PHOTOS BY ANDY HAWK
It seems you are always stuck in Friday afternoon hell traffic on I-70—so how to turn that rookie mistake into a veteran recovery?
Plan A was a trust fund. It seemed viable, lots of your friends seem to have them, and they are always happy to text you from the deck of the Red Lion on a random Tuesday afternoon: “Dude, where are you? We’re in Vail.”
Plan B was to found some cool tech startup. Nobody would know what it did, you’d struggle to explain it yourself, but the hours would be flexible because you prioritized work-life balance. You had to, it was the caption to the website photo of your black lab sleeping next to the cruiser bikes and beer on tap in your office (Or your mom’s basement, until you got that second round of funding).
So at best you are on Plan C, and the scope of Plan Cs doesn’t really matter. It means that on Friday afternoon, on every Friday afternoon, you are pinned deep in Elwayville trying to figure out how you can pack and road rage faster and more efficiently than everybody else so you can finally beat the traffic to the mountains. And you are terrible at it.
Whether coming from Denver, Boulder, or Colorado Springs, by the time you get to Golden it is apparent that you and all the other Plan-C underachievers have failed. Nothing to do now but slow down, make better plans and have a drink. Go ahead and start (or finish) in Golden.
State 38 Distilling has been producing agave-based spirits out of its Golden-based facility for a little over a year. You get two free tastings just for walking in, and there’s even a light cocktail menu if you stick around. There’s nothing fancy here, and it doesn’t need to be. The lineup features vodka, gin, and three “tequila-like agave spirits” (to be legally called tequila, it has to be produced in a specific region of Mexico, but that doesn’t mean it can’t taste like tequila!). Head distiller Jon Tewinkle is always experimenting with something, and he does a great job of defending his work by pouring you more. “We’re working on an agave liqueur that will be so smooth and sweet you can put it on your pancakes.” Pro tip: the bottles are square, so your to-go order won’t roll around in the trunk. state-38.com
Golden Moon Distillery If you need to placate a Jetta-load of hipsters, pop right around the corner to the Golden Moon Distillery or to its downtown Golden speakeasy location. Make sure some passenger’s useless liberal arts degree can get you through the Cliffs Notes on the botanical based spirits list, or just head straight for the Bourbon. There is nothing ironic about the Bourbon. goldenmoondistillery.com
When you arrive in the mountains, everyone is comparing I-70 war stories. Nobody can believe how long it took. They thought you were leaving at 1:15 to beat traffic. They left at 2:30 and have been here for 30 mins. You concede that you got a late start and make no mention that at 8 p.m. that trip only takes an hour, or that you have a fresh bottle of craft hooch in your bag. You’re a pro now.
And since you are a pro, you are beginning to realize that you can’t have a full day in the mountains and still hit the road home by 11 a.m. to beat traffic. You are quickly advancing your candidacy for mayor of Slow Down Sunday, holding your first town hall meetings in Breckenridge.
Breckenridge Distillery is a perfect place to not get out of town quickly, and it is the world’s highest distillery. (Be sure to mention the double meaning in your Instagram caption.) Their bourbon and vodka is widely distributed, but there are plenty of reasons (think: the rarely available barrel-aged Manhattan) to go directly to the source. Did we mention the free tastings? In addition to the Distillery, there’ s a tasting room in downtown Breckenridge. Pro Tip: You can get the bourbon anywhere, but not the bloody mary mix, which is delicious. breckenridgedistillery.com
Broken Compass Brewing If you are serious about becoming the mayor, visit more of your constituents at Broken Compass Brewing. It’s right around the corner from the distillery, and quickly becoming a favorite local hangout. The operation has an appealingly simple manufacturing brewery with a comfortable tasting room. The beers are on point, and there’s a pretty good chance one of the brewers will pour your beer personally. They’re really not sure if they are the world’s highest brewery, but they’ll give it a try. brokencompassbrewing.com
—Andy Hawk blew his trust fund when he almost launched a website for a tech startup idea that he had this one time. He is consistently angry about, in no particular order: traffic, having to work on Fridays, and seasonal mountain town residents that go out of their way to tell you they are locals.