It’s the holiday season in Colorado, and Eater has scoured Denver’s bars, shops, and restaurants for the best presents to give to local food lovers. From pantry essentials to cocktail ingredients, hand-stitched aprons, and knife sharpening services, we’ve got the home cooks and bartenders covered.
Looking to get out of the house with loved ones? A Winter Passport set will provide drink specials at locales across the Front Range and throughout the mountains. Or perhaps one staycation at a food-forward boutique hotel carries the right sentiment. Guests at these lodgings can just stumble upstairs after dinner in one of a handful of award-winning restaurants.
Here, you’ll find two options for custom or curated giftboxes, filled with local coffees, cheeses, candies, and crackers. Stocking stuffers? Check. Splurge items? Check check. Statement pieces? We’ve thrown in a few of those, too. Plus, a selection of gummies and CBD/THC teas for optional unwinding. Read on for 14 gifts and giving inspiration.
Cured Colorado Flagship Box
Boulder’s homey local pantry store offers a variety of charcuterie-packed gift boxes perfect for kitchen stocking, picknicking or dinner partying. The Colorado Flagship comes with Elevation salami, MouCo cheese, Nita Crisp crackers, Frasca red pepper jelly, a Nathan Miller chocolate bar, Greenbelly hot sauce, and more.
Dram Apothecary Syrups and Bitters
Salida-based Dram Apothecary creates hand-foraged bitters, syrups, and switchels that make for great gifts for the home bartender. Bottles can be purchased individually or bought in gift sets like the Alpine Manhattan kit, the Lemon Ginger Hot Toddy kit or the pack of six cocktail bitters. A fan favorite and Good Food Award winner is the Pine Syrup.
Carbon Knife Co Sharpening Stone or Service
RiNo-based Carbon Knife Company is worth a visit for its knowledgeable staff and jaw-dropping collection of Japanese knives and sharpening stones. Interested customers can hear the stories behind the makers and test their perfect blade and handle. For home cooks, the store’s knife repair and sharpening service is a thoughtful touch — one that Denver chefs utilize frequently.
Price: $95 (stone), $5-$30 (sharpening)
Winter Session Apron
Denver craftsmen Winter Session create bags, totes, and wallets but also supply the city’s bartenders and restaurant workers with durable aprons. The selvedge denim shop apron (pictured) is detailed with brass grommets, cotton ties, and comfy cross-back straps. It features chest and waist pockets for everything from a cell phone to plating tweezers.
Winter Edition Passports
Each year, the pocket-sized Passports sell like hotcakes to Denver booze enthusiasts. Their winter warmer editions feature two-for-one craft beverages (cocktails, beers or glasses of wine) at more than 60 local establishments, plus 10 coffee shop specials. The Mountain Passport is a good get for skiers, with 34 road-trip drinking spots. And the Colorado pack combines them all with deals across Denver, Boulder, Colo. Springs, and Fort Collins.
The Block Distilling Co. Spirits
One-year-old RiNo distillery The Block just came out with its first coffee liqueur made with Novo Coffee and packaged in a sweet and stylish little bottle. But gift givers should also check out the house vodka and seasonal gin bottles, which will add some flair (and function) to anyone’s bar cart.
Price: $18 or $31 (but only available at the distillery)
Boulder-based Fortuna chocolates is about to open its first tasting room and chocolate bar this season, but before then, customers should shop online and in specialty stores for these truffles, slabs, and cacao nibs. See flavors such as milk and fig, salty pistachio, and Palisade peaches.
Food Lovers’ Hotel Staycation
From the Source Hotel to Hotel Born, the Maven, the Crawford, and the Ramble (pictured), Denver now has a bed and board option for every taste and design preference. In RiNo, guests can choose from high-end cocktail bars or Israeli food. Near LoDo, the Dairy Block and Milk Market food hall provide plenty of all-day options. Union Station offers a weekend’s worth of dining out. In fact, better to book two nights for optimized eating and drinking.
Price: Varies, check with the hotels
Björn’s Colorado Honey
This Swedish-born producer comes from a long line of beekeepers and has carried the tradition all the way to Colorado where he makes local raw, whipped, and propolis honey. Customers should seriously check out the latter, which combines tree and plant resins and is taken by the spoonful to stave off sickness.
Manofatto Holiday Collection Giftbox
Italian slang for handmade, Manofatto packs an assortment of artisanal goodies into carefully designed gift boxes that can be customized or pre-selected. In the Holiday Collection/Made in Colorado box (pictured), there are Helliemae’s caramels, Cocktail Punk bitters, two Hygge Life Turkish cotton hand towels, a bag of hometown blend Sweet Bloom coffee, and more housewarming items.
Cult favorite Jojo’s Sriracha has set up shop in Pueblo and is using local Colorado chiles for its blends of green and red chili sauces. The wild fermented green sriracha is sour and funky, while the OGX packs some heat from its jalapeños. All are addictive and better than the store-bought alternative.
Death & Co Cocktail Book
Now with a Denver outpost, this infamous New York cocktail destination is known for its original coffee table bestseller, “Modern Classic Cocktails.” But fans of the bar and brand should look for the latest release, out this month, called the “Cocktail Codex.” It gets back to the basics, so customers can learn to master any old fashioned, martini, daiquiri, sidecar, whisky highball or flip.
Stillwater THC/CBD Teas and Gummies
The holidays are tough, and Colorado-based Stillwater offers low-dose CBD and THC gummies, teas, and “dissolvables” to get people through them. Maybe this gift is for a stressed-out sibling or parent, or maybe it’s a present for yourself (no judgment). The teas are especially relaxing in mellow mint and gentle green varieties.
Denver Modern Serving Board
Local furniture and home goods company Denver Modern has designed for restaurants like the Wolf’s Tailor, Acreage, Leña, and Corvus Coffee. Now, home cooks and party hosts can have their own statement piece in a handmade black walnut and brushed brass serving board, you know, for all those cheeses, chocolates, and meats you’ve just purchased.
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