Here’s a taste of the speak-easies of yore — with a modern twist.
California’s gold rush wasn’t the only gold rush in the West — nor in the country in the 19th century. A remarkable one was kicked off by Green Russell in 1858, at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River: the current site of Denver. The discovery of gold was instrumental in the Mile High City’s founding and consequential boom, which gave rise to an impressive number of saloons. According to one source, in 1860 there was one saloon per 135 residents.
Gold miner Green Russell’s name and legacy of Denver’s saloons live on in the Green Russell, a chef-driven cocktail lounge located through a pie shop and behind a swinging door in the Larimer Square neighborhood. Chic with Prohibition-era inspiration, the Green Russell employs bartenders worthy of the craft mantle of mixologist. Give them the name of your preferred spirit and a flavor profile and they’re sure to concoct your new favorite drink.
But perhaps you can’t make it down to the Green Russell. Luckily, the classy watering hole has shared the following tipple recipe with C&I.
1½ ounces Wild Turkey Rare Breed bourbon whiskey
½ ounce Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
½ ounce Breckenridge Bitters
½ ounce fresh lemon juice, strained
½ ounce black pepper syrup*
Barritts or Gosling’s ginger beer (or, if preferred, soda water)
Lemon twist, for garnish
Combine first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and then strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lemon twist.
* Black pepper syrup is essentially black pepper-infused simple syrup. To make your own, mix a 2-to-1 ratio of sugar to water in a pot and bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat. Add a generous amount of black peppercorns and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove pot from heat and let peppercorns steep for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup into a jar, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe courtesy the Green Russell.