Updated: Jul 14, 2021
One of the most frequent questions I am asked when I meet someone new in Denver is "Where do you hang out?" I am "beverage obsessed". Oh heck. I'm "everything-obsessed". My curiosity and dedication to a damn good drink, excellent food, and great memories are unrivaled by the best foodies, enthusiasts, and social butterflies. No one knows Denver and the state of Colorado better than I do! As a native, I have spent a majority of my life exploring. This entire state feels like my hometown.
I am proud to bring you my favorite hot spots, gathering destinations, and where you can find the best damn cocktails.
1. Green Russel
The Green Russel is my absolute favorite place when I am entertaining friends. This isn't your typical bar. It's the fanciest location that combines two of my favorite things: mixology and vintage rebellion.
Prohibitionists first attempted to end the trade in alcoholic beverages during the 19th century. Led by pietistic Protestants, they aimed to heal what they saw as an ill society beset by alcohol-related problems such as alcoholism, family violence and saloon-based political corruption. Many communities introduced alcohol bans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and enforcement of these new prohibition laws became a topic of debate.
At the Green Russel you feel as if you are stepping into the past. As you descend the meager-looking and unlit stairwell, you walk into a small room with only a hostess station, some tables, and a couple bench stools. Made to mimic a simple Pie Bar, the hostess warmly greets you and then leads you into the main room. I love how my friends always have a puzzled look and contemplate whether I am a trustworthy friend...
Prohibition supporters, called "drys", presented the debate as a battle for public morals and health. The brewing industry was curtailed by a succession of state legislatures, and finally ended nationwide under the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920.
I highly suggest jumping on their website and signing up for their reservation experience. Not only will this ensure you have a comfortable seat in their main area or bar, but they believe in taking time to craft you a complete experience. Their mixologists will listen to your personal tastes and design something that will leave you completely satisfied. This is also one of the few destinations that will educate you, marvel you with flair bartending, and make sure you leave with a smile. I think you can see why this is my all-time favorite and number one choice.
The Cooper Lounge is discreetly located inside Union Station, which is an iconic station for travelers in Denver, CO. When it was completed in 1881, Denver’s Union Station was the largest structure in the West and included a 128-foot tower. Its grandeur was perhaps paralleled only by the rapid development of the state’s rail system, which grew from 328 miles of track in 1870 to half a million miles by 1900.
Union Station got its name from efforts to consolidate transportation. By the turn of the century the city saw eighty to one hundred trains a day passing through. Not unlike today, Denver needed the infrastructure to handle the influx of arrivals. Before Union Station was built, several different railroad stations had operated in the area now home to LoDo, whose unpaved streets made transfers particularly unpleasant. Union Station’s opening was the culmination of efforts to “unionize all the trains coming to Denver.”
This popular Berkeley bar returned last year after a brief hiatus. Drinkers will find a former Irish pub transformed into a sexy date-night spot at the new Tennyson Street digs, with playful touches everywhere from decor to cocktails. The Sweater Weather, which consists of Rittenhouse rye, apple brandy, Monkey Shoulder Scotch, and Benedictine, provides warmth in any season.
I may be partially bias when it comes to The Thin Man. I have a lot of wonderful memories hanging out at this very thin (floorplan-wise) bar. They have some of the best infused alcohols I have ever tried including: Apple Pie Vodka, Jalapeno Tequila, and Grapefruit Lemonade. Fair warning: It's easy to get carried away tasting it all. This is a very laid-back bar with hipsters. You will also find plenty of surrounding restaurants for food.
By the owners of beloved Arvada Tavern and Union Lodge No. 1, Tatarian brings cocktails to a stylish little escape in the Berkeley neighborhood. The Golden Gate is made with amaretto, Fernet Branca, egg white, lemon juice, and orgeat; the Kapok features whiskey, Combier, orgeat, banana raspberry oleo, pineapple and lime juices, and Tiki bitters.
With big talent behind them, both bars at Zeppelin Station are worth a visit. Kiss + Ride, on the main level, is a good bet for a quick, daytime drink or a glass of bubbly. Big Trouble, in a mezzanine lounge, is the place for late-night highballs, Mai Tais, and larger cocktails for sharing. This was actually a gold gem I found by mistake. I ordered take out from on eof the delicious restaurant options inside and was pleasantly surprised when I picked it up. I have been back several times ever since it happened.
Improper City brings a very Colorado mix of options for fun to RiNo. There’s a food truck park, concert venue, and all-day beer and cocktail bar, all located next door to a rock climbing gym. The 12,000-square-foot patio offers stadium seating, Astroturf, and fire pits. I will admit, I have had many great memories and professional connections established here. It's such a great atmosphere- a mix of professional and casual. The drinks are especially wonderful and crafted well. The food trucks ensure all your of your friends find a bite they enjoy. I happen to love art so it's a nice touch for me.
If you are looking for an unbeatable view you have a few options: The Peaks Lounge, The ViewHouse, or, my personal favorite, The Woods Restaurant. It's located on top of the Source Hotel in the RiNo District, which is the newest Nightlife District. So many great wineries, breweries, and entertainment in this area. If you are looking for something walk-able to find a quick adventure then this is ideal.
Which spot are you going to try out? Did your favorite spot make the list? Let us know in the comments.
Now that you know my obsession with a well-balanced cocktail, check out which 5 Epic Holiday Cocktails made the cut for 2020.