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. Citizen Rail and Hearth & Dram opened in the Union Station neighborhood in 2017, offering locals, visitors and railroad passengers a respite from travel with time to raise a glass and savor a sip. 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. Williams & Graham and Retrograde bring a touch of old-school class and speakeasy mystique to cocktails but with contemporary flair. Cheers!

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

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



Inside trendy new Hotel Indigo, across the street from Union Station, Hearth & Dram is a bar for whiskey lovers. Behind the bar is a tower of bottles, including about 85 craft and traditional bourbons. Another 85 bottles or so are dedicated...  Read More



Hotel bars don't always mesh with their surrounding neighborhoods, but Citizen Rail, inside Kimpton Hotel Born near Denver's Union Station, exudes the vibe and ambiance that characterize this area. Contemporary, a little edgy and offering a menu...  Read More

Punch Bowl Social Denver
Photo courtesy of Punch Bowl Social Denver


The menu can please just about anybody at any time of day or evening. Think comfort food elevated by more than a few contemporary twists. The hefty drink menu ranges from breakfast drinks to old- and new-school cocktails, plus mixologist...  Read More



Located behind sister venue Adelita's, the entrance to Palenque Mezcaleria is on Louisiana, not Broadway, through the patio. A neighborhood go-to for residents in the Platte Park and South Broadway neighborhoods, Palenque Mezcaleria is worth the...  Read More



Tucked below fabulous Colt and Gray in LoHi, Saint Ellie is an excellent bar and lounge in its own right and the place to sample some of the stellar fare for which Colt and Gray is known. Like other bars on this list, it operates on a first-come...  Read More



Located in Denver's Uptown neighborhood, Retrograde lies behind a freezer door at the back of an ice cream shop. It's one of Denver's best bets in the traditional speakeasy genre. To start, it's warm and welcoming and without the annoying...  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