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Now that the official COVID-19 food restrictions in Colorado are a thing of the past, bar and restaurant openings are making a big comeback. Our First Look series is also making a comeback, offering an insight into the latest additions to the Denver culinary scene. First: Ghost donkeywhich opens today, May 27th.
What: Ghost donkey
Where: 1750 Wewatta Street
When: Open from 3:30 p.m. to midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Thursday to Sunday
For more information: Visit ghostdonkey.me
The Burro Tropical comes with a souvenir to take away.
Stephan Werk, Werk Creative
What we saw: After more than a year of drinking mostly at home, it’s almost too stimulating to go to Ghost Donkey – in the Coloradan building, just behind Union Station. The ceiling is covered with bright, twinkling purple lights, and the whole place is bathed in shades of red and a series of multicolored star-like projections; A large white donkey statue watches from one of the cabins. If this all sounds like a lot to a Denver bar, you’re right.
Ghost Donkey’s first location opened in New York City in 2016 (this location was named Cocktail Bar of the Year 2020 by Imbibe magazine). Outposts at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and another in Auckland, New Zealand soon followed. The Denver location echoes interior designer AvroKO’s original design, making it a true NYC transplant in the heart of downtown.
The bar menu offers 65 mezcals and over 25 tequilas, which, according to Ghost Donkey, are “the largest and most exclusive selection of the top selection of the coveted agave spirits in Denver”. We’re calling for a recount, however: Adelitas Cocina y Cantina and neighboring sibling concept La Doña Mezcaleria have a combined collection of over 140 mezcal, according to bartender Christina Reising, and General Manager Marisa Vera says Littleton’s Palenque Cocina y Agaveria has over 200.
The menu includes french fries and guacamole, plus ceviche, and six nacho options developed for the brand by Michelin-starred chef Brad Farmerie that come with a caddy filled with homemade hot sauces.
What surprised us: The rightfully well-curated mezcal list (though not the biggest in Denver). The eye-catching ambience might lead you to believe this is a place built just for looks, but beyond the cocktails – served with side dishes like a rubber donkey to take home – there is a mezcal selection , which offers an impressive variety of agave spirits. most come from family farms in Oaxaca.
Try the pechuga, which means “breast” in Spanish. In this case, the name reflects the fact that this variant of mezcal is traditionally distilled three times, with a raw chicken (or turkey) breast hanging over the spirit in the still during the third distillation. No, it’s not vegetarian, but it’s complex and smooth with a uniquely smooth mouthfeel.
All of Ghost Donkey’s agave spirits are available in 1-ounce toppings that are served with seasonal fruit and salt pairings. However, skip these to really get the full flavor of the liquor you are sipping.
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Molly Martin is the editor of Westword Food & Drink. She has been writing about the Denver restaurant scene since 2013 and has been roaming the city long before that.