By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Brendan's Pub: 2009 Larimer St., 303-308-9933. It's hard to have the blues at Brendan's beautiful new locale: The interior is simultaneously impressive and inviting, with the rich woodwork and restored antique bar conveying warmth and comfort in the elegant atmosphere. Luckily, the calendar is packed with pros -- some more established than others, but all able to belt out the blues despite their lush surroundings.
Brunswick Zone Green Mountain: 945 S. Kipling Pkwy., Lakewood, 303-980-0300. The decor of this bowling-alley bar is as antiseptic as a Holiday Inn cantina, but Green Mountain Bowl picks it up with Jell-O shots and non-smoking hours. Come for the electronic scoring, but stay for the live DJs during Cosmic Bowl and the moderate-screen TVs.
Buckhorn Exchange: 1000 Osage St., 303-534-9505. The Buckhorn Exchange's upstairs bar has the thickest history in town, and it's a good spot for a cocktail and atmosphere, even if you can't afford the pricey bison and quail downstairs. Adjacent to the classic bar (an 1857 German import) is a lounge packed with antiques and plush furniture, where autoharpist Roz Brown performs four nights a week.
Buffalo Rose: 1119 Washington Ave., Golden, 303-278-6800. Recent renovations have transformed the Buffalo Rose into a venue worthy of national acts. Musicians perform on a platform built over an old community pool while patrons wet their whistles in an adjoining restaurant. On busy nights, the huge dance floor fills with twirlers, boot-scooters, honky-tonkers and, sometimes, boxing enthusiasts: Fights have been added to the mix at this Golden holdout.
Burnsley Hotel: 1000 Grant St., 303-830-1000. Once owned by an investment group that included vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, the posh Burnsley Hotel has long been home to a first-rate jazz club; local vocalists, pianists and other swingers perform in the lobby bar Thursday through Saturday nights. The upscale, candle-lit atmosphere and mellow sounds make this a great date spot.
Bushwacker's: 1967 S. Broadway, 303-722-0280. The huge, lit-up mirror in this low-maintenance, live-music hideout allows bands to preen from the stage before launching their aural assaults. And you can watch the show without being too far from your next beer in Bushwacker's sunken bar area, complete with comfy chairs.
C.B. & Potts: 6575 S. Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Englewood, 303-770-1982. No one , not even the staff -- is in a hurry at C.B. & Potts's Tech Center spot, a happy-hour harbor for the suit-and-tie segment. Background-level music is sporadically folded in, though patrons are more likely to stick to the plush booths than get out on the small dance floor.
C.B. & Potts: 555 Zang St., Broomfield, 720-887-3383. Buttface Amber is the name of a lager served to the business-class crowd at C.B. & Potts; it's made by the Bighorn Brewery, housed within the Broomfield bar, where sports TV, trivia games and unique microbrews are the favored forms of entertainment. DJs do spin control a couple of nights a week.
C.B. & Potts: 43 W. Centennial Pkwy., Highlands Ranch, 720-344-1200. Working with the popular hunting-lodge/yuppie-watering-hole theme, C.B. & Potts is Highlands Ranch's closest approximation of a neighborhood bar. TVs are everywhere, the decor is unintentionally campy, and there's live music for the late-night crowds on Wednesdays.
Cafe Prasad: 1904 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-447-2667. Cafe Prasad has a split personality: It's half juice counter/mini-restaurant, and half carpeted live-music venue. There's plenty of seating available -- thick, rough-hewn oak on one side of the room and folding metal chairs on the other. Or take a cue from the regulars and sprawl on the floor, relax and enjoy the mostly acoustic acts that play here.
Caffé Solé: 637-R Table Mesa Dr., Boulder, 303-499-2985. A clean, subtly lit coffee shop on the south end of town, Caffé Solé does its best with a mini-mall address. Dreadlocked baristas pull joe for students and others who want to enjoy the mellow atmosphere.
Carioca Cafe: 2060 Champa St., 303-296-1250. Live music dominates Carioca Cafe on the weekends, and a lively jukebox keeps the beat during breaks. Some might speculate on the meaning of a huge deco-style mural on the wall, painted in the ´40s, while others simply concentrate on sinking the eight ball at one of many game tables.
The Castle: 83 E. 120th Ave., 303-452-1002, Thornton. Though it revels in the royalty of local touring talents in the world of electronic music, the Castle can't quite shake its hotel-conference-room appearance. That's because it is a hotel conference room, adjoining a suburban Radisson. An upstairs area is open to the over-21 set, while youngsters are welcome on the ground floor; images projected on large screens, fancy light shows and solid talent might help you overlook the chairs stacked against the wall and the sound of the bar vibrating from the loud music.
Catacombs: 2115 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-0486. As the name suggests, Catacombs is a series of little caverns winding beneath the über-swank Boulderado Hotel. Because it's one of the few remaining bars in Boulder to allow smoking, the rock bands that play here are only part of the draw of this collegiate mainstay.
Celtic Tavern: 1801 Blake St., 303-308-1795. You don't have to be Irish in LoDo, but it sure doesn't hurt, particularly if you're looking to avoid the sports-bar crowd. In keeping with the Gaelic theme is the Celtic Tavern, which eschews a green-beer motif in favor of decor that incorporates literary works from the Emerald Isle's finest. The shamrockless venue offers a cozy, Welsh-inspired nook and a leather-sofa-filled Scottish room for other bastards of the British Empire.