The leaves are turning, there is snow on the ground once a week and it’s much harder to wake up in the morning. And occasionally it’s 75 degrees. Fall is here. For me, Autumn has always been a great time for change, and the pros at Root Down couldn’t agree more. And they have definitely changed for the better.
We sat down with master bartender Mike Henderson, who filled us in on what is going on this season at Root Down. The short story is that it’s pretty impressive. The long story is as follows.
Root Down is already known for their fine cocktails; they are interested in expanding their infamy into the realms of beer, food and wine. Mike told us about his plan to move from a fantastic bar to a bar program with a full package that gets you what you want, whatever your mood.
Check out the new beer menu loaded with local and not-so-local craft on draft, bottle, and cans, priced between $4 and $6. Case in point being the Duchesse De Bourgogne ON TAP! If beer isn’t your pleasure, the wine list is growing, with many glasses available between $8 to $10.
The already impressive cocktail list is expanding to include some new ingeniously crafted drinks. Bar favorites like the Pepper Blossom, Gin Fizz, and Blackberry Smash aren’t going anywhere, and some new contributions make us thirst for more just writing about them:
Beets straight from the kitchen are muddled at the bar. Add simple syrup, Aperol, gin, and lemon. Shaken and then strained, the cocktail has a beautiful opaque orange-red color. I’m not a big fan of beets, but this one blew me away, all the more since I wasn’t expecting to like it. The Aperol balances out the earthiness of the beets but leaves the sweetness. Lemon adds the perfect amount of bitter citrus to compliment that sugary sweetness.
Don Julio, house made ginger simple syrup, thyme, apple cider (not alcoholic, farmers market fresh and unfiltered), and lemon are shaken then strained and served on the rocks. This drink reminds me of a refreshing lemonade enhanced by a vegetal earthiness. The drink is garnished with thyme, and a metal straw to help reduce waste.
A must have for all our readers! Citrus vodka, velvet falernum (a sweet syrup with flavors of almond, ginger and lime), lemon juice, and Maurin Quina (an herbal cherry liquor) are shaken and strained into a glass. Saving the best for last, it is topped off with 3 oz. of the Duchesse, and a lemon twist. It is dangerously refreshing and has a perfectly thick mouth feel that’ll keep you sipping. Do be careful with this one as it’s hard not to have five.
Root Down’s commitment to sustainability is apparent on the plate. Eighty percent of their ingredients are locally and organically sourced. It’s not only a green practice; the food tastes fresher. Look for plenty of new inspirations from chefs Justin, Samm, Victor, Jim, and Daniel, with seasonal changes based on what’s available locally.
The new menu officially launches tomorrow, November 8th.
Denver Off the Wagon pro tips and trivia:
- Ask for Rob (bartender) and try his Chartreuse Mojito, Chai Whiskey Cocktail and/or the Colorado Blackberry Caboose. These are all delicious and off the menu.
- Root Down coasters are made out of old menus. Now that’s recycling!
- Try the Maurin chilled and neat in conjunction with The Duke Cocktail so that you can taste this most important and taste-tacular ingredient.
- All the bartenders are trained to make 30 classic cocktails perfectly before being allowed behind the bar, so don’t be afraid to let them experiment. I had a good experience saying “I’d like something with gin in it.”
- If you’re really hungry, try the happy hour food menu. My Edamame Hummus with Wonton Chips and Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Lime Sauce came out in 2 minutes flat! Not to mention it was extremely delicious.
Photos by: Elizabeth Dougherty