Best of Denver

The Ten Best New Bars of 2017

A chocolate and Fernet egg cream gets a spritz of soda.
A chocolate and Fernet egg cream gets a spritz of soda. Danielle Lirette
Bar culture is about far more than booze. Bars should be welcoming destinations where you can relax and forget the outside world. You can hit your favorite bar to feel like part of a family, to enjoy time with friends, to feel pampered and indulged — or just to partake in a beverage without distraction. The best bars know what you're looking for from the moment you walk in the door, whether it's your local watering hole that has your drink poured even as you settle into your seat, or a cocktail lounge willing to let you make the call. The ten best new bars this year have added exceptional hospitality and imaginative drinks to the scene. Here they are, from nostalgic heart warmers to the mysterious and exotic.

click to enlarge Bar Helix will have several versions of the Negroni. - MARK ANTONATION
Bar Helix will have several versions of the Negroni.
Mark Antonation
Bar Helix
3440 Larimer Street

Bar Helix opened the first week of October, adding something a little different to the RiNo bar scene. Owner Kendra Anderson brings her experience as a sommelier, caterer and cocktail aficionado to a sultry, ’70s-style space that balances mid-century modern, disco-era swank and modern urban edge. The gist of the menu is a range of thoughtful cocktails (with just a little swagger), democratically priced wines by the glass and bottle, and "soulmate" food pairings that range from sensuous and decadent to a little trashy.

Bigsby's Folly Craft Winery & Restaurant
3563 Wazee Street
When something truly different comes along, it catches our attention. That's the case with Bigsby's Folly, a new winery-restaurant that opened in June. What's so new and different about the place? Under founders Chad and Marla Yetka, it's the first winery in Denver to take advantage of Colorado's new vintner's restaurant liquor license, which allows an establishment to sell food and alcoholic beverages while producing wine on site. So unlike a standard winery or brewery that only serves its own product, Bigsby's Folly, named after the Yetkas' late golden retriever, also serve wines from around the world, as well as a selection of craft beers and cocktails. And it does all that in a lofty, comfortable space built in a former factory. 

click to enlarge Dearly beloved, we are gathered at the Family Jones to celebrate craft spirits. - MARK ANTONATION
Dearly beloved, we are gathered at the Family Jones to celebrate craft spirits.
Mark Antonation
The Family Jones Spirit House
3245 Osage Street
Some of the most creative minds in the LoHi restaurant business got together for a new project called the Family Jones Spirit House. Paul Tamburello, real estate developer and owner of Little Man Ice Cream, and pioneering distiller Rob Masters have collaborated with Justin Cucci, founder of Linger and nearby Root Down, on this unique distillery-restaurant. The Family Jones makes all the booze it sells across the bar, which may sound limiting — but only in the same way that the strict structure of a sonnet focuses a poet's imagination and brilliance. The space feels like a chapel, with the bar as the altar and the distillery equipment rising above it like a magnificent pipe organ. Grab a seat at the sunken bar, order some snacks, and work your way through the cocktail list; it's a delightful way to pass the evening in LoHi.

click to enlarge Goed Zuur opens today in the Welton Street corridor. - SARAH COWELL
Goed Zuur opens today in the Welton Street corridor.
Sarah Cowell
Goed Zuur
2801 Welton Street
The palette of Denver's palate deepened and broadened when Goed Zuur opened in Five Points in May, serving not just a vast spectrum of complex sour and wild ales, but a sophisticated range of small plates and unusual dishes. Set inside a 120-year-old brick building with a carefully restored 1930s-era mural on the side, Goed Zuur, which means "good acid" in Dutch, boasts an interior look best described as steampunk meets European chic. Long tables with elevated platforms for meat-and-cheese boards run along one side, while an artsy clock covers an entire wall on the other. In the middle is a copper-topped bar and custom draft tower made of industrial pipe, wood and lightbulbs. Goed Zuur is proof that Denver's beer scene is as sophisticated as the world's beeriest destinations.

click to enlarge MARK ANTONATION
Mark Antonation
Greenlight Lab
1336 27th Street

Down an alley between Larimer and Walnut streets, past flowing street-art murals, there's an inconspicuous doorway that could be the back entrance to an office or kitchen. No sign tells you that you've arrived at Greenlight Lab, but if the green light is on above the door, you'll know that there's a cocktail inside for you. Greenlight Lab was launched in November by Brandon Anderson, owner of design/architecture firm LIVstudio. While Anderson's firm has designed plenty of bars and restaurants for such clients as Il Posto, Denver Central Market, HashTAG and Concourse, this is the first time he's designed a bar for himself. Greenlight Lab isn't some lavish tour de force, though; instead, it's a simple, almost speakeasy-ish grotto where the focus is first on drinks and second on design. Sip "beta" test cocktails if you're feeling adventurous, or go with an item on the "approved" list; either way, you'll find something magical and tempting.

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