Take Off for Taste at Departure Denver
Denverites have a new place to land for relaxing while taking off on an adventure of sights, smells and tastes. Departure Denver has landed.
Opened last August as a part of the new Halcyon Hotel in Cherry Creek, Departure is part of the Sage Restaurant Group and has a sister restaurant in Portland. The menu is Pan Asian and, most importantly, is served fast.
“We’re built for speed,” says Bar Manager Brandon Wise. “The trend now is away from drinks taking 20 minutes plus. We built this bar to be efficient, but also to deliver quality in every aspect of what we do. The style is similar to the food. You’ll have plates that come out one after another so [the bar] can match the pace of the kitchen.”
Since Cherry Creek is a prime lunch location, the goal is to get people served quickly without sacrificing taste. Everything is designed to come out fast, so guests have more time to enjoy their lunch break or after work visit.
Something unique to the bar is a menu of mocktails called No Proof. Wise believes that just because someone is not consuming spirits doesn’t mean that they should sacrifice taste. The mocktails are just as delicious and look fantastic. The Tulsi Mule has a basil and ginger scent with is served in a copper mug, just like a Moscow Mule. Made with house-made Thai basil drinking vinegar, lime, ginger beer, and fresh basil, the taste is crisp and bright with fresh mint, basil and ginger beer.
The Bollywood Daiquiri is a remarkable drink, with its bright cream color and dainty lavender flower garnish. Made with coconut water, pineapple, lime, cane syrup and angostura bitters, the scent is cinnamon and cream and the taste is lime citrus and tropical with a coconut finish. No one has to know there isn’t any alcohol.
Departure Cocktails feature a variety of flavors and tastes that will transport diners to other locales. The Eightfold Path is made with Absolute Elyx Vodka, Departure house-made vermouth, Castelvetrano Olive and olive oil topper that is makes for an Instagram-worthy photo. Considered the house martini, the drink is served in a coupe to enhance the scent. The first smell is vermouth and olive with a touch of lemon from the garnish. The taste is a no-fuss, olive-y martini with a dry finish.
The Coral Cityscape is another eye-popping drink served in a flute for extra wow factor. The blue color instantly reminds one of the sea. The drink even smells like the ocean, if that’s possible, and the sugar rim reminds one of a beach. You’ll need the sugar because the taste of the drink skews to the sour with the lime and grapefruit. The mélange is made with Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Gin, grapefruit, lime, melon liqueur, blue curacao and Fever Tree Tonic.
The Piston Honda is an Asian spin on the Manhattan that uses Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whiskey, Bonal Gentian Aperitif, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters. The scent is cherry, orange fruit while the taste is smooth smoky orange with a sweet finish. Hibiki Harmony is a blend of malt and grain whiskies aged up to 20 years and the smoothness comes through this cocktail chilled by a single square ice cube.
With its eye on the Pacific Rim, there is an extensive sake list at Departure, along with a few Asian beers. Enjoy an easy-sipping sake from Hakutsuru Junmai for $10 or Rihaku “Wandering Poet” Junmai Ginjo for $13. There is even a locally-brewed sake, Denver’s own Gaijin LSQ Ginjo from Grandma’s House Brewing. This Denver sake has a smooth, oaky quality and starts out sweet before melding into an alcohol finish. Have some for only $9.
Departure’s wine list may seem small at first, but Wise says the focus is quality with a variety of wines from around the world that emphasize big and bold flavors rather than just price or location. All are available by the glass. If you purchase a bottle, the restaurant will re-seal it for you to take home. Wise says the bar hopes to branch out even more with a Halcyon Rum made in cooperation with Laws Distillery and co-brewing a house beer with Odell’s.
Departure Denver is open for lunch and dinner with a quick and easy menu of sushi, dim sum, salad and sandwiches. Enjoy Pork Belly Sliders with sweet chili bbq sauce for only $14 or go on a taste adventure with a giant bowl of Spicy Miso Ramen made with rich ramen noodles, pork belly and a six-minute egg for $18.
Go set your GPS for taste and head to Departure in Cherry Creek.
Photos via Carrie Dow
Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Food, Sake, Wine