Ah, the wonder that is Denver. In the wintertime, the Mile High City becomes a stopping point for visitors who pass through the Rocky Mountain metropolis before traveling onto the winter vacation of their frozen dreams. But whether one is spending a couple days, a night or even an afternoon in the Colorado capital, you should stop for a drink at one of the city’s many watering holes—in fact, the city is known for some of the best bars in the United States.
From quaint hideaways, a bevy of tropical oases and top-tier cocktail bars, these are the best places in Denver to sip before you ski.
1850 Wazee St., Denver, CO 80202
One of the city’s biggest meccas for quality eats and drinks lies in a complex called The Dairy Block. Mere steps away from Coors Field, it’s a bona fide playground which features an array of restaurants, bars, shops and hotels, including the Maven and the Rally.
One boozy highlight here is the Poka Lola Social Club, which draws a hip crowd ready to sip on an array of well-thought-out cocktails, many of them tropic-inspired amid the bar’s self-described “art-deco elegance and Midwestern soda-shop” vibe. Even better, try the undeniably great happy hour with $8 cocktails.
3701 N Williams S.t, Denver, CO 80205
Recently named one of the very best bars in America by Esquire, The Yacht Club is another spot which thrives on tropical vibes—maybe when you’re surrounded by mountains 24/7, the last thing you want is to sip in a rustic setting. In any case, despite its fanciful name, The Yacht Club is void of arrogance: think amazing cocktails and a laid-back atmosphere.
The stars of the show here are the classics made to perfection, including a frozen banana daiquiri and gin punch (dubbed the Fourth Colour). Even better, the bar is located in the Cole neighborhood, a historic district in the north end of Denver.
2376 15th St., Denver, CO 80202
My Brother’s Bar is a local favorite which has been around for years. While it’s been known by its endearing moniker by 1970, the bar has been under continuous operation, albeit under different names, since 1873. Another spot lacking any pretension, the watering hole is known for stiff drinks and reasonable prices.
Even better is that the historic bar boasts an impressive and wide-ranging menu of pub grub perfect for when one is perfectly sloshed, including a Bum Steer sandwich (pastrami, salami, ham and cheese) and Johnny Burger, slathered with jalapeño cream cheese.
1890 Wazee St., Denver, CO 80202
One of the best restaurants in the city also happens to serve the best drinks. Also located in the aforementioned Dairy Block, Kachina is the brunch crowd’s dream come true, with lip-smacking libations and overflowing dishes inspired by the Four Corners region.
As a result, you’ll find a stunning array of margaritas suited for every taste (from sweet Wild Berry to a spicy Jalapeño Cucumber, as well as frozen drinks and flights), as well as fun and delicious cocktails like an Añejo Old Fashioned. Don’t sleep on the food here, which includes massive portions of regional specialties such as a Queso Fundido (piled high with asadero, cheddar, chorizo, pico de gallo and tortilla chips).
530 E. 19th Ave., Denver, CO 80203
Billed as a “discreet cocktail lounge,” Retrograde is perfect for quiet nights on the town. Underneath an array of glowing lights, this space-themed speakeasy-style space is accessed via a freezer at the Frozen Matter ice cream shop, which leads into cocktail heaven.
Expertly crafted libations include the stand-out Lavalantula (made with ingredients like Sichuan pepper apple syrup and smoke from applewood). Or if you’d rather, the bar also has a variety of local craft beers.
218 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209
Adrift extrapolates on the city-wide trend of tiki bars; surrounded by bamboo walls, the cocktails here are proudly Polynesian-inspired. Instead of the too-sweet drinks found at other watering holes of the same ilk, Adrift serves up more mature versions of cocktail classics, made with a wide array of rums sourced from the world over.
1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202
New York City has the mighty Grand Central, Los Angeles has Union Station and Denver has its own old-style gorgeous train terminal, perfect for travelers passing through or locals who want to hang out. Built in 1914, the structure went under a massive renovation completed a decade ago, including the revamped Temple Bar. Located under the high and mighty ceilings inside Denver’s Union Station, Terminal Bar’s biggest draw is its unique digs. Here, the craft beer is the star; take a trip around the state with a variety of suds perfect for a quick layover or fun night out.
1600 20th St., Denver, CO 80202
Batter up! It’s a baseball themed hotel, but you don’t have to stay there to partake in a cocktail or two. Steps from Coors Field in Denver’s McGregor Square, the Rally thrives as a hip social center which revolves around two bars, visits to which are equivalent to scoring a homerun during the bottom of the ninth. Call Me Pearl is a cocktail lounge boasting classy fare including delectably-chilled martinis, while The Grandstand Cafe specializes in beer and Coca-Cola floats.