How does welcoming the sunrise at a whiskey-centric coffeehouse, crawling from beer bar to beer bar all afternoon, and whiling away the wee hours on the cocktail scene sound? If the answer is “like a plan,” then you’d better check out our round-up of Denver’s 11 best new drinking destinations, otherwise known as your to-do list.
11 New Denver Bars You Need to Check Out Right Now
As two of RiNo’s foremost tastemakers, The Populist’s Jonathan Power and Huckleberry Roasters’ Koan Goedman are the kind of guys whose cool you wish you could bottle. But at least you can soak it up in an evening at their new joint venture. Looking all the slicker for its lack of finish, this much-awaited watering hole operates with the streamlined ease you’d expect from the right place at the right time. The list of classic and original libations is crisp and concise (long live the "#1," a blue bourbon Tiki punch); the selection of wines by the glass, though tiny, makes a major impact with everything from Schiava and Spätburgunder, to Hungarian Bull’s Blood. And so do small plates such as crudo that sparkles like stained glass and bruschetta topped with rich wild-mushroom pâté.
Yet another spinoff from The Populist (this one the brainchild of Power’s partner, Noah Price), FM has a yard that serves as a landing strip for a rotating fleet of food trucks that guarantees no two visits are the same, and the crackerjacks tending the cozy, brick-walled barroom double down on that promise with their penchant for improvisation. Then again, you could get used to signatures like bespoke shots and boozy snow cones, as well as the geeked-out gamut of Belgian beers and farmhouse ciders.
Show your average Denverite a bar with 40 taps, and they’ll show you a condescending shrug. But a bar with 40 taps they can pull themselves? Now that’s progress. Dispensing wines and ciders, as well as ever-rotating craft beers, FD’s high-tech system calculates pours by the ounce so you can mix and match and mix some more -- until you can’t, that is. It’s programmed to cut you off at a certain point, so be nice to the actual humans serving you all the superb soft pretzels with saison-cheddar dip and happy-hour brisket sliders you need to soak up the alcohol -- they double as gatekeepers.
Hey, you know Williams & Graham, the cocktail bar that has won every award ever given, except maybe the Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show? Well, this is the place next door! Oh, and more to the point, it too is owned by Sean Kenyon. Though way more punk rock than its ultra-civilized, sepia-toned older sibling in terms of ambiance, this sophomore project’s no less crafty, featuring the likes of upgraded Long Island Iced Teas, signature drinks named for Black Flag and Dead Boys songs, and micros as well as macros. A dedicated food truck parked out back, State Fare, follows suit with Frito pie, mortadella-shishito corn dogs, and the cotton candy du jour.
Meanwhile, you could throw a bottle from The Occidental’s patio and easily hit this vintage schoolyard-themed playground for grown-ups (but don’t, because they are also equipped with bottles). With its own sprawling, split-level patio, 24 beers on tap, plus more from the full bar, and easygoing game-day eats like chili fries or bratwurst-topped mac-and-cheese, it’s a much better place to play hooky than... um... well, than any place really.
Make that Great Addition. The hometown heroes who gave us Yeti and Hoss, and the T-shirts to match, have got themselves a shiny new packaging facility decked out with an aging cave and a cozy, salvage-chic taproom overlooking it. Right now, the majority of the 16 beers on offer are old standards, but eventually they’ll make way for the namesake barrel releases and pilot batches galore.
You know East Colfax is in full-on gentrification mode when someone could be so nonchalantly optimistic as to open a storefront named Bellwether with the slogan “Coffee and Whiskey and Working-Class Fashion.” Then again, the fact that its hours are 7am-7pm means it’s explicitly open for day drinking, which is pretty old-school ’Fax. And the stripped-down aesthetic’s hardcore too: in a space whose decor amounts to a couple of clothing racks, a longhorn skull, and an old Ducati, you’ve pretty much got your choice of, yep, coffee or whiskey, be it a shot of cold-brew coffee or Bulleit on nitro, a pour-over, or a Sazerac. (Or you could stick with a beer and a locally baked blueberry muffin for the breakfast of champions.)
The next time your friends on the coasts laugh at you for living in flyover country, ask ’em how many coffee-and-whiskey bars opened in their town in the past 12 weeks: bet the answer’s less than two. Bellwether’s old-timey, Kentucky-fried, suburban counterpart is open morning, noon, and night to serve up espressos and house pastries followed by buckets of bourbon, pizza, and live music worthy of its name.
Make that three. A posher, boozier sequel to its namesake LoHi sibling, this just-opened java joint/cocktail lounge is already hopping nearly 24/7: it's open from 6am to 2am to serve up single-origin espressos and oxtail chilaquiles for breakfast, whiskey-spiked pourovers and grilled-cheese sandwiches for lunch, and small plates like house-made black-pepper fettuccine or Vietnamese wings with charred sauerkraut, alongside any of 25 craft cocktails come evening -- think "Meeting at Night," with rye, pineapple gomme, vermouth, and black-spice bitters. The space is equally multifaceted, with a community table for mingling, velvety booths for lingering, and a gleaming bar for die-hard drinking.
From the straw-into-gold-spinning geniuses behind The Bar Car, The Horseshoe Lounge, and Inga’s Alpine Lounge comes yet another retro-toned dive redux. In honor of its predecessor, this one’s a no-frills, take-it-or-leave-it, well-drink wonderland, right down to the $3 Mystery Shots. Eventually, it might host pizza or taco nights, but until then you’re getting cheap beer and a bowl of cashews, and you’re going to like it, son. (And really, why wouldn’t you?)
After a thorough revamp, this endearingly rowdy cantina has reopened to... um, probably remain an endearingly rowdy cantina, but one whose bartenders concoct syrups and shrubs, while the kitchen crew serves pupusas made from scratch, tamales stuffed with duck mole, and fish tacos that involve burnt lime-tequila powder, mezcal-lime remoulade, and huitlacoche rice. In short, they’re bringing it; all you have to do is come and get it.
1. Bar Fausto3126 Larimer St, Denver
2. Finn's Manor2927 Larimer St, Denver
3. First Draft1309 26th St, Denver
4. The Occidental1950 W 32nd Ave, Denver
5. Recess Beer Garden2715 17th St Ste 103, Denver
6. Great Divide Barrel Bar1812 35th St, Denver
7. Bellwether5126 E Colfax Ave, Denver
8. The Bluegrass7415 Grandview Ave, Arvada
9. Black Eye Coffee3408 Navajo St, Denver
10. The Nip And Sip Neighborhood Lounge4395 Yates St, Denver
11. Mezcal3230 E Colfax Ave, Denver
At this industrial hangout, the list of classic and original libations is well-curated and concise; the selection of wines by the glass, though tiny, makes a major impact with everything from Schiava and Spätburgunder, to Hungarian Bull’s Blood. Small plates like the daily oyster crudo and bruschetta topped with housemade ricotta also score.
Equal parts bar and landing strip for a rotating fleet of food trucks, Finn's Manor serves up signatures like house-made shot cocktails and boozy snow cones, as well as a geeked-out gamut of Belgian beers and farmhouse ciders. The vibe brings a bit of New Orleans cool to the Mile High with its bespoke, Bourbon-heavy bar creations. Options rotate but reflect the bartenders' playful approach to classic, speakeasy style libations.
First Draft is Denver's first self-service beer hall, with 40 rotating taps of beer, cider and wine! So come by and pour one for yourself.
This punk-themed bar comes from the duo behind Williams & Graham, recently named best cocktail bar in America by the Spirited Awards. Expect 15 craft cocktails along with ten draft taps, and bites served up by the State Fare food truck.
With a sprawling, split-level patio, 24 beers on tap, plus more from the full bar, and eats like chili fries or bratwurst-topped mac-and-cheese, this beer garden is the perfect spot for game day, or, really, any day.
This intimate brewery is housed in a packaging facility decked out with an aging cave and a cozy, salvage-chic taproom overlooking it. The 16 beers they have on offer are your old standards, including seasonal, year-round, and barrel-aged selections. When the weather gets nice, you'll want to take your brew to the spacious outdoor patio facing Brighton Boulevard. It can hold up to 100 guests, so be sure to bring your squad, too.
Branded with the slogan “Coffee and Whiskey and Working-Class Fashion,” Bellwethers offers your choice of coffee or whiskey -- be it a shot of cold-brew coffee or Bulleit on nitro, a pour-over, or a Sazerac. (Or you could stick with a beer and a locally baked blueberry muffin for the breakfast of champions.)
Bellwether’s old-timey, Kentucky-fried, suburban counterpart is open morning, noon, and night to serve up espressos and house pastries followed by buckets of bourbon, pizza, and live music worthy of its name. You'll never want to have your caffeine any other way.
This totally Instagrammable Highlands area brewhouse is slaying the Denver area coffee game with its seriously strong roasts (they don't call it Black Eye for nothing), hip ambiance, and refreshing cafe menu. Dine in and take your pick from lunch menu items like avocado toast and fancy grilled cheese, all of which look good next to a piping hot cup of Black Eye's pour-over blend. A hip hop soundtrack and funky, reclaimed vintage aesthetic make Black Eye a cool and relaxing hang.
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?)