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 host of other gathering spots that come alive when the sun goes down. The Larimer Square area satisfies the sophisticated cocktail crowd with such options as Corridor 44, Denver's only Champagne bar. Uptown is home to Retrograde, just one of the city's speakeasies, while the Highlands is home to another, Williams & Graham. In Denver's north quadrant, the country-western crowd still packs the Grizzly Rose to line dance, listen to music and challenge the mechanical bull. And in RiNo, nightlife options include urban winery Infinite Monkey Theorem, gallery/speakeasy Millers & Rossi, and Death & Co, the first outpost of New York City's famed cocktail bar. There's even a brewery taproom that caters to heavy metal fans. 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. 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 boogeying. There's a 2,500-square-foot floating hardwood dance floor and a 2,000-square-foot dance room. For those who have always hankered to test their bronc-riding mettle on a mechanical bull, this is the place for that, too. Although the club invites families and those under 21 at certain times, at other times it's 21 and older only, so check the schedule. Concerts are general admission, but those willing to spring for bottle service are guaranteed the comfy leather seating next to the stage. There's a full kitchen with a menu featuring BBQ and more.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Photo courtesy of Infinite Monkey Theorem

Infinite Monkey Theorem is an urban winery (with patio) that opened in 2008, and weekends are always a party. Located in the RiNo Arts District, IMT is a part of RiNo's burgeoning community scene, including First Friday open houses. IMT doesn't have vineyards. Its winemakers buy grapes from other growers and use their skills to create wine. The ambiance of the tasting room is industrial, young and hip--no granite and marble here. There are DJ theme parties every 1st Friday with music ranging from oldies and reggae to 80s or other decades. Food trucks are on the scene Wednesday through Saturday. Wine is offered by the glass, bottle, flight, on tap, in cans and growlers. Tours, private tastings and a wine club are available. If you're a fan of rose, check out IMT's Frose (frozen rose) as the weather heats up.

Trve Brewing
Photo courtesy of Trve Brewing

No one will confuse Trve Brewing's taproom with any other in this city of nearly unlimited taprooms. The pairing of craft beer with heavy metal makes for a unique experience in Denver and possibly anywhere else. Yes, there's metal playing whenever the place is open, but even non-metal heads can enjoy a brew and good conversation--at least during the day when the music leans toward sub-genres such as fuzzed-out stoner metal and classic doom. The owner puts it this way: "We never want anyone to feel totally out of place, just a little out of the element they may be used to; our goal has always been to create a great communal space where people can meet up and have a few beers." That said, arrive after 9 p.m., especially on weekends, and the place will be packed and raging to thrash and death tracks for a high-energy experience.


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. 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 sunsets or moonlight bathed peaks are in full glorious view. 54Thirty is perfect for a group of friends enjoying the evening as well as for a couple looking for a cozy sweet spot to indulge in a nightcap. 54Thirty is seasonal so check before arriving during shoulder seasons.

SoCo Nightlife District
Photo courtesy of SoCo Nightlife District

Club Vinyl. The Church Nightclub. Bar Standard. The Living Room. 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. The Living Room is a wine and tapas bar but food is not the focus at the clubs for the most part. 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 get in at one of the others, too. All of the venues offer a rooftop area.

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 pretentious vibe of some others. To be sure, the best way to enjoy Retrograde is by indulging in the spirit and spirits of the place, that is to say by ordering one of the creative or classic cocktails on the list or, better yet, giving the bartender a sense of your preferred flavor profile and waiting for the creative, off-the-menu result. But if you just want to have a beer and watch the show being projected on the wall (Star Trek and Game of Thrones have both been shown), that's OK, too. On the way out, stop for housemate ice cream.

RiNo (RiverNorth)

An art gallery is the perfect entree and counterpoint for a lively speakeasy in Denver's edgy, art-centric RiNo district. Everything in the gallery and on the lounge's walls is for sale. "If it's not nailed down, it's for sale" is the motto of Aaron Bodrog, co-owner and founder. When you enter the gallery, there will be someone on hand to direct you to the door that serves as the transition between the gallery and the speakeasy. These are two very different worlds yet both equally right for the evolving RiNo neighborhood. The house signature drink is a Smoked Old Fashioned, but equally good and intriguing iterations of other spirt-based cocktails highlight the menu, too. On the food front, consider the steak & avocado pipe bombs. For less of a crowd, go on Wednesday or Thursday evenings.

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 food. 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.

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 Fashioned or creative contemporary cocktail, Williams & Graham is your spot in the Highlands neighborhood. The drink menu is impressive, featuring dozens of cocktail options, cognac and brandy, American whiskies, blended and single-malt Scotch whisky and European and New World gins and vodkas, including small-batch variations crafted in Colorado. The list goes on. The compact food menu leans toward elevated comfort food with such options as roasted bone marrow with toasted ciabatta and bacon jam, mac and cheese, deviled eggs and a Williams and Graham burger. Parties of more than six can accommodated only in the standing area.

Located in The Ramble Hotel, Death & Co Denver brings a hip vibe and wide-ranging cocktail menu to this first outpost of the famed New York City bar. Denver's iteration fits perfectly into edgy, art-centric RiNo and adds a nicely curated menu of small bites and plates to the mix. The Death & Co team also oversees the hotel's food offerings, from coffee and breakfast in the morning to late-night nibbles on offer until 1 a.m. Seating is available at the bar, in deep-cusihioned lobby sofas and chairs and in an airy outdoor garden courtyard. Later this year, Suite 6A, an intimate space featuring highly personalized service, will open. Take time to peruse the expansive cocktail list, divided into evocatively named sections such as Fresh & Lively, Elegant & Timeless and Boozy & Honest. Day or night, Death & Co delivers a finely honed cocktail experience in comfortably elegant surroundings.


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