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From pre-prohibition to present day, Denver has been a place with streets rich with whiskey bars and speakeasies. From fascinating historical locations still operating as booze vendors to the new and edgy joints with quirky small plates, the city has a wealth of impeccable cocktails and locally inspired food to go with them. Community brewed beer, sweet frozen slushies with unusual additions, wine—Denver has what you need for a fun, flawless night out on the town. Whether it be for a date or great times with friends, here is a list of our favorite bars to get you started.
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Williams and Graham
Williams and Graham’s rich, warm wood tones and style are reminiscent of a prohibition past, and many of the drink recipes are centuries old. Keeping with the hidden speakeasy theme, it appears one is walking into a bookstore, when entering through the “secret” entry way. A completely intimate cocktail experience, bar tenders get to know guests and can even create a cocktail to suit preferences, and even mood. With chef created small plates and desserts like plum cake, Williams and Graham is an essential spot for intricately mastered drinks and tasty treats.
The Cruise Room
Like stepping back in time aboard the 1930s Queen Mary ship, the mimicking design of The Cruise Room overflows with both recreated and real history. The Art Deco bar is believed to have housed a prohibition speakeasy before undergoing the redesign after the ban. Mixologists follow a lengthy 12 step process to make each meticulously measured drink with impeccable balance, and the martinis are a favorite.
What makes ViewHouse Ballpark unique is the incorporation of several Coloradoan things—sports, the outdoors, and healthy, local food. A balance of drinks and chef crafted dishes like blue crab enchiladas and organic grass fed burgers with the option for a locally baked gluten free bun makes ViewHouse an unparalleled Denver nook to do both drinks and dinner. From a smoky blackberry margarita to a fantastic wine and beer list, the pairings are endless.
Union Lodge No. 1
Union Lodge No. 1 also pays tribute to drinks of the prohibition, and it’s all done with a touch of glam within its bricked wall speakeasy. Bartenders are more like artists as they put together some jaw dropping drinks, which are both visually stunning and delicious. Watch in amazement as flaming liquids are tossed from glass to glass, and enjoy the presentation of some seriously out of the box cocktails.
The 1up—LoDo veers Away from the historically themed bars of Denver, focusing on retro arcade vibes and classic pinball machines. From on tap beers to a simple but vibrant list of cocktails, the nerd-esque venue is a way to change up the “hum drum” routine of your night out. Indulgent American fare from loaded potato hotdogs to mac n cheese bites fill a diverse menu–try the huckleberry cocktail with a juicy angus burger. Bonus—it’s on the lower end of the price spectrum.
Looking for panoramic Denver views and the cozy ambience of fire pits and twinkling lights? 54thirty Rooftop sits on a hotel terrace and can have a bit of a wait for a table, but fruity, Colorado inspired cocktails with huckleberries and interesting syrups make it worth the wait. Upscale snacks of truffle chips and braised short rib round out a phenomenal food list to enjoy with each glass of wine. But out of everything, the frozen Rose slushee grabs us most.
The Bar Car
While situated in a strip mall, The Bar Car greets with train cart charm within its exterior. Moody lighting, old school embellishments and plush seating wedge into the small yet cozy bar. A delightfully hilarious foul-mouthed menu of creative American favorites, from fried pork skins to barbecue, is complimented by an impressive draft list, a creative assortment of Moscow Mules and reimagined cocktails.
Brass Tacks holds tight to its 150 year old roots, remaining as a top bar in Denver, as it did during times spirit consumption was frowned upon. Speaking of spirits, it is said the building’s vault houses at least two ghosts, who like to appear from time to time. Step back into the old days of Denver and down a burger and a pint in this authentic bar.
Izakaya Ronin’s whiskey bar is tucked underneath the main level sushi restaurant, and is a cultural gem of Denver. With an edgy spin, downstairs serves up delicious upscale snacks and ramen, along with a Japanese influenced spirit and cocktail menu.
Whiskey Bar is the place to hit up before heading over to Coors Field, and as you may imagine, the whiskey list is extensive and versatile. The well versed bartender happily guides customers through the selections, which range from the low and high price range. This gritty little spot lives up to its name, and also offers a good selection of beer.