Denver Meets Scandinavia at Trillium

Taste the Rainbow
Denver Meets Scandinavia at Trillium

Trillium, in the Ballpark neighborhood, is a feast for the senses. One of the few places in Denver with an emphasis on Scandinavian cuisine, the sights, smells and tastes of Trillium will delight and intrigue at the same time.

First, one is taken in by the look of Trillium. The simple, yet elegant, furnishings combine wood and metal, straight lines and curves, modern and historic all in one. The high ceiling and windows bring in tons of natural light. Then you are hit by the scent of herbs and spices coming from both the open kitchen and the bar. Scandinavian cuisine is a little different and General Manager Brandon Bortles enlightened us.

In Scandinavia, where winters are long, food needs to be preserved. Bortles says Scandinavians do that three ways: Pickled, cured and smoked. These methods are the basis of Trillium dishes. From the menu, guests can literally order from a smorgasbord of food, what Bortles playfully calls Scandinavian tapas. Dishes include cured Scottish Salmon, Pork, Bacon & Herb Terrine, Cured Beef Tenderloin with pickled onions and a variety of cheeses. This simple, yet delicious menu is salty and tangy, but tempered with fruit marinades, honey mustards and sweet breads.

What to drink with all these preserved foods? Akvavit, the traditional drink of Scandinavia, of course. Like vodka, akvavit (pronounced ä-kwǝ-vēt) is distilled from either grain or potatoes and flavored with herbs and spices, most commonly caraway, cardamom, anise and fennel. Because akvavit is difficult to get in Colorado, Trillium creates its own with a special blend of these herbs. By itself this 100 Proof liquor has a white cloudy appearance and the flavor takes on a licorice profile. However, Bar Manager Hans Donath, goes even further by infusing akvavit with seasonal fruits, herbs and spices. The bar has over a dozen of these infusions available at any one time. Guests can get a tasting flight of three infusions for $9 or five for $13. Otherwise they are $5 per shot. We highly suggest a flight not only to get a range of tastes, but to see the beautiful rainbow of colors presented on the tray.

Current infusions include Cinnamon-Vanilla (which smells like cinnamon rolls), Apricot-Cayenne, Blackberry, Mint, Hibiscus, Saffron and the truly unique and quite yummy Smoked Tomato. The day of our visit, Donath sliced up a fresh case of Palisade Peaches to begin his next infusion. This tasty infusion should be available at the restaurant by the time you read this.


Akvavit is also found in the bar’s signature cocktail, The Trillium. The cocktail is made from your choice of gin or vodka with St. Germain, lemon, wild blueberry, lavender syrup and a spritz of akvavit on the glass. The cocktail has a soft burgundy color and the scent of berry and lemon. The flavors are berry and lavender and there is a complete absence of the taste of alcohol, which means this cocktail is sneaky good.

Bortles handles the restaurant’s wine selection, which also changes seasonally, while Donath handles the beer kegs. Breweries currently on tap include Prost, Stone, Funkwerks, River North, Boulevard and Black Shirt, while the wines come from all over the world.

Happy Hour is Tuesday through Sunday from 5–7 PM. Well drinks are $4 each, select cocktails and drafts are $5 each and specially selected wines are $6 each. There is also a $6 tapas, oops, we mean smorgasbord menu.

Trillium; 2134 Larimer St.; 303-379-9759


Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Dinner, Fireplace, Spirits, Wine
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