Lee Spirits finally to open speakeasy; Pizzeria Rustica expands upstairs 

Side Dish

Tailored gin

At last month's Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival, Lee Spirits Co. (leespirits.com) won a gold medal for its dry gin — a coup, given it's been around less than a year. Now, more big news: On Saturday, Nov. 21, LSC finally opens its downtown speakeasy at 110 E. Boulder St., for Thursday through Saturday service, 5 p.m. to close.

From the outside, says co-owner Ian Lee, guests will only see a sign for Brooklyn's on Boulder Street, a 1920s-style men's tailor shop. Enter the tiny 7-by-7-foot haberdashery where fine garments flank a mannequin, and ring a bell for service; an employee will escort you back. There, you'll discover an "industrial Victorian vibe," he says.

All drinks will be constructed from LSC gin (which will also be sold by the bottle on-site), but Ian emphasizes that everything in your glass will actually be house-made, from big-block ice to syrups, tinctures and bitters. LSC wants to be as true to the pre-Prohibition and Prohibition periods as possible, making drinks just as they were back then.

Classic options will include Negroni and Tom Collins versions and a gin Old Fashioned that Ian says will make you question why you ever drank the whiskey version. "The gin has a wider range of flavors than normal whiskey," he says. "It's more dynamic."

Seasonal drinks will immediately include a Bees Knees, made with lemon juice and lavender-infused honey. Also look for hot or cold "tea service," Lee says, "where we serve you tea that we've made like a cocktail, with gin in it."

Each drink will include a detailed flavor description, he says, so guests know exactly what to expect. Soon, expect some type of small-plate, limited food service.

"What speakeasies were in the '20s were places to congregate with friends and talk news and politics, it was your Facebook feed," Lee says. "Our goal is to replicate that in as many ways as physically possible."

Upping Rustica

Following in the footsteps of La Baguette, with its weekend-only La Baguette Upstairs concept, Pizzeria Rustica (2527 W. Colorado Ave., pizzeriarustica.com) recently announced plans for Enoteca Rustica, a Thursday-through-Saturday tribute to Italy's touristy tasting rooms, above the eatery.

Co-owner Dave Brackett lists a host of uses for the new unit, including private dining space and spillover space for a drink or small bite while the pizzeria's on a wait. But with its own cold kitchen, it'll also be available as a "date-night-friendly"destination of its own for a cocktail, beer or wine with antipasti or dessert. He plans to stock items exclusive to Enoteca, such as newly created appetizers and unique digestifs.

Brackett says he'll also plan progressive dinners between his businesses. Expect this one to open around month's end.

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