Icing on the Cake
15 N. Union Blvd., 633-5151, yourcakestore.com
Owner Mischa Halberg has been decorating specialty cakes for six years, opening Icing on the Cake a few months ago near busy Union and Pikes Peak. She keeps a full case of retail items for the drive-by traffic, including small $2.50 cupcakes — excellent, based on our samplings. Buttercream icings bear true flavors: coconut with toasted coconut flakes atop a coconut cake; lemon atop white cake with a raspberry preserve core; and cherry on a chocolate cake with cherry pie filling.
We also grab a gluten-free rice flour brownie with chocolate buttercream frosting ($2.50), indistinguishable from a regular brownie, with deep cocoa essence. Halberg's "snow balls" (two for $1.25) are essentially well-made Italian wedding cookies, for which she also makes a coconut instead of lemon option. The only stumble is scorched-tasting coffee ($1) and lattes ($3) from Organo-brand powder, which she's considering replacing. Inquire when you visit. — MS
Paradox Beer Company
10 Buffalo Court, Divide, 719/686-8081, paradoxbeercompany.com
Around a year after leaving Woodland Park, Paradox finally opened the doors of its Divide taproom early this summer. And we visit on the worst day possible — the night before, the town lost power for between four and six hours, spoiling everything on-site except for the house-made chips and, thankfully, the beer. We get a basket of chips ($7.95) with rich french onion and bright goat cheese dips.
A flight ($13) includes four 5-ounce pours. Farmhouse hoptagram comes hoppy on the nose, sipping crisp and mildly funky. Tart noire balances pinot noir grape tartness with a rich dark ale. Future knowledge, a wild-fermented ale, manages big oak without overwhelming. And Paradox kills it on more conventional styles, as exemplified by a molasses-forward imperial Baltic porter, procession, or their style-perfect Märzen, achtung panzer ($3/5-ounces). Even in a crisis, Paradox doesn't miss a beat. — GS
1807 N. Union Blvd., 822-6484, av8coffee.com
Helena and Neal Eby took over this drive-thru kiosk, formerly Higher Grounds Coffee, in April. He had left a 20-year Air Force career and she'd formerly operated a bar in South Korea, where they met. Trading night for day hours, the two attended a week-long coffee training course in Texas, then chose High Rise and Spanish Peaks as local roasting partners.
For the Afterburner ($4.50/16-ounce), they modified HGC's popular Mexican Mocha; it now gets ancho chili powder, nutmeg and cinnamon with dark chocolate for a mild back-of-throat burn. Thankfully, it doesn't smack too sweet. The caramel mocha frappe ($5.75/24-ounce) does go full Candyland, by nature. Only our cold brew ($2.75/16-ounce) disappoints, bitter without nuance, tasting more like regular brewed dark roast coffee left to sit. Neal says they're experimenting with small-batch French Press brews and different beans. Hopefully, that yields improvement soon. — MS