Nestled in Denver’s Rino 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.
At this distillery, everything is carefully crafted, from their spirits to their kitchen, all the way down to their bathroom décor—seriously. Let’s dive in to find out why this is one of the best distilleries in Denver!
The Award-Winning Spirits
Ironton currently offers eleven different spirits, including whiskey, gin, and absinthe. They’re all distilled onsite using custom stills (lovingly named Carl, Margot, and Tamala). 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.
Another top spirit is Ironton’s American Straight Malt Whiskey. After winning two awards already this year, it’s quickly becoming America’s favorite new whiskey. Aged for a minimum of two years in charred new American oak barrels, this whiskey offers a sweet, smokey malt flavor. Ironton also released their Rye Malt Whiskey in July, and will release their Colorado Bourbon Whiskey in September. Give all three of these whiskeys a try for an authentic taste of the Rockies.
The Mouth-Watering Food
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’ and they’ve got great eats like the ‘Iron Cap Hash’ and the ‘Bacon & Whiskey Waffle.’
But let’s talk about their pizza…
I have tried a LOT of wood fired pizzas in my day, and this is easily one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. The toppings are so fresh, and the cheese is perfectly baked, but the crust is out of this world. It’s crunchy but chewy, and it’s covered in a delicious seasoning and big, hunkin’ pieces of kosher salt. It would be a sin to leave any of your crust behind. Each pizza is named after the mines from the now ghost town where Ironton got their name. So, enjoy ‘The Silver Wave’ which is their take on a Hawaiian pizza, or ‘The Yankee Girl’ which is similar—but way better—than a classic margherita.
And if you save room for dessert, then you can indulge in delicious, boozy ice cream. Try the coffee ice cream infused with Ironton’s coffee liqueur and served with pink peppercorns and a caramel swirl. Or enjoy the peach whiskey ice cream that’s made with fresh peaches, ginger beer, and mint, and served with a hefty drizzle of Ironton’s American single malt whiskey.
The Fun, Weekly Events
There’s so much more to do at Ironton than just drink and eat—though I’d be perfectly happy just doing that. Every month, their calendar is packed with different events like live music, free movies in the garden, comedy shows, drag queen brunch, and much more. On top of that, they also host an art gallery for local, underrepresented artists to share their work. Every month, a new artist gets to display their art throughout the gallery, all at no charge to them. Ironton hosts a kick-off party at the beginning of the month to showcase the artist’s work. In addition, the artist works with John, the bar manager, to craft a cocktail of the month that’s inspired by the artist’s work.
It’s clear that Ironton loves to give back to the community and the planet. They source as many ingredients as they can from local, Denver farms and even use their onsite gardens for many seasonal ingredients, like plums, cherries, pears, lavender, mint, and ponderosa pine needles. They also use leftover grains from the distilling process in their kitchen, adding them to the pizza dough, crackers, and even dog food that they sell! Any other leftover grains are given to local farmers to help feed their cattle.
Thank you to Kelsey and John for giving me a full tour of Ironton. It was a pleasure meeting you and learning all about your business. 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.