Monday, October 2, 2017

Speakeasy: Colorado Springs - Brooklyn's on Boulder Street

Lorraine Masonheimer has been scouting modern day speakeasy theme bars in Colorado Springs and she found a great one - Brooklyn's on Boulder Street. 

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns…she walks into mine” says Bogart with a hangdog expression, his drink in hand and a brooding heart in the movie Casablanca.  Reminiscent of that era, step back in time and order up a handcrafted work of cocktail art at the gin joint Brooklyn’s on Boulder Street in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  

Why do speakeasies have a special place on Mystery Playground?  It harkens back to the days of film noir inspired by hard-boiled American crime dime-store novels that ooze the night with back alleys, silhouetted figures in the shadows and bartenders who have seen it all.  Often books were set during prohibition where not-so-gentle men met up with not-so-innocent dames to wet their whistles at a back-alley speakeasy and hope the coppers don’t find them.

No such concern today with the re-birth of the perfectly legal speakeasy and Brooklyn’s on Boulder Street is a shining example minus the crime plus the sneakiness.  Once inside the front of a men’s haberdashery, patrons ring the doorbell, an eye-level slot slides open, a set of eyeballs give the once-over and your night has just been made.  The tasting room is owned and operated by Lee Spirits Company and every drink begins with their gin. 
The cocktail program is lovingly crafted by head bartender Nate Windham.  “Their [Lee Spirits] whole idea was to build a gin that fit into classic cocktails exactly as the recipe was written” says Windham.  His collection of cocktail books from the 19th century provides inspiration for the prohibition joints iconic masterful drinks.  Cocktails at Brooklyn’s are as historically accurate to those served during prohibition as Windham can provide.
Carlos David Garcia served up masterful drinks with flair
The drink menu changes according to the season and includes house classics, classical seasonal drinks and creative seasonal drinks.  We tippled the Martinez, a classy cousin of the Manhattan made with jalapeno infused gin to “kick” off the night.  The drink mixes the flavors of juniper, maraschino, caramel and Italian vermouth lending a hint of cinnamon on the palate.  No kidding—there was no cinnamon in the drink.  They are just that good.  
We moved onto the Aviation with cherry and floral citrus that was light, crisp and refreshing.  An adventurous member of our party ordered the Dr. Seuss made with cocoa gin, forbidden fruit, sweet vermouth, orange juice and egg whites.  Deliciously forbidden.  We quickly began offering tastes of our drinks around the table and each drink was unique, well-balanced and tasty.  The menu offered a bit of fun light reading.  Each cocktail has a fun quote.  The Final Word cocktail quotes Hemingway saying “I drink to make other people more interesting.”  And the drinks were exceptionally interesting.
The intimate dark, rich and classy room has an aura of sneakiness to it in keeping with the speakeasy theme.  We were captivated by the experience from the opening slot in the front door through to leaving by the back door, into a side alley as we faded into the night.   
The house rules establish a fun, jovial yet sincere atmosphere.  Printed on the menu patrons respectfully fulfill the following:
1. Do not bring anyone here you wouldn’t take to grandma’s for Sunday dinner.
2. We believe in free speech, but inside voices are always appreciated.
3. While inside please refrain from taking phone calls: Texting is encouraged, so is posting pics of the bar on your FB, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter accounts.
4.     Our drinks are often labor intensive; your patience is greatly appreciated. Trust us it’s worth the wait.
5. As this is a small bar & we have to make rent, we may ask for your table after you’ve finished.
6. On drunkenness; when the bartender says you’ve had enough — you have.
7. We are a gin distillery, so we serve gin, we do not have J├Ągermeister or Red Bull or Fireball.
8. Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies. Ladies, feel free to start a conversation or ask the bartender to introduce you. If a man you do not know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly & ignore him.
9. Please exit out the back quietly & briskly; then come back tomorrow.

Needless to say, our spirited group of 16 spoke “easy” while we noshed on tasty appetizers to include a charcuterie board but the roast beef sliders were a hit.  They were served with tender flatbread, horseradish-mayo, perfectly prepared roast beef, feta, sage and pure happiness.  We slowly relished each sip of our cocktail or two… okay maybe three!  

As we exited out the back, our steps echoed off the alley walls and the streetlight reflected in the pools of rainwater.  A perfect noir ending to a perfect evening with friends.   I thought to myself, of all the gin joints in all the towns, I’m glad Brooklyn’s walked into mine.

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