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Run for the Roses opened in the lower level of the Dairy Block on May 2. (Photo by Steven Waters)

Run for the Roses Opens in the Dairy Block

The underground cocktail bar, where all are welcome, promises a high-low combo of classic sips and snacks in a glam setting.

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“We absolutely want to be found! By anybody and everybody!” That’s drink wizard Steven Waters on finding his new subterranean cocktail lair, Run for the Roses.

It’s not easy.

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To get to there, you have to know where to look: In the alley of Dairy Block, through a non-descript door directly across from Milk Market’s entrance. Once inside that door, take the elevator down one floor—there are only two stops, a wrong one and a right one—where you’ll then venture through a longish corridor leading to the rose-etched glass entrance to Run for the Roses (RFTR).

Don’t worry; the journey is worth it.

Originally slated to open in April of last year, RFTR, named for the Kentucky Derby, experienced major construction and permitting delays, but finally made its Dairy Block debut last night. Its opening menu features a custom deck of 52 perfected classic cocktails—as in a literal deck of cards—and includes a dry martini, Widow’s Kiss, and daiquiri. In addition to the 52 standards, there is a rotating menu of seven seasonal sippers, like the Shoulda Coulda with tequila, lime, demerara sugar, and Fruition Farms’ silky sheep-milk skyr.

“We want to make people feel welcome,” Waters says. “We want them to come in and sink into this big, comfy, plush chair, order a cocktail, relax, and lose track of time.”

The Alaska cocktail at Run for the Roses combines Old Tom gin, Chartreuse, and orange bitters. (Photo by Steven Waters)

Of course, if you’re going to lose track of time, you might get hungry, so RFTR has a tight menu of snacks too. From a nighttime breakfast sandwich made with Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe spam and a fried egg to house-made pickles to a decadent banana split, the edible options are as eclectic and era-spanning as the space itself.

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The historic Dairy Block building dates back to the 1880s, but the décor inside RFRT isn’t trying to imitate anything that came before. Instead, it’s a mix of old and new, with the original brick walls and timber ceiling juxtaposed against snazzy custom teal leather bar stools and jewel-toned tufted couches. Waters worked with local Gensler architecture firm on the building plans, but chose every design detail himself.

Behind the main lounge area is a private room, dubbed the Garland Room, that resembles a corporate boardroom…but a really cool corporate boardroom for a very classy company whose executives sip black Manhattans at 1 p.m. Whether you book it for your next soirée or get down with a drink at the 15-seat bar, RFTR is the new cocktail haven Denver drinkers have been waiting for.

If you go: On Saturday, May 4, RFTR will host a Kentucky Derby party replete with Woodford Reserve cocktails, the first 75 of which are FREE!

1801 Blake St., Suite 10; Thurs.-Sun., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.

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