the Celestial Seasonings factory tour, which includes a visit to the celebrated Mint Room. But folks also love the Tea Shop and Celestial Cafe on Sleepytime Lane. No other restaurant or store serves or sells virtually the complete roster of Celestial Seasonings teas. Visitors can get revved up on Morning Thunder or mellow out with Boulder’s most famous infusion, Red Zinger. Many folks visit to pick up holiday-only teas like Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch fare with, naturally, several iced teas on tap.


1232-A S. Hover Road, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689
Erie Winner: Ziggi’s Coffee
Louisville Winner: Paul’s Coffee & Tea
The best coffee houses can be a home away from home. Our readers have that warm feeling about Ozo Coffee Company in Longmont. This high-ceilinged location for the craft roaster was built specifically to serve as a center for East County’s growing coffee culture. There is comfortable seating downstairs, on a wraparound mezzanine above the coffee bar and on the patio near a cozy firepit. Seven days a week, well-trained baristas pour Ozo’s full drink roster, which ranges from reputable drip coffee to chai almond milk lattes. The food menu includes favorites like breakfast burritos, quiche and banana bread plus buttery pastries from Boulder’s Spruce Confections.


1380 Horizon Ave., Unit A, Lafayette, 720-443-3007
Longmont Winner: St. Vrain Cidery
It is indeed bad to eat apples. It’s better to turn them all into cider,” wrote wise founding father Benjamin Franklin. Acreage Ciderhouse by Stem Ciders took Ben’s directive to heart and is changing tastes one sip at a time in the epicenter of craft beer. Stem’s menu of cider spans the taste spectrum from dry to sweet and herbal to citrus, with everything in between. The Real Dry is clean and crisp, the Hopped Apple Cider has an herbal bite and a tart apple zing, and the Hibiscus Session is the perfect marriage of hibiscus tea and fresh-pressed apple juice. Pair that cider with great food (including cider doughnuts) and an even better view, and it’s no wonder our readers chose Acreage Ciderhouse at Stem Ciders as the best cidery in East County.


1555 S. Hover St., Longmont, 303-485-9400
Lafayette Winner: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co.
Louisville Winner: Mudrock’s Tap & Tavern
With gems like Check Yo’Self, G’Knight, Mama’s Little Yella Pils and Death By Coconut Porter, Oskar Blues has never wanted for variety. But Longmont’s Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids takes beer selection to a new level with a smattering of guest taps from Colorado and beyond. They have Abita Brewing Company from Louisana, Brewery Ommegang from New York, Bell’s Brewing from Michigan and, naturally, offerings from fellow CANarchy Collective craft brewers, including Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai IPA — arguably one of the best IPAs in the country. Toss in the usual taproom experimentations and pilot brews, and you’ll be up to your gullet in suds.

Susan France General manager Brittany Bartlett of /pôr/ Wine House


701 A Main St., Louisville, 720-666-1386
Longmont Winner: Bin 46 Craft Bar + Restaurant
There’s a lot to like about /pôr/ wine house’s wine selection. First, the selection of wine by the glass is large, so you can just get one glass to wind down, or you can sample several varieties throughout the night. You can also do flights of three wines in one-ounce tasting glasses. The wine-by-the-bottle menu, meanwhile, is a globe-spanning, carefully curated list that has sparkling, rosé and sweet offerings as well as red and white wines separated into light- to full-bodied categories. Whether you know nothing or everything about wine, there’s likely something for you at /pôr/.


1232-A S. Hover Road, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689
Louisville: Paul’s Coffee & Tea
Lafayette: OTIS Craft Collective
It all comes down to a hill of beans. In this case, it’s a mountain of carefully sourced coffee beans roasted at Ozo Coffee Company. Since 2007, Ozo has earned our readers’ devotion for its freshly roasted blends like mellow Cozy Cabin. The company has committed to sourcing ethically and sustainably grown coffees, building strong relationships with the communities that grow them and sharing stories of growers with customers. For example, the Organic Honduras Las Capucas Omar Rodriguez is named for the farmer who grew the beans. Ozo offers free Saturday brew bar tastings with one type of coffee brewed three ways: pour-over, Chemex and French press.

STAFF PICK: Best “Miscalculation”
Northwest Corridor Light Rail
Back in 2004, voters approved the FasTracks transit system, giving RTD the funds it presumably needed to connect Boulder County with the larger Denver metro area. And then it never happened. Sure, about six miles of track was laid between Denver and Westminster, but Boulder County hasn’t seen mile one of the 35 miles of rail needed to complete the so-called Northwest Corridor, and RTD says we won’t see that track until — best case scenario — 2032. (Worst case scenario: 2050). RTD blames higher-than-expected construction costs and lower-than-projected sales tax revenues. That doesn’t change the fact that Boulder County residents have paid tens of millions of dollars into the FasTracks program for the last 15 years with nothing to show for it. Best miscalculation, indeed.

Susan France The Empire Lounge bar manager/bartender, Eric Vanderveen


816 Main St., Louisville, 303-665-2521
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Lafayette Winner: Community
Longmont Winner: Martinis Bistro
Our readers say The Empire Lounge and Restaurant knows what its doing when it comes to cocktails. Its small, but powerful, cocktail menu appeals to a wide variety of drinkers and includes libations you won’t be able to get elsewhere. Try The Sky’s the Limit, with gin, Luxardo, crème de violette, sparkling wine and flamed lemon. Or sample the Cherry Limeade, made of tequila, Luxardo, house Bourbon cherries, maraschino cherries, lime and soda. Or try a modern take on a classic with the Main St. Vieux Carré, made of rye whiskey, Benedictine, cognac, Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters and vermouth.


246 Main St., Longmont, 303-827-3790
Lafayette Winner: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
Louisville Winner: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria
A great margarita starts with great tequila — or, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, great mezcal, tequila’s smoky relative. Jefes Tacos & Tequila in Longmont sources over 100 tequila and mezcal varieties to craft our readers’ favorite margaritas in East County. Keep it classic with a Rocks Marg, which blends tequila blanco and freshly squeezed lime juice with agave syrup, or explore new flavor profiles with a Mezcal-Rita, featuring smoky Bahnez mezcal, bright Grove Street Orange Liqueur, fresh lime juice and sweet agave. Jefes even gives margaritas the Boulder County treatment with its Kombucharita, which takes the Rocks Marg and switches out the lime juice for a rotating flavor of Knucklepuck Kombucha. If you’re looking to upgrade your Margarita Mondays (those are a thing, right? Because if not, we’re making them a thing), head to Jefes and give your taste buds a thrill.


817 Main St., Louisville, 303-993-2094
Lafayette Winner: 95a Bistro & Sushi
Longmont Winner: CYCLHOPS Bike CANtina
Niwot Winner: Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House
Let’s talk about happy hour, specifically the happy hour at Waterloo, or as regulars call it, the Loo hour. When we talk about Loo hour, we’re talking $5 well drinks, $5 house wine, $1 off draft local beer and $1.50 Miller High Life 7-ounce ponies. We’re also talking $3 tacos and $2 off Waterloo’s “Bite for the Table” menu, which includes “Texas-sized” nachos, bacon-wrapped shrimp, house-made beef jerky, sherry-glazed Brussels sprouts, onion rings, chicken wings and more. Our readers like the variety of drinks and food, the discounts and the atmosphere during Loo hour.

Staff Pick: Best street design that makes you think you’re driving on the wrong side of the road, every single time
McCaslin-U.S. 36 overpass, Louisville
We imagine this is how the meeting went while redesigning the McCaslin Boulevard bridge over Highway 36: “Susan, what are your thoughts about Great Britain?” “Be more specific, John.” “I think you know where I’m going with this, Susan.” “If you’re asking me if we should redesign McCaslin Boulevard so that it feels like you’re driving on the left side of the road at all times, as if we are in Great Britain, John, then my answer is yes, I feel great about it. Let’s do it immediately.” A couple of years after the redesign, we’re still confused, and we still feel like some things are best left in the Transportation Dream Lab.


701 A Main St., Louisville, 720-666-1386
Lafayette Winner: Espresso Vino by Brewing Market
Longmont Winner: Bin No. 46 Craft Bar + Restaurant
According to our faithful and educated readers, /pôr/ wine house is the best wine bar in East County. The appeal surely starts with the bar’s setup. It’s rustic, yet modern, and there’s plenty of outdoor seating when the weather is right; and when it’s not, the cozy interior and bar is intimate and warm. But the music, tapas menu, desserts and, of course, the wine and cocktails are what keep people coming back. There’s always something new to try and new people to meet at /pôr/, which is why our readers value it so much.


1232-A S. Hover Road, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689
Louisville Winner: Moxie Bread Co.
A latte is an experience, not just a beverage or a caffeine source. It’s also an art form, one that’s practiced by the baristas at Longmont’s Ozo Coffee Company. Our readers love the way they can personalize their latte — size (8 to 22 ounces), temperature, milk type or milk alternative, and substitutions of chai or matcha. No matter your creation, the beverage is always delivered with artwork on top. Fans can learn how to make and decorate lattes at Ozo’s certified barista classes for beginners and professionals.


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