The SOMM Journal

June / July 2018

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30 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2018 { elevating the rockies } WHEN THE SOURCE marketplace opened to instant fanfare in 2013, it transformed the Denver landscape on two fronts. First, it put the then-sleepy River North (RiNo) district on the map: Today, RiNo ranks on many published lists of the nation's hottest 'hoods. It also sparked a fervor for food halls that's still going strong, with five now open among the city's most popular venues and the construction of three more underway. (The Source itself, meanwhile, is expanding into a soon-to- open adjacent hotel.) The lineup's latest, which launched in March, comes courtesy of Zeppelin Development, the same visionaries behind The Source. Zeppelin Station sits on the light-rail line linking RiNo to Union Station and the Denver International Airport, and it's already on track—literally and figura - tively—to be a game changer in its own right as a major travel hub. Beyond the eight vendors serving up everything from Indian curry wraps and Vietnamese bánh mì to Montreal-style smoked brisket and Italian gelato, Zeppelin Station is also home to two transit-themed watering holes: all-day downstairs meeting place Kiss + Ride and evening-only upstairs lounge Big Trouble. Overseeing both venues are Beverage Director Michael Huebner—formerly of Celeste and Revival Food Hall, among other Chicago hot spots—and Bar Manager Lana Gailani, whose previous gigs include serving as a sommelier at Hakkasan and the Lead Bartender at Empellón Cocina in New York. As Gailani explains, the two bars are "reflec - tions of one another": Whereas Kiss + Ride is "bright, open, airy, and faster-paced" à la a European train station bar, Big Trouble de - rives inspiration from Southeast Asia's expat haunts for a "more intimate, mysterious, and transportive" effect. The beverage programs follow suit. Because "day drinking is more of a focus" at Kiss + Ride, says Gailani, "casual, acces - sible cocktails and lower-proof options" dominate the list, including a quartet of pre-batched, brightly-colored concoc- tions—like the vodka-based Tourist Trap with melon and white Port—from what Heubner calls "our own little bottled- cocktail line that has been way more popular than I expected." Big Trouble, meanwhile, evokes an exotic getaway with its emphasis on Asian and/ or tropical spirits and ingredients. "For me, the biggest surprise has been people's adventurous nature," Heubner says. "I didn't expect to sell a lot of sake here, but the response has been really cool, so now we're looking at getting weirder with it." The same goes for large-format, tiki-style cocktails like the Caged Parrot: "Nowhere I have ever worked have they [large-format drinks] been a success, but here we sell quite a few," Gailani says. As for wine and beer, the pair say they've particularly enjoyed highlighting dif - ferent regions and styles, from Costa Rican lager and Japanese sweet-potato ale to Austrian Grüner and rotating rosés. "We definitely leaned toward high-acid whites to be flexible with the cuisine," notes Gailani. But for the most part, Heubner adds, the opportunity food halls provide to showcase "a little bit of everything" is "exactly what I like about it." Around the World in a Day DENVER FOOD HALL ZEPPELIN STATION TAKES DRINKERS ON A WHIRLWIND TOUR by Ruth Tobias PHOTOS C O UR T E S Y O F A D AM L A RK E Y P H O T O GR A PHY Zeppelin Station Bar Manager Lana Gailani works her magic at Kiss + Ride. Big Trouble's large-format cocktails include the We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat with vodka, white Port, Midori, and Ruinart Champagne.

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