"So many people are saying Where the hell are we? when they walk in," says Ty Fulcher, one of the owners at Fort Collins' week-old underground cocktail bar Social. He owns Social with Ryan Houdek of Fort Collins Rodizio Grill and Melting Pot restaurants. Fulcher's 7 years of sommelier experience and Houdek's many years in Fort Collins' dining scene have created a thoughtful culinary love child in Social. The best part about it: You'd never know it was there from the outside. "You transport to somewhere else when you walk in," Fulcher says.
There's a small clock that lists the bar's name in lowercase letters at its discreet entrance a half block east of the intersection of Mountain and College in Old Town Square. "You come down the stairs to Disneyland-like 1920's music and absinthe posters. It's not what people are expecting."
The vibe at Social is Moulin Rouge meets Williams & Graham, with a contemporary spin. High ceilings and clean lines, a simple black bar, and dim lighting all showcase the colorful jars of pickling cocktail ingredients, and the heart of Social's food menu: a meat slicer named Emilio.
"Our food is charcuterie-focused," says Fulcher. "And no pun intended but we serve social foods. We have a menu meant for eating with other people."
Available at Social are three varieties of charcuterie plates that boast cured hams, salamis, and chef selections like spicy cured pork shoulder, and a small plates menu broken up into cold and warm categories. Guests are encouraged to share bread boards from local pastry shop Little Bird, deviled eggs, a flight of cheeses with lavendar honey and blackberry sage jam, and roasted bone marrow, served with parsely salad. "We're one of the only places in town with marrow on the menu," Fulcher says. "We're going through 10 to 20 bones a night, and everyone takes the bones home for their dogs."
The main driver behind Social is a desire to bring crafted, ingredient-focused cocktails to a town deeply submerged in beer. "Where we've has been excelling in our beer culture we've been lacking in our cocktail culture. A lot of us are driving to Denver and Boulder to eat and drink, and its getting expensive to do that driving."
Social's extensive cocktail menu, created by bartender Raffi Jergerian starts with the classics, covers its bases with clever mocktails, moves on to Social Experiments, and evolves into one of Social's mainstay items, bottled cocktails. For $30, guests can order Negronis, Manhattans, or La Cicyclettes— made with gin, elderflower liqueur, Lillet Blanc, and apple bitters— to serve three or four.
Social is open Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Wednesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.