“No appetizers, no fuss, just one drink to set the mood for our evening.”
A few years ago, I made the switch from bar hopping to restaurant hopping. It could have been a symptom of age, but I think it had more to do with seeking quality drinks. The transition was easy because some of my favorite eateries have outstanding bar programs and produce some of the best cocktails in town. I sit at the bar, order some food and a drink. I stay longer if the mood is right or move on to another spot. Then repeat the same pattern as needed.
One Friday night out with friends, we were going to have a proper, sit-down dinner at a restaurant in Boulder called Frasca. Then the plan was to shake things up and get a drink and dessert at another restaurant, Oak at Fourteenth.
But we made one stop before our adventure in Boulder: a drink at our house. No appetizers, no fuss, just one drink to set the mood for our evening. I chose to make a cocktail I’ve enjoyed so many times before called the Stephania.
Back in the day when I was in law school in Boulder, I loved sitting at the bar at Frasca on weeknights after a long day of studying. This is where I first met bar manager Bryan Dayton and tasted his delicious Stephania cocktail.
Bryan is now one of three owners of Oak at Fourteenth, along with chef Steve Redzikowski and manager Annie Polk. Oak is four blocks up the road from Frasca, an easy walk after a nice meal. This restaurant is as spectacular as it is different from Frasca in both food and atmosphere. Bryan is well-recognized for his way with mixing drinks, and the cocktail list at Oak shows off his talents well. He still mixes the Stephania.
Here is the recipe, slightly adapted to suit my taste. It’s called the Steph if you use vodka, and the Stephania if you use gin.
(created by Bryan Dayton)
1 part Gin (or vodka)
1 part Aperol
1 part St. Germain
2 parts Grapefruit Juice
Mix it all in a shaker over ice, and pour in chilled martini glasses. Serve before a night of restaurant hopping.