Denver’s 4th Annual bRUNch Run



By Jessica H. | Written in Conjunction with Bloody Mary Tour

We like running but have never run an official “race.” I used to slay cross country races in my high school days and Matt schooled kids on the neighborhood block… But the 4th Annual bRUNch Run was our first official race as adults. The bRUNch Run is hosted by bRUNch Running, a running club in Colorado, Arizona, and Texas that meshes the enjoyment of running with the sport of brunch. They host 5K and 10K runs throughout the year followed by mouthwatering brunches at a variety of local restaurants.


We chose to run the 5K for good measure and surprisingly finished faster than we imagined. The runner’s high at the finish line almost made me wonder if we could even stomach brunch, or better yet, drink alcoholic beverages. To stimulate our appetite, we stretched for 10 minutes and listened to Scott Brooks Band serenade the runners with classic rock covers. Then we made our way over to The Real Dill Bloody Mary stand to drink a spicy Bloody made with Tito’s Vodka, The Real Dill Bloody mix, and some briny pickled okra. Nothing is more rewarding than a savory cocktail in the morning.


We explored the various food stands and loved the variety of dishes offered. Our favorite brunch plate was the smoked brisket taco from La Sandia. We also loved the charcuterie-style avocado toast from Hoof Wing & Fin, a food truck we had never heard of but are now trying to find on the Denver streets. Other food items included Quality Italian’s polenta pancakes with lemon ricotta and blueberry compote, Just Be Kitchen’s coconut cream chia seed pudding with grainless granola and fresh fruit, and Hi*Rise Bakery’s bagel sandwiches along with their biscuits and gravy. We also scored some Noosa Yoghurt and Naked Juice to take home.



After replenishing all of our burned calories with food, we stopped by the Barefoot Wine mimosa bar to get fruity mimosas. Barefoot offered various flavors of champagne, topped with a splash of OJ. Bloody Mary Tour and Best Booze Denver get boozy, so we headed over to the beer stand to score a can of Stem Cider. Great Divide brews were also on deck for beer fans.

If you love running, a community of active folks, and brunch, be sure to check out bRUNch Running’s Facebook page to stay tuned for upcoming events!

Bloody Ciders and Creole Cravings: Stem Ciders, The Real Dill, & The Post Pop-Up Brunch


By Jessica H. | In Conjunction with Bloody Mary Tour


Stem Ciders is hosting a series of pop-up events featuring local businesses and restaurants. We attended the recent Creole brunch pop-up featuring The Real Dill and The Post on a sunny Sunday in Stem’s RiNo taproom and patio. Included in each brunch ticket was an all-you-can-eat assortment of food items from The Post and two drinks– whether you chose a Bloody Cider or a cider of your choice.


Stem Ciders is one of our favorite places to grab a drink in Denver. Cider is currently one of our top three preferred boozy beverages and Stem offers an unparalleled array of options in their taproom– and truth be told, they make a mean cider. We have been visiting their RiNo location weekly since we moved into our Five Points row house a year-and-a-half ago. The cozy taproom is adorned in wood and filled with barrels, board games, and oftentimes, live music.


In May, Stem partnered with local pickle company The Real Dill to craft a collaboration cider for The Real Dill’s 5th Anniversary. Thus, the Salted Cucumber Cider was born. The Salted Cucumber Cider is an innovative cider, with light crisp cucumber notes intertwined with subtle hints of apple. At the pop-up brunch, The Real Dill’s Bloody Mary mix was on hand to create Bloody Ciders made with ¼ Bloody Mary mix and ¾ Salted Cucumber Cider. The resulting Bloody Cider was similar to a Michelada, only way better. You can thank the cider’s cucumber touch for that!

We are avid fans of The Real Dill and have been indulging in their pickles and Bloody Mary mix for years. Their Bloody Mary mix is made from cucumber water leftover from the pickling process and showcases The Real Dill’s commitment to being a zero-waste company. A Bloody Mary bar full of The Real Dill products was available to top-off the breakfast cocktails– think specially-made cider pickles, Creole okra, garlic green beans, ginger carrots, and pearl onions. popup_bloodymarybar

The Post provided the delicious Creole food spread; all of it was gluten-free! We munched on shrimp and grits, scrambled eggs, biscuits, and spicy collard greens, which we covered with Bloody Mary hollandaise sauce. Any good bruncher knows you have to top off your savory dishes with something sweet, so The Post baked an assortment of breakfast desserts made with Stem Ciders and The Real Dill products. This was the first time we have ever indulged in a chocolate cider breakfast muffin.

We love how this event focused on collaboration between Denver small businesses. After all, this is why Denver is “Denver”: big city dreams with small-town love. Stay tuned for future pop-up events at the Stem Ciders RiNo taproom!

Bad ‘n’ Brunchy: Denver BrunchFest 2017


By Jessica H.

The 2017 Denver BrunchFest was held in sunny Civic Center Park at the end of August. We’re a little late on our write up since we’ve been super busy at our day jobs, but finally — it’s here! BrunchFest was our type of festival, offering bottomless boozy drinks, bites, and plenty of other goodies like Califa Farms’ delicious coffee and Kevita probiotic drinks. There was a photo booth and plenty of iconic places to take photos– check out our shot below in front of the Denver City and County Building! Proceeds from BrunchFest went to support Kids’ Compassion Project and Minds Matter of Denver, two Mile High City-based nonprofits.



BrunchFest took place on one of the hottest days we had experienced all summer, so cold drinks were necessary for cooling our bodies down. An array of drinks was served at the main drink stand, ranging from a Morning Screw to the BrunchPunch, all made with Keel Vodka or champagne. Keel Vodka is low calorie and has a lower ABV than usual spirits so you wake up feeling good the next day! We are more accustomed to higher ABV though; we drank nearly 7 drinks each at BrunchFest without getting too buzzed.

Our favorite libations included the Bloody Mary and the Bullmosa– a twist on your classic mimosa with the addition of Red Bull Tangerine. We also were quite pleased with Bar Helix’s Tiger Woods cocktail, as well as Aperol’s good ol’ Aperol Spritz. Mind you, we probably should have started our morning with the Aperol Spritz instead of ending our morning with it, but alas we were so full after the event that the Aperol didn’t quite “whet our appetite” like aperitifs are supposed to.



Denver BrunchFest had an assortment of sweet and savory brunch foods from some of Denver’s hottest brunch spots. Traditionally we are fans of savory food, so our favorite bites were savory options. Element Kitchen’s steak and eggs won for our personal favorite dish. They made a perfectly cooked (i.e. medium rare) steak with scrambled eggs, sweet potato hash, and veggies (asparagus, anyone?). Esters Neighborhood Pub’s shrimp and grits were packed with flavor, while Departure’s Smoked Salmon Blini with creamy egg yolk, lemon miso, chili, mint, and lime combined Asian and Russian roots full of umami. The best sweet dish was Acero’s pancake stack– topped with glazed bananas!

We are already counting down the days to next year’s BrunchFest and we hope to see you there.

The Brown Palace’s 125th Birthday & Ellyngton’s Champagne Brunch

Denver Restaurants, Events

By Jessica H.


The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa is celebrating their 125th anniversary this year! The Brown Palace was built in 1892 and reigns as the second oldest hotel in Denver. Located in the heart of downtown, the Brown Palace is an iconic building boasting Italian Renaissance architecture designed by architect Frank E. Edbrooke, including an atrium lobby, grand ballroom, and various rooms adorned in Mexican onyx. The building is the second-known fireproof building in United States and was built with sandstone and red granite. Over the past 125 years, famous faces have frequented the Brown Palace, such as The Beatles, Theodore Roosevelt, and the legendary Molly Brown who survived the Titanic shipwreck.


Upon walking into the historic hotel, you are greeted with warmth and nostalgia of the past. Inside, there are various restaurants and bars to choose from, such as Ship Tavern, Palace Arms, Churchill Cigar Bar, and the famed Ellyngton’s. We were delighted to spend time at the Brown Palace recently for the Sunday Champagne Brunch at Ellyngton’s, which is a place where everyone from politicians to movie stars have mingled and dined.

Champagne Brunch at Ellyngton’s is an experience that both Denver residents and visitors to Colorado alike should dive into at some point in their lives, whether it be for a special occasion or when you’re in the mood for a rock star brunch. The Sunday extravaganza recently made Open Table’s “Top 100 Brunches in the US” List; it is the only brunch in Denver on the list. Ellyngton’s is an old-school, evocative restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and ornate decor, located on the first floor of the Brown Palace Hotel. There is a live slow jazz band every Sunday that will serenade you while dining.


Our recent brunch at Ellynton’s was incredible beyond words. We chose the middle-tier champagne, Moët Chandon, for our bottomless option. If you’re looking to live lavishly, opt for Dom Pérignon. The chocolate fondue fountain (with both white and milk chocolate flowing) was our first stop on the bottomless brunch train. We then moved onto the salad bar to get some greens in our body before devouring nearly every other food group in existence.

Next up: seafood dreams. Plates full of raw oysters, fresh sushi rolls, and sashimi graced our taste buds. As we are huge fans of raw fish, this may have been one of our favorite parts of Ellyngton’s brunch. Most modern brunches leave out the raw fish component and opt for your cooked delicacies; Ellyngton’s has no shame in serving up that raw deliciousness bright and early on Sunday morning. To ready our palates for breakfast food, we then nibbled on fresh pastries (all baked in-house) and various artisan cheeses. Subsequently we moved onto an array of breakfast items: sausage, bacon, hash browns and breakfast potatoes, and omelettes made to order (right in front of us!).



At this point, the average person may think they are full, but we prepared our minds (and bellies) to be ready for more. Lunch delights came next. We tried the famous Brown Palace prime rib as well as the meat of the day, which was lamb with raspberry crème sauce (definitely one of our favorite meat-and-sauce combos to date). Then it was time for more fish, barramundi to be exact. The barramundi was delicate and buttery — just like any perfectly-cooked white fish should be. We also tried the cheese blintzes and ordered eggs benedict from our server – -which you can get by the half order. To top it off with finesse, we tried a slice of the freshly baked cherry pie. We left Ellyngton’s full of delectable food, bubbles, and lifetime memories. 

If you are interested in making a reservation for Ellyngton’s Champagne Brunch, you can do so here. The Champagne Brunch takes place from 10 AM – 1:30 PM every Sunday in the famed Brown Palace Hotel.

Happy Hour, Cocktails, & Tasty Bites at Max’s Wine Dive

Denver Restaurants

By Jessica H.


Max’s Wine Dive is a laid-back restaurant in south Capitol Hill with a gourmet food menu and an eclectic wine and cocktail list that touches on southern classics and twists on American favorites. The first Max’s Wine Dive opened in Houston, Texas with the goal of serving up delicious comfort food and a variety of wines in a relaxed environment. Unlike your traditional fine dining restaurants in which men must don a button down and women a cocktail dress, MWD has the food and drink of a fine dining restaurant but in an uber-casual environment. With the love of rock ‘n’ roll and a variety of wines to suit everyone’s tastes, Max’s Wine Dive is a place you can take your parents for Friday dinner or take your best friends for lots of happy hour drinks. 

We have been dying to go to Max’s Wine Dive for some time now and luckily had the chance to visit recently during Friday happy hour. Adorned with wooden tables, warming decor, and a jukebox filled with great albums, the restaurant feels welcoming to anyone who may pass through its doors. We sat at a high top near the jukebox and bookcase-like shelves full of wine to get the full MWD experience. Next to the indoor dining room is a large outdoor patio, perfect for summer brunches and happy hours in the Colorado sunshine. We started out with some happy hour bites and drinks, then moved onto a charcuterie plate, cocktails and some delicious comfort food. 


Happy hour bites are plentiful here: sriracha lime popcorn, shrimp and mango ceviche, man candy bacon, Max’s hot wings, and street corn. We tried the sriracha lime popcorn, which is a delicious twist to your classic popped snack, and the shrimp and mango ceviche — the perfect refreshing dish to eat on a hot summer day.


For happy hour drinks, you have plenty of options. Our favorite option for this summer is the Frico Scarpetta Wine bucket. For $25, you get five cans of sparkling wine or “frico frizzante” from the Italian hills of Veneto. At 10% ABV, this wine is crisp, yet delicate, with succulent bubbles to start your evening off right. Another favorite are the $5 frozen drinks on happy hour which mean one thing: frosé, baby. MWD’s frosé is off the charts — a light pink delicacy fitting for patio weather.

In terms of other drinks, we recommend the 9.19 consisting of Sauvignon Blanc, St. Germain, and vodka — a light cocktail with citrusy vibes — named after the GM’s wedding date and a drink that was served at the celebration. We also loved the Barolo Old Fashioned made with rye whiskey, Barolo Chinato, honey syrup, and house cherry. Barolo Chinato is an after dinner cordial, in between amaro and vermouth, which is made with fruits, spices, and botanicals. It adds a unique twist on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. Their Bloody Mary is also epic — the vodka is infused with various veggies for days and the fried chicken seasoning is used on the rim. 



The cheeseboard is a must. Add the chef’s charcuterie for some tasty cured meats that are thinly sliced in-house. Lastly, the fried chicken is a necessity. MWD is known for their famous southern fried chicken, which is made with jalapeno-buttermilk… And holllyyyyy…. It’s amazing and perfectly tender. I still dream about it. The Max ‘N Cheese is the final thing you must order: made with cavatappi noodles in a truffle cream sauce with provolone, gruyere, parmesan, and white cheddar.

We truly loved Max’s Wine Dive and recommend you go there ASAP– whether it be for happy hour, dinner, or brunch. Happy hour is served from 4- 6 PM Monday through Friday and you can grab brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM- 3 PM.

Breckenridge Brewery’s 27th Annual Hootenanny: Brews, BBQ, & Bluegrass


By Jessica H.


Breckenridge Brewery hosted their annual Hootenanny party this past Saturday, July 8th, in Littleton to celebrate the brewery’s 27th Anniversary. Breckenridge Brewery was founded in– you guessed it– Breckenridge, Colorado, in 1990 and expanded to Littleton in 2015. The Littleton location is absolutely stunning–  with a tasting room, brewery, and Farm House Restaurant and Beer Garden. The Farm House area alone has a huge back porch and yard (complete with cornhole and fire pits), which make you feel truly at home while at Breckenridge Brewery. Of course, the true “Colorado” feeling isn’t complete without stunning views of the Rocky Mountains that you can see from several points on the property. It was the perfect location to celebrate Breckenridge Brewery’s 27th birthday and to take in the wonderful brews, BBQ, and bluegrass that made up this year’s Hootenanny.


Beers were flowing and we had the opportunity to sample a few of our old and new Breck Brew favorites. One of our go-to Breck beers is Agave Wheat, offering a light, refreshing flavor that is complimented by subtle notes of agave nectar. We also really enjoyed the Summer Pils: a Bohemian-style Pilsner that is light on the mouth, touching on floral notes with a dry finish. The Experimental IPA was another crowd-pleaser, offering a hoppy taste that wasn’t overpowering like we find in some IPAs. Our final favorite: Tequila Ophelia —  a special release of the brewery’s spring seasonal Ophelia Hoppy Wheat Ale aged in tequila barrels, with tastes of tropical fruit and the perfect hint of citrus.  We did sample some more beers in the tasting room — ranging from Nitros to some small batch varietals — but we are your classic fans of light and hoppy beers.


Woodhill Small Batch BBQ was dishing out fresh pulled pork from *gasp* three smoked hogs throughout the event. This was the first time we experienced eating pulled pork directly from a whole hog. It was an incredible moment that we will never forget. Sides of coleslaw and baked beans were served alongside the pulled pork sammies, while two different Colorado sauce companies (Golden Toad and Danny Cash Hot Sauce) offered an array of spicy and sweet sauces to top it all off. May we also note that Danny Cash had a Bloody Mary mix on deck that was added to our final glass of Agave Wheat for a little red beer action?!


Now, the event wouldn’t have been a hootenanny if there wasn’t a bold bluegrass lineup involved! Bluegrass greats such as Sam Bush, Jeff Austin, Andy Thorn (of Leftover Salmon), Phoffman/ Beck Quartet (of Greensky Bluegrass), Gipsy Moon, and many more graced the crowds with their feet-stompin’ tunes. Our favorite show of the day was Sam Bush Band because we got to hear some tunes off of their newest album Storyman.


There is really nothing better than sipping on Colorado beers and eating fresh hog while listening to bluegrass music in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. We want to thank Breckenridge Brewery for having us and we can’t wait to celebrate your 28th birthday next year!


Tequila and Tacos at Denver’s Top Taco 2017


By Jessica H.

tt_margThe city of Denver descended on Top Taco last evening, an all-inclusive event offering unlimited tacos, tequila cocktails (and shots!), awesome swag gifts, and a whole lot of fun. The festival is in its fourth year and took place at the River North Festival Grounds near the beautiful Platte River. Best Booze Denver were enlisted as tequila drink judges, so we arrived during the early entry hour to sample the goods. We’re so thankful judging occurred during the early entry hour because once the GA ticket holders were let in, things got crazy. And busy. But what would an epic party be without the masses?! It was a giant summertime fiesta with over 40 Denver restaurants slangin’ tacos and cocktails, tequila companies dishing out their best varieties, two stages with live music, photo booths, yard games, and much more. Needless to say, it was the hottest party of the summer.

My favorite tacos were from Scratch Burrito (who put an incredible seasoning on the tortilla) and Del Frisco’s Grille (who made their famous Ahi Tacos, which is simply a crunchy ahi tuna taco with avocado and spicy citrus mayo). The Professional Winner of the traditional taco category was Diego’s and the People’s Choice Winner was Machete. For the creative taco category, Scratch Burrito was the Professional Winner and Range was the People’s Choice Winner. Lastly, Comida took the gold as both the Professional and People’s Choice Winner in the vegetarian taco category.


Now let’s talk tequila. I think my absolute favorite tequila drink at the festival was Scratch Burrito’s Humble Bumblebee, which consisted of Peach Street D’Agave (peach tequila made from Palisade, Colorado peaches), Colorado wildflower honey, charred banana and pineapple, jalapeno, mint, and lemon. The Humble Bumblebee held the perfect contrast between sweet and spicy. Bananas and pineapple were charred over a grill, then flash-infused and muddled to create the perfect blackened notes in the cocktail.


I also really enjoyed Dos Santos’ Dos Tsunami because it was a twist on your classic Capri Sun — served in a bag with a straw! It was also ridiculously refreshing. This cocktail included Deleon Platinum, Teakoe Tea’s peach tea, guava nectar, Backyard Soda Company’s mango jalapeno syrup, fresh lime juice, and Tajin (a Mexican chile pepper seasoning) sprinkled on top.


My favorite shot of tequila had to be Codigo 1530’s Rosa. Codigo was serving up shots in ice shot glasses (yes, shot glasses made of ice), which may be the best way to take a chilled shot. The Rosa variety is Codigo 1530’s Blanco tequila aged in uncharred Napa Cabernet French White Oak barrels for one month. Can you say I’m sold?!

The Professional Winner of the cocktail category was SOL Cocina and the People’s Choice Winner was Machete.

We are already stoked for next year’s Top Taco Denver! Until then, we will still be drinking a lot of tequila drinks and eating many, many tacos.

A big thank you to Top Taco and DiningOut Magazine Denver/Boulder for having us and to all of the wonderful restaurants, tequila folks, and rest of the crew that made the event possible. Cheers!