Reporting by Julie Dugdale, Amanda M. Faison, Luc Hatlestad, Lindsey B. Koehler, Lindsey R. McKissick, Chris Outcalt, Daliah Singer & Geoff Van Dyke
Issue: February 2012
The 35 Best Bars in Denver
From dive bars to chic cocktail lounges, we drank our way through the Mile High City to find the best places to imbibe.
The Village Cork, A Wine Bistro If you haven’t been to Platt Park’s Village Cork in recent years, you’ll be amazed at the transformation. What was once a too-cozy space has doubled in size without losing its New York City ambience. The menu has also expanded since chef Samir Mohammad took over the burners. But the Village Cork, as the name suggests, is really about the wine. And owner Lisa Lapp makes sure her staff knows exactly how to pair you—as well as Mohammad’s cuisine—with the right pour. 1300 S. Pearl St., 303-282-8399, villagecork.com
Drink this: After 9 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and after 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Lapp offers an open-bottle special: Any glass poured from an already-open bottle is just $5.
Caveau Wine Bar The vibe at Caveau matches that of the surrounding Uptown neighborhood: urban, young, and maybe just a little too cool. But that doesn’t mean it’s not in our regular rotation of places to imbibe grape juice; it just means we break out those killer red heels instead of the clogs. For an independent wine bar, Caveau’s list is fairly extensive, with 60 wines by the glass. Fortunately, the expectedly fashionable servers we encountered knew their varietals and vintners well enough to point us in the right direction. 450 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-3747, caveauwinebar.com
Drink this: If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, the Benovia is a slightly pricey ($20) but enjoyable choice.
Cellar Wine & Salumi Bar If your palate is new to wine, this intimate, triangle-shaped bar is the place to let it mature. Not only is the staff genuinely friendly, easygoing, and willing to guide you, the menu offers no less than 10 wine flights. If you and your drinking partner both order a flight—and we recommend you do—six well-rationed pours will help you decide what flavor you like best. Of course, if you have a nose for good wine, sommelier Evan Williams can easily explain nuances your more veteran taste buds will appreciate. 2556 15th St., 303-455-9463, cwbon15th.com
Drink this: The South American flight includes a floral Torrontes, a fruity Carmenere, and a jammy Malbec.
Lala’s Wine Bar + Pizzeria The aroma of tangy red sauce spiked with Italian spices hits you as you walk in the front door of this bustling eatery in Capitol Hill. This isn’t your typical wine bar, but make no mistake: Lala’s knows wine. It just also happens to know thin-crust pizza. Although you can order wine at a table, we suggest bellying up to the bar, where tenders can help you sort through the more than 60 by-the-glass options or organize special tasting menus paired with appetizers or blind tastings. 410 E. Seventh Ave., 303-861-9463, lalaswinebar.com
Drink this: Order a half-glass of Infinite Monkey Theorem’s the Petite Sirah or, if you’re getting a pie (we like Beppe’s), grab a full glass of the Nozzole Chianti Classico.
Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar Owner David Schneider has a resumé that drips with wine. He comes to Denver from Chicago, where he opened the hugely successful BIN 36, a restaurant-bar-wine-retailer combination. Here, Schneider is using his knowledge to make good vino accessible and approachable, without dumbing it down. And he’s doing it in style at his convivial bistro in the Spire building. The wine menu, which is loaded with both unusual varietals and little-known vintners from all around the globe, has 40 by-the-glass offerings plus rotating wine flights. And the prices are remarkably reasonable. 891 14th St., 303-825-0100, row14denver.com
Drink this: Visit during happy hour for a wallet-saving deal when all glasses priced at $10 or less become $5, and anything more expensive morphs to half price.