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 Cruise Room It’s narrow, dark, and standing-room-only on any given Friday at 6 p.m., which all adds to the mystique of the Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel. The chrome bar glints in the dimly lit space, and the booths are packed with downtown professionals loosening their ties and out-of-towners who’ve sought it out from word-of-mouth. The vibe is such that you might expect to see Don Draper tipping back an old-fashioned in the next booth over. The Cruise Room opened in 1933 right after Prohibition was repealed; today, it’s a Denver institution. 1600 17th St., 303-825-1107, theoxfordhotel.com/the-cruise-room.html
Drink this: A Manhattan. Just enough to take the edge off of a long day at work.
The Corner Office The pretheater crowd at the Curtis’ Corner Office is demanding. Young professionals belly up to the bar and overrun the high-tops, chattering and tossing back sugar-rimmed cocktails with gusto so they can make the 7 p.m. curtain time across the street. The bartenders, thankfully, are fast and accommodating. The decor—a blend of modern and Jetson chic that somehow works—reflects the youthful, pop-culture theme of the Curtis hotel. 1401 Curtis St., 303-825-6500, thecornerofficedenver.com
Drink this: White Rascal ale from Avery Brewing Company, or a Sugar Mama: limoncello, blood-orange liqueur, lemon, and prosecco.
Edge Restaurant & Bar Want to see and be seen? Head to Edge at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver, where social circuit–goers regularly breeze through to get their drink on. The game will be on above the bar, but it won’t dominate; instead, skip the actual bar, park yourself at a high-top, and people-watch over a plate of the spicy tuna tartare from the bar menu. If you’ve got a business agenda for your bar rendezvous—it’s not uncommon to spot a briefcase here and there—stake out a couple of cushy armchairs to lend a more casual vibe to your meeting. 111 14th St., 303-389-3343, edgerestaurantdenver.com
Drink this: With an average of 60 wines by the glass, you can’t go wrong. The buffalo rib-eye pairs superbly with the Catena Vista Flores Malbec.
Second Home Kitchen + Bar Next time you walk into Second Home at Cherry Creek’s JW Marriott Denver, don’t be surprised to see a thirtysomething (and up) crowd in celebration mode. The open, wraparound couches inside (we love the tree-stump lounge tables) and the giant stone fire pit outside in the courtyard lend themselves to large gatherings of dressed-to-the-nines Cherry Creekers—lots of ladies—who want to toast a birthday in style. While the bar does a good job maintaining its hip, night-out feel, it also manages a natural, bamboo/stone/wood aesthetic for a cozier appeal. 150 Clayton Lane, 303-253-3000, secondhomedenver.com
Drink this: Grapefruit A-Go-Go—a specialty cocktail with St. Germain, honey simple syrup, and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, all shaken and poured over a frozen grapefruit ball in a martini glass.
Peaks Lounge View, view, and more view: That’s the biggest draw to the Hyatt Regency Denver’s Peaks Lounge, where the city lights and the mountainscape to the west make any happy hour a special one. Take the elevator up to the airy lounge and find a table by the expansive wall of windows. On weekdays, hotel guests wander up for a glass of wine to enjoy a mountain view they don’t get at home; on weekends, locals head upstairs for apps and cocktails before a show at the Wells Fargo Theatre, or for a special occasion. (Don’t be shocked to see a proposal or two. In our book, a spectacular sunset is as good a reason as any.) 650 15th St., 27th floor, 303-486-4433, denverregency.hyatt.com
Drink this: The 27th Floor (Navan cognac, Baileys, Frangelico, Godiva, and espresso in a martini glass with a cocoa rim).