A lazy hot afternoon might be a good time to kick back and enjoy a beverage of choice in the comfy environments of local taverns, outside or in.
Most bars are open for business, except for several that are closed indefinitely including the Pour House, Black Nugget and American Legion. But for most local drinking establishments, business is returning slowly as owners navigate the most current and complex public health orders from local, county and state officials.
The latest COVID-19 rules, as confirmed by Garfield County Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes, permit bars serving food or having a regularly scheduled food truck at the location to stay open as long as they follow current mask, social distancing and disinfecting rules.
Marble Distilling owner Connie Baker — who also calls herself Queen Bee because of her interest in raising bees — explained, “People are drinking less but drinking better.”
“We have limited indoor seating plus outdoor places,” Baker said. “This includes our Barrel Club room and patio.”
In this members-only section, bourbon and whiskey drinkers age their very own barrels which are stored in humidification-controlled lockers.
She and husband, Carey Shanks, generate their own award-winning handcrafted spirits using all natural Colorado grains and pure Crystal River water. Plus, they are producing hand sanitizers from the alcohol.
Bobby Ball, owner of Ball Brewing, just a few miles downvalley, said, “We’re good. We’re open and people are starting to come in more.”
“Everyone is being compliant with local mask and social distancing order,” he added.
Ball is also proud of having a 100 percent renewable energy certificate for advancing wind energy and only using water from its own well.
Ball Brewing is one of the craft breweries just given the green light by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who recently signed two bills to provide greater flexibility to brewpubs and restaurants, bars, hotels or other establishments selling alcoholic beverages.
One bill continues to allow establishments to deliver and offer takeout of alcoholic beverages and provide brewpubs with greater flexibility in selling the beer and malt liquor they produce at separate locations.
Colorado boasts 180 licensed brewpubs in the state.
State Representatives Matt Gray of Broomfield representing District 33 and Kevin Van Winkle of District 43 from Highlands Ranch co-sponsored the bills.
Gray noted, “Coloradans love their craft beer, and takeout from our brewpubs has fortunately continued throughout the pandemic. This bill removes an arbitrary restriction from state law to give people more choice and brewers more opportunity. It’s a win-win, and I’m grateful to the Governor for signing it.”
Other Carbondale taverns reporting an uptick in business include Beer Works, which is looking to hire additional staff, and Batch, which recently produced its first ever hard seltzer slushie made with house brewed hard seltzer.
At Batch, one representative said, “We’re pretty sure this is the best boozy slushie we’ve ever had. Come enjoy one on the cactus club patio.”
Other bars opened, but personnel were unavailable for comment.
The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce has also sprouted the call-to-action incentive “Love Local,” asking Carbondale residents to spend locally to support their neighbors, friends and the entire community by shopping, dining, and spending in their hometown.
Dan Richardson, mayor of Carbondale, announced, “Our small businesses are open. Main Street is decked out and ready to welcome customers. We just need to keep up the hard work of following public health and safety guidelines so we don’t go backward in our progress.”
One Colorado bar and restaurant owner urged everyone to “Go out and support as many places as you can. You know, us small business owners. There’s only five of us that work here, and that’s tough to be shut down. And a lot of places are not going to make it on a second round. They barely made the first one, you know, just go support them. That’s all I ask,”
Andrea Stewart, executive director of Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said, “We welcome visitors again and we urge travelers to learn about the latest guidelines and public health regulations before they arrive. Masks are required, but there’s a smile behind it and we look forward to welcoming you.”
Marble’s Baker nodded and said, “If we all work together and observe the protocols,” bars will weather the pandemic crisis.
She explained, “Our motto “Drink Sustainably” is the core of our business. We recapture 100 percent of our process water and reuse energy harvested from the distillation process to heat our facility. Through this process we save more than four million gallons of water annually and capture for reuse enough energy to heat 20 homes.”
She nodded and added with environmentally sensitive distilling, “We can save the planet one bottle of vodka at a time.”