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It’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the new restaurants and bars popping up in Denver these days. (Case in point: our list of new Mile High watering holes.) But if there’s one spot you should look out for, it’s Nocturne, a jazz and supper club coming soon to RiNo. (The public soft opening is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, March 9.) Here, our top five reasons why this spot—yet another recent opening in the trendy ‘hood—deserves your time:
1. They understand happy hour.
“Social hour” will run from 6 to 8 p.m.—so people can take advantage of the happiest of hours even if they can’t leave work at 3 o’clock. Expect various food and drink deals (including a monthly community punch) coming in under $10. The bar program has a unique focus: sparkling and dessert wines. Expect a wide variety available by the glass or bottle (as well as reds and whites). The drink menu is rounded out by plenty of domestic beers and more than a dozen rotating cocktails, split into Tried and True, Newfangled, and Sparkling offerings.
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2. It’s tapping into RiNo’s jazz roots.
Once called the “Harlem of the West,” Five Points’ jazz ties go way back. Nocturne co-owner Scott Mattson (a certified sommelier and longtime jazz drummer) says the venue will be an updated take on the jazz clubs of yore. “We want to create a place where we can reach a generation of listeners,” he says. “Jazz [is sometimes considered] elitist and not accessible, but it was blue-collar music originally. People will be enouraged to talk, laugh, and have fun.” Beyond bringing in local and touring acts, Nocturne will host an artist-in-residence program, during which musicians will participate in three-month performance runs. Live music will hit the stage from 8 p.m. to midnight; outside those hours, vintage records will play end-to-end.
3. Consider it an excuse to walk down one of Denver’s graffiti-decorated alleys.
Mattson picked the location because it’s beside an alley decorated with ever-changing graffiti. The street art theme continues with Nocturne’s garage door (pictured, right), on which artist Brandon Pickett (who Mattson went to high school with) painted three icons of jazz: Lee Morgan, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach.
4. The food’s gonna be good—and available late.
Chef Dustin Beckner (most recently from Root Down) was tapped to conceive a food program that brings the music to people’s palates. The menu is split into two parts: “Sound Bites” are seasonal small plates—including charcuterie, lamb collar, and ratatouille—that range from $3 to $14. The real foodie draw, though, is the “Six-Course Rendition” for just $49 (wine pairings will, of course, cost more). This take on the chef’s tasting menu—available until 11:30 p.m. nightly—will run for eight weeks at a time, and dishes will be inspired by a particular iconic jazz album. The first iteration will be revealed March 28.
5. The design fits the neighborhood.
The restored warehouse will be dark without being seedy, intimate without feeling small, and speakeasy-like without all the hoopla. Mattson calls it “classic RiNo funk.” After entering through a curtain, guests will be greeted by a host who will seat them based on the reason for their visit: at the long, art deco-inspired bar; at high-tops on white marble floors; at banquet seating and two- and four-tops facing the small corner stage; or, for a little privacy, up the curving staircase, alongside vintage cabaret wallpaper, to the mezzanine overlooking the high-ceilinged space.
Nocturne will be open Monday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. 1330 27th St., 303-295-3333
(Editor’s Note: Nocturne’s opening date was pushed from Friday, March 6, to Monday, March 9. The change is reflected in the story.)
—Image courtesy of Nocturne