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The interior of tiki bar Adrift
Adrift on South Broadway.
Adrift

26 Essential Denver Bars

For cocktails, beer, wine, atmosphere, and more

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Adrift on South Broadway.
| Adrift

A drinking town from the moment its government was established in a saloon, the Mile High City has grown up as a renowned destination for beer and spirits — and today, even its restaurants’ wine programs are worth noting. But the spirit of the Wild West lives on in the sheer wonderful weirdness of local bar culture. Not counting brewery taprooms, here are 26 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. Below, read on for some of the best bars in Denver.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Fort Greene

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This hip little bar has single-handedly made Globeville a destination. Hosting DJ sets and pop-up markets, movie screenings and tarot 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

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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 apple brandy, walnut liqueur, curry syrup, lemon, and whey or rum-like Mexican charanda, strawberry-cumin shrub, corn liqueur, and paprika tincture.

A cocktail at The Tatarian The Tatarian

Yacht Club

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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 tempting libation like the Fourth Colour, which has gin, Macvin du Jura, carrot, plum, bergamot, and fig leaf; stay for a fascinating glass of wine most people have never heard of. Locals know to order 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

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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 Chaos & Harmony with rum, cilantro, jalapeño, tomato water, and lime. Even the snacks go beyond the ordinary: Think roasted green chile cornbread with honey butter and green tomato marmalade or pretzel twists with red pepper goat cheese.

The Family Jones Spirit House bar from overhead Stephan Werk

Lady Jane

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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 tequila- and sake-based Knife Play, for instance, is flavored with sage, persimmon, and five spice, while the Leaf Peeper infuses bourbon with the flavors of pepita, plum, pasilla, oats, and cacao.

Miami Art Deco–inspired bar interior Ryan Dearth

Williams & Graham

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Behind a bookcase on a LoHi corner sits an internationally acclaimed cocktail bar. The intimate, dim-lit space has 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 Deep Rooted with pisco, rum, pumpkin seed, jicama, poblano, and lime. Small plates like roasted bone marrow with bacon jam and Roman-style fried artichokes with sumac-chipotle crème fraîche 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

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Grape geeks unite at this alleyway RiNo retreat, where the extensive selection is rife with natural, organic, and biodynamic small-production finds, each cooler than the last: Clay-fermented orange wine from Georgia or sparkling Spergola from Emilia-Romagna? Coloradan rosé of Chambourcin or Cabernet Sauvignon from Ontario? How about Sonoma County Mondeuse Noire or a Blauer Portugieser–based blend from Pfalz? The list literally goes on and on, and Noble Riot’s staff is well-versed in it all.

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

Honey Elixir Bar

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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 Sea of Trees, featuring rosemary- and rosehip-infused vodka, Douglas fir liqueur, barley shochu, and wild-foraged matsutake, then take a breather with the Leche de Cheeta, combining basmati rice, oats, saffron, maca, clove, and cinnamon.

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

Cantina Loca

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In a lovely, lively space centered around a towering sculpture of flowering branches, powerhouse chef Dana Rodriguez showcases her own agave spirits brand, Doña Loca, both in straight pours and in cocktails like the Espresso Martinez with reposado tequila, cold brew, coffee and coconut liqueur, and chocolate bitters; best paired with it all are snacks like nopales fritos with chipotle aioli, flautas de papa, and, of course, tacos galore.

An array of cocktails at Cantina Loca
An array of cocktails at Cantina Loca.
Hi-Rez Photography

Room for Milly

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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. Lean into an evening here with the Douglas, combining gin, Fino Sherry, and salted-thyme honey; move on to the Ishan with Scotch, mango eau de vie, green cardamom, lime, and tonic water; cap it all off with a snifter of brandy.

Cocktail at Room for Milly Phil Hua-Pham

Death & Co Denver

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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 illustrated seasonal cocktail list displays the staff’s intricate craft: A You Lost Me at Cortez with rye, sesame-infused shochu, amaro, sake, and lemon here, a Summer’s End featuring Cognac, Cointreau, Cardamaro, white chocolate, and hazelnut 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

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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, including the famous JCB with jalapeño cream cheese, 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.

Sunday Vinyl

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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, globe-spanning 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. Soak it all up over elegant snacks like gougères with duck-liver mousse and apple butter or salt-roasted beets with herbed labneh, pistachios, pear, and fennel.

Busy wine bar scene Mike Thurk

The Electric Cure

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Decorwise, it’s like Halloween and Christmas collided in this tiny, wonderfully campy Edgewater getaway — and the same could be said of the splashy, flashy libations, be they served in a Frankenstein or a flamingo mug, decorated with plastic eyeballs or mini disco balls, or garnished with grass jelly cubes or cotton candy and popcorn. Not surprisingly, festivities abound here, from horror-movie trivia to drag queen bingo.

Two tropical cocktails
Some of the drinks at The Electric Cure light up.
Ruth Tobias

Run For The Roses

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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 Cookie’s Signature for two with rum, orange liqueur, Chinato, coffee syrup, and cream. 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

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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 Not Your Nana’s Pimm’s Cup tricked out with butternut squash, ginger, and sage as well as shots of George Dickel with roast-beef jus chasers. (The latter come courtesy of the kitchen, which specializes in fabulous French dips, of all things.) Also worth a stop is Pony Up’s West Colfax sibling, Side Pony, which doubles as a coffeehouse.

The entrance to Pony Up. Jonathan Phillips

The Cruise Room

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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

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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 Voyage Into Space — a potent blend of chorizo-washed mezcal, corn liqueur, green chiles, and brine — and the crushable Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, featuring Ecuadorian chawar blanco, fermented lemonade, charred strawberry-sesame preserves, and Greek yogurt.

Glowing bar display at Retrograde Ruth Tobias

Middleman

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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 simple — and the food courtesy of Misfit Snackbar, which might serve up ratatouille-filled pani puri one day, “umami toast” with shiitakes and toasted nori cream cheese the next. Unusual Boilermakers make for great nightcaps.

Barroom with sofas and a mural of foliage Ryan Dearth

PS Lounge

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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-plus 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

Inspired by Japan’s jazz kissa, this ultra-chill listening bar is a whole vibe built around a remarkably eclectic record collection, a stellar sound system, and an equally well designed beverage list, ranging from cocktails like the Soft as Snow with fig-infused rum, shochu, peppercorn, and vanilla to geeky wines such as orange Muscat from Texas and Loire Valley Pineau d’Aunis. Grown-up nibbles, including seafood conserva boards and caviar with chips, creme fraîche, and chives, boost the mood.

ESP is a listening bar on Santa Fe Drive Ruth Tobias

Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill

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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

Ay Papi

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A bright and breezy energy suffuses this Latin sibling of Forget Me Not in Cherry Creek (see below) while extending to the sugarcane spirit–splashed cocktail program, which yields both easygoing sippers like the Strawberry Daiquiri with pink peppercorn and tarragon and more potent numbers like the mole-spiced Rum Old Fashioned. Need sustenance before a second round? Red snapper ceviche or a vegetarian Cubano with smoked pineapple, Meunster, and avocado should do the trick.

Ay Papi’s strawberry daiquiri
Ay Papi’s strawberry daiquiri.
Ruth Tobias

Forget Me Not

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In the nightlife desert of Cherry Creek, the Culinary Creative group has built a blooming oasis out of a former florist’s shop. A bustling patio set beneath a mural of the namesake blossom fronts the intimate space, where the bar crew turns out cocktails that burst with botanicals; DJs enhance the mood some nights, while crudos and tartares, salumi and cheese boards, and the signature lobster crunch wrap provide endurance to sip the night away.

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. Beyond classics like Zombies and Singapore Slings, seasonal originals warrant a spin — take the Tutu’s Boozy Pie with chai-infused whiskey, coconut cream, blueberry cobbler syrup, and lemon — alongside island-inflected snacks such as Spam musubi and poke nachos.

Three Painkiller cocktails before a bamboo backdrop Harrison Warters Photography

Piper Inn

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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

Fort Greene

This hip little bar has single-handedly made Globeville a destination. Hosting DJ sets and pop-up markets, movie screenings and tarot 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

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 apple brandy, walnut liqueur, curry syrup, lemon, and whey or rum-like Mexican charanda, strawberry-cumin shrub, corn liqueur, and paprika tincture.

A cocktail at The Tatarian The Tatarian

Yacht Club

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 tempting libation like the Fourth Colour, which has gin, Macvin du Jura, carrot, plum, bergamot, and fig leaf; stay for a fascinating glass of wine most people have never heard of. Locals know to order 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

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 Chaos & Harmony with rum, cilantro, jalapeño, tomato water, and lime. Even the snacks go beyond the ordinary: Think roasted green chile cornbread with honey butter and green tomato marmalade or pretzel twists with red pepper goat cheese.

The Family Jones Spirit House bar from overhead Stephan Werk

Lady Jane

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 tequila- and sake-based Knife Play, for instance, is flavored with sage, persimmon, and five spice, while the Leaf Peeper infuses bourbon with the flavors of pepita, plum, pasilla, oats, and cacao.

Miami Art Deco–inspired bar interior Ryan Dearth

Williams & Graham

Behind a bookcase on a LoHi corner sits an internationally acclaimed cocktail bar. The intimate, dim-lit space has 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 Deep Rooted with pisco, rum, pumpkin seed, jicama, poblano, and lime. Small plates like roasted bone marrow with bacon jam and Roman-style fried artichokes with sumac-chipotle crème fraîche 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

Grape geeks unite at this alleyway RiNo retreat, where the extensive selection is rife with natural, organic, and biodynamic small-production finds, each cooler than the last: Clay-fermented orange wine from Georgia or sparkling Spergola from Emilia-Romagna? Coloradan rosé of Chambourcin or Cabernet Sauvignon from Ontario? How about Sonoma County Mondeuse Noire or a Blauer Portugieser–based blend from Pfalz? The list literally goes on and on, and Noble Riot’s staff is well-versed in it all.

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

Honey Elixir Bar

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 Sea of Trees, featuring rosemary- and rosehip-infused vodka, Douglas fir liqueur, barley shochu, and wild-foraged matsutake, then take a breather with the Leche de Cheeta, combining basmati rice, oats, saffron, maca, clove, and cinnamon.

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

Cantina Loca

In a lovely, lively space centered around a towering sculpture of flowering branches, powerhouse chef Dana Rodriguez showcases her own agave spirits brand, Doña Loca, both in straight pours and in cocktails like the Espresso Martinez with reposado tequila, cold brew, coffee and coconut liqueur, and chocolate bitters; best paired with it all are snacks like nopales fritos with chipotle aioli, flautas de papa, and, of course, tacos galore.

An array of cocktails at Cantina Loca
An array of cocktails at Cantina Loca.
Hi-Rez Photography

Room for Milly

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. Lean into an evening here with the Douglas, combining gin, Fino Sherry, and salted-thyme honey; move on to the Ishan with Scotch, mango eau de vie, green cardamom, lime, and tonic water; cap it all off with a snifter of brandy.

Cocktail at Room for Milly Phil Hua-Pham

Death & Co Denver

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 illustrated seasonal cocktail list displays the staff’s intricate craft: A You Lost Me at Cortez with rye, sesame-infused shochu, amaro, sake, and lemon here, a Summer’s End featuring Cognac, Cointreau, Cardamaro, white chocolate, and hazelnut 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

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, including the famous JCB with jalapeño cream cheese, 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.