Raising the Bar at The Lincoln Center

Raising the Bar at The Lincoln Center

By Stephanie Davis


Since 2011, when the Fort Collins Lincoln Center was renovated, Sapphire Events continues to improve the beverage and refreshment experience at Northern Colorado’s premier performance venue. Family owned and operated, Sapphire Events primarily focuses on servicing Lincoln Center patrons and running three bars inside the community supported event space.


I met with Sapphire Events manager Shawn Matsuda, son of owner Connie Matsuda, to gather intel on their business and help expand awareness of the bar experience at the Lincoln Center.


There are three bars at the Lincoln Center, and which one(s) are open, depends on the given show and the ticket sales. Typically, guests find the lobby bar their go-to choice because it is conveniently located at the main entrance in front of the performance hall. When the other two bars are open, however, the lines can be shorter and less crowded at either the Magnolia or Balcony bar.


The Balcony bar is located on the second floor and is the only bar space with coveted seating, making it ideal for meeting friends and arriving early for a relaxed cocktail. When weather permits, the outside rooftop deck, adjacent to the balcony lobby, becomes an inviting space to pre-party before a show. The treetop views and inviting setting are unlike any other place in Fort Collins.


These entrepreneurs also have thought of a way make intermissions smoother. Each bar has an option for patrons to pre-order drinks. They call it the “VIP Experience.” This service includes purchasing your beverage before the performance starts, and then almost like magic, your desired drink is waiting for you on the bar top at the beginning of the short break. No standing in line and no more wallet necessary. The bartenders prepare all the “VIP Experience” glasses 5 minutes before intermission to keep drinks fresh and people happy. All three bars offer this smart service.


Occasionally themed cocktails, such as “The Glass Slipper” for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, are created to pair with a particular show. Ask and look for those creations. But it is worth mentioning a few lesser known cocktails that are available all the time. Select from the various vodka choices, including the local  vodka distilled at Spring 44 in Loveland, and have yourself a Moscow Mule with Goslings Ginger Beer and fresh lime. There also are seven different whiskeys for those who love brown spirits. I am particularly fond of the Whiskey Sour made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, and have my fingers crossed to see a local bourbon in the mix soon. Another vodka cocktail that is slightly more adventurous is Spring 44 Honey vodka with ginger ale.


If cocktails are not your jam, there is a selection of beers, including local microbrews, house wines and premium wines for an additional $2 per glass. Currently, the Malbec from Bodega Renacer in Argentina is a trusty choice. It is a full-bodied red with soft tannins, vanilla and blackberry notes. Sauvignon Blanc spritzers made with club soda over ice and garnished with either a lemon, lime or orange slice are a fun, lower alcohol alternative to a traditional cocktail.


Then again, managing your drink during the show might not be on your list of favorite things to do. The Sapphire Events bar staff has you covered and can whip up a shot for you. Try the Pineapple Upside Down shot made with rum or the straight forward, no-nonsense Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. The extra exciting news regarding drink management during the show is that cup holders were installed recently in the performance hall. What a nice and necessary improvement.


Next time you find yourself at The Lincoln Center, visit one of the three bars and leverage the information in this article to expand and navigate your drink experience. And remember to appreciate the bartenders are serving “1,200 people in 15 minutes,” according to manager Shawn Matsuda.


Direct your suggestions, questions, and compliments to Sapphire Events directly at (970) 221-2025 or by email at sapphireeventsllc@gmail.com. You can also find Sapphire Events at their second Old Town location – Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.


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