Denver’s got sloads of great bars. Seriously, there are romantic ones, outdoor ones, ones where they make beer, and on and on. And on. So how do you know which ones, whether because of their history, their innovation, or incredible drink selection, are the real standouts? By checking out our list of Denver’s 19 most important bars, obviously.
Located inside the Oxford Hotel, The Cruise Room was the first bar in Denver to open the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. In celebration, it serves up gourmet and classic martinis in its intimate space. Watch out, they're strong. (As they should be.)
It has a reputation for several things: being the oldest operating bar in Denver, having Girl Scout cookies available year-round, and most importantly, having really good, cheap, dirty burgers. It's pretty much always busy due to the laid-back atmosphere coupled with affordable local beers and simple eats.
A chef-driven speakeasy by successful restaurateur Frank Bonanno is hidden away in Larimer Square with the entrance inside a pie shop. Make sure to check out the rules listed on the website before heading in.
Bar Bar is known to most as the diviest of dives, which is saying somethin', but it was once voted “best place to watch chicks fight," so this grimy bar may actually live up to its rep. Either way, it is definitely a place that you should experience at least once. Consider it a right of passage.
Best known as one of the biggest hippie bars in Denver, there are tons of concert posters and other memorabilia from the '70s adorning every inch of the walls. Deadheads will feel at home here with Jerry singing from the jukebox and bartenders that pour with a heavy hand.
You will feel like you stepped into a whimsical forest when you walk inside, but the patio alone is reason enough to come here: wooden stumps for seats, fire pits, and an outdoor projector that sometimes plays Bob Ross painting shows all make for a rustic hipster vibe. Just don't come here expecting great service because you will probably leave disappointed, but the atmosphere is unique and perfect if you're not a hurry.
Video gamers and everyone born in the '80s rejoice: this arcade bar is full of old-school pinball machines and your favorite childhood games, so basically every drink you order comes with a side of nostalgia.
One of the best speakeasies in America, this boozer hidden inside a bookshop feels kind of like your cool granddad's reading room, and it can be entered when you pull the book Savoy and features personalized service that even means they call you by name and chat with you! So you'll feel pretty special by the end of the night -- also because of its serious list of whiskeys, gins, cordials, wines, and many other things your grandfather DEFINITELY kept hidden at his place too. Unfortunately.
This unapologetic dive bar with a view of Sloan's Lake and the skyline opens at 7am every day so that you can start your day here, if you wanted. The drinks are cheap, the beers are cold, and the lights are dim, all of which conspire to make it a great place to forget your troubles and lose track of time.
Yes, it is a small hole in the wall, but don't judge it purely on its looks. This spot is always hoppin' with a live jazz or blues band and is a great place to stop for a late-night cheap drink and dancing if you're in the mood. It is cash-only so make sure your wallet is prepared.
The theme here seems to be Tim Burton-esque, with whimsical, dark décor like a railing made of axes and blood-red booths. There's usually a live DJ spinning late into the night, but the best part is that Two-Fisted Mario's Pizza is attached and you can get a big, greasy slice to help soak up the booze.
This funky neighborhood bar is almost always busy, and for good reason. It has about a dozen homemade infused vodkas and a very potent red sangria that is a great way to start (or end) your night. Red lights are strung up all over, along with dozens of Jesus pictures hanging on the wall, maybe to remind you to be on good behavior.
Its location near Coors Field makes it a prime spot for a beer or three before or after a Rockies game. Although the beer selection is constantly rotating, there are over 75 taps and 130 bottles at all times. The kitchen also puts out really good burgers and onion rings, the perfect side with a cold brew.
The only Polynesian-style Tiki Bar in Denver really does it right with the ambiance. Dimmed lights, artwork of hula girls, and Tiki torches dot the landscape as you walk up to the bar or back towards the patio. Tucked away on South Broadway, you'll feel like you've discovered a tropical getaway right in the city.
This hotel bar sits on the 27th floor of the Hyatt and is not a well-known spot to many, but it offers stunning panoramic views of Downtown Denver and is a great place to watch the sunset, cocktail in hand.
This Colfax favorite has been voted the “best dive bar” in the past and remains a staple despite its simple appearance. Its vicinity to the capitol made it a favorite among politicians back in the day, way before it became more popular with the typical Colfax crowd. There are no frills here: if you're hungry, your one choice is a Tombstone pizza.
No one does live jazz in this town like Dazzle does. It features performances from local and big-name artists, open jam sessions, and happy hour, so there's always something happening. Try to go for Sunday brunch, which has live jazz and all-you-can-eat comfort food.
Local celebrity chef Jen Jasinski has recreated pub fare on a more upscale level and has an impressive beer list to accompany it. The beers are divided into different categories, depending on their complexity. Try some duck poutine or Pad Thai Pig Ears.
In a city where craft beer is a dime a dozen, it's hard to do something original, but First Draft has found a niche. This is Denver's very first self-service beer bar, which features 40 rotating taps of beer, cider, and even wine.
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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.
My Brother's Bar, off 15th and Platte, is a city institution that has been pouring booze for Beat Gen folks like Neal Cassady (who still has a tab there) and plenty of other thirsty Denverites forever. MBB also flips a mean burger -- pair that with a solid beer list, and it's no surprise this place is still going strong.
Only accessible via a secret door through a small pie shop, Larimer Square's Green Russell serves some of the best cocktails in Denver in a cool, speakeasy-like locale. This moody, elegant establishment has been serving up Prohibition-era cocktails since 2011. Named after Colorado gold miner William Green Russell, the joint is rooted in old-school sensibilities, but still appeals to the modern palate with its selection of made to order libations.
Once you cross the threshold into Sancho’s you might as well forget the outside exists. Seriously, there are zero windows in this Colfax staple, making the time fly by in haze of beers and shots in Grateful Dead excess. PBR is the bar's main export and its flows daily starting at 11am (it's doubly delicious at 4pm with two-for-one drafts as the main happy hour deal).
A center for music, art and film, Forest Room 5 is certainly an interesting spot to spend a night at. The highlight: the patio is as much as a wild life refuge as it is an outdoor seating area. There are fire pits, babbling brooks, and secluded tree-lined alcoves that makes your forget you are actually in the Lo-Hi.
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).
This Northwest jazz club was the place for live music and good drinks long before most LoDo partiers were born. Opening after prohibition ended, El Chapultepec has seen the biggest names in music from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald. Besides the great tunes, the bar also pours a bevy of mixed drinks, the usual suspects of domestic brews, and dishes out some tasty beef & chicken tacos.
The theme here seems to be Tim Burton-esque, with whimsical, dark décor like a railing made of axes and blood-red booths... But the best part is that Two-Fisted Mario's Pizza is attached so you can pizza and booze to your heart's content.
The Thin Man is a drinker’s bar and the patio makes it an outdoor drinkers bar. The space is large and the seating doesn’t get fancier than a ripped out back seat to a van. But once you pass through one of the most stylish dive bars in Denver, you actually prefer it that way.
The phrase "less is more" sometimes can apply to beer bars with a small, curated list of rare, specifically chosen beers, but in the case of Mile High's Falling Rock, more is more. It's not only one of Denver's more important bars, it's easily one of the country's, with 30%+ of the 90 taps featuring CO beers, along with 100+ bottles from around the world. The brick walls are lined with beer bottles and vintage signs, and there's ample couch seating and booth space in addition to pool tables and dart boards.
Say "aloha" to Mile High's lone true tiki bar. Adrift serves up "Prohibition-era tropical libations" and island-worthy small plates amidst a sea of bamboo, a scattering of carved heads large and small, and red leather booths sitting under portraits of tropical girls with ukeleles.
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.