The Colorado nightlife scene is full of innovative bartenders and mixologists. It seems there is always always a new spin on cocktails, meaning another reason to celebrate.
Here are some of our favorite ways to taste the fall - seven innovative seasonal cocktails to add to your nightlife bucket list, and warm up your belly as the temps begin to drop.
White negroni at Elway's
Spirits pros say the negroni is one of the hottest cocktails for 2017, but you've probably never tried one quite like this.
The White Negroni came to the menu as part of a new bar program, where bartenders were invited to come up with their own new, creative mixes -- using only liquors made right here in Colorado. The best made the menu. This drink was invented by bartender Taylor Violette.
Beware: This drink is hardcore. Looking for something lighter? The Belvedere Blackberry Smash was originally a summery drink, but it's so popular (we hear it's the most popular signature cocktail on the list) that Elway's decided to keep it on for fall. The Bel is made with Belvedere vodka, blackberry compote, cranberry juice and ginger ale. Cranberry is fall, right?
In addition, Elway's new bar program only offers draught beers from breweries within walking distance of the restaurant -- which turns out to be a lot. Highlights include the Graham Cracker Porter from the Denver Beer Co., a classic Altbier from Prost Brewing and the American Pilsner from Good River Beer company (they donate a portion of the proceeds to river conservation).
Pumpkin Spice Martini at William Oliver's Publick House
William Oliver's Publick House in Fort Collins is the perfect, rustic, cozy bar to retreat to when the weather gets chilly. Colorado whiskeys and local brews abound here -- with a good list of $4 whiskeys, too. (For a fun fall one, how about the Bird Dog Peppermint Moonshine?)
It wouldn't be fall without a pumpkin-flavored something, and the Winter Wonders section of the Publick House's menu has you covered: The PSL Martini is where pumpkin spice lattes meet martinis.
This totally fall beverage blends housemade pumpkin spice with Dancing Pines Chai and Richardo's decaf coffee liqueurs, accented with vanilla and cream. Start your day with a pumpkin spice latte, and end it with a pumpkin spice martini.
Not digging the pumpkin everything? William Oliver's offers plenty more. Another highlight on its winter menu is called Falling Into Winter. This fun spin on an Old Fashioned brings together Basil Hayden Bourbon, CopperMuse Amaretto, Grade A Maple Syrup, lemon, and bitters.
Bonus: The food here is, uh, "bacon-centric." The specialty is thickly sliced, hand-cut chunks of applewood smoked bacon. Add bacon to your cocktail. Order it on anything on the menu. Eat it alone. William Oliver's proclaims it serves "the best bacon in the world."
Death + Company at The Wobbly Olive
The Wobbly Olive in Colorado Springs knows its cocktails, and its list of libations is lengthy. It serves up everything from shared punch bowls to agave cocktails (ideal for warmer weather). The Olive claims to have the most innovative cocktail list in the Springs, and it doesn't disappoint.
In the fall, try the Wobbly Olive's Death + Company cocktail as a beverage treat or a dessert you can drink. It's a mixture of Larceny Bourbon, coffee-infused Carpano Antica Vermouth, demerara syrup, raw egg yolk and heavy cream.
The Wobbly Olive has a pumpkin drink, too. Its pumpkin pie martini is the business's top seller every fall. It's only offered for a limited time.
Or if you have an Old Fashioned on the mind, the Wobbly Olive's collection spans the classic original (Larceny Bourbon, Baker’s sugar syrup and Angostura bitters), to the tea-inspired Black Pearl with rye (Redemption Rye, earl grey tea syrup, Fee Bros. Old Fashioned Bitters), to the sweet Chocolate Old Fashioned, made with 291 Colorado Bourbon, Fee Bros. Aztec Chocolate Bitters and housemade vanilla syrup.
Feeling adventurous? Order the Laws of Attraction, made with Laws Four Grain Bourbon, Marie Laveau Tobacco Bitters, Amaro Montenegro and Orange Oleo-Saccharum.
Whiskey Apple Pie at Harvest
Take a quintessential fall dessert and mix it with a classic fall spirit, and you get the Whiskey Apple Pie at Harvest by Kelly Liken in Edwards, just outside of Vail.
This new restaurant is the creation of celebrity chef Liken, a James Beard Award nominee, as well as "Top Chef" and "Iron Chef" star.
The Whiskey Apple Pie is a clever mixture of Leopold's Apple Whiskey, Stirrings Ginger Liquor, a dash of applesauce (yeah, you read that right), and topped with ginger ale. Top it with a slice of apple and serve it up in a double old-fashioned glass.
This drinkable dessert will warm you from the inside-out, while you sit by the roaring fireplace with jaw-dropping views of Vail Valley. Harvest is located in the Sonnenalp Club, a golf course, and it boasts the best views in the Vail area. We back up that claim.
Spooky Smoked Manhattan at Fire
Fire, a fine-dining restaurant in the elegant and quirky Art Hotel in Denver's Golden Triangle art district, always serves up a stellar smoked Manhattan.
Especially for the Halloween season, however, Fire has a fun twist: a spooky eyeball ice cube. This drink is served smoking, like it came straight out a witch's cauldron.
This festive drink is made with local Buffalo Trace bourbon, Carpano Antica, orange bitters and, of course, smoke.
Non-American whiskey at Williams & Graham
Whiskey is a quintessential cold-weather drink (although most definitely consumed year-round in whiskey-loving Colorado). Although Williams & Graham is known for its selection of American whiskeys, it also offers a section of its menu that you don't see in every bar: Irish, Canadian and Japanese whiskeys. Although there's something to say about a well-made Colorado bourbon, trying versions from other parts of the world is interesting and educational.
Try them alone or in a cocktail. For example, the Tipperary is a mixed drink of Michael Collins (Irish whiskey), Punt Y Mes and Green Chartreuse.
The whiskey house experience at the Oxford Hotel
While the sexy Cruise Room bar -- modeled after an upscale, historic, Art Deco lounge on the Queen Mary -- is a great place to snag a martini and other cocktails, the hotel home of this bar also has a special fall special.
Denver's Oxford Hotel has teamed up with Colorado's Laws Whiskey House for three pretty wild whiskey packages.
Because sometimes the best fall drink is local whiskey, straight.
All of the new whiskey packages at the Oxford Hotel include lodging and a VIP tour of the Laws Whiskey House.
The first level is the Laws Whiskey House Experience. It includes a night at the Oxford, a tour of Laws (including transportation to and from), a whiskey tasting and a bottle of four grain straight bourbon. This starts around $375 a night.
The next level is the Bucket List Package. Brace yourself for this one:
Two nights at the Oxford in the presidential suite, first-class airfare from anywhere in the country to Denver, a limo to and from Laws, a tour by the founder, tasting of every Laws product (even rare whiskeys), a single-barrel selection of Laws to be hand-bottled, custom-labeled and shipped back home (complete with the entire empty barrel as a take-home trophy), a whiskey-pairing dinner, professional photos and a full set of signed Laws Whiskey bottles.
Oh, but that's not even the top package.
The final package is an unbelievable Oxford Laws Million Dollar VIP Package.
It includes everything on the Bucket List Package, plus the chance to design a custom bourbon recipe that Laws will make, four to five barrels of that whiskey with a label and the founder will get a tattoo of your choosing on his right leg.
The price tag: per the name of the package, $1 million. Hey, a whiskey-lover can dream, right?
Interested in booking a stay at the Oxford Hotel? Click here to book your night -- whiskey package or not.
Learn how to make your own cocktails in time for your holiday dinners and parties.
Rising Sun Distillery (www.risingsundistillery.com) in Denver organizes cocktail-crafting classes, where participants can learn how to make simple syrups and garnishes, and how to properly shake, stir, pour and taste.