Top of the Town 2015: Culture & Nightlife

The best places to view art, enjoy a cocktail, watch the game, discover a new band, and more.

June 17 2015, 2:59 PM

Tennis; Image Courtesy of Luca Venter


Editors’ Choice
Dustin Lawlor, The Kitchen Denver
If you spend enough time in bars (and, believe us, we do), you learn pretty quickly that the success of any given watering hole is the result of more than the vision of just one person. Under the direction of head bartender Dustin Lawlor, the Kitchen’s bar staff consistently executes its menu of cocktails (such as the cheekily named Brazilian made with vodka, lime, and simple syrup). But what we really love about the LoDo restaurant’s cocktail program is that the menu is a reflection of each barkeep’s individual tastes. Here you’ll find a regularly changing lineup of drinks conceived by whichever men and women are slinging cocktails that evening—like the recently proffered Mother of Dragons, a bold, truly unique mescal concoction clearly dreamed up by a Game of Thrones fan. The Khaleesi would be proud. 1530 16th St., 303-623-3127

Readers’ Choice
Mike McGill, Old Major 3316 Tejon St., 720-420-0622

New Brewery

Editors’ Choice
Comrade Brewing
With a new brewery popping up seemingly every day in Denver, an operation has to brew something extraordinary to get—and keep—our attention. Right now, we’re focused on year-old Comrade Brewing and its Superpower IPA, a tasty rendition that’s quickly gaining a following throughout the city. The beer is balanced and crisp even with its boatloads of piney Pacific Northwest hops. With a location east of the University of Denver, the brewery—run by brewmaster Marks Lanham, an Oregon transplant—can feel a bit out of the way, but fans needn’t worry: Comrade and its IPA have started showing up on more draft lists around town, including at discerning tastemakers such as To The Wind Bistro and Asbury Provisions. 7667 E. Iliff Ave., 720-748-0700

Readers’ Choice
Mockery Brewing 3501 Delgany St., 303-953-2058

Dive Bar

Editors’ Choice
El Chapultepec
We often miss the worn-in vibe of a true dive bar when we’re checking out all of Denver’s newer arrivals. When we want a reminder, we head to the beloved ’Pec. Situated near some of downtown’s most popular watering holes, the lauded jazz bar is a Denver icon: It was founded in 1933 and hosted some of the 20th century’s greatest artists, including Jack Kerouac, Frank Sinatra, Buddy DeFranco, and Ella Fitzgerald. We love the history, but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we also go for the conversations at the bar with regulars and seriously cheap drinks (like $2.50 Coors Banquet on tap). 1962 Market St., 303-295-9126

Readers’ Choice
Hi-Dive 7 S. Broadway, 303-733-0230

Drink With a View

Editors’ Choice
The Bogey Shack, City Park Golf Course
Even amid a flurry of duffs, slices, and four-letter words, it’s nearly impossible to overlook the two-for-one view of downtown Denver’s skyline and craggy Rocky Mountain peaks from the eastern side of City Park Golf Course. Sure, plenty of spots around town showcase praise-worthy vistas of one or the other, but we’re greedy when it comes to scenic photo ops. So grab a can of Dale’s Pale Ale (and, if you need sustenance, a brat or turkey sandwich) from the Bogey Shack, the on-course food stand, take a minute or two to appreciate the view, and step up to the 14th hole tee box, which sits on top of a steep ridgeline. Then enjoy an even more rewarding sight: Your Titleist soaring down the center of the fairway. 2500 York St., 720-865-3410

Readers’ Choice
Linger 2030 W. 30th Ave., 303-993-3120

Cocktail Menu

Editors’ Choice
The Cooper Lounge
Union Station’s newfound elegance extends all the way upstairs to Cooper Lounge. Find your way to the secluded staircase across from the Amtrak ticket counter, take your seat at the bar, and relax into a world steeped in glamour and luxury. Scroll through the iPad menu, from bar manager Marcel Templet, for a well-edited list of Old World–style tipples that are nuanced enough to justify the $10-plus price tag. (Cooper Lounge also serves a light dinner starting at 4 p.m.; make a reservation.) Order the St. Therese, a beautifully balanced and modern blend of reposado tequila, Bénédictine, and Ancho Reyes. When the cocktail arrives on a silver platter in a delicately engraved coupe, you’ll wonder if you could get used to this. One swill of the smooth, potent drink, and you’ll know you can. Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop St., 720-460-3738

Readers’ Choice
Williams & Graham 3160 Tejon St., 303-997-8886

Sports Bar

Editors’ Choice
Wash Park Sports Alley
What we look for in a great sports bar is pretty simple, really: TVs everywhere; solid, if basic, food; cheap, cold beer; and a zero-pretension atmosphere. Four-year-old Wash Park Sports Alley delivers on all of those key components—26 HD TVs, delicious wings and burgers, $2.75 Coors Light drafts—plus it has welcome perks like skee ball, four-player Pac-Man, and giant Jenga. The bar’s side-alley entrance, located near the intersection of Alameda Avenue and South Downing Street, makes this garden-level hideaway a bit difficult to find, but it’s worth the sleuthing when you’re in need of a no-nonsense place to catch the game. 266-B S. Downing St., 303-635-6691

Readers’ Choice
Blake Street Tavern 2301 Blake St., 303-675-0505

Happy Hour

Editors’ Choice
Happy hour’s smaller prices shouldn’t mean smaller flavors. No danger of that at p17 (formerly Parallel 17), where you can sample delights from one of our favorite Denver chefs—Mary Nguyen—during happy hour (Tuesday through Sunday, 3 to 6 p.m., and all evening on Monday). That means pineapple-garnished duck confit tacos, pork belly buns with pickled vegetables, and a lamb meatball over rosemary grits—each for around three bucks. Pair Nguyen’s elegant but accessible cuisine with a glass of house wine ($4) or a signature cocktail ($5), and park yourself outside along the prime-people-watching strip that is 17th Avenue. 1600 E. 17th Ave., 303-399-0988

Readers’ Choice
Jax Fish House multiple locations

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—Image courtesy of Candace Marie Peterson