Denver’s very own Americana cocktail playground, Union Lodge No. 1, travels back in time to the golden cocktail age of the 19th century seven nights a week at 5pm, offering up the sort of experience your great grandfather would brag about when you were just a tot and a cold bourbon didn’t mean anything to you yet. Oh, how you’ve grown...
OUR ARTICLEBY: Dakota Nate Contributing writer
In a world of twelve-ingredient craft cocktails fashioned by mustached, suspender-wearing barkeeps presenting glasses of potable poison from the small quarters of an artisanal smoking box—you’re just gripping tight to your barstool wondering how much longer it’s going to take until you get to sip the damn thing. Don’t get us wrong here, we appreciate the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the modern mixologist greatly, and we do from time to time belly up to these sorts of bars with bow-tied enthusiasm, however; on a night where we desire something with some much older, richer blood flowing through its veins, we look towards the more classic side of things.
Huggins decided that they would go back in time even further to when the American cocktail bar was actually born—the late 1800s.
The Pre-Prohibition-style bar that was born of a quick trip to buy a dishwasher listed at an address in the heart of Downtown Denver, Union Lodge No. 1’s residence was at the time a small event space that caught the eye of owner Lenka Juchelkova upon arriving to check out the aforementioned appliance. Turns out, the business which inhabited the space at the time of her visit was going under, and it would soon be available. Visions of a cocktail bar rattled Juchelkova’s brain and later when she told her husband, Mark Huggins, the couple was teeming with excitement. Later finding that the building had initially been Oddfellows’ Lodge No. 1, which makes sense considering that the fraternal organization was popular at the time of the building’s construction, this one was a no-brainer for the power couple. As the two are no strangers to taking an age-old location with a rich history and turning it into a beloved watering hole, Huggins and Juchelkova already proved their chops with Tartarian in Berkeley which was once a beauty salon, and The Arvada Tavern in Olde Town.
As The Arvada Tavern gives homage to the era in which it’s sturdy bones were built with classic Prohibition-era cocktails, when it came down to Union Lodge No. 1, Huggins decided that they would go back in time even further to when the American cocktail bar was actually born—the late 1800s. Simple and undiluted, tattered brick surrounds the room whereas the bar itself is probably the most decorated part of the interior. While the decor may be simple and understated, stacks upon stacks of spirits stand tall behind your bartender, with bitters and baubles and god knows what else tucked behind the bar top readily waiting in their arsenal. For those of you who admire the goings-on of yesteryear, the cocktail list is full of liquid history. In an encyclopedic manner, specialties of the past and present are laid out with an excerpt explaining the legacy of each libation. Legends such as the Blue Blazer are recreated traditionally, with a small twist of course — as well as the Sazerac, the Martinez, and oh, so much more.
Quick question: Have you ever had a Ramos Gin Fizz? Better yet, bartenders, have you ever made a Ramos Gin Fizz? Of course you have, and probably even the memory of it makes your arm sore. Whereas even the most patient mixologist will shudder at the request, considering the fact that it requires a hell of a lot of shaking. It requires so much elbow grease that its creator literally hired shaker boys to turn out these babies like hotcakes. This is explained to you in their menu and also happens to be one of the best examples to accentuate Union Lodge No. 1’s unique finesse: The Union Gin Fizz. A take on the painstaking classic that is in fact encouraged by your friendly bartender. What a guy.
That’s enough fizz for now, the bottom line is if you’re looking for vintage speakeasy vibes while trotting around Downtown Denver, don’t sleep on the Lodge — and if you’re looking to order the Red, White, and Blue Blazer, maybe plan accordingly with some flame retardant clothing.
Step through our doors to enjoy a libation of the highest caliber, and be transported to a time before prohibition
You will see fire here, and it’s pretty damn captivating
This classy haunt is a brisk walk from the Maven or the Ramble Hotel
Try what we downed; Pep In Your Step – Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila, Black Pepper Epasote Cordial, Green Chartreuse, Lime, Egg White