RiNo’s Newest Bar Honey Elixir Makes it Easy to Forgo Booze

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It’s been just over a month since Jocasta Hanson first opened the doors to her serene beverage and small snack venue Honey Elixir. Tucked away in one of RiNo’s well-muraled alleys, the new joint serves an uplifting menu of cacao, jun, tea, cocktails and and non-alcoholic blended drinks, aptly titled potions. One step through the door and it’s clear that both physical and spiritual well-being are foundational to every aspect of the place. Chakra-themed pillows line the couches, plant life permeates every available corner and a massive, glitter-coated rhinoceros by Arrian Yves Wheeler acts as a centerpiece and grounding force. A career bartender for almost 15 years, Hanson built the place for good vibrations. This included the decision to feature alcohol, something many of her peers in the wellness community have chosen to leave off the menu.

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Hanson — a Montana native — moved to Colorado in 2011, citing her home state’s absurdly cold weather and several heartwarming experiences at Red Rocks as the initial impetus. Prior to opening Honey Elixir, she studied psychology at Naropa University before realizing that introducing her concept would directly enable her to act as both healer and host.

Mistaking Hanson’s concoctions for mocktails would be doing a disservice both to the intent and execution of the drinks. Each of her original potions is composed of a combination of juice, tea or non-dairy milk, a variety of herbs and a pair of crystal and flower essences. “I get the crystal essences from a lovely old hippy man in Mount Shasta,” said Hanson, before going on to explain the bohemian’s full-moon ritual which is said to imbue the water with energetic qualities. The beverages are built around a theme, with the process often mirroring the intent. The Dream Serum ($9) is an overnight infusion of peppermint, chamomile, mugwort, damiana, rosemary, rose, elderflower tonic and lavender honey with infusions of blue kyanite, apatite, yellow wooded violet and mimosa. Hanson stresses the importance of the overnight brewing as being central to the mixture’s enchanting character. The Unicorn Heart Song ($11) is a warm mixture of house-made coconut milk, vanilla, butterfly pea flower, pearl powder and infusions of larimar, rainbow lemurian, linden and cherry blossom. The drink is then topped with edible glitter — which Hanson notes is the only FDA approved version of its kind.

While the cocktails don’t shy away from hooch, they are often joined by the kind of nutritious ingredients that seem more Natural Grocers than nightclub. The Liquid Lycium ($14) is Ocho blanco tequila, ginger maple syrup, turmeric bitters, lemon and goji juice. The RiNo Shrub ($13) is Derrumbes mezcal, Ancho Reyes poblano, jalapeno-honeydew shrub, honey, lime and sea salt. The formidable spirits list reveals a seasoned taste for the finer things.

While the food menu is decidedly short it is no less thoughtful than its liquid counterpart. The list includes an assortment of snacks that one would find no surprise emerging from the picnic basket of a favorite hippy aunt. The menu comprises finger foods — including Moroccan spiced olives, candied cacao beans and house-roasted nuts — overnight oats, curried pear and squash soup, a salad and sliced apples with house-made raw nut butter. The most substantial item on the list is the cheese board, but where the place really shines is the taste o’ honey ($12). Patrons can choose one of four dramatically different honey options and pair it with local bread and the truly unmissable house-made herbed ghee.

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Honey Elixir eschews narrow definition. The place manages to combine the comfort of a teahouse and the nonchalance of a bar, overlaying it with a faint but distinct mysticism. While the result is certainly novel, Hanson has built the concept with enough heart to avoid the pitfalls of becoming a gimmick. Whether or not the drinks’ essential attributes actually facilitate magic, the whole experience of the place can’t help but bewitch.

Honey Elixir is located at 2636 Walnut St. #104, Denver. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., it is closed on Tuesday.

All photography by Alden Bonecutter.