I have spent the last few months sacrificing my liver for you. You’re welcome. This is the second or third time that my wife and I purchased the passport but this is the first time we decided to make a real go of it. Even though we started about a month late we were able to fill our book with 38 stamps.
The what: The Passport Program is a city specific book that contains two-fer-one drinks at a variety of establishments. Generally this will include a signature cocktail or beer. One use per participant (even if there are multiple locations). There are also a few other perks that we will get to. $25 bucks gets you a book. The 2018 Denver Summer edition had a total of 66 establishments that honored the deal. Should you get it? Well, that depends on how much you drink and how much variety you like in your life.
Total places visited: 38
# of cocktails: 27
# of beers: 11
Avg cocktail cost: $9.50
Avg beer cost: $6.18
My wife and I would pick a neighborhood and map it out based on what we wanted to drink. We had two nights that net us at least five stamps. On our inaugural night in RiNo we hit American Bonded, Stem Ciders, Ratio Beerworks, Odell’s new taproom, and Kiss + Ride at Zeppelin Station. Towards the end of the season we did a Jefferson Park/LoHi day with Sarto’s, Low Country Kitchen, Lola Coastal Mexican, Root Down, and The Family Jones. We were going to hit there… as well but it was too damn busy so we had a drink at the dive bar next door.
There are multiple pockets of participants and make for good neighborhood bar crawlin’. It was a good opportunity to explore new places that wouldn’t normally be on our radar. As a dedicated carnivore I never would have tried Vital Root, but ventured in during our Berkeley day. The pun-ly named Edible Beet at the Edible Beats concept (Linger, Ophelia’s, Root Down…) was a tasty mix of tequila, beet juice, pineapple, and lime.
Some of the standouts: My favorite cocktail was the “Neem Neem” at The Tartarian (also in Berkeley). Tatarian is an unpretentious little cocktail bar on Tennyson where all of the cocktails are named after trees. The “Neem Neem” is Jamaican rum, añejo rum, white pepper cashew orgeat, toasted coconut cream, pineapple juice, and tiki bitters. It was lovingly crafted, refreshing and sweet without being cloying.
My wife really enjoyed the “Porch Swing” at Low Country Kitchen in LoHi. Oolang Tea Infused Four Roses Bourbon, Peach infused Flor de Caña 4 Year, pineapple, blueberry and basil in a highball and you have a fresh sip of the South. The ingredients were particularly well balanced and this was the kind of cocktail you could drink one or 50 on a hot summer day. Low Country also slung a mean Vieux Carré.
If we were handing out awards, the prettiest drink nod would go to Ultreia, in Union Station, for the “Wendy Peffercorn” and “Darkest Hour”. Although these drinks don’t appear to be on the menu any longer, they are definitely worth noting and hopefully they’ll make a come back. Full disclosure: it’s not you, it’s me. I am not a gin fan and Ultreia is a gin bar. If you are one of those people that enjoy a good glass of Old Spice, this is the place for you. And their food is excellent!
So again, should you get it? I don’t know. How much do you drink? You need to hit about three to four places to break even. The Old Fashioned at The Cooper Lounge is exactly the kind of cocktail you want to drink in a vintage-style bar in a train station, but was also the most spendy at $15 bucks. There were a few in that range but I would venture to say you will, on average, save about $9.50 a pop for most cocktails, and $6 at the participating breweries.
There were a few other benefits as well. Marquis and Sexy Pizza both offered two-fer slices. There are a smattering of other coupons and what self-respecting Denver publication wouldn’t have at least one dispensary represented? But, the best perk other than the booze was a two-fer on UMS tickets. That alone paid for the Passport as we spent a Saturday on South Broadway bar-hoppin’ and listening to some great bands.
We write this as we receive our Denver Passport Winter Edition. It only has three stamps so far and imagine by the time the winter program ends in April, there will be quite a few more. We have high hopes that the Winter Edition will be as rewarding as the Summer. It does have more than a smattering of coffee houses that are participating for the cold weather months. We will drink our fill and be sure to report back.