The Red Barber Is the Denver Rooftop Bar You've Been Waiting For

A backyard in the sky.

The Red Barber cocktails and skewers
Photo Courtesy of Hip Photo

Rooftop bars are always awesome in theory, not necessarily in practice. Some turn out to be glorified ledges with no view beyond the generic office building across the street. Some are pure chaos, packed like sardine tins—only sweatier, squirmier, and more ear-splitting. Some aren’t even technically bars, just open spaces with harried servers trekking across what seems like miles to get your drinks from the well downstairs to your table.

The Red Barber roof
Photo Courtesy of Hip Photo

Atop the new Catbird hotel in RiNo, by contrast, The Red Barber is the rare real deal. It’s got space: 3,300 square, L-shaped feet of it, in fact, surrounded by a nearly 360-degree panorama of mountains, skyline, and street life. It’s got style: towering, pinwheel-like chair sculptures here, stadium seating bedecked with table-topped gnome carvings there, manicured foliage everywhere. And it’s got substance: an indoor-outdoor bar offering up a full slate of both sips and snacks.

Exiting the elevator, the first thing you’ll notice is blue sky—after all, you’re that much closer to it up here, and it stretches unimpeded all the way to downtown and beyond. A few tables are scattered around, but this is the event deck you’re standing on, so there’s ample room for bodies to mingle to, say, the beat of a live band.

The Red Barber Indoor Bar
Photo Courtesy of Hip Photo

Turn the corner, though, and it’s a whole different playground. Overstuffed couches and armchairs fill nooks along one side of the platform, while on the other, a swath of grass marks the picnic lawn, complete with cornhole boards. It all leads to the terrazzo-topped island bar, ringed round with stools both outside and in, where the vibe is vaguely mid-century Miami Beach: palm columns beneath a bright green ceiling, a pink velvet banquette curving along the wall, mod tables and chairs that pop in red, yellow, and blue. Everywhere you look, the little things add up to a party waiting to happen: a fire pit here, a hammock there, a DJ station here, maybe even exec chef David Anderson working a grill over there.


 

The Red Barber picnic lawn games
Photo Courtesy of Hip Photo

Grilling is, in fact, at the heart of the small menu, centered on an array of skewers that range from bulgogi-style beef with kimchi and daikon to octopus and prawn with harissa mayo to halloumi with tomato and basil; they’re supplemented by a selection of mostly hand-held apps, including honey-drizzled grilled-cheese wedges and pork spare ribs in black-bean sauce. To wash it all down, seasonal cocktails like the Millennium Falcon—combining cucumber-mint vodka, strawberry syrup, and watermelon seltzer—keep summer in sight, while the bourbon-based Catbird Seat with Cream Sherry and walnut liqueur rings in the fall. Canned craft beer and wine round out the beverage program while underscoring the theme of the place: Going to The Red Barber is like going to a backyard barbecue—only it’s held nightly six stories up, the guests are better-dressed, and you don’t even have to bring the potato salad.

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Ruth Tobias is a Denver-based food-and-beverage writer/editor.