From the dankest of dive bars to swanky hotel hideaways, and pretty much everything in between, you've got your pick of escape hatches in case of emergency this Christmas. And yes, political stalemates with your misinformed uncle Bill who’s on his fifth brandy Alexander definitely count as emergencies.
City Park West (& other locations)
If all you want for Christmas is a shot and a slice, Bad Santa's got your back: this trio of rocketman-and-ranchhand-themed neo-saloons is swinging its doors open at 2pm. (Onsite pizzeria Fat Sully's starts slinging pies come 4pm.)
As you'll see, all four of Leigh Jones and company's beloved, retro-toned watering holes are opening from 7pm to 12am, albeit with limited menus: this one, inspired by a vintage club car, is also a fine bet for a first date. (But probably not on Christmas night. That might be kind of sad.)
A little country-and-western, a little metal, a lot come as you are to drink, drink, and be merry. (7pm)
Washington Virginia Vale
In case you forgot to book that resort vacation to Innsbruck, this ringer for a ski lodge hopping with mid-century European playboys will be at your service with Bond-themed cocktails as of 7pm.
Do enough mystery shots at the Rosa Mia Inn redux and the next thing you know it'll be January 1st.
Wash Park West
Come on, of course this juke joint's open. Does it even ever close?
Central Platte Valley
From 8am to 8pm, everybody's favorite eco-friendly, hip-hop-and-pot-themed coffeehouse and build-your-own cocktail bar will be serving up cold-brew Manhattans and spiked Bulletproofs along with the usual Wu Tang tots and TV dinners. Arrive before 4pm to score some hangover helpers from next-door sibling Habit Doughnut Dispensary to boot.
Forget the ghost of Christmas past -- you can kick it with the spirit of Jack Kerouac at this mid-century Beat haunt. Come for the two-for-one happy hour in its singalong piano lounge, stay for the other two-for-one happy hour on its heated smoking patio. Dig into some prime rib in between.
On a normal day, The Brown Palace's magnifico man cave swarms with captains of industry toasting to their own fabulous fortune with $100 snifters of Cognac and Dominican robustos. So you can only imagine how they roll at Yuletide.
Paying homage to the most hallowed Christmas tradition of all, The Curtis's naughty workplace-themed rendezvous is hosting a kosher Chinese dinner. Only this one's better, because you get to pound martinis with that pepper steak and fried rice instead of Manischewitz.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without liquor. Which means that the one true Christmas isn't December 25th at all but December 5th, Repeal Day -- and that this Art Deco time capsule, whose doors opened not 24 hours after Prohibition ended in 1933, is the closest thing we've got to Bethlehem.
Bebop, brunch, and bottomless booze: bingo. (9:30am-2pm)
You know the students in the MSU-Denver hospitality department who run this place are all fresh-faced and eager to please, so bring them some cheer by showing up to partake of their holiday happy hour, complete with $6 Christmas Cosmos. (4pm-10pm)
All the hijinks you'd expect from a bar with a motorboat in the middle of it are bound to ensue here tonight -- including, possibly, a neighborhood potluck (details TBD).
Central Business District
If everybody served Boulevardiers and Wagyu burgers topped with truffles and foie for Christmas instead of, like, ham loaf and glögg, no one would ever have to lie to their moms about why they can't stay for dinner.
Central Business District
Where better to drop all that gifted coin than in the lounge at the Ritz-Carlton's steakhouse? Especially considering its namesake might as well be “Santa” as far as Broncos country's concerned.
When it isn't overrun with coeds who think they're slumming it in their dad's Nirvana T-shirt -- and it won't be tonight -- this here's one of the chillest and cheapest music clubs in town.
You can go bowling, play pool, and drink beer any time -- why do it on the one day you're supposed to spend with your family? Oh, riiiight. (5pm)
If you're looking to lie low, hit this throwback to the days of Scotch and sirloin -- no one will find you in the last century. (2pm-9pm)
Earlier this year, a bartender here administered first aid to a guy who got stabbed in the neck right out front. If that isn't peace on earth and goodwill to men in action, what is?
What girl wouldn't want you to whisk her away from her weird relatives to a bar that welcomes her with a shot and a single rose? Besides, amid the goofball tchotchkes and family photos covering every available surface, this place looks like Christmas exploded all over it on a regular day. (5pm)
With all the knuckleheads who landed this place on our list of bad-decision bars stuck at grandma's, you can knock back those pickle and pepperoncini shots in peace and quiet like an adult for once. (7pm)
We're not saying you should spend your holiday crushing pitchers of pisswater and fajita platters. But you could.
You know what's better than a white Christmas spent sipping eggnog around the fireplace? A sunny one spent sipping custom bloodies from a DIY holiday-brunch bar around a courtyard fire pit like the one at the JW Marriott. Duh.
Because a pint of Czech lager and a platter of schnitzel was probably at the top of your wish list anyway. (5pm)
Schlitz and Lost Lake, check; obscure We Jam Econo soundtrack, check; sometimes-working photo booth, check. The vegan-friendly kitchen will be dark tonight, but all the other amenities that made this Denver's original hipster hang await. (7pm)
Can't you go one single day without beer and a burger? No? Okay then. This Union Station suds hub will hook you up proper. (4pm)
Ballpark (& Other Locations)
Both branches occupy thousands of square feet across multiple levels, so if you can't leave your kinfolk at home alone, at least you can "accidentally" play hide-and-seek with them for awhile. (5pm)
The single most-celebrated cocktail haunt in the city is demonstrating its legendary reputation for hospitality by opening its doors tonight. This really is a merry Christmas. (6pm)
1. Atomic Cowboy3237 E Colfax Ave, City Park West (& other locations)
2. The Bar Car819 Colorado Blvd, Denver
3. The Horseshoe Lounge414 E 20th Ave, Denver
4. Inga's Alpine Lounge5151 Leetsdale Dr, Denver
5. The Nip And Sip Neighborhood Lounge4395 Yates St, Denver
6. Candlelight Tavern383 S Pearl St, Denver
7. Carbon Beverage Cafe1553 Platte St, Denver
8. Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill980 Grant St, Denver
9. Churchill Bar321 17th St, Denver
10. The Corner Office1401 Curtis St, Denver
11. The Cruise Room1659 Wazee St, Denver
12. DazzleJazz930 Lincoln St, Denver
13. Degree Metropolitan Food + Drink1190 Auraria Pkwy Ste B, Denver
14. Dive Inn1380 S Broadway, Denver
15. EDGE Bar1111 14th St, Denver
16. Elway's Downtown1881 Curtis St, Denver
17. Herb's Hideout2057 Larimer St, Denver
18. Lucky Strike Denver500 16th St #340, Denver
19. Morton's Steakhouse1710 Wynkoop St, Denver
20. Nob Hill Inn420 E Colfax Ave, Denver
21. PS Lounge3416 E Colfax Ave, Denver
22. The Retro Room2034 Larimer St, Denver
23. Pete's Satire Restaurant & Lounge1920 E Colfax Ave, Denver
24. Sobo 151 Czech Bar and Grill151 S Broadway, Denver
25. Sputnik3 S Broadway, Denver
26. The Squire Lounge1801 E Colfax Ave, Denver
27. Terminal Bar1701 Wynkoop St, Denver
28. ViewHouse2015 Market St, Denver
29. Williams & Graham3160 N Tejon St, Denver
Pizza and beer have been Midwest staples since the dawn of time, and this City Park West haunt serves them both up with swagger. Saddle up onto a bar stool and knock back a brew from 20 plus on tap over a warm pepperoni pie.
The Bar Car has the winning combination of retro ambiance, laid-back attitude, a generous happy hour, and bar snacks nobody can deny. It has a railroad-era antique look but the jukebox is loaded with ’80s tunes -- so if you’re shy, you can let a power ballad express what you’re feeling. (Or just wait until the boilermakers kick in).
Horseshoe's awesomely divey vibe includes a killer juke that runs from punk, to "country your grandpa listened to", to special bartender mixes (old-school rap, metal, etc.), all of which provides a perfect soundtrack to playing pinball, arcade games, and pool.
Inga's will make you feel right at home in their retro mountain hangout-style digs. Reasonably priced drinks alongside comfort foods (like pizza, subs, and Jonesy's famous fries) will make the experience worth your while.
This retro-toned dive redux is a no-frills, take-it-or-leave-it, well-drink wonderland, right down to the $3 Mystery Shots. For now, the laidback spot offers cheap beer and a bowl of cashews, and you’re going to like it, son. (And really, why wouldn’t you?)
Despite the romantic name, Candlelight Tavern is not the spot to serenade your sweetie over soft mood lighting and wine-- it's an old school neighborhood dive that burns the candle at both ends with live cast sports games, pub fare and beer and shot specials.
This hip spot in the hip Central Platte Valley area is the beverage & munchie half of the sibling pair of Habit/Carbon -- the other half (Habit Doughnut Dispensary) will fill all your late night, lack of doughnut related woes. Wander into Carbon to find taps on taps on taps -- of coffee, kombucha, wine, beer, and batch cocktails. All can be customized with additional syrups, salts, and herbs, and go great with munchie-satisfying snacks like pizza in a cup.
Charlie Brown's offers up traditional American fare, a smoking patio, and one of the best happy hours in Denver -- plus, it has a free pig roast every Friday in summer (replaced by free wings the rest of the year). Oh, and the aura of onetime patron Jack Kerouac. This place may be old-school, but it never gets old.
Located in the old school elegance of the Brown Palace Hotel, Churchill's is the place you go with your dad when you want to wow him with your knowledge of single-malt Scotch, Cuban cigars, or just a general sense of getting your sh*t together-- this spot is top of the pops classy.
Not only does TCO have an awesome happy hour with cheaps drinks, it's also located right next to the theater so you can grab a bite or drinks before a show.
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.
Enjoy live jazz while you eat, and every Sunday from 9:30-1:30, experience their full brunch buffet for $20 a person (for an extra $10, you can access a bottomless Bloody Mary/mimosa bar). If you're looking for a more lively experience to go with your eggs, this is the place for you. Reservations are highly recommended because they do fill up fast, so don't wait till the last minute.
Global cuisine meets neighborhood fare at this Auraria resto that serves up all the standards, but with international flair. Try the izakaya, Japanese-inspired brussel sprouts to start, and then move onto "Colorado style" Thai drunken noodles with whiskey sauce.
Wait way more than 20 minutes after eating to hit Dive Inn, because you'll want an empty stomach to better feast on the S Broadway booze shack's menu of Yucatecan-style eats and Mexican twists on bar food staples, all designed by an actual Cozumel...itan.
Wake up early on Sat for real football paired with a real English breakfast cooked up by their real English chef: fried bread, bangers, rashers, blood pudding, fried eggs, baked beans, coffee, and a Guinness for just $20. With the conversion rate it's about 12 pounds, though you'll gain that back just by eating it.
Elway's Downtown location, nestled snugly into The Ritz-Carlton Denver, serves up a seasonally rotating menu and an extensive wine list in an atmosphere as chic and sophisticated as The Ritz Carlton itself. Their bone-in filet is the choicest plate, even if the meat isn't actually choice, because clearly Mr. Elway wouldn't accept anything less than all USDA Prime hand-cut steak. If you're worried that won't be enough protein, lamb chops dipped in green chili cheese fondue make for a fine start.
A locals' favorite spot that embodies everything a good dive should. They have strong (cheap) drinks, live bands, cheese poofs, and PBR tallboys.
Score at this bowling and bar mini-chain downtown with an extensive handcrafted cocktail list (we're checking out the Blackberry Basil Mule). Go big with bottle serve and get two hours of play on the house.
Morton's is synonymous with OG American class in the form of perfectly cooked sirloins, vodka martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives, and jumbo shrimp cocktail. Treat yourself to one of their trademark dishes and turn your swag on.
This tiny dive is a neighborhood favorite for good reason -- the jukebox is full of old favorites, the drinks are cheap and strong, and both the bartenders and clientele tend to be very friendly.
This Denver dive bar is a Mile High City institution that's know for handing out roses (!!) and free shots to neighborhood clientele and unsuspecting newcomers. Crank up the jukebox and get to know the locals over a Coors.
Salon and spa by day (15$ men's haircuts!) and lounge by night, The Retro Room is covering alot of bases. Be sure to check out their awesome daily food specials, green chili cheese fries, and their famous Pickle Shot, made with infused vodka.
This City Park West bar and restaurant's been a mainstay for years, and its storied past is no joke-- rumor has it Bob Dylan used to sleep on the floors of the lounge after close while first starting out and the Satire was the top spot in town for folk music. Bands no longer play at Pete's Satire but the delicious, diner style Greek cuisine that's served legions of starving artists past and present remains on the bill.
Pound pilsen at this lively Baker area mainstay that offers traditional Czech food and drink, karaoke, and happy hour specials.
Sputnik's good to go for dinner (Cheez-It topped mac 'n cheese) as well as for a night out (local drafts and $2 PBRs & Lost Lakes during happy hour).
Though renovated, the Squire remains a divey Denver institution with a heart of gold -- the spot is more than 75 years-old, but they're still slinging cheap drinks and hosting local musical and comedic talent.
Embedded comfortably in the lobby of the completely revamped Union Station, The Terminal Bar serves up drinks to many a weary traveler that passes its threshold. A bevy of local brews dot the menu from Great Divide, Black Shirt Brewing, Avery, and Left Hand -- but if you find yourself yearning for something stronger, TB will pour you a classic concoction from a Martinez to a Rusty Nail.
ViewHouse's roof deck overlooks Coors Field so you can take it 360 degree views of Denver, while taking down pub food like burgers or chicken and waffles, then wash it down with the craft beers on tap.
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).