The 13 Best Secret Bars in Denver

Here’s how to get into the best speakeasies and hidden bars in Denver.

Five Nines
Five Nines | Photo by Lauren Jones
Five Nines | Photo by Lauren Jones

Some may say that, because Denver suffered under Prohibition for four years longer than the rest of America, it has a special claim to the libations and atmosphere of the era. And with about a dozen speakeasies in the area all flourishing, we’re inclined to believe it. After all, Denver’s longest-running bar still draws in as many eager tourists and locals as it did when it opened, just one day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. But despite the days of code words and threats of arrest being long gone, the secret freezer doors and intimate, tech-banned lounges beneath Denver streets and the modern chalets high above its skyline continue to be some of the coolest places to drink in all of Colorado.

Reynard Social
Reynard Social | Photo by Shawn Campbell

The latest luxury hotel to open its doors in Denver is Thompson, and with it 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.

Five Nines
Five Nines | Photo by Brandi Ashman

Five Nines

Cherry Creek
$$$$

With a recent unveiling that’s generated a lot of buzz for Clayton members and Cherry Creek visitors alike, this is the place to feel super bougie and exclusive (even if you aren’t IRL). With fresh cocktails categorized into “Uncut Gems,” “Forged in Fire,” and “Compounds & Concoctions,” Five Nines has intrigue nailed down from the jump. And then there’s the “stage” for alluring live entertainment, which takes the secrecy and excitement up about 100 notches.
How to get in: Starting at the Clayton Hotel front entrance, walk past OAK Market and just before the building ends, you’ll see five golden nines next to a black door with a circular window. That’s your ticket.

New to the cocktail lounge scene, this place has the intimate, eclectic vibes that are often paired with handcrafted drinks and delightful 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.

Golden Moon

Golden
$$$$

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.

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).

Peaks Lounge

Theatre District
$$$$

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.

Retrograde

North Capitol Hill
$$$$

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.

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.

B&GC

Cherry Creek
$$$$

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.

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 fashioned 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.

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.

Green Russell

Larimer Square
$$$$

This 1920s-style speakeasy owned by Denver restaurateur Frank Bonanno encourages you to embrace the past with rules that include no cell phones allowed (except inside the telephone booth). As a chef-owned bar, expect bar food that goes above the norm and updated takes on classic cocktails.
How to get in: Follow the signs that point you down a set of stairs to a door that says, “Wednesday’s Pies.” Head in, tell the hostess you’re looking for Green Russell, and you’ll be escorted through another door that leads to the bar.

Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.

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.