The Best Bars in Denver Right Now
From classic dives to swanky cocktail lounges, this is where you should be drinking in the Mile High.
Here’s how diverse Denver’s bar scene is right now: We have a hush-hush listening cafe, a hard kombucha taproom, and a phallic pirate themed tiki bar. Plus the usual roster of dives, cocktail temples, wine bars, and rooftop lounges. Yes, there are loads of Denver bars just waiting to quench your thirst right now, and here are 20 of the best.
What’s that? Denver needs a haunted-themed bar with a phallic pirate tiki bar within the bar? Done. From the folks behind Edgewater’s The Electric Cure (satanic themed, because why not?) Honor Farm and Hell or High Water Tiki are, let’s just say, different sorts of bars. These swanky cocktail lounges still sling amazing drinks, just in an offbeat sort of setting.
Cherry Creek’s Clayton Street has become quite the cocktail destination, what with Forget Me Not and now Chez Roc shaking things up side-by-side. Chez Roc is especially sexy, with moody lighting, velvet booths, and animal print wallpaper making this a stunning spot in which to rock the kasbah. But don’t let the seductive setting distract you from drinks like the El Morocco Mai Tai with sesame orgeat and Saffron Gibson martini.
Denver has plenty of breweries, cocktail lounges, and wine bars; it’s about time we got a hard kombucha taproom. Blind Tiger by Hooch Booch opened in Backyard on Blake in December, quenching our thirst for kombucha-based cocktails and mocktails. (Plus local wine, beer, and spirits.) Check out drinks like the Winter Bee with whiskey, lemon, bitters, and Bee’s Knees hard booch, or the virgin Green Tea Spritzer.
Bad Habits Denver
Bad Habits strives to be a welcoming gathering spot for all, which might explain the 14—count ‘em, 14—mocktails on the menu of this LGBTQ+ owned bar. A spot where drinkers and non-drinkers alike can come together over margaritas (spiked or otherwise), cheese curds, and karaoke, you might even hit a drag or go-go dancing show.
The Crow's Nest
This golf bar may be above the South Broadway Country Club’s Tennyson Street location, but you don’t have to own your own clubs to get into this club. For “non-members only,” the second-floor cocktail lounge does have a Trackman simulation machine, but there’s more emphasis on drinks like the Mulligan for a Hooligan (tequila, sherry, vermouth, and cherry) and the Who’s Your Caddy (whiskey, cointreau, lemon, apple blossom, and turmeric honey) than your swing.
All it takes is an elevator ride to the sixth floor of the Thompson Denver hotel to get to some of the best views in town. The space is huge, which means views of the city, the mountains, and the stadium from the wrap-around windows. Of course you’ll want something to sip on while you take in the killer views, and the cocktail list here is fun and unique. From the passion fruit and amaro-filled Paper Passion to the cantaloupe-infused pisco and sparkling sake One in a Melon, there’s always something new to try.
Dew Drop Inn
The Dew Drop Inn is like a classed-up dive bar—it has all the come-as-you-are comfort you crave, just gussied up a little. In terms of drinks, this translates to fancy-ish, but still well-priced, cocktails, as well as an all-day beer and a shot deal for $8. The food, though, is decidedly un-divey, with a sophisticated menu that features big bowls of mussels, karaage chicken, and fried veggie cakes. Time your visit right for the daily happy hour until 6 pm, and then again from 10 pm to close, when well drinks are $5 and those fancy-ish cocktails fly for just $7.
Just how cool is Yacht Club? You can get a fancy schmancy cocktail made with liqueurs you can’t pronounce, or you can get a Jack and Coke with a hot dog for $8. Your choice. This is the ultimate high-low mash-up, and it gets even better when you hit the Snowballs section of their drink menu. The boozy shave ice options include combos like Vergano Americano with pickled blueberries and sherry with candied orange. Cool, both literally and figuratively.
Esp Hifi - Cafe & Bar
The music is the focus at ESP HiFI, Denver’s first listening cafe and bar, which is why the drinks are kept hush-hush. (Read: no ice cubes clanking in metal shakers.) The classic, quiet cocktails and natural wines complement the music, which comes from a 500-deep-and-counting vinyl collection curated and spun by your musical host. The 35-seat minimalist room is so cozy you might want to move in.
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 last 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.
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. Amp yourself up with a Middle State coffee drink to fuel your sipping.
Forget Me Not
Forget Me Not’s bright, airy vibe and top-notch cocktails have made it one of Denver’s favorite bars—we heard the Colorado Avalanche even celebrated their big win by sipping massive drinks out of Lord Stanley’s cup here. While the drinks are definitely the draw—from the large format cocktails for sharing to the upscale mocktails to the creative glassware and garnishes that gussy up the expansive cocktail menu—the space is one of the city’s spiffiest and the food (a hot dog shares space with caviar service) is fun too.
It’s safe to say that pretty much everyone could use a tropical getaway right about now. But you don’t have to go anywhere near the airport to get a taste of vacation life. At this South Broadway tiki bar, the island vibes are immaculate. From tropical classics like mai tais and the macadamia nut chi-chi to original creations like the lychee seventy-five, they’ve got photo-ready cocktails covered. Plus you can also order up bites like Spam musubi and Volcano fries for sharing. All that’s missing is the ocean breeze, but at least you can pretend to be by the sea on their spacious back patio.
Room For Milly
From the team behind Queens Eleven and Blue Sparrow, this bar on Platte Street opened in late February 2020, right before you-know-what shut it right back down. But despite less than ideal timing, it’s just the lush escape we need right now. Based on a fictional character, Milly Parker, whose flapper-era adventures inspired the decadent decor, menu, and vibe, Room for Milly captures the energy of another time and place—one where the cocktails are fun, the seats are covered in velvet, and you’ve (finally) got an excuse to dress up a little for a night out.
Death & Co
It was big news when one of the world’s most famous bars moved into Denver in spring 2018. A few years and one pandemic later, the hullabaloo has died down and what we’re left with is a stunning space in which to drink some of the city’s tastiest and most imaginative cocktails. While the pages-deep drink menu is fun to explore, don’t skip the almost equally good food menu.
Denver’s gotten some great wine bars in recent years—see Attimo Wine, Sunday Vinyl, and Bigsby’s Folly—but Noble Riot is one of the best. Beyond the quirky, lesser-known bottles, the sommelier-owned Riot teaches you all about the juice at Wine School and boasts a fried chicken-filled food menu. Ask the crew about their spirit grapes, because this crew has put a lot of thought into their spirit grapes.
This cash only Colfax classic is a Denver dive must-visit. 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.
Don's Club Tavern
With a rotating cast of characters, this local favorite is by all definitions a dive. Let’s hit the checklist: cheap drinks ($4 daily specials), 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.
From the outside, this spot has dive written all over it (read: a large, nondescript Budweiser sign). But 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, food truck pop-ups and yoga sessions, and quirky decor.
Williams & Graham
Probably the only bar on this list that you enter through a bookshelf, Williams & Graham set the standard for Denver cocktails bars when it opened a decade ago. Just as important today, the dark speakeasy is the place to go for a good, stiff drink. Choose from a menu of classics or staff creations, marvel at the 500 spirit strong library of bottles, and settle in for a while. There are 500 bottles after all.