With the opening earlier this month of Milk Market, downtown Denver’s Dairy Block is already shaping up to be an all-day dining destination. Now, along the activated alleyway between 18th and 19th, Wazee and Blake streets, even more eating and drinking destinations are appearing. By late summer and into fall, businesses will open such as Blanchard Family Wines and Fortuna Chocolate, Foraged restaurant, Seven Grand whiskey bar, and the pop-up-style Free Market with its boutique clothes, bags, and home goods but also crafty food and beverages.
In the basement of one of the block’s historic buildings — below the former Celtic — will hide a cocktail bar slightly off the beaten path and apart from the other offerings. Run For The Roses is the creation of White Lies co-founder Steven Waters. For those who fell for Black Eye Coffee Cap Hill’s alter ego and nighttime experiment, know that this bar will have that same magic touch but a whole different aesthetic.
Vintage on the spirits and mirrors, roses behind the bar climbing a wall fresco, and oxblood and navy across the tufted leather seating — Waters calls it baroque meets brutalist. The cocktails will mostly be classic and the food will be upscale-easy from deviled eggs to pickles, preserves, and tinned seafood. One menu item is sure to be a late-night craver: read spam and egg and potato bun breakfast sandwich. After an elevator ride down and a long hallway lined with living greenery, the entrance to RFTR will be a ticket booth, the menu will be on playing cards, and private lockers will store event passes and giveaways.
But rather than veering into kitsch, Waters sees this new bar standing firmly between cool and comfortable, an homage to the block’s history, to underground gambling establishments of old, and of course to horse racing.
Once open, Run For The Roses will operate from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.