Denver's Best Cocktail Bars

by Carrie Dow on Feb 21, 2018 in Roundups

If you're looking for great cocktails in Denver, look no further than these ten spots.

As Denver’s only true tiki bar, Adrift specializes in rum cocktails, something most other bars limit. Besides delicious cocktails, the lighting inside this intimate space is minimal, but the tiki décor adds a touch of fun. Sip signature tiki cocktails such as the Singapore Sling, the Mai Tai and the Zombie. Another fun drink is the frozen Macadamia Nut Chi-Chi, which tastes like an adult milk shake. If you dress in your tiki finest, think Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts, you will receive a free Chi-Chi with purchase of another item. (218 S. Broadway; 303-778-8454)
 
Opened for only a few months, Bar Helix has become Denver’s hottest ‘it’ bar. This Negroni-centric establishment has an interesting mix of old and new cocktails, a huge selection of fine wines, and even an eclectic beer menu. Bar Owner Kendra Anderson has her personal touch on everything from the sparkly neo-1970s décor to the tasty small plates.  (3440 Larimer St.; 720-449-8587)
 
This distillery in the warehouse district between Platte Park and Overland Park has a secret:  Denver’s best cocktail bar. When the distillery opened in 2014, Owner Jay Johnson said the focus was always on great cocktails and a welcoming atmosphere. Since this distillery makes its own spirits, there are plenty of ways to create crafty cocktails. There are two drink menus, Classic and Seasonal. Classics are just what you expect, Old Fashioneds, Moscow Mules and Mojitos. The Seasonal menu is where bar staff can play with different flavors and, using locally sourced ingredients, make unique drinks. (1879 S. Acoma St.; 303-955-4638)
 
Behind the blood red door in Larimer Square is Denver’s most sultry cocktail bar. This intimate underground bar features live music nightly with delicious drinks served table side on vintage bar carts. Located near Comedy Works and the Denver Performing Arts Complex, The Crimson Room is a perfect place for meeting that special someone before or after a show. The bar also features tasty small bites and desserts to pair with those cocktails. Bar staff also host monthly cocktails classes so you can learn how to create cocktail magic for yourself. (1403 Larimer ST.; 720-639-6987)
 
Because The Family Jones is also a micro-distillery, the cocktails here are extra special because they are filled with in-house spirits including vodka, gin and bourbon. The distillery also makes its own bitters and liqueurs. Unlike other distilleries around town, this one has its own kitchen so eating here is easy to do and the dining is more than just bar food. Dine on Colorado Lamb Stew or Roasted Sea Bass along with your cocktail. The drinks are classic cocktails with a modern take such as the Gin Blossom or the Colorado Amaretto Sour. (3245 Osage St.; 303-481-8185)
 
This 70-year-old Italian restaurant located in the Highlands is steeped in character. Founded by Denver’s legendary Smaldone mob family, there was bootlegging moonshine during Prohibition in the basement and a gambling house on the second floor above the restaurant. So notorious were the Smaldone’s that mugshots of the extended crime family adorn the walls of the restrooms. Cocktails feature the names of famous mobsters, such as The Capone, a Manhattan made with 1792 Bourbon and Clyde, Colorado vodka and ginger beer. So put on your best fedora and sip a barrel-aged Negroni with your Minestrone. (3760 Tejon St.; 303-455-9852)
 
This classic Denver haunt near the Governor’s Mansion is famous for championing Colorado craft beers long before anyone else, however, the bar’s 2-for-1 happy hour featuring tall Margaritas and Long Island Ice Teas has always been a Denver favorite. Gov’s is also the place to get fishbowls and guppybowls of boozy goodness such as the Patio Rum Punch and the John Daly. Bonus:  Free parking in the back of the building. (672 Logan St.; 303-831-8605)
 
A cocktail bar hidden below a restaurant, Ste. Ellie is located downstairs from the fine dining of Colt & Gray with lovely dark wood touches, this Riverfront Park bar has its own dining menu and a more casual atmosphere than upstairs, but still serves tried and true classic cocktails next to more exotic drinks created by Bar Manager Minetta Gould. Try drinks such as Luca Brasi with cardamon-infused rum or Neptune with strawberry-infused tequila and egg white. Reservations only accepted for parties of five or more. (1553 Platte St.; 303-477-1447)
 
Holding Denver’s largest collection of tequilas and mezcals, Tamayo has a south of the border cocktail menu and a rooftop dining area overlooking the mountains to enjoy sipping them on. There are nine flavors of Margaritas and Latin staples including the Mojito, Paloma and the Michelada are also available. The bar is also famous for its weekend bottomless brunch cocktails of traditional and fruity Mimosas and Bloody Marys and Marias. (1400 Larimer St.; 720-946-1433)
 
Cocktails bars are as much about the atmosphere as the drinks. Terminal Bar inside Union Station is one of those places. Guests are transported to the speakeasies of the 1920s with the art deco décor and architecture and the bartenders are some of the best in town. Because it’s located in the train station, there is an interesting mix of locals and visitors here. Classic cocktails, like Whiskey Sour, Moscow Mule and Paloma reign next to specialty cocktails such as the Banana Walnut Daiquiri and the Bitter Passionfruit Spritz. There is also a selection of 30 Colorado craft beers and ciders on tap. (1701 Wynkoop St.; 720-460-3701)
 
Photo via Carrie Dow
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