Updated: Aug 8, 2022
Denver, Colorado is known as the home of craft beer, legal marijuana, and stunning views of its surrounding mountains. But in the past few years, distilleries have begun popping up all over the city, making it a hotspot for those wanting to sip on quality whiskey, gin, and vodka. To enjoy the best mile-high spirits, check out these Denver distilleries!
Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse
Nestled in Denver’s RiNo Art District is a sprawling outdoor oasis: Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse. Visitors can enjoy delicious food from their craft kitchen, mingle with friends and dogs under the outdoor tent, and sip on all sorts of spirits that have been distilled on site.
Once upon a time, this location was a brick manufacturing building in the iron worker area, but in 2018 co-owners, Laura and Kallyn, renovated it and turned it into a gorgeous, modern distillery. But don’t worry, they kept the industrial vibe of the building alive, and they feature leftover art pieces all over the property.
The most popular spirit is their Ponderosa Gin, which was the very first item distilled by co-owner, Laura. It’s distilled with ponderosa pine needles, lavender, sage, and rosemary that have all been handpicked from their onsite gardens. This baby has won ten awards in the past three years, so yeah—it’s really fricken good. Have it straight up or mix it into their ‘Berry Me in Gin’ cocktail (Ponderosa Gin, mixed berry puree, sage syrup, lime juice, ginger ale), and you’ll forget all of life’s worries.
At Ironton, they have not one but TWO kitchens serving up wood fired pizza, creative charcuterie boards, fresh salads, and so much more.
Their kitchens use locally sourced ingredients to craft innovative menu items all year long. Right now, the menu is filled with spirit infused food and drinks like their aquavit infused housemade mustard and their whiskey cured bacon wrapped dates. Every Sunday, the distillery is packed for brunch, and it’s no wonder why. They’ve got amazing cocktails like the ‘Ryes N’ Shine’ and the ‘Born to Rum’ along with great eats like the ‘Iron Cap Hash’ and the ‘Bacon & Whiskey Waffle.’
I will absolutely be back throughout my stay in Denver, and when friends come to visit, I will bring them here for a great, authentic taste of Colorado.
To learn more, read my full article: Ironton Distillery: One of Denver’s Best Distilleries.
Deviation Distilling takes pride in their unique styles of gin and whiskey. As their name suggests, they don’t follow the crowd, but instead create their own taste and style. Standing out from most distilleries, Deviation uses malted barley, rye, corn, and millet in their distilling process. These ingredients—along with expert craft and care—produces some of the best spirits you’ll taste in Denver. Deviation has been distilling their spirits in Denver since 2017, and they just opened their cocktail lounge at the Dairy Block in September 2021. Visitors to the lounge shouldn’t plan to order simple drinks like a rum and coke or a shot of tequila. Instead, they’ll want to indulge in any of the 40 craft cocktails on the leather-bound menu. The drinks range from tiki cocktails to classics to a variety of old fashioneds, and even their very own barreled cocktails.
While there, I got to try three different drinks, all of which were crafted with time, care, and precision from the expert bartenders. Each drink is an experience to make, and they are absolutely worth the wait.
First up, I had a ‘Shark’s Tooth,’ my first tiki cocktail in Denver! Made with Deviation’s blood orange gin, this drink is served with an extra shot of their barrel aged spice trade gin, just in case you want it extra strong. And come on, who doesn’t? I expected the cocktail to be sweet and sour, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was rather light and creamy. Up next, I tried one of Deviation’s barreled cocktails—the ‘Black Manhattan.’ Mixed and then aged in char #3 white oak barrels, this isn’t like any ordinary Manhattan. It’s complex and strong, giving off a light smoky flavor from the barrel. This drink tastes just as elegant as it looks.
Lastly, I had to try one of the five types of old fashioneds on the menu. I went with the ‘Red Eye,’ a cocktail that combines three different Deviation whiskeys and thai chili bitters (which are made in-house). Surprisingly, I got tastes of chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon from this unique take on a classic. According to the bartender, everyone who tries it—including myself—takes one sip and says “Wow!”
Next time I visit Deviation Distilling, I plan to try their gorgeous gin and tonics which were featured in Forbes magazine, and their Moscow mules that are made with a Brazilian twist.
Denver Distillery opened their doors back in 2018 after spending years renovating a historic building on South Broadway to fit their distillery needs. That involved carving out the entire basement area to make room for four large, cypress wood fermentation tanks, peeling off stucco and shoveling out dirt to reveal gorgeous, authentic stone and brick walls, and jumping through hoops to get their liquor license. But it was all worth it.
Today, Denver Distillery offers a variety of spirits—all made and bottled in-house—using the traditional, old-school method of grain to glass distilling. This means they do everything themselves, by hand, from chopping up sweet potatoes for their sweet potato vodka to fermenting molasses for their rum, to sticking each label on their newly filled bottles (the labels feature stunning artwork from Denver artist, Josh Peter).
The owners really admire the artisanal craft, and it’s obvious in the taste of their spirits and the feel of their distillery-pub. As I sat at the bar, I got to admire the hanging beam above my head that was salvaged from the basement demolition. It now functions as a beautiful, hanging light fixture. The church pews in the corner and the wine barrel tabletops are just some of the other wonderful pieces of character that this pub has to offer.
Now for the alcohol… After learning how the spirits are expertly distilled on location, I got to taste six samples of their finest spirits. The sweet potato vodka absolutely exceeded my expectations. This isn’t the kind of vodka you need to chase with soda or pickle juice. It tastes incredibly clean (probably because it was distilled ten times) and offers a light sweet potato flavored, as promised. Next up, I tried their gin which is—surprisingly—made from rum rather than vodka. It’s then distilled ten times and infused with 20 botanicals, giving it a refreshing, floral taste. Lastly, I really enjoyed their spiced rum. No offense to Captain Morgan, but damn, this was good. It’s spiced with cinnamon, allspice, pink peppercorns, and pineapple to give it a warm, almost Christmasy flavor. I’d add a shot (or two) into my eggnog any time of year. Stop in here for a drink as you wander around Denver’s South Broadway area!
Bear Creek Distillery
Located in the South Denver neighborhood, Bear Creek Distillery (BCD) is crafting all sorts of award-winning spirits and innovative cocktails. BCD was created by three best friends, two of whom went to Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, CO (hence the name). With a passion for creating unique spirits, it was only a matter of time until these guys opened their own distillery. After searching for a year for just the right spot, the friends landed on an old press room that gave off old school saloon vibes. And in 2014, they opened their doors to the South Denver community.
Locals love visiting this grain to bottle distillery to try classics like the Cask Rum Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour, or get a taste of new seasonal favorites like the Strawberry Balsamic Smash or Blueberry Muffin. With 45 cocktails to choose from, visitors will always find something to enjoy. And every season the bartenders whip up seasonally-themed drink specials so there’s always something new to try!
The first spirit distilled at BCD was their straight bourbon, which is aged for two years in American white oak barrels. All of BCD’s barrels sit in a rack house that experiences all four seasons, giving more movement—and richer flavor—to the spirits. In the last five years, their straight bourbon has won five medals; and it’s no wonder why. This spicy and creamy bourbon is perfectly smooth and drinkable on its own or added into any of the custom cocktails that are mixed in-house.
Soon after releasing their straight bourbon, BCD began distilling a wide variety of spirits using their 2,000 liter still system that was custom built in Germany. Every spirit that comes through this process is expertly filtered by hand. One that requires exceptional craft and care is their spiced rum. This delicious rum is naturally infused with vanilla, orange, clove, all spice, pepper corn, and ginger. My favorite part about this rum is that each bottle contains a whole vanilla bean!
As a vodka lover, I was impressed to find that BCD offers three types of vodka: rye, wheat, and corn. My favorite was the corn vodka, distilled from Colorado-based Whiskey Sisters Supply corn. After being distilled 16 times and then being chill filtered, this vodka is slightly sweet and so easy to sip on its own.
Come enjoy a drink in this tap room that’s filled with reclaimed wood, custom steel, and local art!
Started back in 2018 by three friends, Mythology Distillery has made quite an impact on Denver’s distillery scene. In just two years, their spirits have won more than 50 awards, including best in class, double golds and gold medals. Many of these awards have gone to their Hell Bear American Whiskey, Chatter Wolf Vodka, and Needle Pig Gin. Once you taste them, you’ll understand why they’re award winners.
Their taproom is full of eclectic décor that ranges from designer heads of badass creatures to old books to Mexican prayer flags. I took a seat at their bar and tried a sample of five of their best spirits. One of my favorites was their Foragers Gin, which is a special release that uses botanicals from the Denver Botanic Gardens. Even better than the floral, lemony taste is the fact that Mythology donates part of the proceeds back to the Gardens.
After chatting with their staff, it’s clear how passionate they are about their craft. They take the time to properly age their whiskey, taste test every batch of gin, and give their distillers the opportunity to create their own concoctions and mythological logos. It’s no wonder this successful distillery is expanding its wings further into Colorado (more to come on that soon!).
So, wherever you sit—cozied up at the bar, relaxed in their library, or outside with your pup—you’ll love sipping on their spirits and cocktails!
Devil’s Head Distillery
Devil’s Head Distillery was the first small batch craft distillery to open just south of Denver, in Englewood, Colorado. They opened their doors six years ago, naming themselves after the 9,749-foot peak in the Rocky Mountains. The taproom offers a comfortable, welcoming vibe with friendly bartenders and plenty of open seating. All along the walls they feature work from local artists, which they change out every month. And if you want to sit outside, you can grab a spot in their cute, string-lit alleyway.
Devil’s Head specializes in aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit that’s name translates to ‘Water of Life.’ After trying a few samples, I totally understand the name because I could drink this just like water all of my life…
Their traditional aquavit is distilled using botanicals like carraway seeds, dill, and anise, giving it a slight licorice taste that’s similar to absinthe. After trying absinthe in New Orleans, I can confirm that this is much easier to drink than absinthe. Devil’s Head also has an oak barrel reserve aquavit that spends 1.5 years in new, American white oak, charred barrels, which give it its rich amber color. In addition to the color, this type of aquavit also has a deeper, richer flavor that I found delicious. It was even better with a slice of lime!
I also got to try a sample of their 80 proof, 21 time distilled vodka, and I was blown away. I like vodka, but I LOVE this vodka. It’s so incredibly clean and smooth. I would happily drink this by itself, with no need for a mixer.
To enjoy some food with your drinks, stop in on a Saturday! They’ve always got a food truck, that serves up fresh burgers and tacos.
And that’s it for Denver distilleries! Follow along for more great tips on things to eat, drink, and do in major US cities as I travel around the country.