The History of Four Loko
A winery that doubles as an Italian oasis
Just steps from the original location of Snooze, Jon Schlegel (the founder of that Denver brunch mecca) has opened a winery unlike any other in the Mile High. In a two story space that used to be an EZ Pawn, Schlegel has created his very own piece of Italy in the middle of the city. After spending time living in Italy and establishing relationships with local farmers, he’s forged a unique system in which grapes from farmers in Italy are fermented before being shipped to the Ballpark neighborhood where they are aged on site at Attimo. The result: a new wine-centric tasting room featuring a selection of bubbles, reds, and whites on tap where you can sip vino and grab snacks crafted by an Italian Michelin Starred-chef. “Attimo” is Italian for “moment,” and you’re going to want to spend more than a few moments drinking here.
A whiskey bar that feels like home (if your home had over 700 whiskeys)
This spot’s got locations in Austin and San Diego, but its Denver outpost feels like a bar that’s been there for decades. The expansive space is equipped with pool tables (games are just $1) and rustic touches that fit right in with our Rocky Mountain vibes (including a solid collection of taxidermied animals). But it’s the whiskey that will have you lingering late into the night as you let the staff guide you through their massive collection. Sip it straight or let them craft you a classic Old Fashioned or Manhattan. You’ll be glad you did.
A crowd pleaser where you can (and should) come hungry
Mustard colored booths, a classic tin paneled ceiling, and a bingo board that lets you know when your order is ready all work together to give this spot personality without going overboard with kitsch. It’s unique, but comfortable. You can grab a cocktail (though you won’t find a menu, just ask for your go-to or get creative with the bartender), or opt for a Coors Light. And while the space definitely has cocktail bar vibes, there is plenty on offer in the food department to keep everyone in your party fully satiated and ready for round two of drinks -- don’t miss the blackened shrimp BLT or chimichurri steak sandwich.
Your new go-to for tiki-style drinks
This tiki haven moved from it’s more (actually) hidden location above Colfax’s now-closed Southside Kitchen & Bar to a dedicated space in another ‘hood, but the new space hasn’t dampened its tropical vibes. It’s maintained a neighborhood bar vibe while serving up some seriously fun libations complete with brightly colored garnishes to match. Bonus: Spam sliders are on the menu, so if you’ve got a craving for a Mai Tai and some island style comfort food, this is THE spot.
The neighborhood hang where you can go from coffee to cocktails in an instant
Owned by Rita Price, this day to night bar bills itself as “three steps up from a dive bar,” and that’s a pretty accurate description. There’s a bright and welcoming patio with a full on converted school bus parked there that serves up grain bowls (not something you’d ever find in a true dive), but that “everyone is welcome” vibe is present and accounted for, too. It’s open 3pm-12am daily and is as perfect for settling with a cortado as it is for grabbing a kombucha, Aperol, and cava cocktail (known as the “Orange Jumpsuit” as an homage to Orange is the New Black).
Washington Park West
Best destination for drinks and a show
Not to be confused with the other Roxy in town, this is the second iteration of an Encinitas, California-based concept. From open mics and variety shows to DJ’s and live jazz, they’ve got entertainment every night of the week so you don’t have to plan ahead if you’re looking for drinks and a show. And when we say drinks, what we really mean are expertly made classic cocktails that let their simple ingredients shine. While the space has a tiny kitchen, they manage to pump out a pretty robust list of eats that range from snacks like extra crispy truffle fries, to full on meals like grandma’s meatballs.
An underground bar for a special occasion
Finding the entrance to this underground lounge at Dairy Block is part of the fun, so it definitely checks the box for speakeasy vibes. Once you’ve made your way down the elevator (that’s your first hint), you’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see the illuminated ticket window that serves as the host stand (and the spot to leave your name if they’re full). If you’re trying to impress, just knowing about this place should do the trick. But the high quality cocktails will help, too. The drink list comes in the form of a deck of cards -- meaning that, yes, there’s 52 options to sort through. While you think, order up some caviar and kick back, you’ll probably be here awhile.
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.
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 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 a small menu of balanced cocktails including one of the best Old Fashioneds in town, a schedule of unique events like dog-friendly happy hours and pop-up dinners, and decor that suddenly makes you have a better understanding of the phrase “quirky yet charming.”
The sexiest distillery in the Mile High
Crushed blue velvet, sleek lines, and soft touches from nature combine in this gorgeous space that makes you feel more elegant just by walking inside. But this spot’s got more than just good looks. Their house-made spirits come to life in a selection of cocktails that highlight the nuances of each like the vibrant, floral Gin Blossom and the Coco Cold Brew featuring bourbon, coconut, and coffee. And unlike any other distillery in town, The Family Jones has a menu filled with food that rivals it’s drinks in quality so you’d be wise to add whatever seasonal treats appear whether its duck confit and carrot spaetzle or a delicate salad featuring Growhaus greens.
Where to find those old Denver vibes
Walking into this bar, it’s easy to picture Jack Kerouac or Neal Cassady bantering away in a corner while sipping strong whiskey cocktails. And indeed, they did. This is Denver’s oldest bar, and it remains today what it’s always been: a dependable, low-key place to enjoy a cold drink and hot burger - complete with individual condiment cart so you can load on all the pickles you want.
The hotel bar that’s redefining hotel bars
What do you get when you drop a highly successful NYC destination for libations into a brand new hotel that has old Denver vibes in one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods? This. Don’t expect an exact replica of the original Death & Co. Instead, the team from NYC has brought their cocktail expertise and skills at creating a decidedly hip vibe into a new space that has an identity all its own. Actually, make that spaces, plural, because besides the main lobby bar, upstairs there’s also a separate patio space along with a dark and intimate room, each with its own personality. But what they all have in common are killer drinks from a menu that’s divided into six sections including “Fresh & Lively,” “Bright & Confident,” and “Boozy & Honest.” Find your mood and settle in for a drink (or three).