Going to a bar is about so much more than drinking your favorite ale or cocktail. It’s about the atmosphere, the vibe, the crowd and the staff. With so many new bars in Denver, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the hops, er, chaff. We’ve done all the grueling footwork, so find your new home-away-from-home on our list of the most interesting bars in Denver.
This Larimer Square bar is a hit with locals and visitors alike. Known for its fantastic cocktails, Green Russell is the kind of place bartenders from other watering holes recommend. In true speakeasy style, customers enter through the pie shop at the front. Even better, you can pair your cocktails with pies from said shop. Ask your bartender for a pairing suggestion; you might just get an off-the-menu surprise. If your cravings lean more savory than sweet, try an appetizer from the bar’s own smokehouse. Service is friendly, but this isn’t your neighborhood dive bar. Your fellow patrons are likely to be well-dressed, and prices aren’t on par with the pitchers-and-wing places from your college days. Cell phone use is even discouraged — except in Green Russell’s telephone booth.
The Cruise Room
This stunning lounge in the Oxford Hotel offers up an authentic dose of vintage 30s glamor. The Northwest LoDo bar’s name is derived from its design inspired by the lounge on the famous Queen Mary ship. With its glossy Art Deco decor set off by the soft red glow of ambient lighting, entering The Cruise Room is like stepping into a bygone era. It’s easy to pretend you’re celebrating the end of Prohibition as you slide into a booth or sidle up to the elegant bar. Opened just one day after the end of that dark time in American drinking history, The Cruise Room boasts cocktails as intriguing as its backstory. Try a beautifully balanced Bourbon Potation, a complex herb-infused chamomile vodka concoction, a sweetly tart Pomegranate Sling, or one of many other tasty drinks. To really get into the swing of things, play era-appropriate 45s for free on the jukebox and check out the vertical column murals that line the walls of The Cruise Room.
Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto
And now for something completely different… Entering Mario’s is like stepping into someone’s darkly alluring fantasy. Crystal balls at each table, life-sized faux trees complete with birds, and swooping hot-pink booths allow you to immerse yourself in the bar’s goth-light atmosphere. The creepy enchanted forest vibe is enhanced by techno music and appropriately odd drink names. The signature punch, which bears a name we can’t say in polite company, is made from a whopping 17 spirits. It’s served from a giant glass column and boasts a two-drink maximum. The Gummy Bear Orgy garnished martini-style with three of the chewy candies, is one of the many tasty, moderately priced cocktails at Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto. Oh, and don’t forget to take an Instagram-worthy pic at the conjoined sister’s photo prop!