From Down-and-Dirty to Trendy: Denver's Best Bars Are Refreshingly Diverse

Denver knows bars. Its first permanent structure was a saloon.  By 1910, there were 450 saloons offering nickel beers and free lunches–maybe there was such a thing as free lunch back then. While nickel beers are as extinct as the dinosaurs that once roamed Colorado, the pricier brews we quaff today are also more sophisticated, complex and tastier.  Still, Denver does not live on beer alone. The bars we frequent cover a wide range to suit the most varied tastes, beverages and otherwise. Rockers and indie bands discovered Hi-Dive when it opened in 2003, and it’s still one of the best places to grab a drink and listen to cutting-edge music. Terminal Bar, opened summer 2014, anchors the magnificently renovated Union Station and offers locals, visitors and railroad passengers a sweet place to take a load off and raise a glass.  Just down 17th street, the Art Deco Cruise Room has been popular with Denverites since it opened in 1933, the day after prohibition was repealed. High up in the Hyatt Regency Colorado Convention Center, Peaks Lounge serves its drinks with one of the best views in the city, and at Punch Bowl Social Denver, patrons can order a new-school cocktail before lacing up their bowling shoes for a little retro fun. And Williams & Graham brings a touch of old-school class and speakeasy mystique to cocktails but with contemporary flair. Cheers!

The Cruise Room Bar
Photo courtesy of Cruise Room

Sit back, sip your old-school cocktail and listen to big bands and the crooners of the 1940s and '50s. That's the vibe at the long popular Cruise Room, which attracts every sort of patron from 20-something hipsters to boomers who may actually...  Read More

Candlelight Tavern
Photo courtesy of Candlelight Tavern

A neighborhood dive bar and proud of it--that's Candlelight Tavern, which has been serving the South Pearl neighborhood through several generations. Maybe that's why the patrons range from college students to gainfully employed workers to...  Read More

Peaks Lounge
Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Denver Colorado Convention Center

Peaks Lounge sits high above the city in the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. No mere convention hotel venue, Peaks is popular with locals, too, with good reason. It offers what is arguably the best sunset view in Denver. And...  Read More

Photo courtesy of George Blosser

Loud and fun. Those are the definitive words to describe this neighborhood bar and music venue that has drawn crowds since 2003. According to one bartender, "It's a classic dive bar with dark lighting that's perfect for watching fun bands and...  Read More

Historian's Ale House
Photo courtesy of Historian's Ale House

The name is a reference to the bar's mission: to bring attention to the history, as well as the natural wonders, of Colorado. Oh, and to Denver's impressive sports teams, too. Historian's Ale House is a bar and restaurant with 40 beers on tap,...  Read More

Caveau Wine Bar
Photo courtesy of Caveau Wine Bar

Caveau wines pair nicely with the small plates made with local and seasonal ingredients. The bar offers an eclectic wine list, which typically features at least one wine from every major wine-producing region in the world as well as some from...  Read More

Punch Bowl Social Denver
Photo courtesy of Punch Bowl Social Denver

The menu can please just about anybody--Hipster Hash, banana-split waffles, street tacos, rice noodle stir fry, daily vegetarian specials, cast-iron burgers, a catfish sandwich, smoked Colorado trout salad and so much more. The hefty drink menu...  Read More

Green Russell
Photo courtesy of Green Russell

Enter through the door of a tiny pie shop and suddenly you're in what's billed as a chef-driven cocktail joint. Like the food in Frank Bonanno's multiple Denver restaurants, the drinks here feature fresh, quality ingredients. Fresh herbs,...  Read More

Opened summer 2014, Terminal Bar anchors one end of the meticulously renovated Union Station. Set inside the Great Hall but with its own patio area facing Wynkoop Street, Terminal Bar is integrated into the station and its LoDo neighborhood,...  Read More

Williams & Graham, with its upmarket speakeasy ambiance and dark interior, is paradise for sophisticated cocktail lovers and those who appreciate fine whiskeys, cognacs, liquors and liqueurs. Whether your preference is for a classic Old...  Read More


Meet Christine Loomis

Christine has written about every aspect of travel, from romance and adventure to family and wellness. She is also lucky to have had three major home states through the years: New York,...  More About Christine