Best Of 2013: Place to Meet Men (tie)
With 10 years under its belt, it's easy to see why Club Q bills itself as "Colorado Springs' best gay bar." It also makes sense that patrons would choose it as Colorado Springs' best place to meet men, a distinction it shares this year with Zodiac. The downtown venue may have the corner on live music, but Club Q boasts the inexhaustibly talented drag deejay Kyree Myst, who can lay claim to hosting, performing at or producing some 200 events a year. And while the two clubs were neck-and-neck in this category, we're confident they'll rise above any rivalry. After all, there are plenty of men to go around. — Bill Forman
Best Of 2013: Place to Meet Women
Adam Shotwell started Sinful Living in January in an effort to "make Colorado Springs more fun for people who don't like to go to church." Even if you do go to church, you might still find a place for yourself with these folks, as their only objective is to create enjoyable events in a judgment-free environment. A party with Adam and Co. might feature fire spinners, body painters and naughty games. One group you might not expect to find in attendance? A significant swinger population from within the military. But lo and behold, with Sinful Living, expect the unexpected.— Gracie Ramsdell
Best Of 2013: Open Mic Night
Best Of 2013: Karaoke Bar
This is the second year in a row that Zodiac has won for its Monday night open mics, and the first for its Thursday night karaoke. Not at all bad for a venue that has yet to reach its third anniversary, and won't until this coming February. "I think we've solidified our identity as Zodiac," says Gentle Fritz, "as opposed to being the bar that used to be ..." The venue co-owner can be forgiven for trailing off before reminding folks of the location's former tenant. (Spoiler: It was the Rocket Room.) Also complementing ongoing live performances by local and touring musicians, Zodiac has added Kids Karaoke on the first Saturday of each month. — Bill Forman
Best of 2012: Bar With a Smokin' Patio
Seventeenth-century French playwright Molière was quoted as saying, "There's nothing quite like tobacco: it's the passion of decent folk, and whoever lives without tobacco doesn't deserve to live." Brutal, I know, but it helps explain a little of smokers' deep passion for their habit. Post-smoking ban, Oscar's owner Phil Duhon created a refuge for the black-lunged: Warmed by patio heaters and protected by plastic walls, his recently reorganized, "shabby chic, beach bar" patio now features a large flat-screen TV with the NFL package, and a killer sound system that enables plenty of live music plus the playing of "old-school MTV videos." The patio, Duhon estimates, now accounts for 40 percent of his overall business. — Matthew Schniper
Source: High Rise Coffee Roasters
Get the: Cucuru Cuban (espresso with steamed cream and organic sugar
With art events, music, alcohol options and tapas, Cucuru is more than just a Cuban-themed coffee shop. But while you're there, be sure to check out High Rise Coffee Roasters-fueled standards.
A central promoter and supporter for all things art and culture in the area, COPPeR helms the online arts listing database peakradar.com and publishes the COPPeR Pages, a printed resource for arts organizations, museums, theaters and film festival groups.
Insider Guide 2010
Colloquially known as "The Indy" or "The Single Most Amazing Piece of Local Print Owned or Not Owned by a Megalith of Publishing" (used interchangeably), the paper boasts 126,000 regular readers and, unlike the local daily, has yet to force-feed a copy of the New Testament to its readers.
Best of 2013: Cultural Attraction/Museum
Best of 2013: Art Exhibition
This year, the FAC's standout show — at least according to Indy readers — was the FAC's groundbreaking Son of Pop by Floyd D. Tunson. The mammoth retrospective of the Manitou Springs artist's work garnered acclaim from both art critics and visitors. "It really has resonated far beyond this community," museum director Blake Milteer says. "That's what you want. You want an artist who has really sent ripples out into the world." The FAC also earns love for its theater and education offerings. "In each area, we did some truly amazing stuff," says president/CEO Sam Gappmayer. Bottom line, the staff works hard to carry on the vision the center's founders formulated in the 1930s: to be a resource for culture in all its variations. — Rhonda Van Pelt
Best Of 2013 • IndyPick: Art Show You Can't Shake: Mother: Photographs by Carol S. Dass
Who would have thought that following around an 85-year-old woman would end up so gripping? Mary watching the rain from her garage. Mary eating a juicy peach. Mary grocery shopping. Mother worked because it was so subtle; nothing forced nor glamorous. Funny? Yes. Somehow so very familiar? Oh yes, I could feel the cotton of Mary's housecoats or the quilt on her bed. In only 27 images, Carol Dass shared a compelling narrative of her mother's life, complete with telling specifics and well-executed mystery. There's so much more about Mary — and my mother, for that matter — than I'll ever know. — Edie Adelstein
Best Of 2012: Local Coffee Roaster
Give the same green coffee to 10 different roasters, and post-roast, "all would be slightly different," says Eric "Harry" Nicol at Colorado Coffee Merchants. That's because the two main variables — roast time and temperature — drastically affect the flavor, and there's no detailed rule book to follow when it comes to the process.
At CCM, a third variable is key to how the company's coffee is roasted: the equipment. Versus the much more common drum roaster, in which the heat comes from outside, CCM's fluid-air bed roaster heats like a "big, oversized popcorn machine," Nicol says. The air flow has a tendency to sift out more smoke and debris, as well as leftover chaff. Why's that important? When you drink a cup of coffee, he says, it's charred chaff that increases the drink's acidity, and can leave both your palate and stomach unhappy.
In the 8½ years since owner Eric Umenhofer opened CCM, the Fillmore Street shop has shifted most of its roasting from an 8-pound machine to a 38-pounder. Coming off that machine these days are two small-batch brands: Ümpire Estate Mountain Roasters and Idle Truck, the latter nodding to Umenhofer's previous career as a local firefighter.
It's unlikely you'll catch the original roaster running during a random stop by the shop — it's primarily used now for developing taste profiles for new coffees. However, drop by midday Monday through Saturday, and you'll probably be able to pick up a whiff of hot beans "popping" through the larger machine while you wait in line to order a latte (or mocha or another fancy drink). CCM roasts daily in order to produce 100 to 150 pounds a day, enough to keep on top of its local business for that day and the next. — Kirsten Akens
Benny's has nothing if not character. And characters. Local blues prodigies like Grant Sabin and Jeremy Vasquez play here on a regular basis, and it's also an excellent pit stop for bikers, barflies and pretty much anyone else who knows how to live the good life.
Happy hour: Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m.
The goods: $2 wine, wells, domestics; $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon; $1 off pitchers
Come here if you are: "Thirsty. I wanted to say 'crazy,' but we've got enough of those."
Local blues prodigies like Grant Sabin and Jeremy Vasquez play here on a regular basis. Benny's is also an excellent pit stop for bikers, barflies and pretty much anyone else who knows how to live the good life.
Best of 2012: Cultural White Knight: Susan Edmondson
As executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Susan Edmondson helps people understand that the arts are critical to a thriving community and economy. And by "arts," she's not just talking about the occasional gallery opening or theater performance; enjoying art could mean listening to a church choir, or taking in locally created paintings hanging in coffee shops. Edmondson sees pockets of creativity all over the city, though she adds that she'd "like to see more venues and more affordable locations for artist studios and performance spaces throughout neighborhoods." Of course, more venues would hopefully attract more people to those venues. "I think we have a passionate core of supporters," she says, "and my goal is to make that core larger." — Darcie Mankell