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Single Barrel Craft Burgers ups the stakes off Powers Boulevard 

click to enlarge Gourmet burgers arrive piled high, while drinks disappear plenty easily. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Gourmet burgers arrive piled high, while drinks disappear plenty easily.
A build-your-own Old Fashioned and Manhattan menu option, featuring around 40 whiskeys, four bitters and a few vermouths: fun! We request a few splashes of this and that to guide decisions, resulting in an Akashi Ume Eigashima plum-flavored whisky (from a peated malt, like scotch) with cherry bitters and dry vermouth. Citrus garnish commands the aroma, both cherry and plum lead the flavor, fading to a sherry-like sweetness with a hint of honey and a suggestion of smoke. Hell, this could be on the menu.

But there’s no need to play mixologist if you just want one of Single Barrel Craft Burgers & Brews’ house cocktails ($9-$10), like a candied bacon Old Fashioned with Deerhammer’s excellent single malt whiskey (misidentified as a bourbon, though it’s bourbon-inspired) with orange bitters, maple syrup and a garnish of sweet swine. Ours arrives needing a stir to finish mixing the inputs, but we’re quickly happy.

Our only drink blunder at the newly renovated spot — which replaces The Cow Pub & Grill, under the same owners, Chuck and Heath Schafer, who also operate Peyton’s Purple Toad Social Tap & Grill, with a hand as well in Ivywild’s Prime 25 — comes with an order of the Laws Whiskey margarita, made with their rye, but served sans citrus or sweet balance, overwhelmingly sour and watery with too much ice in a pint glass, burying the fine spirit.
Location Details Single Barrel Craft Burgers & Brews
5885 Stetson Hills Blvd.
Powers
Colorado Springs, CO
465-1704
Bar Food
The spot is awash in good craft beers, many local, such as Dueces Wild’s fine hefeweizen and its outstanding blood orange pale ale. Our only grievance here is the menu itself, bereft of either or both brewery location or beer style. The type of craft nerds this place is trying to cater to will want to know those details when sorting through 40 beers. Still, Single Barrel’s decidedly a step up from the Cow, with Chuck Schafer citing chain competition and a desire to up his game on service and food. Chef Brandon Martin delivers here for the most part (I dinged him last year at the Toad but this shows significant improvement); he’s not perfect, but on a better path with an elevated burger menu ($9.50-$10.50).

Trendy? Sure, but pan-seared, sea-salted shishito peppers shine with a sesame-forward Asian dip. For salads, a Caeser’s tossed in a commercial dressing that’s nicely anchovy expressive, better than most. And you may like the concept of a bacon blue cheese burger salad more than we do; it’s oily and hard to fork ground beef bits that crumble amidst the mixed greens, and with the thick dressing it’s just heavy.

The burger patties, 4-ouncers double stacked for an unruly-tall bite, are blended in large part with steak scraps from Prime 25, hence a pervading richness. The Single Barrel Signature Burger with Swiss, mushrooms and whiskey-onion jam pops with that touch of sweetness, totally fulfilling medium-rare. Our “P” Three is overcooked past request to a medium-well though, overly pungent with cumin that steals from the poblano, provolone and portobello accents. We do like the fluffy brioche buns, and side onion rings are bully with an airy crusting and piquant dip our waitress can’t identify (the staff generally needs more product knowledge).

With a bit more refinement Single Barrel should achieve its aims, but it’s already worthy of a stop-in, if only to build your own whiskey-fueled adventure.

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