Welcome Back to Lola: An old favorite gets a new makeover

The cougar of the Highlands
by Carrie Dow on Jul 28, 2014 in Bars & Restaurants for Lola
Welcome Back to Lola:  An old favorite gets a new makeover

After being around for 12 years, Lola, on the corner of 15th and Boulder, is the Grande Dame of Highlands restaurants.

“Lola was the first…She is the one that really turned this neighborhood around,” says Culinary Director Jamey Fader. Yes, you read that right. He called the restaurant ‘she.’ That’s because after 10 years in the Highlands, he feels Lola has gained a certain maturity and sexiness making her the cougar of Denver restaurants. And once she gets her claws in you, you just keep coming back. However, Lola had a quiet start. 

“There was nothing here before Lola.” Fader is talking about when the restaurant, which began on South Pearl Street, moved into an old building on the dilapidated corner of what is now one of Denver’s hippest neighborhoods, the Highlands. This neighborhood is now home to a variety of the city’s best restaurants, but Lola has endured. After 10 years, Fader thought it was time for a change. Some changes are big, such as a facelift to the interior, a new logo and the hiring of a new chef, Kevin Grossi. Other changes were subtle. The restaurant is now called Lola Mexican Fish House, which is what the restaurant always was according to Fader. They just decided to put it in the name.

Other changes are revealed on the cocktail menu, but some things haven’t changed. Lola has always been a tequila bar. And a tequila bar she will remain. With over 200 types of tequila to choose from, Bar Manager Andy Owens has created a bountiful summer cocktail menu to serve a variety of tastes, but with tequila as the foundation. In creating it, he had a simple thought.

“How do we utilize tequila and present it in manner that keeps people interested?” He does it by using old school brands that have been making the spirit for generations. Owens’ preferred brands are El Tesoro, Casa Noble and Herencia Mexicana.

The Blood Orange Sunrise is made with Casa Noble Blanco, lime, agave, blood orange soda and topped with seasonal “pearls.” The pearls are a bit of molecular gastronomy the bar likes to play with. Currently the pearls are prickly pear and almost too pretty to drink, like little jewels on the top of the cocktail. This pretty in pink drink is surprisingly complex. In fact the taste contains many layers; sweet then sour, tequila then soda. It’s a fun drink that changes with each sip.

The Q Coin is a classic tequila cocktail and perfect for sipping away a hot afternoon. Owen’s adds a twist with muddled cucumber along with agave nectar, fresh lime, a squeeze of orange and El Tesoro Platinum. This fresh from the garden treat is heavy on the cucumber and the tequila, but is smoothed out by the lime and agave giving it plenty of balance.

La Sandia is a summery take on the margarita with Cazadores Reposado, watermelon, habanero simple syrup and lime. The rim of the glass is dusted on one side with house-made spicy chili salt. The scent is melon and the taste is citrusy with a small bite of the habanero in the back of the throat. The chili salt is optional. Owen’s purposely puts just a small amount on the glass for people to try it if they want, or they can ignore that side of the glass if they don’t. However, the chili salt is a nice complement to the watermelon and even takes some of the bite out of the habanero.

For something a little different, the Bebida Morada is a mezcal cocktail. Mezcal is a cousin of tequila with an earthier, smoky flavor. Using Vida Mezcal, this cocktail has crème de violette, blueberries, lime and ginger beer and is served in a tall glass. The cocktail is unique in every way from its purple color to the smoky scent of the mescal to the slightly sweet taste of blueberries and voilette.

The menu will expand in the coming months with the addition of bourbons and gins, but tequila will always be the heart of Lola. The bar also has an interesting mix of beers covering both Mexico and Colorado. The bar’s best beers come from Lola’s sister pub, The Post Brewing Company in Lafayette. The taps change with the season, but right now the bar has the Meathooks Dark Mild, which has a rich malty, buttery texture and taste and a delicious American Lager that will keep parched throats happy all summer long.

Happy Hour is all night long on Mondays, 4–6 PM Tuesday through Friday and 2:30–5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. On Thursdays try the bar’s special Tap Cocktail. The Tap Cocktail is made in a large batch and served from a tap at the bar. Order a pitcher for $20 and it serves five drinks. The current Tap Cocktail is the Ancho Chili Paloma made with Cazadores Reposado, Ancho chili liqueur, and topped with Fresca. 


Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Dinner, Music, Outdoor Seating, Spirits, Tequila
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