If there are any other speakeasies inside ice cream shops in Denver, they’re very well-kept secrets. As far as we know, Retrograde is the only one.
It’s tucked behind a freezer door inside Frozen Matter, an ice cream shop at 530 E. 19th Ave. in Uptown. As a lover of both cocktails and ice cream, naturally, I had to go (and possibly move in forever).
If you’re feeling bold, as I was on this fine late summer evening, you can get your ice cream first. Try a few funky flavors before you settle.
Once you have your ice cream, proceed back to the freezer door.
My sidekick and I chose the Huckleberry Roasters Cold Brew Coffee and Ultraviolette flavors on sugar cones. In retrospect, the cone is not the smartest choice if you’re about to need both hands for purchasing and consuming cocktails.
Ring the doorbell.
Wait and enjoy some ice cream, friendship and cosmic bovine art.
We only waited for about five minutes on a Thursday night.
A nice person (possibly in a very cool jacket) will show you in.
Wait for your eyes to adjust. Maybe don’t bother trying to take a picture.
Make some tough decisions.
We ordered the Concentrated Dark Matter (at left, obviously), made with rye, Cynar rock candy and orange bitters, and the Little Green Ghouls, Buddy, made with Death’s Door gin, dolin blanc, lime, cucumber ice, burnt rosemary and tonic.
Had I know better, the final spectacular moment here would be an image of the bartender lighting my drink on fire. Sadly, I was not prepared for the moment in which the bartender would burn the rosemary sprig, already in the drink, on the spot.
And, yes, it does taste a little like burning (in a good way).
I did capture this parting shot of the cucumber ice, which came in popsicle form and is a thing I might have to try to make at home.