A sidewalk sandwich board situated between Bareburger and Barley’s Ale House assured me that Denmark on High was through an unobtrusive door between the two, but as I walked through the hallway and up two flights of stairs, with paper signs reassuring me I was on the right path, I was pretty convinced I was actually accidentally breaking into an office or apartment.
That is, until I finally turned a corner and found myself not in someone’s living room, but instead inside the brightly naturally-lit and modern space that is Denmark on High, Columbus’ newest cocktail bar. I slid up to the marble bar where a very friendly bartender greeted me and offered up that this was the best place he had ever worked before taking my drink order.
As I was sipping on my first cocktail – The Flip (gin, orange syrup, lime, rosemary, egg white) – I noticed the steaming sous-vide, a hot water cooking oven usually filled with meats sealed in air-tight bags. Here instead, mason jars sat in the water bath turning progressively pinker: strawberry simple syrup in the making.
General Manager Garry White, an avid gardener and canner, explained that he came up with the idea of using the sous-vide method with mason jars to infuse spirits and create custom bitters, which ordinarily would take many weeks to mature. Using sous-vide it takes only an hour or so, allowing Denmark to experiment with flavors more. The process is so swift that White spoke of plans to pick up fresh produce from the nearby farmers market in the morning to turn into an infusion for the very same night’s menu.
I was happily at Denmark during happy hour, during which time the specials offered are an homage to the bar’s North High Street address – 463. From 4-6:30pm, they offer select $4 wine pours (one red, one white), $6 classic cocktails (normally $9), and $3 draft beers.
In addition to almost two dozen classic cocktails, and a note on the menu assuring the bartenders can whip up any drink that you can name even if not specifically listed, Denmark offers 12 handcrafted cocktails developed by White. Many utilize the custom sous-vide creations, such as pecan-infused bourbon in a Pecan Old Fashioned and a beet shrub syrup used in the Whatchu Talkin Bout (with Aperol, orange bitters and Fino Sherry.) Each drink is accompanied on the menu by a handy scale of sweetness to help you decide what to try.
For those not inclined to spirits, three taps are occupied by a rotating selection from Columbus breweries: Four String’s Backstage Blonde, Seventh Son’s Golden Ratio and Homestead Beer Co’s Tenpenny Session Ale during this visit. They also offer a selection of bottled and canned brews, plus a wine selection with 19 by-the-glass options and bottles that can be purchased for retail with a nominal corkage fee.
A small microkitchen sits behind the bar, with little more than a prep counter, refrigerated storage unit and small oven. Out of that small oven came my surprisingly delicious smoked duck flatbread, with duck pastrami from Explorer’s Club, Bavarian mustard, tons of melty swiss cheese and rosemary.
In addition to a few other flatbreads, Denmark offers meat and cheese boards, and small local snacks like Pam’s North Market Popcorn and Knaughty Knots pretzels. Leftovers from the infusion process are often utilized in the food: strawberry remains from the simple syrup will be turned into a jam for a cheese board. Pecans leftover from the bourbon pecan infusion will coat a cheese ball.
Two stories below Denmark in the basement sits the Secret Cellar, a retail space where you can buy the wine, beer, meats and cheeses offered at the bar upstairs. There’s also a 50-person banquet room dubbed the North Room for special events and cocktail education courses. The liquor license of Denmark extends to this downstairs area, so carry your cocktail (carefully) down the few flights of stairs to check it out before heading out.
Denmark opens daily at 4pm at 463 North High Street.