Celebrate Good Times!

Dreaming up the cocktail that best says “group hug!”

Multicolored confetti against a bright blue sky.
After COVID, it's confetti all day, every day. / Copyright: sommersby

We asked Colorado bartenders, “What is the perfect drink to celebrate the end of social distancing?” The collective answer? Something boozy, over-the-top, and communal.

Two highball glasses of whiskey next to each other, one neat and one on the rocks.
Neat or on the rocks? Doesn’t matter; no one’s going to make fun of your whiskey choices after surviving a pandemic.

Sean Kenyon, bartender and proprietor, Occidental and Williams & Graham, Denver

The thought I keep coming back to is simply a round of whiskey shots with our entire crew, followed by hugs for all. I want to salute them for all they have endured and thank them for their dedication to kindness, hospitality, and service, all while risking their health and safety. Since we are an industry hangout, I would fill a room with our industry regulars and get them all a shorty Genesee Cream Ale and a whiskey shot—and then follow suit.

Mark Stanford, beverage director, Truffle Pig, Steamboat Springs

Because we’re in a ski town, we tend to take everything up a notch. Hence, here’s a pond skim—with a twist:

We’re talking a swimming pool–sized pond chiseled deep into our snow base, bobbing with grown adults in inappropriate and unseasonal ’80s athletic gear and sleeveless NASCAR T-shirts. The pond is filled, of course, with Champagne. It’s surrounded by buckets of various alcohols ranging from rotgut gin to Everclear. Every patron is equipped with a straw and a complete lack of self-control. Snorkels?! A must. Dive in, fill your snorkel, then chug. This lasts for days because someone else (the resort?) is paying for the Champagne.

Devin Chapnick, formerly of Poka Lola Social Club, Denver

In an absolute affront to the isolation we endured, the one cocktail that comes to mind is the celebration cake.

Gaudy and decadent, the celebration cake is an enormous Ramos gin fizz. It’s garnished with citrus ribbons, mint leaves, flowers, confetti, and whatever else you can get to stay on top of the foamy head. I would serve it in a large chalice, to be consumed as quickly and by as many people as possible. It takes a ludicrous amount of effort to make, but is worth every bit of it. The rhythm of an army of shakers after so many months of stillness and the shared moment of joy at the sight of the rising foam would be quite the celebration indeed.

Clare Buckelew, bar manager, Tributary Food Hall, Golden

COVID forced us to confront things we probably didn’t want to, whether it was a job we didn’t like or a relationship that needed work, not to mention the grief over half a million lost lives. We missed our friends, our coworkers, and our families. The silver lining for me was becoming more aware of the keen importance of gathering with people. As a lover of tequila, I’m going to have to say a big-ass glass of silver tequila will be my post-COVID party toast.

Chad Michael George, managing partner, Piney Wine & Spirits, Evergreen

I’ll be making a massive zombie bowl. Why? Well, didn’t we all think this was going to turn into the zombie apocalypse? I sure did. What better way to celebrate not morphing into the walking dead than a colossal cocktail with a few dozen straws for all your germy friends!

Ceramic scorpion bowl filled with boozy punch and with half a lime on fire. Out-of-focus backbar in background.
Post-pandemic, we want the germiest, most communal cocktail possible.

Mike McGill, bar manager, Highland Tap & Burger, Denver

Sharing a huge, ridiculously strong, fruity drink [like the LoHi Sling, below] with your friends will be the thing to do after COVID is finally over. I have fond memories of sharing scorpion bowls on the rooftop of K’s China in Boulder on a beautiful afternoon. I am excited to get back to that!

LoHi Sling

Serves one, multiply by four to fill a punch bowl.

  • 1 ½ ounces Family Jones Juniper Jones Gin
  • ¾ ounce peppercorn syrup
  • ½ ounce grenadine
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces fresh pineapple juice
  • ½ ounce Bénédictine
  • ½ ounce Grand Marnier

Combine all ingredients, stir, and serve over ice. Serve multiple portions scorpion bowl–style in a huge punch bowl with a fistful of ridiculously long straws.

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com


  1. Great suggestions! We’ll be visiting all of these restaurants and bars to say hello to the bartenders and try out the suggested drinks :-)!


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