1. Ghost Donkey
Union Station

There’s a lot going on at Ghost Donkey, the spin-off of the now-defunct New York tequila and mezcal bar. Imbibe magazine’s Cocktail Bar of the Year 2020 opened our Denver outpost this past spring, bringing its frisky energy, bright lights, and eponymous donkey with it. The neon explosion of a space whips up original cocktails like the huitlacoche infused margarita and mole spiced negroni. And there are nachos. Lots of nachos.

2. The Wild
Union Station

Too often in bars, a sophisticated vibe means dark and speakeasy-y. Not so at Jake Soffes’s bars. Capitol Hill’s Hudson Hill, LoHi’s Lady Jane, and now the newest, Union Station’s The Wild, are bright, relaxed, and cool. They’re spots at which you want to sit and stay awhile, as much for the welcoming atmosphere as for the interesting drinks. The Wild’s cocktail menu is divided into Light/Refreshing, Coffee/Tea, Boozy/Spirit Forward, and Classics, and you’ll find surprises in each section. (When was the last time you had an Air Mail?) Amp yourself up with a Middle State coffee drink to fuel your sipping.

3. The Rally Bar

McGregor Square has quickly established itself as the place to be in the Ballpark neighborhood, and its The Rally Bar has established itself as, well, the place to be within the place to be. If that’s all a little too meta, don’t worry, just focus on the craft beer, beautiful cocktails, and a food menu that includes mini corn dogs and pretzel crusted scotch eggs.

4. Forget Me Not
Cherry Creek

In March, one year after the pandemic made going out to a bar for a drink something we all suddenly stopped doing, this new chic cocktail bar from the Culinary Creative Group (who also own Senor Bear, Bar Dough, and more) opened its doors and reminded us all why we really liked going out to a bar. Exhibit A: Their large format cocktails decked out with colorful garnishes and served in glass goblet with a punch bowl spout—yes, you will need to share with friends. Pair any of the craft cocktails with the upscale snacks like cheese and meat boards, razor clams, or go big with their caviar service, ‘cause after the year we’ve all had, you deserve a splurge.

5. The L

Another 2021 addition to Denver’s bar scene, the industry vet owners of The L, Adam Hodak and Alex Lerman, took over the space of a former pet food store on Broadway and transformed it into a cocktail destination with neighborhood bar vibes. This place is not only for cocktail snobs, but if you are one, you won’t be disappointed. And while there’s no food on the menu, you can order from their neighboring Full Afterburner Calzones for all the drinking sustenance needed to go ahead and order one more cocktail.