Food & Drink

30 Denver Bars Open on Christmas Day

Ruth Tobias Published On 12/17/2015 Published On 12/17/2015
Union Station (edited)

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.

Ruth Tobias/Thrillist

Atomic Cowboy

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.)
 

The Bar Car

Congress Park
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.)
 

The Horseshoe Lounge

Uptown
A little country-and-western, a little metal, a lot come as you are to drink, drink, and be merry. (7pm)

Kristin Olson Photography

Inga's Alpine Lounge

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.
 

The Nip and Sip Neighborhood Lounge

Berkeley
Do enough mystery shots at the Rosa Mia Inn redux and the next thing you know it'll be January 1st.
 

Candlelight Tavern

Wash Park West
Come on, of course this juke joint's open. Does it even ever close?

Ruth Tobias/Thrillist

Carbon Beverage Cafe

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.
 

Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill

Capitol Hill
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.
 

Churchill Bar

Downtown
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.

Courtsy of The Corner Office

The Corner Office

Downtown
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.   
 

The Cruise Room

LoDo
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.
 

DazzleJazz

Golden Triangle
Bebop, brunch, and bottomless booze: bingo. (9:30am-2pm)

Courtesy of Degree Metropolitan Food + Drink

Degree Metropolitan Food + Drink

Auraria
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)  
 

Dive Inn

Platt Park
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).

Courtesy of Four Seasons Denver

EDGE Bar  

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.

Ruth Tobias/Thrillist

Elway's Downtown

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.
 

Herb's

LoDo
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.
 

Lucky Strike

Downtown
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)

Mortons

Morton's The Steakhouse

LoDo
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)
 

The Nob Hill Inn

Capitol Hill
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?
 

PS Lounge

Congress Park
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)

Ruth Tobias/Thrillist

The Retro Room

Ballpark
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)
 

Satire Lounge

Congress Park
We're not saying you should spend your holiday crushing pitchers of pisswater and fajita platters. But you could.

Courtesy of Sage Restaurant Group

Second Home Kitchen + Bar

Cherry Creek
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.
 

Sobo 151 Czech Bar & Grill

Baker
Because a pint of Czech lager and a platter of schnitzel was probably at the top of your wish list anyway. (5pm)
 

Sputnik

Baker
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)
 

The Squire Lounge

Cheesman Park
Add this to every other Colfax dive on our list, and you've got the makings of one long Christmas crawl you'll never forget. Or never remember. (7pm)
 

Terminal Bar

LoDo
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)

LBK Photography

ViewHouse

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)
 

Williams & Graham

LoHi
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)

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Ruth Tobias thinks every day spent with a cocktail in her hand is Christmas. Follow her @Denveater to see what she's drinking now.

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1. Atomic Cowboy 3237 E Colfax Ave, City Park West (& other locations), CO 80206 (City Park)

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.

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2. The Bar Car 819 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80206 (Congress Park)

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).

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3. The Horseshoe Lounge 414 E 20th Ave, Denver, CO 80205 (Five Points)

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.

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4. Inga's Alpine Lounge 5151 Leetsdale Dr, Denver, CO 80246

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.

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5. The Nip And Sip Neighborhood Lounge 4395 Yates St, Denver, CO 80212

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?)

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6. Candlelight Tavern 383 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80209 (Southwest)

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.

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7. Carbon Beverage Cafe 1553 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202 (Highland)

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.

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8. Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill 980 Grant St, Denver, CO 80203

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.

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9. Churchill Bar 321 17th St, Denver, CO 80202 (Capitol Hill)

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.

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10. The Corner Office 1401 Curtis St, Denver, CO 80202 (Cbd)

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.

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11. The Cruise Room 1659 Wazee St, Denver, CO 80202 (Lodo)

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.

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12. DazzleJazz 930 Lincoln St, Denver, CO 80203

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.

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13. Degree Metropolitan Food + Drink 1190 Auraria Pkwy Ste B, Denver, CO 80204 (Auraria)

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.

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14. Dive Inn 1380 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80210 (South Broadway)

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.

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15. EDGE Bar 1111 14th St, Denver, CO 80202 (Cbd)

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.

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16. Elway's Downtown 1881 Curtis St, Denver, CO 80202 (Cbd)

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.

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17. Herb's Hideout 2057 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205 (Lodo)

A locals' favorite spot that embodies everything a good dive should. They have strong (cheap) drinks, live bands, cheese poofs, and PBR tallboys.

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18. Lucky Strike Denver 500 16th St #340, Denver, CO 80202 (Capitol Hill)

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.

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19. Morton's Steakhouse 1710 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202 (Lodo)

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.

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20. Nob Hill Inn 420 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203 (Northwest)

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.

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21. PS Lounge 3416 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206 (Congress Park)

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.

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22. The Retro Room 2034 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205 (Lodo)

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.

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23. Pete's Satire Restaurant & Lounge 1920 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206 (City Park)

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.

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24. Sobo 151 Czech Bar and Grill 151 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209-1524 (Baker)

Pound pilsen at this lively Baker area mainstay that offers traditional Czech food and drink, karaoke, and happy hour specials.

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25. Sputnik 3 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209 (South Broadway)

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).

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26. The Squire Lounge 1801 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80218 (Capitol Hill)

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.

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27. Terminal Bar 1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202 (Lodo)

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.

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28. ViewHouse 2015 Market St, Denver, CO 80205 (Five Points)

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.

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29. Williams & Graham 3160 N Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211 (Highland)

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).

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