clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Champagne Mojito
A Champagne Mojito at Yacht Club.
Shawn Campbell

24 Essential Denver Bars

For cocktails, beer, wine, atmosphere, and more

View as Map
A Champagne Mojito at Yacht Club.
| Shawn Campbell

A drinking town from the moment its government was established in a saloon, the Mile High City has grown up as a world-renowned destination for beer and spirits — and today, even its way with wine programs is worth noting. But the spirit of the Wild West lives on in the sheer wonderful weirdness of local bar culture. Here are 24 spots that distill Denver’s drinking scene down to its essence, from an old-school dive that hands out roses to female patrons to a wellness-focused lounge that infuses its potions with crystal essences.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Fort Greene

Copy Link

This hip little bar has single-handedly made Globeville a destination. Hosting DJ sets and art shows, pop-up markets and food vendors, themed parties, readings, and even drawing classes, it feels like a second home to its regulars, complete with quaint-meets-quirky parlor-room decor; a cozy patio; and, of course, kicky cocktails like the Full Cry with sotol, Port, oolong syrup, and lemon.

Margarita Ruth Tobias

The Tatarian

Copy Link

From the owners of the also notable Arvada Tavern and pre-Prohibition–themed Union Lodge No. 1, this suave Berkeley retreat turns out some of the city’s most sophisticated sippers bar none. Ask the affable bartenders for their recommendations, which might involve cilantro-infused gin, green cardamom syrup, green chile liqueur, and absinthe or rum-like Mexican charanda, strawberry-cumin shrub, corn liqueur, and paprika tincture.

A cocktail at The Tatarian The Tatarian

Yacht Club

Copy Link

If there’s a First Couple of the Denver drinking scene, it’s McLain Hedges and Mary Allison Wright, who aptly bill their Cole watering hole as “a nerdy cocktail bar, a natural wine bar, and a sh*tty dive bar” all in one. Come for a snazzy libation like the Laughing Bones with rhum agricole, green pineapple, celery, and curry leaf; stay for the most fascinating glass of wine most people have never heard of; keep staying for the Old Number 7-11 — a Jack and Coke with a hot dog. Making some friends along the way is almost guaranteed.

Lipton Cup cocktail at Yacht Club Shawn Campbell

The Family Jones Spirit House

Copy Link

This gorgeous combination distillery, tasting room, and kitchen won Eater’s 2018 Denver Bar of the Year award, and it continues to impress as it showcases its house spirits every which way — in flights; featured bottlings such as the single-barrel Atticus Jones Distiller’s Selection Colorado Straight Rye Whiskey; and cocktails like The Family Punch with vodka, chamomile, lavender, toasted coconut, cinnamon, and lime. Even the snacks go beyond the ordinary: Think curried red-lentil dip with lavash crackers, coconut–sunflower seed crumble, and pineapple-rum vinaigrette or smoked chicken salad topped with chicken chicharrones.

Four snifters with different spirits and garnishes Adam Larkey

Lady Jane

Copy Link

Jake Soffes owns two other notable Denver watering holes — Cap Hill’s Hudson Hill and LoDo’s The Wild, both of which double as all-day coffee shops — but Lady Jane stands out for its postcard-perfect ambiance a la 1960s-era Palm Springs. The cocktails are equally striking, combining seasonal ingredients in intriguing ways: The mezcal- and tequila-based Dad Jokes for instance, is flavored with corn, chiles, and butter, while the Design District mixes charanda añejo with plantains, guava, and Mosaic hops.

Miami Art Deco–inspired bar interior Ryan Dearth

Williams & Graham

Copy Link

Behind a bookcase on a LoHi corner sits an internationally acclaimed cocktail bar. The intimate, dim-lit space features large booths, but the best seats in the house line the grand wooden bar itself, where the crackerjack staff asks get-to-know-you questions before recommending a concoction made with any of hundreds of spirits lining the shelves, both classic and rare, along with all sorts of handmade bitters, syrups, and tinctures: Take the Keep ’Em Coming, which combines salami-infused vodka, mustard-infused aquavit, and nitro relish syrup with cucumber and lemon. Small plates like roasted bone marrow with bacon jam and duck drumettes with foie gras mousse and huckleberry preserves round out the famously bespoke experience. Meanwhile, just around the corner, sibling venue The Occidental offers a far grittier vibe but equally crafty drinks.

People seated at a dark bar

Noble Riot

Copy Link

Grape geeks unite at this alleyway RiNo retreat, where the extensive selection is rife with natural, organic, and/or Biodynamic small-production finds, each cooler than the last: Clay-fermented orange wine from Georgia or a Colorado pét-nat blend of Vignoles and Riesling? Hungarian brut nature bubbly or a rosé of Chardonnay and Baco Noir from Michigan, of all places? How about a Baboso Negro from Spain’s Canary Islands or a chilled Pelaverga from Piedmont? The list literally goes on and on, and the staff is well-versed in it all.

Wine bar with communal table and curved shelving Courtesy of Noble Riot

Honey Elixir Bar

Copy Link

Just a few steps away from Noble Riot, this cozy, homespun lounge welcomes all for a mindful drinking experience, with or without booze. Myriad superfoods, adaptogenic botanicals, and even crystal and flower essences as well as the namesake honey flourish in alcohol-free potions, low-ABV brews, and cocktails alike; kick things off with a full-strength L Word, featuring butterfly pea–infused gin, cherry liqueur, lychee, and lavender, then take a breather with the cacao-based, mushroom-infused Chocolit.

Cocktail featuring gin, saffron liqueur, aquafaba, vanilla-bean honey, and bee pollen Ruth Tobias

Room for Milly

Copy Link

With a vintage aesthetic that evokes a cross between some eccentric turn-of-the-century artist’s parlor and an overseas getaway for golden-age movie stars, this LoHi slice of glamour serves up cocktails (and light snacks) in keeping with its considerable style. Kick-off the evening with the Natsukashi, combining carrot-infused gin and sesame-washed vodka with lemongrass shochu and celery bitters; move on to the Ishan with Scotch, mango eau de vie, green cardamom, lime juice, and tonic water; cap it all off with a snifter of brandy.

Cocktail made with coconut-washed rhum agricole and pandan cordial against colorful backdrop Ruth Tobias

Death & Co Denver

Copy Link

The posh lobby of The Ramble Hotel is home to what opened in 2018 as the first outpost of one of New York’s best-known bars, where the gorgeously illustrated seasonal cocktail list displays the staff’s intricate craft: A Hurry Up and Wait with Armagnac, Scotch, Pineau des Charentes, carrot eau de vie, and honey here, a Clear Sky featuring tequila, rum, Fino Sherry, watermelon, tomato, and lime there. A small but smart selection of snacks completes the experience (don’t sleep on the drunken cookies).

Three cocktails on a table in a hotel lobby Elliot Clark

My Brother's Bar

Copy Link

In one iteration or another, My Brother’s Bar has been operating for nearly as long as Denver has been a city (since 1873). It looks and acts its age — as well it should. There’s beer and whiskey and burgers galore. There’s easy camaraderie among the patrons inside and out on the patio. There is, in short, a sense of homecoming that first-timers can feel as keenly as regulars.

Goed Zuur

Copy Link

In the heart of Five Points, this handsome taproom, all beautiful woodwork and copper accents, has garnered national buzz as a showcase for sour and wild ales. Its list of offerings both domestic and imported, on tap and in bottle, goes on for pages, rife with rarities from the likes of Belgium’s Gueuzerie Tilquin and Colorado’s own Casey Brewing & Blending. And the kitchen’s output is equally special: An order of savory blue cheesecake with mushrooms, fennel, and sundried tomatoes or cured lamb belly with braised endive, rhubarb, and green lentils has a way of spoiling a person for wings and poppers.

Sunday Vinyl

Copy Link

When it comes to consummate wine service, there’s arguably no more famous name in the entire state of Colorado than the Frasca Hospitality Group, so the top-tier bottle list presented by the staff at its Union Station lounge is no surprise. What may come as a surprise, however, is the playlist: As the name suggests, Sunday Vinyl pairs its pours with tunes from a collection of albums as vast as its cellar, covering every musical genre from jazz to hip hop to yacht rock. Snacks likewise vary from the easygoing (deviled eggs) to the elegant (beef tartare with smoked-oyster aioli).

Busy wine bar scene Mike Thurk

Run For The Roses

Copy Link

Subterranean, swanky, and splurge-worthy: That’s Steven Waters’ throwback sanctuary beneath Dairy Block in a nutshell. Seasonal cocktails show forethought and flair — take the Middle Ground with rum, Batavia arrack, pineapple, pink-grapefruit liqueur, honey, and lime. But the lengthy list of classics is not to be denied: The reserve section in particular features drinks whose prices reflect the rare, decades-old spirits that go into them, from 1960s-era Cointreau to vintage Bacardi, while other options are charmingly printed on a deck of cards. (Pro tip: Opt for a table when possible, as the handsome barstools can be a tight squeeze.)

Art Deco–style bar below ground level Ryan Dearth

Pony Up

Copy Link

The portrait of an imperial bulldog at the entrance lets first-timers know they can expect the unexpected at this LoDo go-to — and the bar crew proves it, serving up concoctions like the Porch Sipper with peanut butter–washed corn whiskey and Coca-Cola reduction as well as shots of George Dickel with roast-beef jus chasers. (The latter come courtesy of the kitchen, which specializes in French dips, of all things.) Occasional Burleseque Brunch Sundays underscore the anything-goes spirit of the place.

The entrance to Pony Up. Jonathan Phillips

The Cruise Room

Copy Link

Modeled after a lounge on the Queen Mary, this LoDo icon in the Oxford Hotel opened the day after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and still looks like the Art Deco haunt it did then. It drinks that way too: Classic cocktails are the way to go here, from Gimlets to Sazeracs.

Art Deco bar with crimson glow The Cruise Room

Retrograde

Copy Link

Behind the door of what appears to be the walk-in freezer of Uptown ice cream parlor Frozen Matter awaits one of Denver’s, well, coolest cocktail lounges. That glowing backbar and the B movies screening on one wall are all part of the sci-fi bit to which the bartenders are committed, naming their out-there drinks after cult flicks like Time Chasers — which combines strawberry-infused Manzanilla Sherry, milk-clarified Fernet, chicha morada, miso, and lime — and Cybernetic Showdown, featuring duck fat–washed Träkál, salted honeydew–switched vermouth blanc, and lemongrass.

Glowing bar display at Retrograde Ruth Tobias

Middleman

Copy Link

A loftlike atmosphere sets the home-away-from-home tone at this East Colfax favorite, but its undercurrent of eccentricity keeps regulars on their toes. That goes for both drinks like the My Scoville Romance — featuring chile-infused mezcal, activated charcoal, and tamarind glitter — and the food courtesy of Misfit Snackbar, where chef Bo Porytko might serve up softshell-crab tacos one day, Chicago hot dog salad the next. Unusual Boilermakers make for great nightcaps.

Barroom with sofas and a mural of foliage Ryan Dearth

PS Lounge

Copy Link

In the treasure trove of old dive bars that is East Colfax, the PS Lounge is a major gem — kitsch-filled, cash-only, and totally laid-back. Established by Pete Siahamis 40 years ago, it’s beloved for bestowing free Alabama Slammers on every patron who enters along with roses for the ladies. A jukebox and a pool table seal the deal.

Exterior of an old dive bar on East Colfax Mile High Happy Hour

Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill

Copy Link

If walls could talk. Housed in a historic former hotel, this Cap Hill pub is rumored to have been a Prohibition-era den of iniquity; it was most definitely a Beat-era hangout for Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, and such famous guests as Tony Bennett and Bill Murray have gathered round its piano for the singalongs it still hosts today. Both in the memorabilia-filled lounge and out on the covered patio, the generous pours come cheap, while the steak dinners are worth ordering for the baked potato alone.

Island bar topped with antique bric-a-brac Ruth Tobias

Forget Me Not

Copy Link

In the nightlife desert of Cherry Creek, the Culinary Creative group has built a blooming oasis out of a former florist’s shop. A hopping patio set beneath a mural of the namesake blossom fronts the airy yet intimate space, where the bar crew turns out cocktails that themselves burst with flowers, fruits, and herbs; DJs enhance the mood some nights, while oysters, caviar service, and salumi and cheese boards help get guests into the groove regardless.

Rum cocktail with guava and lime on marble bartop Ruth Tobias

Bamboo walls and colored lights strung up in fishing nets, totem carvings and murals of seaside villages, hanging boats, and blowfish sculptures: This South Broadway tiki bar whisks its guests off to a tropical paradise the instant they set foot inside — and it keeps them there with a roster of cocktails served in coconuts or flaming punchbowls or funky mugs, decorated with flowers or umbrellas or exotic leaves. Beyond classics like Zombies and Singapore Slings, seasonal originals warrant a spin: Take the Jolly Ranch Water with rum, tequila, watermelon seltzer, guava, grenadine, and more.

Three Painkiller cocktails before a bamboo backdrop Harrison Warters Photography

Piper Inn

Copy Link

This decades-old, neon-splashed biker bar has got it all: multiple television sets, a pool table, a jukebox, and a menu that features not only wings and burgers but old-school Chinese food like egg rolls and chow mein, of all things. Enough said.

Outside of a biker bar Ruth Tobias

Palenque Cocina Y Agaveria

Copy Link

Though there’s nothing wrong with coming here for tacos and margs, this Littleton joint is much more than a Mexican restaurant: It’s a two-story shrine to agave spirits, housing a collection of not just tequila and mezcal but also bacanora, sotol, raicilla, and still other distillates that’s unmatched in metro Denver. Most are offered by the 1.5-ounce pour for sampling, savoring, and learning about the wide variety of agave species and styles of production; flights showcase a different region or style each month, accompanied by detailed tasting notes.

Mezcal-horchata cocktail alongside a mezcal flight Ruth Tobias

Loading comments...

Fort Greene

Margarita Ruth Tobias

This hip little bar has single-handedly made Globeville a destination. Hosting DJ sets and art shows, pop-up markets and food vendors, themed parties, readings, and even drawing classes, it feels like a second home to its regulars, complete with quaint-meets-quirky parlor-room decor; a cozy patio; and, of course, kicky cocktails like the Full Cry with sotol, Port, oolong syrup, and lemon.

Margarita Ruth Tobias

The Tatarian

A cocktail at The Tatarian The Tatarian

From the owners of the also notable Arvada Tavern and pre-Prohibition–themed Union Lodge No. 1, this suave Berkeley retreat turns out some of the city’s most sophisticated sippers bar none. Ask the affable bartenders for their recommendations, which might involve cilantro-infused gin, green cardamom syrup, green chile liqueur, and absinthe or rum-like Mexican charanda, strawberry-cumin shrub, corn liqueur, and paprika tincture.

A cocktail at The Tatarian The Tatarian

Yacht Club

Lipton Cup cocktail at Yacht Club Shawn Campbell

If there’s a First Couple of the Denver drinking scene, it’s McLain Hedges and Mary Allison Wright, who aptly bill their Cole watering hole as “a nerdy cocktail bar, a natural wine bar, and a sh*tty dive bar” all in one. Come for a snazzy libation like the Laughing Bones with rhum agricole, green pineapple, celery, and curry leaf; stay for the most fascinating glass of wine most people have never heard of; keep staying for the Old Number 7-11 — a Jack and Coke with a hot dog. Making some friends along the way is almost guaranteed.

Lipton Cup cocktail at Yacht Club Shawn Campbell

The Family Jones Spirit House

Four snifters with different spirits and garnishes Adam Larkey

This gorgeous combination distillery, tasting room, and kitchen won Eater’s 2018 Denver Bar of the Year award, and it continues to impress as it showcases its house spirits every which way — in flights; featured bottlings such as the single-barrel Atticus Jones Distiller’s Selection Colorado Straight Rye Whiskey; and cocktails like The Family Punch with vodka, chamomile, lavender, toasted coconut, cinnamon, and lime. Even the snacks go beyond the ordinary: Think curried red-lentil dip with lavash crackers, coconut–sunflower seed crumble, and pineapple-rum vinaigrette or smoked chicken salad topped with chicken chicharrones.

Four snifters with different spirits and garnishes Adam Larkey

Lady Jane

Miami Art Deco–inspired bar interior Ryan Dearth

Jake Soffes owns two other notable Denver watering holes — Cap Hill’s Hudson Hill and LoDo’s The Wild, both of which double as all-day coffee shops — but Lady Jane stands out for its postcard-perfect ambiance a la 1960s-era Palm Springs. The cocktails are equally striking, combining seasonal ingredients in intriguing ways: The mezcal- and tequila-based Dad Jokes for instance, is flavored with corn, chiles, and butter, while the Design District mixes charanda añejo with plantains, guava, and Mosaic hops.

Miami Art Deco–inspired bar interior Ryan Dearth

Williams & Graham

People seated at a dark bar

Behind a bookcase on a LoHi corner sits an internationally acclaimed cocktail bar. The intimate, dim-lit space features large booths, but the best seats in the house line the grand wooden bar itself, where the crackerjack staff asks get-to-know-you questions before recommending a concoction made with any of hundreds of spirits lining the shelves, both classic and rare, along with all sorts of handmade bitters, syrups, and tinctures: Take the Keep ’Em Coming, which combines salami-infused vodka, mustard-infused aquavit, and nitro relish syrup with cucumber and lemon. Small plates like roasted bone marrow with bacon jam and duck drumettes with foie gras mousse and huckleberry preserves round out the famously bespoke experience. Meanwhile, just around the corner, sibling venue The Occidental offers a far grittier vibe but equally crafty drinks.

People seated at a dark bar

Noble Riot

Wine bar with communal table and curved shelving Courtesy of Noble Riot

Grape geeks unite at this alleyway RiNo retreat, where the extensive selection is rife with natural, organic, and/or Biodynamic small-production finds, each cooler than the last: Clay-fermented orange wine from Georgia or a Colorado pét-nat blend of Vignoles and Riesling? Hungarian brut nature bubbly or a rosé of Chardonnay and Baco Noir from Michigan, of all places? How about a Baboso Negro from Spain’s Canary Islands or a chilled Pelaverga from Piedmont? The list literally goes on and on, and the staff is well-versed in it all.

Wine bar with communal table and curved shelving Courtesy of Noble Riot

Honey Elixir Bar