Denver's weekend warriors know that the I-70 highway (or parking lot) is unavoidable and escape routes are slim. Avoid the dreaded fast food/gas station combo and head to DRAM Apothecary Tasting Room & Bread Bar for specialty cocktails, homemade bitters, and a welcome respite from gridlock.
Shae Whitney and Brady Becker know full well the nightmare of I-70 too. In 2012, they were driving back to Denver from Vail and traffic was backed up to Silver Plume – about 45 minutes west of the capital city. Knowing it was their last chance before the standstill, they took the Silver Plume exit and explored the historic town once home to a silver mining camp.
"Neither of us could believe such a quaint place, seemingly untouched by time still existed along the busy highway corridor. We got to the end of Main Street and saw that this amazing little building was for sale and it took my breath away…literally," says Whitney.
Already operating a successful line of herbal bitters found behind Denver's favorite bars, in specialty shops and beyond, Whitney and Becker wanted to expand with a bottling facility and tasting room in Denver. But as soon as they discovered Silver Plume, plans were underway to purchase the building – left in despair by its previous owners.
The pair bought the former Sopp & Truscott bakery in January of 2013 for around $200,000 and spent 6 months renovating the 1889 building. "We did all of the renovations ourselves. He has a degree in Architecture and Design and is extremely handy, having flipped a few houses in the past," she says. "I have a good eye and strong convictions, so we made a really great team for the project. It was a huge learning experience for me."
Whitney and Becker refinished the interior wood with a dark stain and repainted the walls. They left the historic exterior untouched to emphasize its mining era charm, while new life was added through Becker's handmade pendent lamps over the bar. The dining tables came from their neighbor Tim who collects "anything old" and Lucky Strike cigarettes are served out of an antique toy donkey. Almost everything inside has a story to tell…it's worth asking.
DRAM opened in June 2013 and has since become a local hot spot and favorite day trip for city slickers – mostly by word of mouth. Winter hours are Saturdays only (2pm - 9pm) through March, when you can stop in for a specialty cocktail, a warm cup of soup made from scratch (always vegetarian) or a meat and cheese board. Come spring, they're putting teepees in the backyard for lounging and will eventually offer overnight lodging. It's a perfect pit stop.
-By Katie Shapiro
-All photos by Tremper Design, courtesy of DRAM Apothecary