Drink This Winter Bourbon Smash and Conquer Cold Weather Forever
When you can’t decide between booze and caffeine
We are powerless to resist this spot that combines cocktails and coffee in one sleek package. The coffee, from local roastery Commonwealth, is served all day and night alongside creative cocktails like the Sesame-Chocolate Old Fashioned, as well as a small yet mighty selection of wine and beer. Order a few options from the cheese list and finally understand the joys of having all of your favorite things in one inviting package.
A classic Colfax dive bar with free shots for ladies and an uncompromised juke
Opposite of Hudson Hill's modern, clean, bright, and airy atmosphere is this Colfax classic. Screw ambiance. You're here for the strong drinks (plus the free shot and rose for ladies), the jukebox that's likely had the same selection for the past 20 years, and the strangers who will soon become friends... if only for the night.
A mezcal-fueled adventure that’s much cheaper than a trip to Mexico
Tucked behind the popular Adelitas on Broadway, this semi-hidden gem will have you exploring the wide and wonderful world of mezcal. The staff is passionate about tequila's lesser-known, smoky cousin and won't hesitate to explain the nuances of the selections on the menu, as well as fill you to the brim with knowledge, booze, and tacos. The latter of which you’ll definitely need after sampling the diverse selections of liquid agave.
Denver’s most perfect martini
Bask in the red glow of this old-school Denver legend that's officially been open since the day after the repeal of Prohibition. With sleek, art deco decor and killer martinis, Cruise Room in the Oxford Hotel can’t help but make you feel classy whilst you sip the night away. The bar itself was modeled after a bar on the Queen Mary and takes the shape of a wine bottle. It’s a hotspot, especially since it’s been the longest continually open bar in Denver.
After the party, it’s the Star Bar
When a night out in Denver inevitably ends up at Star Bar, the next day is sure to be spent recovering. They've got a little of everything -- live music, rotating craft beers, Skee-Ball, video games, karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursdays -- and just the right amount of that dive bar temperament. Established in 1959 (and still going strong), it's the perfect escape from the typical dude-heavy LoDo/Ballpark bar scene.
The ideal date night destination with small plates and tasty cocktails
You don’t need a full kitchen to crank out good bar food. Bar Fausto proves this. You can watch the staff plate food like seasonal bruschetta alongside fancy cocktails from behind the bar. And this is why a bar seat is what you want, so show up early to secure one and take advantage of happy hour. Drinks range from simple classics like gin with house-made tonics to a selection of more complex creations with descriptions that include mentions of William Tell, baseball bats, and grouse.
Mile High’s very own original speakeasy
Within a couple of years of opening, this spot won a ton of rewards and earned some serious recognition. Williams & Graham quickly made a name for itself, becoming a Denver must-visit. And though there are shinier, newer bars to play at these days, there's still something uniquely special about this speakeasy with a bookstore cover. With craft cocktails becoming almost ubiquitous around town, and new "secret" bars turning up on every corner, you can still count on this spot to impress -- especially if you're looking to entertain out-of-town guests or someone special.
For anyone who could live on cheese and wine alone
Wine and cheese lovers... listen up. TT is a neighborhood favorite, namely for its friendly cheesemongers that will guide you to some truly memorable cheese tasting experiences. It also boasts a seasonal wine list that always features gems waiting to be discovered (if you’re unsure, just ask). If the typical bar scene just doesn't appeal to you, try here. Namely for the all-you-can-eat raclette on Wednesday, because a bottle of wine and never-ending melty cheese cut from a giant wheel might be the greatest night in Denver, ever.
Cheap drinks, Buck Hunter, no presumptions
If you love sparking conversations with strangers, you're sure to find a few at Don's. With a rotating cast of characters, this local favorite is by all definitions a dive. Let’s hit the checklist: cheap drinks ($3 wells), entertainment (Buck Hunter), and the unique ability to emulate a home you actually didn’t grow up in but feel effortlessly comfortable in nevertheless. Don's biggest downfall is that it masquerades as a Chiefs bar on Sundays, but we can forgive that based on their vending machine selection alone. It's stocked with the only food you'll find here: a random and ever-changing assortment of everything from frozen White Castle burgers (there's a microwave) to Spam.
The bar that defines “artisan cocktail” in Denver
This spot manages to pull off that pre-Prohibition vibe while still coming off as cool (read: not kitschy/overly hip). The classic dark wood and exposed brick walls give it refined class, and the focus on elevated craft cocktails gives it the sass. The drinks served here are taken very seriously by the staff, all of whom share a very real reverence for the history of cocktails -- something you'll learn a little more about too from their informative and fun menus.
Where to take the party after you want everyone out of your house
Part funky bar with a robust beer list, part food truck haven, this spot's got a lot going on. Pop inside to take in the shrine-like decor and order a drink -- the bartenders are more than happy to help you find just the right cocktail from their creative offerings (including a nightly punch). Then take your party out to the large open air patio where the smell of food will entice you to stay even longer. On any given night you'll find choices like Mile High Thai and Puerto Rican eats from Dos Abuelas.
Where to take your beer nerd friends
When it comes to beer, there are plenty of options in Denver. But Falling Rock remains a destination for beer nerds, thanks to its large, rotating selection of brews from near and far, including frequent releases of rare beers (check their website for offerings). Its central location makes it a convenient stop before or after a ballgame, or just a pitstop on any Downtown bar crawl.
A hidden gem that will become your new go-to cocktail spot
From the outside, this spot’s got dive written all over it (read: a large, nondescript Budweiser sign). But inside, you won’t find any Buds on the menu. What you will find is one of the best Old Fashioneds in town, a small window serving up some amazing pie (and a small menu of savory eats), and decor that suddenly makes you have a better understanding of the phrase “quirky yet charming.”
Your best excuse to wear a Hawaiian shirt and sip tiki drinks
The cold days of winter in Denver melt away in no time when you step inside this bar where the mana (Polynesian for spiritual energy) is strong. Go classic with a mai tai or hurricane, or venture into uncharted territory with house favorites like the frozen Macadamia Nut Chi Chi or the Shark’s Tooth that has a piercing rum bite. And don’t skip the eats, especially when you can get an impressive serving of poke presented with billowing dry ice or a loco moco style burger complete with a fried egg.
The spot where you’re most likely to purchase expensive shoes while drinking
This bar above Element Kitchen & Cocktail is fronted by a fully functioning sneaker shop. And the sneakers are not your run-of-the-mill selection, but an expertly curated collection of highly sought-after kicks. And the same can be said for the drinks. Think mezcal sours with egg white and orange and cinnamon, as well as a gin cocktail named for Easy-E with melon bitters and ginger beer.
A cultured speakeasy serving up high-end drinks and Frito pie
Tucked behind a hidden door in an art gallery featuring local talent, this is a speakeasy that embraces the modern. You’ll find Frito pie and chicken and waffles alongside some creative cocktail creations. Try the Smoked Old Fashioned for a twist on the classic or the Key Lime with a graham cracker rim for a dessert and drink in one.
Only bar in Denver where you can order hot sex on a platter
Get your mind out of the gutter. That’s this slightly naughty spot’s name for a blueberry Pop-Tart and foie gras parfait. And it’s just one of the many unique menu items (Pringles + caviar service, anyone?) you’ll find alongside cocktails created by Kendra Anderson, the master sommelier behind this new addition to Denver. A bountiful wine list, beer, cider, and sake round out the offerings, but no matter what you choose, it’s tough to not feel a little sexier when you walk out the door.
1. Hudson Hill619 E 13th Ave, Denver
2. PS Lounge3416 E Colfax Ave, Denver
3. Palenque Mezcaleria, Denver
4. The Cruise Room1659 Wazee St, Denver
5. Star Bar2137 Larimer St, Denver
6. Bar Fausto3126 Larimer St, Denver
7. Williams & Graham3160 N Tejon St, Denver
8. The Truffle Table2556 15th St, Denver
9. Don's Club Tavern723 E 6th Ave, Denver
10. Union Lodge No. 11543 Champa St, Denver
11. Finn's Manor2927 Larimer St, Denver
12. Falling Rock Taphouse1919 Blake St, Denver
Hudson Hill, the craft cocktail and wine bar, brings a touch of Williamsburg to Capitol Hill. The owner, a native New Yorker, pays homage to his hometown in this upscale café and watering hole. The cocktail and wine programs are the focus, with craft beers, coffee, and snacks in tow. Cocktails are both contemporary and classic, the wine is predominantly old world, beers are on draft, in bottles, and in cans, and the coffee is local, provided by Commonwealth. Snacks include charcuterie, cheese, and fresh baguette, and the space is sleek and minimalist. Hudson Hill is Cap Hill’s daily dose of cosmopolitan dining with a mountainous backdrop.
This Denver dive bar is a Mile High City institution that's know for handing out roses (!!) and free shots to neighborhood clientele and unsuspecting newcomers. Crank up the jukebox and get to know the locals over a Coors.
Palenque Mezcaleria is tucked away behind Adelitas Cocina y Cantina and, true to its name, is a shrine to all things agave. Its Mezcal-centric cocktail and spirits list -- with an emphasis on Oaxacan bounty -- is Colorado’s first, and thus the bar has taken on the role of local Mezcal educator. There are books abound for guests to read up on the spirit, as well as a list featuring upwards of 100 labels for the agave-inquiring minds to sample (best to join on Mezcal Mondays, where the entire list is half off). Palenque also offers agave-based cocktails and menu of Mexican street food to abet in your agave adventure in Platt Park.
Located in the historic Oxford Hotel's lobby in downtown Denver, The Cruise Room appears almost exactly as it did in 1933. The whole place is styled after a lounge room on the Queen Mary and waitresses are dressed in the requiste flapper girl garb, which makes Cruise Room's legendary martinis and whiskey cocktails taste truly authentic. Order a Red Widow -- peach vodka, champagne, St. Germain, and jalapeño -- and be sure to ask your bartender about the hotel’s infamous ghost stories.
A welcome dive among all the large party warehouses in LoDo, Star Bar has their fair share of Colorado craft beers and tasty 'tails. They have karaoke on Thursday nights, Skee- ball, and an outdoor bar/ lounge area equipped with adult slushies. The bartenders are also wayyy more knowledgeable than your average dive bar drink slingers.
At this industrial hangout, the list of classic and original libations is well-curated and concise; the selection of wines by the glass, though tiny, makes a major impact with everything from Schiava and Spätburgunder, to Hungarian Bull’s Blood. Small plates like the daily oyster crudo and bruschetta topped with housemade ricotta also score.
Williams & Graham, a bar styled to look like a Prohibition-era speakeasy, offers up an eclectic selection of specialty cocktails, liquors, beers and wines. Additionally, there's a food menu that includes a variety of sandwiches, snacks and small plate dishes. You'd be remiss to skip this spot that was recognized as the Best American Cocktail Bar in 2015 by the Spirited Awards (basically the Academy Awards of booze).
This suave, twinkling wine-and-cheese bar is perfect for a first date. In fact, one couple not only started out here, they got engaged and married here too. You can’t argue with a track record like that. Especially if your mouth is full of melted cheese: on Wednesday nights, all-you-can-eat raclette for two comes with bread, salami, and dessert for $40.
Don’s Club Tavern, a dive in Alamo Placita, opened its doors in 1974 and has since undergone a facelift and expansion, but still has its neighborhood charm and old-school character. Don’s is classic dive, from its handwritten draft beer list and spirits selection to its pool tables, shuffleboard, video games, and neon signs. The wood-paneled, carpeted dive doesn’t serve food, unless you count the vending machine (the coin-operated menu includes Totino’s Pizza Rolls, burritos cigarettes, condoms, and other packaged snacks).
Cobblers, crustas, blazers, fizzes, knickerbockers: you’ll definitely have some fun just pouring over the well-annotated menu at this urbane 34-seat spot in the CBD. Focusing on pre-Prohibition cocktails, Union Lodge is kind of place where bartenders are "mixologists" and the decor hearkens back to a vintage Americana vibe. The extensive menu got you reeling? Order a Ramos Gin Fizz, marvel at its foamy head, and know that you’re enjoying the drink the way it was intended to be served.
Equal parts bar and landing strip for a rotating fleet of food trucks, Finn's Manor serves up signatures like house-made shot cocktails and boozy snow cones, as well as a geeked-out gamut of Belgian beers and farmhouse ciders. The vibe brings a bit of New Orleans cool to the Mile High with its bespoke, Bourbon-heavy bar creations. Options rotate but reflect the bartenders' playful approach to classic, speakeasy style libations.
The phrase "less is more" sometimes can apply to beer bars with a small, curated list of rare, specifically chosen beers, but in the case of Mile High's Falling Rock, more is more. It's not only one of Denver's more important bars, it's easily one of the country's, with 30%+ of the 90 taps featuring CO beers, along with 100+ bottles from around the world. The brick walls are lined with beer bottles and vintage signs, and there's ample couch seating and booth space in addition to pool tables and dart boards.