Come summer, you can’t go wrong with a margarita or a spritz. But some of the classics are due for an upgrade—and you can certainly count on Boulder County’s creative cocktail artisans to raise the bar. From a boozy lemonade that changes color (a magic show in a glass!) to a spicy margarita, there’s no shortage of cocktails to pair with the warm weather of August.
Ahead, a handful of cocktails that are perfect for end-of-summer sipping and that you can find at bars in and around Boulder.
West End Tavern: Galactic Lemonade
926 Pearl St. in Boulder
Nothing screams summer like lemonade, and the addition of peaberry-infused vodka gives this summery cocktail a fun-to-watch twist. It morphs from a blue-purple to a bright purple as the peaberry hits and reacts with the acid in the lemon.
Ghost Box Pizza: Berry Spicy Ghost
103 S. Public Road in Lafayette
ICYMI: A new Detroit-style pizza joint opened up in downtown Lafayette. Ghost Box Pizza has lots of local beers on tap and a great lineup of cocktails, too, from a lavender-infused vodka lemonade to a smoky mezcal drink with basil. But a boo-zy favorite here is the Berry Spicy Ghost, which is a blackberry- jalapeño marg that’s hauntingly good.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar: Prickly Pear Margarita
928 Pearl St. in Boulder
The bar team at Jax creates a house-made orgeat to sub in for triple sec to give this bright cocktail a creamier feel, which also helps cut the sweetness of the prickly pear. “My favorite prickly pear fact? It’s known to be a hangover cure!” says Jax’s Mitchell Kasperkiewicz. “It’s fun to let guests in on this fact when they order their second round that they’re getting a little detox with their drink.”
DV8 Distillery: Pride
2480 49th St. Suite E in Boulder
A craft distillery making vodka, gin, whiskey and liqueurs, DV8 also fills the niche as Boulder’s only gay bar. The distillery has lots of great libations made with its house spirits, including a Pride cocktail that’s crafted with pineapple vodka, lemonade and cranberry juice, topped with a lime garnish. “This is our cocktail that celebrates all things queer,” says Rawley Gunnels, a co-founder of DV8 Distillery.
Centro Mexican Kitchen: Tamarind Margarita
950 Pearl St. in Boulder
Slightly sweet, slightly tangy and super delicious, tamarinds are known to have “refrigerant” (aka cooling) properties as a traditional herbal medicine, making them a perfect addition to a refreshing summer cocktail.
“In a world full of strawberry margaritas, the tamarind margarita is unique. I love it because it’s a nod to a popular Mexican flavor,” says Bobby Mitchell, general manager of Centro Mexican Kitchen.
Post Chicken & Beer: White Tiger
105 West Emma St. in Lafayette
Chicken and beer is the obvious pairing at the Post. But there are some darn good cocktails on the menu, too. The White Tiger features a split base of local gin and Chareau aloe liqueur, as well as a housemade sage-honey syrup. It’s topped with a fizzy Limonata San Pellegrino. The result is an herbaceous cocktail that’s perfectly balanced with sweet honey and bubbly citrus.
“As with any cocktail I create, crushability is a must and the same goes for any great summer drink!” says Case Kazeck, assistant general manager and bar manager.
Sushi-Rama Broomfield: Junmai Negroni
8181 Arista Place in Broomfield, CO
Sushi-Rama is bringing its conveyor belt loaded with sushi rolls to a new outpost in Broomfield’s Arista development. Here, you can order a Junmai Negroni, which is made with Beefeater gin, campari and Junmai Sake. “We use sake in our Negroni because it adds an earthiness character that sometimes gin can lack,” says Sushi-Rama chef Jeff Osaka. The sake Negroni pairs wonderfully with the Salmon New Style Roll with salmon tartar, avocado, cucumber and topped with smoked salmon, jalapeno, lemon and a jalapeno ponzu.