Mild Obsessions: December

Old Fashioned Cocktail VariationSince I spent pretty much the entire month of December excessively imbibing, dining out and celebrating, it should come as no surprise that some (okay, all) of this month’s picks pertain to the pleasures of gluttony.

The Old Fashioned Variation
Served @ The Populist
Vida mezcal, rose water, agave syrup and rhubarb bitters (shown)
It looks so innocent, doesn’t it? You’d never guess that a modest sip of this clear, ice-cold concoction will roll through your mouth like a billow of smoke and roses, trailed by the lingering flavor of sultry leather. If I could rename this cocktail, I’d call it a Midnight Cowboy … it’s strapping, charismatic and leaves you fantasizing long after your last taste.

Los Chingones
They had me at pork stomach tacos. But that’s just me. This small Mexican restaurant in Ballpark could go unnoticed, except it’s one of the latest outposts by Troy Guard of TAG, which should bring some much-needed attention to that nondescript corner of soon-to-open eateries and shops. The menu has everything from exotic little street tacos to innovative Mexican-inspired cocktails. My favorite tacos so far: Chicken Leg (with achiote, cabbage, queso fresco and crispy chicken skin), Octopus (with cabbage, orange, crispy parsnip and pasilla chile) and Pork Stomach.

Zoku Ice Sphere Molds
After frequenting local cocktail havens like Colt & Gray, I’ve developed an appreciation for those single, oversized ice cubes the bartenders serve with their carefully crafted cocktails, but I haven’t been able to talk myself into buying an ice pick to recreate the effect at home. Hence, this set of silicone ice molds, which easily produces two perfect orbs for your drinking pleasure.


An Ode to The Squeaky Bean

The radish appetizer, like a little garden of deliciousness.

Have you ever had one of those serendipitous moments when you kind of just stumble into a place, only to realize you’ve accidentally discovered something wonderful? That’s a bit like how I found The Squeaky Bean. Well, not exactly. My boyfriend suggested it as we were wandering around downtown after a Great Divide brewery tour, hoping to find somewhere that looked interesting for dinner and continued-drinking.

So, The Squeaky Bean is housed in one of those nondescript downtown buildings that has a vaguely historical feel, but once you step inside, this place has considerably more character. The recessed dining room touts exposed brick walls, a giant Bingo board with various numbers lit up, and metallic chandeliers made from random things like reflective glass or silver spoons. Naturally, we sat at the bar, which was decorated with rows of Mason jars filled colorful, house-made cocktail cherries—oh, and a Farrah Fawcett shrine. Seriously. Continue reading

Girl Look at That Body

This is not me–but it could be. Photo by flickr/lululemon athletica

Every time I try to get back into working out, it always starts out the same way. I’m really going to do it this time, I think. I just need to work out every day—okay, at least three times a week—and eat healthy. Only salads. Maybe with some boiled chicken breast. Or I could try to go vegan. I could be skinny in like, two weeks if I went vegan.

Usually, my attempts are short lived.

Last year, I decided to try Krav Maga, which is basically self-defense with the added bonus of eye gouging and groin kicking (“You want to kick your attacker in the head, through their groin!”), but I think I only went three times in six months, all within my first week of membership. I’ve tried Cardio Tennis (fun, but expensive), Barre Conditioning (painful, even though I never actually broke a sweat), YogaSculpt (the unofficial tenth circle of hell, complete with free weights and dance music) and most recently, CrossCut, which my best friend teaches and, despite his best efforts, ended up being too hard for a wimp like me. (In all fairness, his website did warn that the classes involved “a high level of exertion,” but somehow, I still imagined I’d look like the sweating, smiling babes in this Eric Prydz video.)

I was lamenting about this to one of my friends, about how I hated working out (and more so, spending an hour out of my day being terrible at something in front of other people), and she replied, “Well, maybe tomorrow you should just spend some time doing things you’re good at.” Well…maybe that’s an excellent idea. Why didn’t I think of that before?

I’ve always been so focused on self-improvement and broadening my proverbial horizon that sometimes I skip out on the activities I’m naturally good at, like yoga. Or happy hour. I digress. Even in The Fire Starter Sessions (which I’m currently obsessed with), Danielle LaPorte attests, “Being well-rounded is highly overrated. Your most valuable currency is what comes most naturally to you.”

So, I decided to take up ButiCycle, which is half an hour of cycling, followed by half an hour of yoga, interjected with some good ol’ fashioned booty-poppin’ and hip thrusting. It’s that perfect combination of something new and something familiar. Am I amazing at it? Um, questionable. But I’m pretty damn good at about half of it, which should keep me encouraged enough to keep going. Well, at least for the next two weeks.

Do Something That Scares You…and Other Misadventures

Photo by flickr/dherrera_96

Lately, I’ve been trying to abide by the adage “Do one thing every day that scares you.” And I’m not talking about jumping from moving trains or trying to pick up a rattlesnake or anything heroic—just little stuff, like striking up conversation with a stranger or trying something new (even if that means making myself look stupid, which it usually does).

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Pop-Up Restaurant: Decadent Doughnuts + Craft Coffee

Pop-Up Doughnut & Coffee Shop, shown with menu and the “Summer”

This morning, my boyfriend announced that he wanted to take me on a date—right at that moment. Where would we be going on a date at 10:30 in the morning? Well, as it turns out, The Inventing Room (a team of renegade culinary alchemists), had recently opened a pop-up restaurant at Table 6, serving up innovative doughnuts and craft coffee creations. So, naturally, I took a break from writing and enjoyed a leisurely trip to this ephemeral sweet shop.

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Escape to Eldorado Springs

My friend Natalie snapped this awesome picture of Eldorado Springs Pool.

It’s no secret that reclining at the pool has been a well-established pastime of mine, especially after years of living in Vegas, where that translates to frosty cocktails, perfectly bronzed bodies and an upbeat soundtrack provided by superstar DJs. Well, things are a little different in Colorado, and I have to admit, I actually enjoyed the change.

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Trip to the Tropics: 5 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Denver

Adrift Tiki Bar

Adrift Tiki Bar

Yesterday was one of those gloomy, wet days that makes you forget all about the tantalizing, 80-degree weather the day before (yep, this is Colorado). Fortunately, marginal employment affords me a pretty flexible schedule these days, so instead of lamenting the dreary weather, I spent my Monday chasing tropical pursuits around the city:

1. Denver Nature & Science Museum: This is always a good standby when you’re going stir crazy and need to get out of the house during rainy/snowy weather. Yesterday, we checked out the Lizards & Snakes exhibit, which had more than 60 live snakes (silent scream!) and lizards. My favorite was the chameleon, which really does change colors when it walks onto different foliage (in case you were wondering). Tip: I happened to discover by dumb luck that around 1:45 p.m. on a weekday is the best time to visit. That’s when field trip buses depart, taking gaggles of screaming children back to school and leaving behind a quiet, line-free museum.

2. Adrift Tiki Bar: I don’t know if it was the smiling hula girl paintings or the retro exotica music playing in the background, but this South Seas hideaway on South Broadway was just the tropical escape I needed yesterday. Their menu is packed with Polynesian-inspired small plates and classic (read: high-octane) cocktails like mai tais, zombies and (my favorite) the Macadamia Nut Chi Chi: a sweet, nutty blend of macadamia nut liqueur, vodka, coconut cream and pineapple juice. Other things to order: the carnita pork slider with charred pineapple and green onion aioli, and the mofongo chips, which are basically smashed green plantain patties that are fried and drizzled with a sticky-sweet coconut rum glaze. Yum.

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