The South Denver cocktail scene is evolving and the point of origin is Atticus (1135 Evans Ave, Denver, CO 80210), a stone’s throw from the University of Denver. The proximity to the university, a motivated student base and the use of a space that was once the home of the neighborhood dive bar for over thirty years (Fagan’s) lend to the welcoming, literary-inspired, watering hole with a top-notch culinary program. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, Atticus is now offering happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., which includes $1 off draft beer and specialty cocktails, $2 off glasses of wine, and tapas running under $10.
Although new to the block, Atticus is by no means an only child. Hailing from the Table to Tavern family (think Table 6, Handlebar), Atticus shares a kitchen with its sister establishment, Boone’s Tavern, next door. With a fresh and local culinary approach, the food offered at happy hour is a slightly scaled down reflection of the quality you will find during other Atticus mealtimes.
The charcuterie plate features a selection of rotating meats and cheeses including gouda, brie, mortadella, sobrasada, house-made honey cayenne almonds, olives, roasted red pepper tapenade and cherry pepper jam, served with bread from Colorado’s own Grateful Bread.
The mussels, bathed in a warm, creamy tomato-saffron broth, and paired with house-cut frites do not disappoint either.
The interior aesthetic of Atticus has a cozy charm – filled with natural light, a fireplace tucked in the corner, bookshelves packed with both fiction and cocktail education, and a handful of maps depicting imaginary places decorate the west wall (think “Neverland” and Mark Twain’s “Jackson Island”). The smooth wooden table- tops are composed of materials pulled from an old Stapleton hangar, and the original hand-painted sign from Fagan’s still frames one side of the bar.
True to the spirit of creating a sense of community and highlighting local talent, Atticus finds several creative ways to incorporate neighbor, Kaladi Coffee, into the bar program. Still in the works are tinctures, liquors and cocktail recipes incorporating Kaladi’s air-roasted coffee in a variety of sweet and savory ways.
Some of the motivation behind Atticus was to create a space that expanded values of quality hospitality seen shaping the food and beverage scene throughout Denver, a trend that maybe has not quite infiltrated South Denver.
“People want to stay in their neighborhood as opposed to going downtown,” notes General Manager Chris Fitzpatrick., “To make you feel like you’re in a special place even though you’re around the corner from your house.”
With an approachable, yet surprising culinary approach, the bar program looks to replicate these values. Offering a wide selection of local distilleries and breweries, Atticus has a solid foundation in classic cocktail culture with its own innovative approach. First and foremost a neighborhood joint, Atticus also features an original cocktail list developed by Sean Kenyon of Williams and Graham, and a strong focus on community to ensure its status as a soon-to-be South Denver staple.
The Gin Smuggler is one of these cocktails and features Spring 44 gin, fresh squeezed lemon, bitters and spiced honey syrup — made with local Colorado honey.
The Razzle Dazzle is another specialty cocktail, and includes Spring 44 vodka, ginger, egg white, lemon, and fresh raspberries. Both visually stimulating and delicious, the Razzle Dazzle is full and fluffy from a vigorous dry shake, and topped with a swirl of Angostora’s bitters that sits on top of a pale pink foam fading into an ombre of vibrant magenta. The creaminess of the cocktail and the richness of the raspberries are enough to satisfy a decadent sweet tooth, but the lemon and ginger balance the drink and keep the cocktail light and clean. Gentlemen, don’t be intimidated by the beauty of this cocktail – you’re missing out if you let your masculine pride keep you from ordering this tasty pink elixir.
Colorado spirits such as Downslope, Spring 44 and Breckenridge Distillery grace the back bar as well as the handcrafted cocktail menu. Combined with a full espresso bar, Atticus is guaranteed to surprise even the seasoned happy hour connoisseur.
Atticus features eight draft taps including two rotating taps that will never feature the same brew twice – no matter how popular any given keg may be to help regular guests keep a stimulated palate. Local brew-stars include: Dry Dock, Elevation, Telluride and Left Hand brewing companies.
As they continue to get their feet on the ground, Atticus will expand their garnish selection adding homemade liquored cherries, bitters and charcuterie drink adornments. Fearless and innovative, the bar program may even offer some molecular or foam cocktails in the future. Garnishes for the bar, as well as many vegetables for the restaurant, will come from a hydroponic garden in the basement that is currently under construction.
Denver-based Gypsy Raw Juice, whose juices are available to Atticus’ guests, will soon be incorporated into the cocktail menu as well. This rotating selection of fresh cold-pressed juices adds a few vitamins to your beverage and a great deal of dimension to the bar program.
With a desire to go above and beyond and really create a sense of community, Atticus is also developing cocktail classes for guests that will be held on Sunday evenings.
“Everybody gets a super cool class, gets dinner and gets to hang out and maybe meet some people from the neighborhood,” explains Fitzpatrick. “[Guests] will make two or three drinks along with the bartenders, so they learn how to shake, how not to water it down, what you’re looking for in your cocktails.”
Cocktail students will also be sent home with a goodie-bag including everything used during the class – except the booze – so drinks can be recreated at home.
The warm ambience of Atticus offers a comfortable escape from the busy streets outside, and is perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing place to catch up with a friend or plug-in out of the office for a few hours. Truly filling a void in the South Denver neighborhood, Atticus is sure to be an exciting new find for anyone who recognizes a quality cocktail and appreciates the value of building community.