A Wee Dram
Mixing up vintage design—and libations—in Silver Plume, Colorado
Up in the mountains, in a tiny little town, there’s an even smaller shop and its name is DRAM. Don’t let the “BREAD” sign fool you; this 1890s-era building once housed a miner’s supply store and a bakery, but now it’s home to a booming business in bitters. DRAM Apothecary is the creation of Shae Whitney and Brady Becker, who handpick wild Colorado botanical ingredients for their bitters, teas and syrups from the nearby meadows and forests.
TASTING ROOM Whitney and Becker hauled more than 15 truckloads of garbage out of the neglected building, then they stained the wood and painted the walls a creamy white reminiscent of the nineteenth century. “Bitters are old-fashioned medicine that came into popularity in the 1800s, and I imagine our tasting room to be exactly like a place you would have been able to buy them during their heyday,” Whitney explains. “We really just stripped the space down to the elements that are meant to be appreciated on their own, without all the clutter and junk that had built up over years.”
AUTHENTIC DETAILS “Over the years the building has retained many of its original antiques and hardware, as it has always been the deal that everything stays with the building,” Whitney notes. Among the treasures the pair inherited (and repurposed) are an antique Hobart coffee and grain grinder, bulk grain drawers and vintage scales that were made in Denver in the 1900s.
HISTORIC MAGIC “We found Silver Plume to be magical and charming and we love how it’s so close to Denver, yet feels so secluded,” Whitney says. “Brady and I are adventurers. We love to travel around to obscure mountain towns and forgotten ruins, and we always wished there was a place where we could get a great drink in a spooky/historic atmosphere, so we created it.” The sun-drenched outdoor seating area features homemade picnic tables surrounded by vintage chairs rescued from a Denver alley and restored. The hand-cut “BREAD” letters are original. To uphold the bakery tradition, the Long I Pie Shop provides DRAM with an enticing array of pies.
BEYOND THE BAR Educated in food science, botany and ecological agriculture, Whitney, a Colorado native, also worked as a bartender for many years. Noticing the synthetic ingredients on a bottle of bitters, she declared, “I bet I could make better cocktail bitters, and I’m going to do it using wild Colorado plants and pay homage to my home.” Whitney and Becker found the building in Silver Plume the same week that she finally found the courage to quit her job.
A LABOR OF LOVE Whitney and Becker did all of the renovation work themselves, infusing their personalities into the shop. “We just wanted the building to look like it would have in the beginning—with a touch of whimsy offered by our collection of vintage taxidermy, antique knick-knacks, plants and gems and crystals.” The result is a delightful time-warp experience that pleases the two elixir entrepreneurs. “We want people to feel like they’ve gone somewhere that time forgot, where they can have a cocktail or piece of pie in an environment that’s relaxing, exciting and inspiring at the same time.”
IF YOU GO Hours are limited; check website for updated information. Special tastings available by appointment.
DRAM Apothecary Tasting Room and Bread Bar
Silver Plume, Colorado