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At the confluence of art and bar culture comes Ultra Flat Black — named for the deepest black spray paint color, explains co-owner and well-regarded graffiti muralist and tattoo artist Paes164. Think of it as a small art gallery you can drink in, versus a bar that happens to have some art on the walls. The artistry informs everything from a lively events calendar — open mic Tuesdays, SIN and karaoke nights Wednesdays, silent discos on some Thursdays, live music or comedians on Fridays and Saturdays, and kizomba dance coming on Sundays (check their social media for programming updates) — to colorful cocktail designs by head bartender Andrew “Darte” Rodarte. Art shows are refreshed on First Fridays monthly.

Don’t go here if you’re seeking a high-end $14 cocktail with housemade infusions and all that — it’s not a craft cocktail bar. What it is instead is a totally non-pretentious, fun lounge with great service, a lot of personality and well-made $9 cocktails that don’t shy from commercial ingredients, but include some top shelf spirits regardless. Darte runs us through several house specialties he created, and leans heavy on Blue Curaçao for dramatic color effect along with fresh fruit garnishes, and he doesn’t shy away from a sugar rim or amusing shots, like one that tasted like green tea as a combo of Jameson, peach schnapps and sweet and sour. Our Indy food team had a blast hanging out with him — he even converted my cohorts into becoming bourbon drinkers via the Hoss The Boss cocktail. It’s a mix of Bulleit, kiwi and blueberry flavors and the Curaçao and it drinks right down easy with a skewer of blueberries for garnish. The Don Juan de Drinko delivers tequila with kiwi and watermelon flavors, lime juice, Triple Sec and a candied kiwi wheel for garnish; it makes for a delightful margarita spinoff with a giant ice cube for dilution control in a pint glass. Going a different direction, the Buddha Bliss is a gin drink with cucumber and kiwi flavors, lime, ginger beer (for a mule homage) and a Curaçao drip, and the Banksy Blues is a vodka-based sipper with blueberry, Curaçao, bitters and tonic served up in a martini glass with blueberry and lemon garnish.

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Given the small size of the bar, the ingredient redundancies make sense, but if you aren’t feeling blue, go for the Murder She Wrote, a great Bloody Mary with balanced spiciness and acidity, made with Texas’ Enchanted Rock Vodka, lime juice, Frank’s RedHot and Worcestershire sauce with a Tajín rim and pickle and blue-cheese-stuffed olive garnish. Darte serves us a bowl of Lojo’s Salsa with tortilla chips, telling us that they just won second place in this year’s Pueblo Chili Salsa Showdown. I study the label to see common salsa ingredients, but man do they have the ratios dialed in, ’cuz it’s the good stuff, smoldering spicy from jalapeños but not very hot, with a modest sweet finish from some sugar in the mix.

Food & Drink Editor

Matthew Schniper is the Food and Drink Editor at the Colorado Springs Indy. He began freelancing with the Indy in mid-2004 and joined full-time in early 2006, contributing arts, food, environmental and feature writing.