How to Get into Denver’s Best Speakeasies and Secret Bars
Here’s how to get into the best speakeasies and hidden bars in Denver.
With delicious drinks, dark corners, and an added thrill that regular bars just can’t mimic, Denver’s speakeasies, secret lounges, and back-corner bars add a unique level of intrigue to the city’s beverage scene. Though we’ve said goodbye to greats like Green Russell (so long, phone booth), the void in our hearts continues to be filled with fresh and exciting concepts that are popping up seemingly left and right. For more of an adventure or sense of exclusivity, you can try making your way into B&GC; for unparalleled views, that would be Peaks Lounge; and for as many fun, fruity tiki drinks as you can (legally) consume, we’ll send you to Hell or High Water. But there are 14 worthy bars on this list just begging you to pull up a seat—just please remember to turn your camera flash off before reading the menu. Better yet, let the bartender surprise you.
Hell Or High Water Tiki
Part of the “Unholy Trinity of Bars,” this tucked-away tiki bar shares a family tree with Honor Farm and, popular since the very beginning, The Electric Cure. So to answer your question: Yes, the vibe is just as weird/cool/spooky/sexy as its siblings’, and the tiki drinks just as easy to shoot back. Choose from a wildly suggestive cocktail list—rum-based or agave-based—with names like “Viva La Vulva” and “Gaytanic Panic.”
How to get in: Head into the fabulously spooky Honor Farm, make your way to the back, then up the stairs to the mezzanine level.
Now occupying the former Five Nines space (next to the Clayton Hotel & Members Club) is this blink-and-miss-it lounge that still has all the sexy appeal of its predecessor. Step over the threshold into a Moroccan-inspired cocktail lounge with live music by local pianists, and sip on the classics with a twist—plus drinks made for two.
How to get in: From the hotel’s front door, head south about 25 paces ‘til you hit the blue door.
While not really a secret (especially when celebs like Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul pay a visit), getting to this atmospheric mezcal and tequila bar can pose a challenge if you don’t know the way. Once you find it, though, you’re in for a treat. Namely: spicy, citrusy cocktails, mezcal negronis, and cheesy nachos for all to share.
How to get in: Enter at 1750 Wewatta Street (you’ll see a plaque with various businesses out front). Hang a right and follow that hallway until you see the inconspicuous door on your left. If you hit Kaffe Landskap or sweetgreen, you’ve gone too far.
In a package deal with Downtown Denver luxury hotel Thompson comes a secret bar not on the ground level or the rooftop—but on floor six. The hidden, modern chalet has cozy seating, a fully functional fireplace, and Apres-themed drinks and elevated snacks to transport you from the heart of downtown to a snow-covered peak among the Rockies.
How to get in: Once inside Thompson, take the elevator to the sixth floor and check in with the host.
Luci’s Shambles and Provisions
This place has intimate, eclectic vibes that are often paired with handcrafted drinks and late-night snacks. Sharing space with Modis in the City (where Colt & Gray and Saint Ellie used to reside), Luci’s is open from Thursday to Sunday, 6 pm - 2 am, where turquoise velvet chairs, drinks like the Black Dahlia (complete with black sugar rim), and bites like stir fry, charcuterie, beef tartare, and duck thigh await.
How to get in: Head through the glass door to the right of Modis’ entrance and take the stairs down to the basement.
Okay, technically not in Denver but it’s one that should always be on your list. Plus, a trip to downtown Golden is always a good time. The drinks here are all crafted with Golden Moon Distillery’s own spirits, so you’re getting the best that Colorado has to offer when it comes to truly handcrafted cocktails.
How to get in: Head down Miners Alley off of 12th Street (around the back of Old Capitol Grill and Smokehouse). Look for the small patio and black garage door, with a small door to the right.
Run For The Roses
With an unassuming entrance in the Dairy Block alley, it’s easy to miss this hidden gem, but those who know, know. Picture your rich uncle’s secret study/gambling hall/cocktail lounge and that pretty much hits the nail on the head. The space is just as polished as the drinks and both are equally worthy of the ‘Gram.
How to get in: Enter Dairy Block alley from 18th Street and look for a set of stairs on your right. Follow the signs and check in with the host to be seated (if there’s room).
Pair your cocktail with a view of the Rocky Mountains and the city lights from 27 stories up. The Peaks Lounge may be a pretty typical hotel bar where you’ll find mostly out-of-town visitors, but the floor-to-ceiling windows make for a sunset cocktail hour that’s enough to impress even the most jaded native.
How to get in:Head into the Hyatt Regency Denver’s main lobby and take an elevator to the 27th floor.
When you want a drink, an ice cream shop usually isn’t the first place you’d think of. But this is no ordinary ice cream shop, where an unmarked “freezer” door leads to a cozy ‘60s throwback bar. Along with playfully flavored ice cream varieties like miso salted caramel and buttermilk sweet corn, this shop’s also hiding one of Denver’s best spots for creative cocktails.
How to get in: Go inside Frozen Matter, head to the back and find the freezer door. Flip the switch and hang tight with your ID ready.
In 2014, Denver’s historic Union Station got a major makeover, transforming the space from a quiet, forgotten corner of Downtown into one of the most popular destinations for dining and shopping. Though many have already discovered this elegant spot to grab a drink, its upstairs location keeps much of the typical Union Station crowds away.
How to get in: Look for the Cooper Lounge desk on the South side of the main floor of Union Station’s Great Hall (near Amtrak). If there’s space, you’ll be escorted past a velvet rope to the lounge upstairs.
Williams & Graham
What do you get when you hide a bar with only seven tables behind a moving bookshelf? Apparently, a lot of success. Williams & Graham has racked up local and national accolades, so while it’s not really a well-kept secret at this point, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to use a real-life secret passageway -- especially one that leads to such classy cocktails.
How to get in: Head inside the “bookstore” and give the staff your name to add to the list. Eventually, one of the bookcases will swing open and you’ll be taken to your spot inside the bar.
Retro is a description that gets thrown around a lot, but B&GC is a true Mad Men-style step back in time. Sleek design, martini service, shrimp cocktail, and caviar? That’s exactly what you’re getting here.
How to get in: B&GC is located in the Halcyon, a hotel in Cherry Creek. But to find the entrance to the bar, you'll need to head down the alley between Second and Third Ave. Look for a sign that says "Stair 3" and a golden doorbell. Finding it is only the beginning, though. Hotel guests may be able to garner admission but, otherwise, the bar is members-only, and the process of becoming a member remains under wraps.
Millers & Rossi
From the outside, this spot appears to be a trendy art gallery. Sure, you can browse the art, but the main event is the dimly lit lounge bar which makes a superlative setting for smoked old fashioneds and small bites including charcuterie and raspberry chipotle wings.
How to get in: Enter the art gallery and head towards the back. There, behind the desk, you’ll find the door that leads to the bar.
The Cruise Room
Come bathe in the red glow of this historic spot that was the first bar to open the day after Prohibition’s repeal (although, rumor has it that secret panels and underground tunnels remain from its clandestine moonshine past). Not much has changed at the Cruise Room since then -- the popular martinis and Art Deco style make this spot a true throwback experience.
How to get in: Head into the lobby of the Oxford Hotel and look for the Cruise Room on your left, or enter through the back of Urban Farmer.
Molly Martin is a freelance writer in Denver, Colorado who is always on the lookout for fun things to do. Follow her Mile High adventures @mollydbu on Twitter and Instagram.