D Bar Desserts Lemon Drop Vanilla Bean Martini

The Best Lemon Drop Martini and a visit to D Bar Desserts

June 22, 2012

I was invited to join other local bloggers to participate in a tasting at Denver’s D Bar Desserts as a prelude to Tillamook Cheese Loaf Love Tour in Denver next week; June 23rd through June 30th. Four different restaurants will feature a specialty burger using Tillamook Cheese. If last night’s experience is an example of what diners can expect; this should be a fun week! We sampled some Tillamook Cheese, were treated to a tasting of the burger that D Bar Desserts will be making and for me, the best of all…this oh my gosh Lemon Drop Martini!

Created by Keegan Gerhard & Lisa Bailey, D Bar Desserts was opened in May of 2008 and has been acclaimed every year since.  You might know Keegan from his many appearances on the Food Network Challenge programs. It’s easy to see why he is successful in those endeavors; his comfort in front of our audience was evident. He was gracious and warm and spent time conversing with everyone there and definitely went out of his way to insure that everything was perfect; especially the food! I’m sure I speak for our entire group; we could not have been more impressed.

We started outdoors with appetizers including fresh fruit, samples of different types of Tillamook Cheese and a favorite item on the restaurant menu, some amazing Tillamook cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon.  Cocktails were served and I am so glad I ordered the Lemon Drop Vanilla Bean cocktail I’m featuring. Many thanks to Keegan and his staff for helping me get this cocktail done on such short notice. Be warned…those sugar crystals come in multiple colors; they are sure to be gracing more of my cocktails down the road; I love them!

Denver Burger Week, which runs from June 23 to June 30 will feature four local burger hotspots offering a unique burger special featuring award-winning Tillamook Cheese. Look out Denver for the ‘Loafster’ – the most adorable vehicle ever; a retrofitted 1960’s Volkswagen van. If I had known they made these mini versions I might have been sourcing the country for one too! Here are the participating restaurants and the specialty burger they’ll be serving next week:

  • D Bar Desserts
    KGB 2.0
    – Kobe beef, Applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese, served on a Cheesy waffle stuffed with Pimento cheese. ($12)
  • Rackhouse Pub
    The Saucy
    – Premium certified Angus beef cooked mid-rare to medium, topped with onion, mushroom, and Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese sauce. ($11)
  • Steuben’s
    The Funky Tilla-monkey Burger
    – A Steuben’s burger topped with Tillamook Pepper Jack Cheese, bacon, crispy romaine lettuce, and banana pepper pico de gallo. Served on a locally made brioche bun. ($9)
  • Freshcraft
    Tri Pepper Caribbean Burger
    – House ground lamb and pork Juicy Lucy, stuffed with Tillamook Pepper Jack Cheese, topped with Scotch bonnet sofrito and plantain chips, served on a roasted jalapeño bun. ($10.50)

Now back to that burger! We watched as Keegan prepared herbed, cheesy waffles which would serve as the ‘bun’ for what has to be the most innovative burger I’ve ever had. As he mixed and prepared the waffle mixture; it was the perfect opportunity to wrangle some insight from him on high altitude cooking and much of his theory solidified things I’ve been doing (higher heat is key). Do you want to know how much better I felt when he concurred that angel food cake is HARD; that of the EPIC fail. I’ll try it again now that I’ve got some tips from an expert who also knows the issues of high altitude; I’ll let you know how that works out. ;)

The herbed, cheese stuffed waffle ‘bun’ was amazing but it was the combination of all of the elements that really took this burger over the top. Kobe beef, Applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese were fantastic. I’m thinking I’ll have to get back to D Bar this week; I want a whole one all for myself!

D Bar Desserts made it’s name with desserts; Chef Keegan is an award winning pastry chef so it made sense that his venture would specialize in desserts (though D Bar is more than ‘just’ desserts). Our dessert trio consisted of a luscious chocolate for dipping, a fried pastry that was lovingly referred to as a ‘Chia Churro’ (yes, that’s chia on top!) and an amazing mini creme brulee. My friend Karen, who has a recipe for what she has always considered the best churro was now not so sure; she said these were the lightest, best she has ever had. That rich chocolate sauce for dipping didn’t hurt either. The creme brulee was fantastic. Much like my attitude towards cheesecake, I like them simple and not filled or flavored with a bunch of other ingredients; that perfectly crisp and lightly burned sugar topping should not have to compete and this one was just perfect.

LOVE the flecks of vanilla and grateful for the sparkling sugar tip for the rim!

An altogether fabulous evening filled with wonderful people, some new friends and great food. My thanks to both Tillamook and D Bar Desserts.

This Lemon Drop really was a fabulous cocktail; unique in that lemonade is the base instead of lemon simple syrup and also in it’s inclusion of vanilla bean paste; both the taste and visual effect of floating vanilla flecks made for the best Lemon Drop I’ve ever had. Loved it. You will be thanking them too; this cocktail is divine!

Lemon Drop Martini
Prep time
Total time
Serves: Approximately 2 cups of lemonade mix
For the Lemon Drop Mixture:
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 & ½ tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 lemons
  • ½ lime
  • 1 & ½ - 2 cups cold water
For the Cocktail:
  • 3-4 oz of Lemon Drop Mixture
  • 1.5 oz of Vodka
To Rim the Glass:
  • Lemon slices
  • Sugar (The restaurant used larger granule cake decorating sugar and I HAD to have some. I found it at Michaels.)
To Make the Lemon Drop Mixture:
  1. Blend ¼ cup hot water, sugar and vanilla paste in food processor at low speed while you cut fruit in quarters. Stop blender, add cut fruit and cold water to taste (I had large fruit so used 2 cups). Pulse until no large pieces remain; approximately 5 or 6 times (do not over blend because it could create a sour taste). Strain into container and chill.
To Make the Cocktail:
  1. Rim the edge of a martini glass with lemon juice and dip in sugar.
  2. Combine the Lemon Drop Mixture with vodka in a cocktail mixer. Add ice and shake vigorously 10-12 times. Pour into glass and serve.
I didn't have any vanilla paste on hand so made my own vanilla bean syrup but you can buy the paste online or at Williams-Sonoma stores.

Here is how to make the syrup at home:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise & seeds scraped, pod cut into 1 inch pieces

1 tsp vodka (for preserving)

Combine the water & sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the vanilla beans and the pods and leave uncovered until cooled. Stir in the vodka and pour into a container with a lid and let steep.

Store in the refrigerator.

Join me every Friday for Friday Cocktail Hour when I’ll make a cocktail I love, recreate one from a local establishment or maybe just have some fun experimenting!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carol Katayama August 16, 2012 at 11:28 am

Looks so delicious! I’m going to try this for my cocktail party tomorrow night. The recipe calls for 2 cups of water but the instructions call for adding 3 cups water to make the lemonade?



2 Creative Culinary August 16, 2012 at 11:46 am

Well son of a gun you are right! I got the recipe from D Bar Desserts and pretty much copied and pasted so not sure which is accurate now. I’m going to try and find that email but in the meantime…start with 2 cups of water and taste. You are basically making lemonade so it should taste like it…if too potent, then add the 3rd cup of water. Just be careful with the pulsing…so important that you ‘just’ get the pulp separated from the rind; the white pith can add bitterness. It was such a strange method but it turned out so good I’ll probably use it now just to make lemonade and limeade even without any booze!


3 suzanne November 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

why don’t you remove the pulp from the rind and then blend it.I know that some of the rind gives flavor but you could also just grade some of it into the blender.


4 Creative Culinary November 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Mostly because I was following a chef’s recipe and was intrigued by his method; when the end result was so fantastic I didn’t think of changing it. The pieces of rind are quite large as you stop blending before they really get cut much; straining them out is pretty easy and leaves a fair amount of pulp in the drink.


5 Daria @ Mom in Management July 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

YUM! This looks so good I can’t wait to drop a few pounds and reward myself with one of these!

Great to meet you Barb! Thanks for swinging by and commenting on my blog. :)


6 Creative Culinary July 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

You let me know when you’re ready Daria and I’ll make them FOR you! I actually stopped at Savory Spice Shop yesterday and bought some vanilla bean paste. Pricey stuff but I want to see if there is any difference next time I make them…maybe for you! Nice meeting you too; let’s do coffee sometime.


7 Patty Latzke June 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

I’m curious – the recipe for the lemon drop martini calls for vodka, but the steps include:
To Make Cocktail:
Sugar for rim
3-4 oz of Lemon Drop Mixture
1.5 oz of Tequila

I think it would also be good with tequila… just want to clarify the instructions.


8 Creative Culinary June 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

Not any more it doesn’t!!! I saw your comment and was ‘Ah ah, uh oh, what?’ – See what happens when you think it would be OK to have that martini you made in the AM before typing the post? But you’re also right…betting tequila would work! Thanks a bunch, now I will try to still my heart and start breathing normally again. :)


9 LP @dishclips June 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Very interesting to add vanilla to the lemon drop martini. Thanks for sharing!


10 Creative Culinary June 25, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I love the flavor but having those vanilla beans floating in the cocktail was just plain fun too! What really sets this apart is that it is really a lemonade made in the most unusual way…with a bit of vodka. So good; wish I had one right now even.


11 Kathy Laurienti June 25, 2012 at 7:46 am


Would never have thought to add vanilla to a lemon drop martini. You are amazing.


12 Creative Culinary June 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Well all the credit goes to Keegan…I only get credit for being a bit tenacious in getting the recipe from them. :)


13 Sarah June 25, 2012 at 6:14 am

Ooh, so much fun! Especially like the idea of burger week! I’ll need to visit Denver just for that!


14 Creative Culinary June 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Better hurry! I’ll tell ya…I want another of those waffle burgers. So Amazing!


15 Kate | Food Babbles June 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Wowy!! I am so impressed with this breathtaking cocktail! I love the flecks of vanilla floating in the drink. Simply gorgeous! This sounds like it was a great prelude. Wish I were in Denver this week.


16 Creative Culinary June 23, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Wish you were too! I halved the recipe and it’s gone; that was not a good idea was it? The lemonade alone is so good and I drank it today without the vodka…well, except for the last one. :)


17 Jamie June 23, 2012 at 5:20 am

Wow that burger looks amazing and the ingredients are making me swoon. Reason #439 for me to visit Denver!!! What an exciting and tasty event and I need to get me to the US!!! Happy you!


18 Creative Culinary June 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Truly a fabulous waffle/burger. I’m going to beg for the waffle recipe; cross your fingers I’m successful, OK? Denver is ready my dear. :)


19 Karen Harris June 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm

What a great time. I wish I would have had a lemon drop. What great food. Tillamook cheese is the best. I can’t wait to start experimenting with some of that extra sharp cheddar.


20 Creative Culinary June 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Get thee over here and I’ll serve one to you! Every week, a new favorite cocktail!


21 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme June 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Wow. What a meal! Incredibly inventive burger, delicious cocktail, and to-die-for desserts. Geez…I should live in Denver :-)


22 Creative Culinary June 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Come on over any time…well, let’s wait til this heat wave dissipates…no sense in you leaving heat and humidity for heat. :)


23 Paula June 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm

1. Love the beautiful appetizers
2. Want a little loafster myself
3. Phenomenally innovative burger, so deliciously creative.
4. Dessert…oh my!
5. The cocktail…squeeling that it has vanilla beans in it, love the sugared rim and so envious of all your beautiful photographs…all of them!


24 Creative Culinary June 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Yes you made me chuckle out loud! Everything truly was divine but the cocktail is the only thing I had for breakfast this morning. Oh yes I did! :)


25 Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos June 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

That martini looks divine! You always have the best cocktails. Love the addition of the vanilla paste. Sounds like it was quite the event :)


26 Creative Culinary June 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I’m glad you love them; that is certainly my intent and this one really, truly is to die for. I will be testing another momentarily. Yep.


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