Redux: The Boulderado's Catacombs Bar Becomes License No. 1

April 29 2014, 10:30 AM

Catacombs Bar at the Hotel Boulderado -Photo by Carol W. Maybach

The March 30 closing of the iconic Catacombs Bar marked the end of an era at the Hotel Boulderado. The tiny subterranean spot was a favorite of late-night crowds since it began serving, as the saying goes “since 1909, legally since 1969,” which refers to Catacomb’s operation during the temporary repeal of Boulder’s liquor licenses in 1967. The classic bar, popular for its cheap happy hour specials and laid-back vibe, had legions of fans. As a result, many are sad to see change come to one of the few remaining affordable bars in downtown Boulder.

The newly remodeled space, now known as License No. 1, is poised to open next week. There will be more seating, upgraded food and spirits, and a collection of historical artifacts that reflect the hotel’s storied past. The iconic window that offers an inside peek at the workings of the historic Otis elevator and the popular pool table will remain, even as the space will take on the feel of an upscale speakeasy. License No. 1 gets its name from being one of the first bars in 1969 to be awarded a mixed-use license (meaning it could serve both food and drink), Lynn Brewer, the hotel’s social media manager, says.

The new bar menu, designed by Williams & Graham’s star mixologist Allison Widdecombe features classic cocktails that highlight whiskeys, vodkas, and an array of local ingredients. (Don’t miss the signature Old Fashioned, made with the Boulderado’s own single-barrel Buffalo Trace Bourbon). And according to Brewer, pastry chef Alex Hindman is reworking the menu to incorporate items like a chipotle–green chile bar snack mix, and caramelized Brussels sprouts with bacon and maple brown butter.

The remodel comes as a part of the Hotel Boulderado’s overall plan to reinvigorate the property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Overall changes to the food and beverage programs will “better reflect the connection to the historic space,” Brewer says. Initial turn-over in the dining venues came back in December of 2013, when the leases for the hotel's flagship restaurant Q’s and the more casual Corner Bar came up for renewal and executive chef John Platt (currently chef-owner of Riffs Urban Fare) was replaced by Shawn Murrell. Murrell, who was one of the many talented chefs Platt trained over the course of his 20-years at the Boulderado, now oversees the menus of Q’s, the Corner Bar, and License No.1. Although Q’s will only see seasonal changes in its menu, the Corner Bar will debut its refurbishment later this week.

2115 13th St., Boulder, 303-442-4344