Best Nightlife in Denver

Best nightlife in Denver: a guide to the city after dark

Once upon a time, Denver closed up at 5 p.m. with the exception of a few pockets here and there. Today, that's hard to believe. Denver is a vibrant city of color, characters, sophistication and extensive nightlife options down every street and in every neighborhood. There are lounges, dance clubs, breweries, wineries, speakeasies and a growing number of sophisticated cocktail lounges, all with gathering spots that come alive when the sun goes down. The Larimer Square area satisfies the sophisticated crowd with such options as Corridor 44, Denver's only Champagne bar,  while the Highlands is home to Williams & Graham as well as old-school, come-as-you-are Occidental Bar.  Dairy Block, near Coors Field, has become another hub for nightlife, especially underground at Run For The Roses. In Denver's north quadrant, the country-western crowd still packs the Grizzly Rose to line dance, listen to music and challenge the mechanical bulls. And in Five Points, nightlife options include Death & Co, the first outpost of New York City's famed cocktail bar.  In short, Denver has it going on across all areas, ages, genres and tastes. If it's happening, it's happening here. 


North Denver
Grizzly Rose
Photo courtesy of Grizzly Rose

Get your cowpoke on at Denver's favorite saloon and honky-tonk where there's live music six nights a week and a bar in every corner. Some of country-western's rising and already popular stars appear in concert at The Grizz as well. There's no question that this is THE place for boot-scootin' and boogying, not to mention there's a 2,500-square-foot floating hardwood dance floor on which to show off your fancy footwork. If your country dance skills are nonexistent or rusty, sign up for onsite couples' or line-dancing lessons. Two mechanical bulls await those who have always hankered to test their bronc-riding mettle on something other than a live bull, and there are additional games and activities on hand as well. And, yes, there's food but the menu is limited.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The Grizzly Rose has represented Denver's western roots since 1989 and is still going strong.

Christine's expert tip: The Grizzly Rose has age restrictions so check before you go.

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Located on the 20th floor of Le Meridien Denver Downtown hotel, 54Thirty offers panoramic views and a hip spot to mix, mingle and sip cocktails. The menu changes seasonally and includes plates to share. Choose a seat under the awning, out under the Colorado sky or around the cozy fire pit. Wherever you gather, you'll be treated to expansive views across Denver's urban landscape and west to the mountains where sunset or moonlight bathed peaks are in full glorious view. 54Thirty is perfect for a group of friends enjoying the evening as well as for couples looking for a sweet spot to indulge in a nightcap. 54Thirty is open year-round, weather permitting, so if the weather looks iffy call to check. It's also a first-come, first-served venue, and you have to check in physically with the host to get on the wait list.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: 54Thirty is downtown Denver's spacious outdoor rooftop setting, perfect for watching sunsets or sitting under the stars around a fire.

Christine's expert tip: 54Thirty is 21 and older only after 6 p.m.

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SoCo Nightlife District
Photo courtesy of SoCo Nightlife District

Club Vinyl. The Church Nightclub. Bar Standard. Milk. These are all venues on Broadway or Lincoln south of Colfax. Each has its own vibe and perhaps a particular genre of music. Both Club Vinyl and The Church are open to ages 18 and older. The others are for 21 and up. Milk, a self-proclaimed underground club, is a nightlife ode to the film A Clockwork Orange, which famously featured a milk bar. The music ranges from '80s and '90s alternative to Goth and Industrial. Those who aren't sure what they're in the mood for can buy a ticket to one club and receive entry to one of the others, too. All of the venues offer a rooftop area.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: There are multiple clubs with multiple themes within a few blocks of each other, creating a one-stop nightlife district.

Christine's expert tip: Guests who settle in on Club Vinyl's rooftop can book bottle service and reserve hookah.

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Located in The Ramble Hotel, Death & Co Denver brings a hip vibe and wide-ranging beverage menu to this first outpost of the famed New York City bar. Denver's iteration fits perfectly into the edgy, art-centric RiNo-Five Points neighborhood, and adds a nicely curated menu of small bites and plates from popcorn to wedge salad to buttermilk fried chicken. This is not the place for a full-on multi-course dinner, however. Seating is available at the bar, in plush lobby sofas and chairs and in an airy outdoor garden courtyard. Take time to peruse the expansive cocktail list, divided into evocatively named sections such as Fresh & Lively, Elegant & Timeless and Boozy & Honest. Beer, wine, cider and sake are also on offer. Death & Co delivers a finely honed evening experience in comfortably elegant surroundings.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The first outpost of NYC's famed cocktail institution, Death & Co Denver melds a creative cocktail list with food throughout the day and evening.

Christine's expert tip: No reservations are taken for dinner or late-night service; it's first come, first served.

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Located in the Highlands, Occidental Bar is the neighbor and unlikely sibling of upscale Williams & Graham. Proudly punk and casual, Occidental gives dives a good name with its savvy bartenders, excellent cocktails and all the punk tunes you love. Think dive with just the right amount of class. For game watching, Occidental has large-screen TVs and if you happen to be a fan from New York, this has become the place to watch the Giants, Rangers, Knicks, Mets and Yankees. Occidental's well-curated beer list includes options from local and national craft breweries, and while the menu has some familiar bar options such as burgers, healthy diners and those with various preferences have options, too, including items that are gluten-free vegetarian and even vegan.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Sometimes you want high-end and sophisticated, sometimes you want low-key and utterly unpretentious. Occidental Bar is the latter, giving dives a good name.

Christine's expert tip: Vegan chicken tenders at a divey, self-proclaimed counter-culture bar? Indeed.

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Golden Triangle
La Rumba
Photo courtesy of La Rumba

La Rumba is all about Latin dance, both doing it and learning it. The club, for ages 21 and up, appeals to a diverse crowd spanning multiple generations, cultures and ethnicities, and plays diverse styles of Latin music. Channeling South Beach and Havana, La Rumba transports dancers to a sultry Latin hot spot. And just as they would in South Beach or Havana, guests here dress to impress. Check dress requirements before going. On certain nights, La Rumba showcases some of Denver's top salsa orchestras. No salsa or bachata experience? No worries. There are lessons for beginners most nights as well as more advanced instruction for dancers who already have some sultry moves. Currently, dance lessons are offered every night, including Monday through Wednesday when the club isn't open except for lessons. Take a lesson Thursday through Sunday and get a discount on the cover charge.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: If Latin dancing is your idea of great nightlife, La Rumba is your place.

Christine's expert tip: Ladies are free before 10:30 p.m. on Thursday nights.

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Into the alley mid-Dairy Block, up the stairs, onto the elevator, down a narrow subterranean hallway, through a door in an etched glass wall you'll discover Run For The Roses (RFTR), a swank cocktail lounge that projects both a cozy intimacy and light, sleek aesthetic. RFTR's libation menu is a deck of cards, each card featuring a cocktail and its ingredients, classic to contemporary. Down for a beverage adventure? Shuffle the deck and order whatever lands on top. There's no wrong choice. If booze leaves you peckish in the very early morning hours, there are "parlor snacks" to help with that. RFTR is not just about the cocktails, though they make the place unquestionably worthy of a visit. It's also about the cozy, casual and welcoming vibe.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Even in a city with no lack of swanky joints serving up stellar cocktails with an atmosphere to match, Run For The Roses stands out.

Christine's expert tip: For $300 annually you can join RFTR's member's club. You'll get a safety deposit box and each month cocktail kits, rare spirits, tickets to events or other surprises will appear in it.

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Corridor 44
Photo courtesy of Corridor 44

While many nighttime venues cater to the young and the restless, Corridor 44 taps into singles and couples looking for a quieter, more elegant (or romantic) experience. This is not about how much one can drink but the quality of the beverage and of the experience itself. Yes, Corridor 44 draws crowds and, yes, it has a hip lounge aesthetic. But it's also a lovely place where conversation and companions are at the fore, along with stellar Champagne, sparkling wines and well-paired small plates including cheeses, salads and chocolate. One suggestion: smoked salmon caviar chips. A private room is perfect for small celebrations with friends. The name comes from the 44-foot corridor within the space, and that's one of the best places to book a table if romance is in the air. Early in the evening, world music might be played, followed by lounge tunes and then more typical club sounds as the night deepens.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This is Denver's only Champagne bar and an elegant and classy choice for nightlife.

Christine's expert tip: Those looking for a quiet, more romantic table on weekends should request a booth in the 44-foot-long Corridor--that's the quieter area for couples and others who want a respite from the crowds.

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Williams & Graham, with its upmarket speakeasy ambiance and dark interior, is a paradise for sophisticated cocktail lovers. Whether your preference is for a classic Old Fashioned or creative contemporary cocktail, Williams & Graham is your go-to in the Highlands neighborhood. The drink menu is impressive, featuring dozens of cocktail options made with top-shelf spirits concocted in creative and opulent ways, as well as a well-rounded beer list and a selection of interesting non-alcoholic drinks. If you're adventurous, ask for the bespoke bartender's choice and be surprised. The compact food menu leans toward elevated comfort food with seasonal offerings added to W&G staples including roasted bone marrow with toasted ciabatta and bacon jam and the Williams and Graham burger. Desserts include ice cream from Highlands neighbor Little Man Ice Cream.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Williams & Graham is among Denver's most sophisticated cocktail establishments and the go-to for lovers of fine spirits, cocktails and liqueurs in a refined setting.

Christine's expert tip: Williams & Graham is for ages 21 and older, only.

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Deliberately dark, intimate and just a little bit risque with its tastefully erotic dancers and performers, Five Nines is a sophisticated evening venue featuring creative cocktails and a few small bites. The plush, cozy seating works for couples who want to be alone together and for groups who want to sip a before or after-dinner beverage while enjoying the periodic performances on and around the small stage. Some patrons choose to dress to the nines–"and then some–"while others are all about casual. The point is simply to have fun in an upscale, adult setting. As Five Nines' website states, "We invite you to come as you are, to let loose with your inhibitions and to explore our selection of craft spirits and luxurious libations."

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Five Nines is a sophisticated, polished entry in Denver's nightlife scene.

Christine's expert tip: Look for the five 9s on the wall between the Clayton Members Club & Hotel and Forget Me Not.

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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