More than ever before, Denver's bars and restaurants are offering elevated cocktail menus, with culinary inspired drinks, house made syrups and bitters, and locally distilled spirits. Which brings us to the question of where—where should I drink right now? What are the new cocktail joints? Where's hot to get a cocktail? Thus, we offer the Eater Cocktail Heatmap, which cycles seasonally to highlight the hot spots of the Denver sport of drinking. This edition of the heatmap is a meld of seasoned veterans where a seat at the bar is still hard to come by and outstanding newbies.
The Cocktail Heatmap: Where to Drink Now
Denver's cocktail scene keeps getting better.
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Ste. Ellie, sister bar to Colt & Gray, is a favorite of cocktail aficionados and the industry crowd. Bar manager Kevin Burke makes stunning classic cocktails and rotates a list of original drinks that seem to have something for every taste. Any riff on the Negroni is worth a try here.
Williams & Graham
Sean Kenyon's speakeasy attracts some of Denver's best bartending talent. Right now, behind the bar, you can find Chad Michael George, Nick Touch, Jason Patz, and the lovely Allison Widdecombe. Ask these fine folks to fix you up one of the seasonal signature cocktails or go for a classic - you won't go wrong no matter what you choose. Bonus: Keep an eye out for the Occidental, sister bar to Williams & Graham, opening this summer.
Sit at the bar or in the dining room, but always get a cocktail at this popular RiNo restaurant. Bar manager Alex Parks along with owner and mixologist Bryan Dayton serve drinks like the California Cocos Fizz made with St. George terroir, sage, grapefruit, lemon, black pepper, coconu, egg white, and Peychaud's.
The LoDo speakeasy serves Prohibition era-themed cocktails in a cozy environment. Tell the bartender what you like and allow him or her to work some magic into your crafted drink. Bonus: on weekend nights, grab a drink before your next drink at Bar 1, the entry bar area at the Green Russell.
Argyll Whisky Beer, A Gastropub
This Uptown gastropub features an impressive list of whiskys and beers, but also a creative cocktail list. Among the must-haves, the Thoroughbred, a combination of single barrel Buffalo Trace bourbon, smoked black tea, and grapefruit bitters.
The ping pong and Asian-inspired eatery features an ever-changing line-up of cocktails from bartender Randy Layman. Right now, try the Nigori Sake, made with green tea-Infused Death's Door gin, orgeat, and lime.
OAK at fourteenth
Bryan Dayton, co-owner and well-recognized mixologist, built a cocktail program that keeps Boulderites coming in for another one. Highlights include low alcohol cocktails and house-made sodas. Right now, try the Ruby Ruby, a gin-based drink that combines Ruby Port, Leopold’s cherry liqueur, Cocktail Punk Aromatic Bitters, lemon, and honey.
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The Bitter Bar
Talented bartender James Lee made the Bitter Bar a no-brainer choice for crafted cocktails in Boulder. The cocktail menu is approachable yet interesting and all drinks are now priced under $10. Try the Papa'Loma, made with silver rum, Maraschino liquor, and housemade grapefruit soda or the Blue Velvet, a combination of vodka, creme de violet, lemon, and orgeat, that comes on tap.
Mercantile Dining & Provision
The popular Union Station restaurant has an outstanding team of bartenders to complement that talented chefs. Don't miss the Short Round, a combination of Novo Fogo cachaca, Ancho Reyes, grapefruit, lime, and pistachio.
RiNo Yacht Club
Set in the middle of The Source, the Yacht Club has become a cozy community bar with great service and very fun drinks.Try "The Age of Exploration," which combines rum with housemade masala sangria syrup and dry curaçao.
Bartender and manager Michael Cerretani has created a beverage list that seamlessly complements the food created by chef Hosea Rosenberg. Don't miss the Ginger’s Bees (Herradura Blanco, ginger, fresh lemon, honey) and the Pins & Needles (42 below Vodka, prickly pear, lime, and ginger).
The Cooper Lounge
There isn't a prettier place in Denver to enjoy a cocktail. The seasoned team of bartenders mastered classic drinks. Get a Martini and enjoy.
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The brand new bar on East Colfax has the charm of a speakeasy and great crafted cocktails created by bartender Anthony Giovanni. Enter through the back door and expect a relaxed and comfortable vibe.
Bartender Austin Carson has turned the cocktail program at this classic Capitol Hill restaurant into an attraction of its own. Try one of the ever-changing drinks like the Splazsh, a Margarita made with Cimarron Blanco tequila, blood orange, pineapple, triple ‘gum’, salt water, and lime.
Golden Moon Speak
The Golden distillery welcomes guests into its bar with house-made spirits, crafted cocktails, and, very often, live music. Give The Astronaut a try. The drink is made with Amer dit Picon, bourbon, turbinado, and chocolate bitters.
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