At around 3 p.m. every day, the mood shifts at Black Eye Coffee Cap Hill. Bartenders step behind the espresso station and spin the handmade, dark wood cabinetry around. Shelves once filled with glassware are now lined with spirits. Eventually, the lights will dim and the soundtrack will change. The space is transforming into its nighttime identity: White Lies.
Welcome to the coffee shop-cum-bar concept. Black Eye Coffee Cap Hill—the café’s second location (the first is in LoHi)—opened its elegant art deco space in October 2015. The Capitol Hill venue’s bar side, White Lies, launched in July 2016. The distinct personalities merge during happy hour, 3:30 to 6 p.m. daily, as caffeinated freelancers are steadily replaced by after-work friends.
The evening drinks menu (Black Eye serves booze in the a.m., too) changes three or four times per year. It lists around 15 house cocktails, a concise wine list, and two taps, one of which is always filled with Domestica ale from Denver’s Ratio Beerworks, while the other rotates weekly.
“We like to feature spirits that other people might not know too much about or carry,” says Seth VanLaanen, general and operations manager. “We focus on smaller, local distilleries and more artisan spirits.” That translates to beloved Colorado brands such as Leopold Bros. and Laws Whiskey House, gin aged in sherry barrels, a nitrogen-tapped old fashioned, and an impressive selection of sherries and rosés. Indecisive boozehounds should opt to “get weird.” In White Lies parlance, that means giving the bartender free rein to create a cocktail.
Guests would be smart to peek at the food menu as well. Dinner service features what VanLaanen describes as homegrown favorites with a White Lies twist, such as a roasted beet salad with cashew cream (vegans and vegetarians will find plenty to nosh on here) and short ribs with spaetzle—because even unconventional bars know it’s not smart to drink on an empty stomach. —Daliah Singer
1.5 ounces Altos Reposado tequila
1 ounce Huana Mayan Guanabana liqueur
0.5 ounces honey syrup
0.5 ounces fresh lemon juice
Pinch of activated charcoal
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake firmly. Strain into a rocks glass or double Old Fashioned glass over ice. Enjoy.
“It’s a cult drink at our place. It’s been on the menu since White Lies opened.” —Seth VanLaanen, White Lies
800 Sherman Street
Denver, CO 80203
Open at 5 p.m. daily