When I was a kid growing up in Utah, my friends and I often spent many summer days walking to the nearby 7-11 to blow our allowance on ridiculous candy like Sixlets and Pop Rocks, those chalky candy cigarettes, and Slurpies. The Slurpee was an unmistakable nostalgic flavor of summer – ice cold on a sweltering afternoon, loaded with sugar, and providing us with an opportunity to flex our creative muscles by mixing and matching flavor combinations. We mixed flavors and colors, layering them in the cup like sand art. Creating a Slurpee never got us in trouble for playing with our food.
As adults in Fort Collins, we have a place where we can tap into that nostalgic Slurpee love, but with a little bit of a twist. Lushies at Luscious Nectar are just as fun as Slurpies, coming in a variety of different colors and flavors that you can mix and match, but are loaded with alcohol. Luscious Nectar isn’t only about Lushies, though. They also have an incredible selection of infused alcohols to choose from, and outside of the alcoholic drinks, they offer some tasty fruit smoothies and tapas for the lunch crowd.
Luscious Nectar is one of the more funky bars in Old Town, housed in a previous art gallery space after they moved from a space across the street. They have kept that artistic ambiance by showcasing work from local artists and are often involved in gallery walks. I’ve seen some amazing pieces in there. Not only do they have some awesome art to enjoy while you’re there, but they host Geeks Who Drink trivia nights, and one of the best Ladies Nights in town (meaning, lots of fun, great prices, and no creepy guys lurking around while you dance and hang out).
Cheri, Jessica and I had lunch one afternoon to see how the tapas stood up for Luscious Nectar as a place to eat in addition to being a place to drink. The tapas are reasonably priced at $6 each or 4 for $20, making it really easy to share (being the true nature of tapas to begin with). We had the Hummus Plate, Red Potato Bites, Falafel Sliders, Cali Wrap Rolls and Flat Bread Pizza. We also each ordered a infused cocktail creation to go along with it.
Cheri decided to try the Citrus Cosmo – lemon and orange vodka mixed with both lime and cranberry juice. Jessica had a Bloody Mary – Horseradish, pepperoncini, red pepper, chipotle and habanero vodkas. I opted to go with their Orange Julius – vanilla vodka with orange juice.
These drinks really are fantastically creative and they taste fabulous, too. The Bloody Mary was especially good, packed with a spiciness that is sure to wake you up, but not so much that you can’t enjoy the drink. Know your limits and practice self-control here, because the drinks are so good, they go down quickly!
As for the food, everything we ordered was shockingly good for being bar fare. It isn’t anything gourmet (although they do make a lot of their dishes from scratch), and they are made in a tiny kitchen by the one and only bartender working during the afternoon, but they aren’t half bad. For a light lunch in an interesting spot, I think it’s worth it.
The Hummus Plate – comprised of four house-made flavors (original, curry, coriander pesto and Asian seven spice) – was probably the best dish out of the bunch. Tender pita pieces and flavorful hummus to dip into, this plate was quickly popular between us. The curry was definitely my favorite, adding a nice complexity to the meal.
The Red Potato Bites were also decent. Stuffed with locally-made goat cheese, house-made pesto, cilantro sour cream, and topped with candied walnuts (although our dish had just regular walnuts on them) – we were pleasantly surprised at their deliciousness. And, I was impressed that many of the components to each dish were made in house.
The Falafel Sliders with house-made tzatziki were good, but not as impressive as the rest, with a bit of a mealy texture to them. I think falafel can be tricky for most places to pull off well.
The Cali Wrap Rolls – pinwheels of roasted artichoke hearts, carrots, cream cheese, and served with a raspberry reduction was interesting because the raspberry reduction was peculiarly spicy. It just didn’t mix very well. However, without the sauce, the rest of it was great.
For the Flat Bread Pizza, I decided to go with the Margherita – mozzarella, olive oil, house-made marinara, fresh basil and tomato. For how simple this was, it was nice. It got a nod of acceptance from me with each bite, particularly because of the flavor in the sauce. Again, it wasn’t anything ground breaking and it’s not going to win any awards for pizza in Fort Collins, but it was good enough for what it was.
I came back again with friends for Ladies Night to try some of their infused alcohols. I decided to try their five shot flight. I had the Cucumber Gin, the Skittles Vodka, Jalapeno-Lime Tequila, the Pipe Tobacco Whiskey and the Basil Vodka. These were difficult decisions to make, because there is a vast selection of options to choose from.
I really enjoyed the Cucumber Gin and the Skittles Vodka. They were both really smooth and you could savor and enjoy the infused flavors. Apparently, the Skittles Vodka is the most popular infusion they have, and being as sweet as the candy, I can see why.
I wasn’t fond of the Jalapeno-Lime Tequila because it wasn’t as balanced in flavor for me, overpowered with a wallop of vegetal spice from the jalapeno. I passed that one off to a friend. The Basil Vodka was equally as overpowering, tasting like liquid herbs. And the Pipe Tobacco Whiskey, while having sweet vanilla characteristics to it, didn’t float my boat either. I ended up passing those two shots off, too.
While some of the infused alcohols weren’t up my alley, there is an endless selection to try and so many creative options to explore. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You can go a million different ways.
Overall, I really love Luscious Nectar. Their drinks embody the same artistic spirit as the space they inhabit, and the food is better than you’d find in most of the other Old Town bars. While I think their drinks are the main attraction on the menu, you’re not going to feel cheated if you get something to eat. Plus, anytime I’m feeling nostalgic for that summertime Slurpee, I’d rather head on over to Luscious Nectar for a Lushie or fruit smoothie than go for the real deal at 7-11.
253 Linden Street
No website available, but they do have a facebook page
Parking: Street parking
Healthy Options? Tapas portion sizes are smaller, and there are quite a few vegetarian and vegan options.
Budget-Friendly? Tapas average $5 a plate
Recent Health Inspection: Good