Hidden in the shadow of I-70, on Globeville’s East 45th Street, the new Fort Greene bar aims to succeed in a space where three others (Crash 45, White Owl, Portaluca Café) have failed over the course of the past six years. Owner Bretton Scott, a New York City refugee (hence Fort Greene, his former Brooklyn neighborhood) has an advantage: His brother, Aaron, owns the building. It doesn’t hurt that Bretton also owns good taste. The week-old bar debuted looking something like a modest, mid-century French parlor, with green walls accented by black trim, a hefty, historic mirror-backed wood bar, green cloth couches snuggled into a corner, and a Packard piano pressed against the back wall. The small but cozy space is matched with an equally petite but comfortable menu: classic cocktails (think: Negroni, Manhattan, Martinez) anchor the cocktail list, aligned with a few well considered wine and beer choices, and a brief food menu that includes homey favorites like fried cheese curds (a nod to the Scotts’ Wisconsin roots), nachos, and coconut cream pie. It’s all far from unexpected—but the appearance of this charming little sipping spot in one of Denver’s often overlooked neighborhoods offers all the surprise you need.
321 E. 45th Ave., 303-362-0197, fortgreenedenver.com
Max’s Wine Dive
The name might sound headache-inducing, but there’s more to this month-old Capitol Hill bar than Barefoot and Carlo Rossi—like Oregon’s J.K. Carrier and France’s Dom (as in Pérignon), and more than 100 other bottles on the globe-roving wine list. Imported from Texas, Max’s Wine Dive exhibits the kind of quirkiness you’d expect of a state with a capital city committed to keeping things weird: like a staff that wears “punny” T-shirts (“You had me at merlot”) and a menu that pairs high-end vino with low-country comfort foods like fried chicken sliders and shrimp and grits. We know, as Coloradans, it seems like a matter of state pride to eschew all things Texas. But it’s hard not to love Max’s two-glass commitment policy: promise to drink two glasses of a particular wine, and the staff will open any bottle.
696 Sherman St., 303-593-2554, maxswinedive.com
When the NBA playoffs become matchups fans actually care about (so, mid-May), Will Call could be your spot to watch them. Every seat in this five-month old RiNo tavern—from the dozen or so chairs at the enormous U-shaped bar to the elevated round, cushy booths—is oriented so you can see one of the bar’s many flat screens. Will Call’s South American-inspired cocktail list and signature arepas menu are certainly interesting, but come game day, we’re inclined to stick with more traditional pairings: like something from the Colorado-centric tap list and, perhaps, the smoked chicken wings. Created by Denver’s Little Pub Company (which also gave us The Icehouse Tavern, Wyman’s No. 5, and the Whittier Pub, among many others), there’s history to this Industry building addition (the signs above the bar reflect the space’s former life as a “Customer Pick-up and Will Call” office), but the orange back-lit bar and copious use of metal-as-accessory (rain gutter lights, anyone?) gives it a modern-industrial feel. Perhaps the best part about this new entry: There’s no fighting for a prime seat to watch the game. Yet.
3043 Brighton Blvd., 720-484-6428, willcalldenver.com