I was entertaining a friend who'd surprised me by popping into town, and I wanted to take him to a cool "Denver" spot for drinks. After considering some of the trendier options, I went with one of our historical gems: the Cruise Room. Anyone who's lived in this city for a year should be able to answer a few pop-quiz questions about the Cruise Room: The bar tucked into the Oxford Hotel got its art-deco facelift in 1933, when it was designed to look like a lounge in the Queen Mary; the original chrome and neon are still in use; the panels on the wall all depict people from around the globe toasting each other (though the Nazis have been removed). Less known is the fact that the Cruise Room opened the day after Prohibition was repealed (which required for some damn good planning). All in all, this is an extraordinary place; while stylish and cool, it's not the least bit trendy or overdone. Nor is my favorite cocktail here, the LaLa Martini ($7.75). Made with McCormick's Vodka, DeKuyper Triple Sec, muddled lime, orange and a splash of cranberry, the LaLa is served with the shaker on the side, as are all Cruise Room martinis. That's not only a fabulous retro touch, it's also a great way to keep your cocktail cold if you aren't into chugging martinis. Next time you're in LoDo, stop by the Cruise Room for a refresher course on Denver history. You never know when you might have a pop quiz.
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