Happy Place: Elway's Downtown, 1881 Curtis Street, 303-312-3107
The Hours: Daily from 2 to 6 p.m.
The Deals: $5 selected wines by the glass; $7 cocktail of-the-day; $3 draft beers; half-priced selected appetizers
Were We Happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: While the idea of finding a stellar happy hour in a celebrity-branded steakhouse situated within one of Denver's swankiest hotels might seem counter-intuitive, do not sleep on this spot.
For starters, are there three words in the English language that delight more than "free valet parking?" This means no need to manage your sobriety well enough to remember to feed your meter while boozing your way through Elway's epic four hours of daily happiness.
Another delightful discovery: The sight of a refreshingly diverse crowd, which included everyone from the suited-up businessmen we'd expected to see to jersey-wearing (female, no less!) Nuggets fans. The bar was packed, so we chose to settle in at one of the cozy high-top tables lining the wall -- although we made a mental note of the leather-upholstered booths we'd make sure to score upon returning with an expanded crew (or maybe even for a little happy hour tête-á-tête).
Crispy fried Asian spareribs -- oh my!
The Verdict: As you might expect, a serious steakhouse knows how to put together a serious wine list. While disappointed that there were only three discounted wines to choose from, sommelier Justin Jelinek's choices didn't let us down. His ever-rotating set of happy hour by-the-glass wine picks always includes one white, one red, and -- our go-to post-work bevvie -- a sparkler, so we took consolation in that.
The current lineup features a torrontes -- one of our all-time favorite winter white wine varieties - in this case, the lush Tapiz Torrontes 2010. Exotic flavors like kaffir lime and honeysuckle set us up with the perfect pairing partner for the insanely good crisp-fried Asian spareribs ($5). Gingery-spiced tuna tataki ($5) also tasted like money with the medium-bodied Argentinean white.
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Moving on to red, we're praying that the Klassen Sonoma County Merlot 2009 will inspire you to reject once and for all that advice you've been taking from Miles of Sideways about "not drinking any fucking merlot." Trust us: if you're into full-bodied, new world reds, maybe you should worry less about a line you heard in a movie and more about getting to Elway's before they run out of this fantastic wine. Ballsy, dark berry fruit and obvious-but-balanced tannins were just the thing to help us wash down an order of lamb chops (three big ones, not those little lollipop numbers) with green chile-cheese fondue and roasted sweet potatoes ($17). As the price tag would indicate, the lamb isn't on the happy hour menu. But we dare you to resist the chance to dunk medium-rare grilled chops into a bubbling crock of melted, spicy cheese.
Overall Grade: B