Denver’s first distillery/restaurant is serving up originality. (It runs in the family.)

We were surprised to find a line forming when we arrived at four to The Family Jones, Denver’s first distillery/restaurant — after all, the eatery had just opened minutes before. However, coming early did have its advantages. We got the scoop from other waiting LoHi locals about the newest brainchild of Edible Beats, the restaurant team behind Denver staples like Linger and Root Down. 

“We’ve been here four times, and only managed to get a table once,” excited patrons shared with us. “This place is amazing. We wanted to get here as early as possible.” 

Arriving early has other advantages: It can also snag you a seat at the bar, which is sunken into the heart of a spacious dining room. Bottles of the Family Jones’ products line the bar’s brightly lit shelves, which include vodka, gin, rum and bourbon. We sample the Gin Blossom, a vivid purple cocktail that owes its color to the distillery’s house-made creme de violette. Crisp and fragrant, it lives up to its striking looks. Next, we try the Thief in the Garden, a tangy blend of rye, carrot and ginger, topped with a house-made pickled carrot. 

“You’ll find that’s a theme,” explains bartender Amanda Houghtaling. “Because we are a licensed distillery, everything we serve has to be made here. It’s challenging, but it lets us be really creative with how we craft our cocktails.”

This level of originality isn’t lost on the food, served up by Chef Tim Dotson in what is referred to as the “bitchin’,” or bar/kitchen. Try the Roasted Artichoke Fondue, a decadent blend of cheese oozing out of a hollowed out artichoke. Don’t worry — although served with apples, beets and croutons for dipping, we won’t judge you for devouring the bowl. For something heartier, don’t miss the Berkshire Pork Tenderloin, a summer-inspired dish. Delicately cooked pork medallions are served with cornbread, pickled peach butter and dill, for summer comfort food at its finest. Drinks and dishes inspired by the season are the norms for the Family Jones, whether in the kitchen or at the bar. 

“Last spring we discovered some pink flowers on a bush across the street. We tossed them in our copper still and a few hours later we had a really fragrant, seasonal liquor,” recalls Head Distiller Rob Masters. “It really doesn’t get more local than that!”

If the Family Jones’ custom still is a playground for invention and creativity, their facility in Loveland “does all the heavy lifting,” says Masters. And while tours of the Loveland distillery are not yet open to the public, guided tours and tastings are available every Saturday at the Denver Spirit House, where your $10 reservation includes a tasting flight of all seven of The Family Jones’ spirits and earns you a $10 discount off the purchase of a bottle to take home. Whether at home or settled into one of the restaurant’s plush velvet seats, one thing is for sure — no matter where you are, don’t miss a chance to try what they’re cooking up at the Family Jones.