Fresh Ingredients & Summer Sips at Earls

Last week I had the opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at Earls, a Canadian-based restaurant with three locations in Colorado. Full disclosure: I only moved to Denver from the East Coast this past fall and knew little of Earls before arriving here–each time I passed it, I, like many transplants, assumed it was a midwest chain of sorts. Last week they proved this is not the case at all.

Earls really cooks….At Earls we take locally grown and seasonal produce, look for fun, diverse menu ideas from our chefs, global flavors influence, and we cook it authentically from scratch. We source our organic produce for Colorado from Colorado and Certified Angus Beef is all-American. Sauces, dressings, and baked goods are made in-house daily and even the bar gets into the act with the cocktails made with freshly squeezed juices, market-fresh herbs, and house-made syrups. There is not a premix or artificial flavor behind any Earls bar.

We started off the early evening with their signature summer cocktail, Pineapple Ginger Margaritas– fresh pineapple, muddled to pull out the fresh juices and housemade ginger syrup (recipe below!). Refreshing and unique, with a cayenne, sugar & salt mix on the rim, it’d definitely be a great way to unwind after work on the patio.

To accompany the margaritas and whet our appetites, they served them with Ahi Tuna Poke Nachos–crisp togarashi wontons, ahi tuna, cucumber, avocado & tomato poke, spicy mango coulis, sliced serranos, and crushed macadamia nuts. Deeeelicious! I also had a tasty sip of a Bloody Caesar — the Canadian hangover cure.

Then, after introductions to the local and regional chefs and a glimpse of the fresh-baked brioche rolls coming hot out of the oven, they brought out a series of dishes

Meatball sliders (surprising light), and then Dominical Fish Tacos (made with grilled lime & coriander marinated Wahoo–Earls tried tirelessly for the perfect, most environmentally-friendly fish for this dish as it’s served in their 50+ restaurants, as opposed to the more obvious choices that did not meet their sustainable seafoods standards). Both of these were accompanied by New Belgium’s Somersault, served in the larger European-sized pint glass (Earls features a range of Colorado’s craft-beers on tap).

Dungeness Crab & Asparagus Linguini, accompanied by the slightly sweet Ruffino’s Moscato D’Asti to balance out the citrus flavor of the dish.

And for the grand finale, their signature Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup:  A milk chocolate pot au creme, peanut butter mousse, and toffee crunch with a hint of salt sprinkled on top.

All in all, a wonderful range of dishes on their menu and for Wagon folks, an extensive range of cocktails, wines, and local beers that’ll be sure to hit the spot on warm, spring and summer days–or when you want to catch a Rockies game on one of their TVs. Put the assumptions aside and check Earls out next time you’re downtown, in Lone Tree, or Cherry Creek!

Earls Pineapple Ginger Margarita
Available at all locations (note US locations use 1818 Tequila)

The inspiration for this margarita comes from Latin Markets where tropical fruit is served fresh with salt and chili powder, tantalizing your sweet, salty and spicy senses. It’s a classic margarita sweetened with pineapple and spiced with ginger.

Ingredients
1 fl oz Ginger syrup (see recipe below)
1 fl oz Fresh lime juice
4-5 Pineapple chunks (approx 1 oz)
2 oz El Jimador Blanco Tequila

Method
Into a mixing glass, measure ginger syrup, lime Juice, pineapple chunks and El Jimador Blanco
Using a pestle or back of wooden spoon muddle until juice has escaped from pineapple
Top (pack) mixing glass full with ice – Top with a stainless steel shaking tin
Shake vigorously 12 times to mix ingredients
Strain over fresh ice into a double rocks glass with a half rim of sweet & spicy rim mix
Garnish with a fresh pineapple chunk, with the top dipped in sweet & spicy rim

Ginger syrup for Pineapple Ginger Margarita

Ingredients
12 oz water
8 oz ginger sliced into ¼ inch coins, do not peel
12 oz sugar
5 oz honey

Method
In a medium saucepan bring water, ginger, sugar and honey to a simmer. Immediately remove from heat as soon as sugar has dissolved
Puree, using a handheld blender
Strain through a fine mesh sieve into an appropriately sized container with lid, discard ginger pulp
Allow to cool uncovered to room temperature
Cover and refrigerate up to a maximum of 9 days

Garnish

Rim

3 parts sugar
1 part salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
Tossed together

Fresh Pineapple chunks

About Jossie Auerbach


Jossie is mostly behind-the-scenes at the Wagon--editing articles, advertising, and the like. And by day she does Marketing & Communications for Denver start-up, Forkly. Follow Jossie for mostly food-related posts on @JSWAuer & @Forkly. If you're interested in advertising on our site, email jossie@denveroffthewagon.com.