Whether warm with melted butter or set alight in a tiki vessel, there may be no spirit more festive than rum. And here in Denver, there may be no better places to get into that spirit, literally, than these 11 hot spots, each of which has got style and flair to spare. Hit ’em all this season on a bar crawl that will go down in the record books — or at least on your social media feeds — as the most holiday fun you’ve ever had without mistletoe.Read More
The Best Bars for Instagramming This Season
1. Punch Bowl Social Stapleton
Talk about destination drinking: This brand-new, 32,000-square-foot entertainment empire literally transports you to the control tower of the old Stapleton International Airport. Home to a self-styled “gastrodiner” with a menu created by celeb chef Hugh Acheson, multiple bars and patios, bowling lanes, karaoke rooms, an arcade and more, it’s a mid-mod–meets–industrial-chic sight to behold — and the namesake punch bowls, such as the rum- and bourbon-based It’s a Merman’s World with pineapple-papaya tea and cardamom syrup, are picture-perfect too.
2. The Cruise Room
Not only is The Oxford Hotel’s signature cocktail bar a historic slice of the local lush life, it’s also a drop-dead dazzling one, still every bit the ruby-hued Art Deco boîte it was when it opened the instant Prohibition ended in 1933. Here’s your chance to play the bon vivant of days gone by, curled up in an oversized booth with a daiquiri in one hand and (why not?) another daiquiri in the other.
Colored lanterns, bamboo panels, thatched awnings, Polynesian murals and all, this South Broadway tiki bar whisks you away on a tropical escape that lasts from the moment you enter to the moment you depart (because you do have to leave sometime). Of course, it isn’t truly a mini-vacation until you and your fellow party people have knocked back a BACARDÍ rum punch or two alongside a pu pu platter — and snapped a few souvenir photos of the mayhem that ensues.
4. Williams & Graham
How to cause mass FOMO in three easy steps: 1) Step behind the façade of what seems to be an old bookstore to find yourself in the low-lit, vintage-toned digs of the most celebrated cocktail lounge in all of Denver. 2) Ask star bartender-owner Sean Kenyon’s team of crackerjacks to pour you something special, be it a house original or something classic, like an Old Cuban. 3) Post a toast to the holidays on Instagram and let the viral merriment begin.
5. Beatrice & Woodsley
Go on a magical mountain getaway this winter without leaving the city at this breathtakingly atmospheric Baker haunt, filled with logs and branches, lanterns, and chainsaws to resemble a rustic cabin in the woods. It’s just a bonus that the fare’s as whimsical (not to mention picturesque) as the setting: Think turtle dumplings in rabbit ragù, brunchtime caramel-apple pancakes à la mode, and frothy Harry Potter–inspired butterbeer.
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6. STK Denver
When it’s time to see and be seen (and when isn’t it?), this LoDo meat market awaits. Everybody looks good in the kaleidoscope of celebrities, DJs, and tabletop dancers that spins against a sizzling backdrop of black and white amid giant floral displays and eye-popping artworks (“The Pressure Is Good for You,” reads one neon sign) — so come dressed to kill and set to mingle over sexy shellfish platters and juicy chops, washed down with stiff cocktails like the Ol’ Havana, made with BACARDÍ 8 year rum, demerara syrup, and orange.
7. Hearth & Dram
At first glance, this New American hot spot behind Union Station delivers high-stakes drama and glamour galore, with its soaring ceilings and expanses of glass, metal, and dark woods. But look a little closer for all the pops of warmth and wit: a begoggled bear’s head here, a framed painting of a bull chasing an eagle there, a drink cart spreading tableside cheer over there. And speaking of drinks, the gorgeous back-lit bar sets the stage for a fabulous happy hour dedicated to classic tipples like Mai Tais and Dark & Stormys.
8. Poka Lola Social Club
Inspired by the soda fountains of yore, this retro oasis in the Dairy Block lobby positively fizzes with Art Deco style: stained-glass panels, black-and-white tiles, pale-green sofas, marquee lights. So do its drinks, bubbling with seltzer and rock sugar and other such quaint-sounding — but punch-packing — stuff.
9. Ace Eat Serve
As funky as they come in an old Uptown garage bedecked with reclaimed woods and corrugated metal siding, vintage posters from Thailand, and, above all, Ping-Pong tables, this Pan-Asian playground serves up some of the most colorful and fun concoctions this side of the Pacific — including BACARDÍ rum-spiked coconut-pineapple slushies — to put a spring in your step and extra whack in your paddle, especially if you pair ’em with sweet-and-spicy chicken wings and chili jam–slathered char siu bao.
10. Candela Latin Kitchen
If you think the name suggests light and heat, wait’ll you see the space, which exudes a lively vibe from the snazzy little bar to the dining room, where a neon sign reading “HOT” hangs over the open kitchen at one end and the lights of downtown twinkle through the windows on the other. Mojitos, mules and toddies with BACARDÍ 8-year rum and cinnamon-chile syrup kick the festivities up a notch, rounded out by tacos, ceviche and all that Latin jazz.
11. El Five
Now this is what we call steamy. Shimmering with mirrors and metallic accents, plastered in vintage movie posters from the Middle East, and ringed round by views of the city and the mountains alike, Justin Cucci’s sky-high Mediterranean tapas bar captures all the romance and adventure of faraway climes on the fifth floor of a LoHi office tower. Cozy up to a date at the bar with a Zombie cocktail and paella for two, and you’re in for some enchanted evening.
12. Finn's Manor
Denver, CO 80205
Every night at Finn’s Manor feels like a surprise, thanks to the ever-changing spirits list and food truck appearances. Order a cocktail or a punch (which changes nearly daily) and then head out to the patio to grab a bite from one of the new food trucks there for the night. Some recent names include Rocky Mountain Slices, Dos Abuelas, and Chicken Rebel.
We can’t exactly share where Denver’s hottest speakeasy is, but we can tell you that should you find the doorbell to B&GC (it’s near the Halycon Hotel), you are in for a night of cocktails to remember. From the Mad Men-era decor (think rounded booths, sleek wooden bar, and a softly lit backdrop behind the bottles) to the drinks list, B&GC has made its name well-known among the Mile High City cocktail obsessives. (Call or text ahead to make your reservation and get the official directions.)
14. Rhein Haus Denver
Bavarian bier, bocce, and a unique cocktail list make Rhein Haus an easy choice when looking for a night out with friends. Snag one of the courts and some bratwurst to soak up the beers (they are known for their steins, after all), or if you’re in the mood, a beer cocktail. Try the Voodoo Child, made with BACARDÍ rum and two other kinds of rum, apricot liqueur, orgeat, lime, and dunkelweisse.