Music News

Eight great Denver bars that opened in 2011

Even though the economy continued to bump along this past year, people are still drinking more than ever — maybe because of the lousy economy. And a number of bars opened in 2011, giving them new places where they could drink. Here's a rundown of some of the more promising spots that opened this past year:

Tennyson's Tap (4335 West 38th Avenue): When it opened in early 2011, Tennyson's Tap was a neighborhood bar — albeit one that served Colorado whiskey and brews and supported art. But today it's a full-fledged music venue, a transformation made possible when the Tap secured a cabaret license over the summer. Now it's featuring live blues, jazz, rock and metal acts most nights of the week, and it even has a recording studio.

The 1UP (1925 Blake Street): The subterranean former home of Blues on Blake was a hard spot to fill — but when the 1UP moved in this past March, it made itself right at home. And so did fans of the arcade bar/restaurant, the first of its kind in the area. Owner Jourdan Adler had promised that the concept would be a breath of fresh air downtown, and taking a few cues from Ground Kontrol in Portland and Barcade in Brooklyn, the 1UP started off with close to thirty vintage upright games that all dated to before 1985. Today it sports 45 classic arcade games in addition to fifteen pinball machines and three lanes of Skee-Ball.

Stingray Lounge (2911 West 38th Avenue): The folks who brought us Jonesy's EatBar, the Horseshoe Lounge and Bar Car really got in gear in March, when they transformed a small strip-mall space into the Stingray Lounge. This spot is steeped in '60s car culture, with bar stools that look like car seats, red vinyl booths and drag-racing imagery everywhere: Think American Graffiti meets Beach Blanket Bingo. While the Stingray is a bar first and foremost, it also offers a list of bar snacks that includes tater tots and pizzas, perfected at the Horseshoe Lounge and then exported here.

Prohibition (504 East Colfax Avenue): Jimmy Callahan took one of the city's more colorful dives, the Roslyn Grill, gave it a serious scrubbing and in May unveiled Prohibition. The place has more of a classic feel than the, um, ambience of the Roslyn, with a bar in the back that came from a hundred-year-old saloon in Indianapolis and a new mahogany bar in front with a Chicago drink rail. In keeping with the bar's name, the decor includes newspapers from the Prohibition era and a bunch of whiskey "prescriptions."

Black Crown Lounge (1446 South Broadway): Business partners Mark Cameron and Brian Grace took over the house that had been home to Cafe Cero/Open Tap and transformed it into Black Crown Lounge, a true piano bar that opened in May. The place has an old-world, over-the-top, decadent country-club feel and is furnished with a number of items from Grace's personal collection, including quite a few chandeliers. Many of the decor items are for sale: In the mornings, the space functions as a retail store.

Three Lions (2239 East Colfax Avenue): After a long run as the Bank Bar & Grill, this storefront spot reopened in August as Three Lions, which bills itself as a "world football pub." It's modeled after a traditional English pub, with zones where multiple games are shown on several TVs, a London-style "public bar" game space, and dining areas with lounges. Schedules and standings are updated daily, and there's live MLS coverage as well.

Cheapskates Action Sports Bar (7501 Grandview Avenue in Arvada): Over Memorial Day weekend, business partners Ryan Galbraith and Chris Stinson opened Cheapskates in the former Bliss Cafe space. This could be the only bar in town that caters primarily to fans of action sports, including everything from dirt bikes and mountain bikes to skiing and snowboarding. Not surprisingly, it's become a hot spot with the younger set, especially since it stays open later than most bars in Old Towne Arvada.

Fluff* (1516 Wazee Street): After a few delays, Fluff* finally opened in December. The lounge/salon is designed to feel like the inside of a jewelry box, and it offers services from top stylists, barbers, makeup artists and aestheticians. But it also has a drink menu concocted by mixologist Tyler Marshall.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon