Boozing in the Mile High City is enjoyable any time of year, thanks to numerous craft breweries, distilleries, and urban wineries around town. From luxe cocktail dens to classic watering holes to wine bars that come with a crash course on grapes, there’s a place for every type of drinker. Here are 12 of Denver’s top bars to get merry at.
Three Saints Revival (Downtown)
This bright and energetic restaurant, which opened in November 2021, features a long marble-topped bar stretching the length of the dining room. The cocktails have a Mediterranean theme with surprising ingredients such as quince syrup, drinking yogurt, Aleppo pepper, and scotch washed with sesame oil. There’s a killer wine list too, as well as local craft beer on tap. Order a drink or two to sip with an array of tapas, which run the gamut from harissa-laced carrots to Colorado bass crudo.
Five Nines (Cherry Creek)
One of Denver’s newest—and swankiest—bars can be found in the Clayton Members Club & Hotel. Inside the low-lit space, take a seat at one of the plush banquettes, wooden tables, or along the cozy bar. Order based on your mood, whether it’s a classic cocktail, something spicier, such as a tequila negroni, accompanied by a flaming orange peel, or a glass of wine. Then sit back and wait for the show: Roughly every 45 minutes, a member of the Hard Candy Dancers, a local burlesque and aerial troupe, comes on stage to shake, shimmy, and entertain with acrobatics.
La Bouche (Uptown)
Owners Alex and Alexis Tréton opened this petite wine bar in late September 2021, and it’s become a solid neighborhood spot since. Lounge at one of the small tables, or take a seat on the relaxed patio. There’s also a corner bar inside—a perfect black-and-white rectangle that evokes a box of gourmet chocolates. Belly up and order a glass of French or American wine—flights are also an option—to sip with La Bouche’s simple but standout French fare.
Williams & Graham (LoHi)
Williams & Graham, a distinguished 1920s-themed bar, has consistently poured a solid drink since 2011. At first glance, the LoHi bar doesn’t look like much: It’s simply a door leading to a waiting room with a wall of dusty old books. But once your reservation is confirmed, that same wall opens up into a comfortable speakeasy, complete with a sturdy wooden bar and cozy booths, plus a standing table for groups. The menu boasts over 60 classic cocktails, along with seasonal creations. Pick a drink to go with the dry-aged burger and a plate of deviled eggs, or ask the bartender to whip up something special.
Ship Tavern at the Brown Palace (Downtown)
This classy spot, nested inside the Brown Palace Hotel, claims a piece of Denver’s history: opened in 1934, it’s considered one of the city’s longest-running bars. As the name suggests, a nautical theme dominates the interiors, complete with a full mast and crow’s nest, Jamaican rum barrels, and a collection of model sailing ships. Take it all in by securing a seat at the solid oak bar, or in one of the blue or red leather chairs—perfect perches for enjoying live piano music on Friday and Saturday nights. Like the vintage tavern itself, the drinks, which include strong beers, red wine by the goblet, and a stellar martini, speak to simpler times.
Noble Riot (RiNo)
Great wine and a knowledgeable staff make this modern wine bar the place to be in Denver—and the excellent fried chicken doesn’t hurt, either. Revelers don’t have to know anything about wine in order to enjoy themselves. Pick out a red, white, or cider, then ask the staff to lead the tasting. The only real choice diners have to make is whether to sip in the art-filled and cavernous bar, or outside at one of the picnic tables for some top-notch people watching.
Though many of the grapes at this urban winery hail from California, they’re processed right here in RiNo. Order a flight and snack on tasty accompaniments such as truffle-laced popcorn and green chile artichoke dip. Plan ahead and reserve a tour of the space, along with a wine tasting. The industrial-chic vibe extends to the dining room, with sparkling chandeliers and polished steel accents. Sit at the bar for real hands-on wine talk, then take a bottle home.
Led by master distiller Rob Masters, the beverage program at this Denver distillery features creative cocktails, booze infusions, and an array of house-made liquors meant to mimic popular mixers, such as vermouth and Campari. Sip on one-of-a-kind libations, such as the Black Manhattan—the rouge vermouth and amaro are distilled onsite, of course—against the backdrop of a copper still that towers above blue velvet booths.
Water Grill – Denver (Downtown)
The large marble bar at this new seafood restaurant, which opened in February 2022, isn’t just comfortable, it has front row seats to the raw bar. Order oysters—there are 16 to 20 kinds available on a daily basis—with a gin martini to wash it all down. Or, choose a classic cocktail with a twist, such as the margarita verde (tequila, agave, lime, cucumber, and jalapeño) to go with the Atlantic cod tacos. The wine list features many sparkling vinos and a whole list of “adventurous whites” by the bottle. Like the freshly caught fish on Water Grill’s menu, the wine options change all the time, so snag them while you can.
Head to this airy hotel bar to take in views of the Denver Art Museum and downtown. Soak in the sun from one of the high tops or comfy lounge chairs; the outdoor expanse here is also decked with firepits. When it comes to the drinks, find classic cocktails, local beers, and wines by the glass.
Lakeview Lounge (Edgewater)
This lovable dive in Edgewater, which dates back to 1975, has long lured fans for cheap drinks, pool, foosball, and a view of Sloan’s Lake, sprawled right across the street. Though sunset views are always stellar here, in the colder months, the lounge opens at 7 am—regulars are known to flock here on the first and last days of Daylight Savings Time, sipping drinks as they watch the sunrise. Expect worn linoleum, plenty of dents in the bar, and a slew of folks who have kept the place afloat for decades.
Tiki bars should always feature tropical drinks and a bit of whimsy. Such is the case at Adrift on South Broadway. The rum-centric drinks at this playful, Polynesian-style lair, served under the light of a glowing pufferfish, are dangerously good. Expect classic concoctions such as mai tais and hurricanes, as well as Adrift originals like the house old fashioned, sweetened with coconut liqueur. Order at the bar or better yet, reserve a table so there’s enough room for plates of coconut shrimp, pork belly lettuce wraps, and ice cream from the bar’s sibling shop, Little Man Ice Cream.
Freelance journalist Linnea Covington lives and eats in Denver, the best place for green chili and epic hikes with fantastic sandwiches.
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