Denver’s 5280 Magazine is a gorgeous periodical that delivers a wealth of information to readers about what’s going on the the Mile High City. Food, drink, events and personalities are highlighted each month and it’s one of those magazines I don’t have delivered but am helpless to resist when I see the latest version at either Sunflower Market or Whole Foods. Often highlighting a ‘Best of’ list for something in Denver; I’m a total sucker to see what is the best of the places I never seem to get to!
The most recent issue included a ‘Best’ list that was near and dear to my cocktail loving heart, ‘The 35 Best Bars in Denver.’ Included in that list are what the magazine has discovered, due I’m sure to diligent and difficult work, as the best from Denver’s dive bars to cocktail lounges. I was contacted by a magazine staffer to see if I would be interested in featuring one of the special cocktails that they discovered in this gargantuan effort. Of course I said yes but let’s be honest; they really should have contacted me BEFORE so that I could have helped them don’t you think? I knew you would agree!
My only caveat was that I preferred preparing a cocktail that would not require weeks of preparation (as in no home brewed bitters please). I wanted one relatively easy to prepare so that both myself and my readers could pull it together without having to search far and wide for ingredients. During my conversation with Natasha, the editor of the piece, it was suggested that I prepare the Ophelia cocktail from Olivéa’s, a restaurant and bar located in an area in Denver called Uptown; located east of Denver’s downtown area along 17th Avenue.
The area is home to several favorite Denver restaurants but Olivéa’s brought something new and needed to the area with Mediterranean cuisine and fabulous cocktails. Overseen by the husband-and-wife team of exec chef John Broening and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, Olivéa pays extraordinary attention to detail and this cocktail is no exception. It has certainly whet my appetite; next on the agenda is a field trip to nosh on some of the dishes friends have shared with me that I MUST try!
I have to tell you; this cocktail is a keeper. Combining the scent of Juniper berries in the gin with the herbaceous pine scent of rosemary in a simple syrup and then melding those aromatics with fresh lemon and club soda made for an excellent libation.
This is a sophisticated cocktail that I am so glad I was asked to create. As much as I’ve loved the plethora of pink cocktails recently, certainly due to my love of cranberries, cherries and blood oranges, I’m glad to have a less ‘girly’ cocktail in my repertoire…this is definitely a drink everyone will enjoy!
Check out bartender David Provencher making the Ophelia cocktail at Olivéa (I’ve reduced his portions to ‘home size’ which means enough for 4-5 cocktails):
- 719 E. 17th Ave. Denver, CO 80203
- Phone: 303-861-5050
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- 1/4 cup ground rosemary (use an herb grinder, a coffee grinder or a small food processor)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 and 1/2 oz of Tangueray Gin
- 3/4 oz rosemary syrup
- 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon, squeezed)
- Club Soda
- Sprig of rosemary for garnish
- Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and rosemary and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and steep the mixture off heat for 45 minutes.
- Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a container. (The accompanying video has a visual reference for the depth of color that should be achieved; a light golden syrup).
- Fill glass with ice.
- Add gin, lemon and rosemary simple syrup and stir.
- Top with club soda, stir briefly and garnish with a rosemary sprig.
Photo of chefs John Broening and Yasmin Lozada-Hisson from Olivéa