“Here, have a chlorophyll shot,” Shae of Dram Apothecary told us, sliding over what looked like a glass of green sludge, “You’re at over 9,000 ft now—this will help oxygenize your blood.”
It was mild, with a slightly earthy taste, and we suffered no effects of altitude sickness during the few hours we spent in Silver Plume, Colorado. That being said, Shae knows what she’s talking about.
Silver Plume is a ghost town about an hour drive outside of Denver—it’s not entirely deserted, but sparsely occupied. “It has everything a town needs: the town drunk, people with all one-syllable names like Fred, Tim, Will and Rick,” Shae said with a laugh.
“One of our neighbors said, ‘An alien ship came and dropped beautiful women and a bar,’” she told us. That bar, called Bread Bar, serves as Shae’s kitchen space for crafting her all natural bitters. It is a bar too—it’s open just Friday and Saturday each week, serving cocktails mixed with the bitters. Hankering for some food? Your options are a meat and cheese board or a sandwich served with potato chips. It’s perfectly simple and all delicious.
In college in Olympia, Washington, Shae studied agriculture, botany and herbalism. “I was always interested in plants,” she explained, “I grew up in the prairie and did a lot of roaming. Loving plants was a little taboo in my family.” Note: she was raised Mormon, so her family tends to refer to her new bar venture as her bakery.
Also while in school, she learned to bartend—from Curt Cobain’s sister, nonetheless. This love of plants combined with her bartending and mixing experience lead to where she is now.
In Silver Plume, she can forage for ingredients right in the neighborhood. Since there’s so little traffic, there’s no concern about contamination of the plants. A few things she picked during our stroll: red clover to use for summer tea, white yarrow for beer and wild rose.
Although it’s a drive outside of Denver, it’s one worth making to sample Shae’s bitters and her many cocktail concoctions. One that she whipped up for us: a combination of Art in the Age Root liquor, Hair of the Dog bitters (which mimic the classic bitters in a Manhattan), Stranahans whiskey, pine picked from the neighborhood and lemon.
She slid the drink to us across the bar in a small tumbler—the mixture was refreshing, slightly sweet and certainly strong. “I used to serve in these,” she told us, mentioning to some mason jars on the shelves, “But people would get too shit faced.”
Photos by Collin Hughes