The economic downturn resulted in one welcome effect: an upswing in restaurants offering deals on drinks, deals on appetizers, and ever-happier happy hours. The list that follows, compiled by our Cafe Society staff (e-mail us at email@example.com), includes our fifty favorite happy hours, ranging from A to Z and noteworthy for everything from cheap drinks to small plates with large flavors to incredibly generous time spans (fair warning: hours and deals change frequently). Remember, it's always five o'clock somewhere.
APPALOOSA BAR & GRILL
535 16th Street, Denver
happy hour in Denver
Happy-hour hours: 2-6 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight Saturday-Sunday
Happy-hour deals: $3 micro and import drafts, $3 well, $4 house wine and Irish whiskey, $6 Colorado whiskey
When you stumble off the 16th Street Mall and into the Appaloosa, a cheerful, independently owned spot, odds are good that you'll hit a happy hour. Because the Appaloosa's happy hours are very, very expansive — almost as expansive as its booze is inexpensive during these times. And you can often down your drinks while listening to live music — a rarity in this part of town.
4403 Lowell Boulevard, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, all day Monday
Happy-hour deals: $1.50 off all wine, $2 Bud Light and PBR drafts, $3.25 all other drafts, $3.75 original margaritas, $4.50 sangria, discounted appetizers; reduced late-night bites from 9-11 p.m. every Sunday-Thursday and 10 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
If you've got a thirsty throng on your hands, lead them to the bar at the resurrected Billy's Inn, where you can swoop in for a cheap glass of wine or suds, a potent margarita or sangria, and still have enough spare coinage to feed your pie hole. Snare a spare seat at the community table, which is full of strangers who soon become friends, one-night stands or longstanding lovers, and share plates of nachos, potato skins, deviled eggs or hot wings. Happy hour is so much fun here that you just might stick around for late-night bites and libations, when well drinks are $2.75 and lobster tacos less than a buck each.
BRASSERIE TEN TEN
1011 Walnut Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 3-6:30 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: $3.25 beer, $3.75 wine, $3.75 well cocktail, $6 house martini, $6 margarita, $1.25-$6 snacks
A bistro with necktied college students playing waiters, Brasserie Ten Ten has a generous happy hour fervently supported by an eclectic group of outdoor enthusiasts, professionals, travelers staying at the St Julien and bargain hunters who probably wouldn't frequent this white-linen establishment otherwise. We go for the $3.25 Stella Artois and supplement it with snacks off the extensive list of happy-hour offerings, including savory crepes, sliders and bone marrow — bites of a bygone era of heavy French cuisine that make for perfect sustenance when you're drinking.
THE BRITISH BULLDOG
2052 Stout Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight daily; 7-11 a.m. Saturday-Sunday
Happy-hour deals: half-price wells, drafts, and wine
Few places in Denver have so many British and Irish brews on draft. Even fewer have an entire roster of Pakistani food on their menu, not to mention a professional soccer schedule on a wall-sized chalkboard. The British Bulldog is Denver's go-to soccer hooligan bar, with a healthy serving of punk just to keep things interesting. All that Smithwick's can get expensive, though, which is why happy hour at the Bulldog is enough to make us sit up and beg. The pub also offers a "soccer happy hour" on weekend mornings with the same specials as the regular happy hour, along with a boatload of activity-based specials. Score!
1000 Grant Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: 2-for-1 drinks, $3 tapas menu
The intimate bar in the Burnsley, a boutique hotel in Capitol Hill, is a little gem. And it really shines during the generous happy hour, when you get two-fers not just on your first drink, but any drinks you order during happy hour. Sink into one of the cozy corner booths, and after a few rounds, you might just decide to make a night of it. Fortunately, there's a hotel desk right outside the door.
CENTRO LATIN KITCHEN & REFRESHMENT PALACE
950 Pearl Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 3-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday
Happy-hour deals: $2 Tecate, $2 Cuba libres, $4 margaritas, $4 wine, $2 to $4 snacks
Although misanthropes may appreciate Centro's large, dark bar, we prefer the patio that's reminiscent of a hut on a Caribbean beach. During warm spring days, you'll spot more than one laptop here, possessed by professionals who can't resist the warm sun and an early margarita. With one of the earliest happy hours in Boulder — don't miss the weekend brunch deals — we're partial to this spot on a lazy Saturday afternoon, when it's an ideal place to enjoy duck tacos and Pearl Street people-watching.
980 Grant Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: 2-for-1 first round on wells, calls, house wine and macrobrews
There's nothing pretentious about Charlie Brown's, a bar that could be Denver's great social equalizer. You could show up alone with your T.S. Eliot and nurse a beer just as easily as you could bring your visiting meat-and-potatoes-only family, or you could come in already rowdy and soused and belt out show tunes, and nobody would mind. One bonus: While many happy hours only offer specials on wells, Charlie Brown's includes call drinks. Are you listening, Bacardi-and-Diet-Coke fans? The two outdoor patios (which allow smoking) and weekend pig roasts just make life at Charlie Brown's that much happier.
CHAUTAUQUA DINING HALL
900 Baseline Road, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: $2.75-$3 beers, $3.75 wines, $4-$5 cocktails, $3-$5 snacks
The Chautauqua Dining Hall sits at the base of the Flatirons, Boulder's favorite natural playground, which not only makes this the happy hour with the best view along the Front Range — especially when the weather permits porch seating — but an ideal location for post-exercise beers and sliders. And given Chautauqua's status as a popular spot to propose, you'll often spot just-engaged (and thrifty) couples lovingly embracing over celebratory martinis.
CHOPHOUSE AND BREWERY
735 19th Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Happy-hour deals: $3 beer, half-price wines by the glass, half-price bar menu
921 Walnut Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Happy-hour deals: half-price wines by the glass, $2.95 pints, $3.95 wells, $4.95 martinis, half-price Tavern menu
The Denver and Boulder outposts of this homegrown chain cater mostly to suited business types who appreciate the chance to pair one of many California Cabernets with hearty steaks in a dark-wooded dining room humming with conversation about the market. During happy hour, though, the Chophouse fills with people as picky about their snacks as they are about their stocks, ordering onion rings, shrimp cocktail and prime rib from the bar menu at half price while still enjoying the full steakhouse setting.
CITY, O' CITY
206 East 13th Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 2-6 p.m. and 11 p.m.-close daily
Happy-hour deals: $1.50 Orale, $2 off drafts and wells, $3 house wine (late-night happy hour only)
City, O'City's deal on Del Norte's Orale beer, which is made in this city, is just one of the reasons we love this happy hour. City, O' City also has a very long happy hour — five to seven hours a day. And during those rare times when it isn't happy hour, you can down City, O'City's very own, exclusive espresso-blend coffee or devour vegetarian buffalo wings that are almost as good as the real thing. Although City, O'City is very conscientious about serving local and healthy, it doesn't act like God's gift to the world for doing so. In fact, chances are your happy-hour drinking session here will overlap with some wacky, decadent event, probably one involving shots.
COLT & GRAY
1553 Platte Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday
Happy-hour deals: $5 cocktails, $5 draft beer, $6 wine, $3 snacks, $7 cheese and charcuterie
No detail goes unnoticed in Colt & Gray's mixology program, not even the ice. Revelers who nab a seat in the cozy bar, filled with high tables and manned by graceful bartenders, can order off a rotating list of inventive cocktails made with prime spirits (and cooled with that quality ice). And during happy hour, five of these are offered at a reduced price: Current specials include the Sazerac; a gin-and-egg-white concoction called the Clover Club; and the Breakfast Cocktail made with Earl Grey gin. Pair your drink with reduced-price savory bar snacks such as bacon-caramel popcorn, crispy and creamy blue-cheese gougères, and a hefty selection of cured meats.
CREPES 'N CREPES
2816 East Third Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: $3-5 crepes; $4 glasses of wine
While many happy hours rely on a hunger for outsized servings of nachos and a thirst for aquarium-capacity drinks, Crepes 'n Crepes hopes you'll be every bit as pleased by its more diminutive portions and attention to detail at the Cherry Creek location. (The downtown outpost has a different lineup.) The evidence? Crepes only slightly smaller in size at happy hour, but at half or more off regular prices; individually sugared blueberries; wine served in appropriate stemware (fancy!) and fromage, fromage, fromage. The verdict? Success! The recessed patio, intimate space and non-matching tablecloths feel Paris-authentic and definitely special.
3041 East Third Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Happy-hour deals: $2-$7 cicchetti, $5 select wine and cocktails, $3.50 select beers
After years of resisting the urge, Cucina Colore finally broke down a few weeks ago and introduced a happy hour. It was worth waiting for. Most notably, it features the small plates popular in Venice called cicchetti. And while the lineup of cicchetti here might include some familiar happy hour fare, including bruschetta and chicken wings, it also has more adventurous choices, such as asparagus tartufo with truffled egg salad and speck, and salmon scapece with watermelon, avocado and tomato. None of the offerings costs more than seven bucks; at these prices, Cucina Colore can call them whatever they want. We dare you to ask for mozzarella sticks and a PBR.
930 Lincoln Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, midnight-12:30 a.m. Saturday
Happy-hour deals: $2 bottled beers, $3 drafts, $4 premium well drinks, $5 premium wine, $5.15 food
Dazzle is the town's best jazz bar — but this comfortable, classy place dazzles in other ways, too. During happy hour, not only does it offer great deals on drinks — which show off Dazzle's devotion to Colorado-based liquors and wines, if not from this state, at least from this country — but an incredible array of plates large and small that are more than enough for a meal. They range from three kinds of sliders (salmon, pork, pot roast), at just $1.95 each, to $5.15 plates of mac and cheese (an award winner), pizzas, burgers and a mountain of onion rings. Bonus points for the housemade ketchup.
32 South Broadway, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
Happy-hour deal: appetizers $2-$4, well drinks and select wines at half price
Chef/owner Dylan Moore's Deluxe is a perfect spot for an intimate meal. But at Delite, the bar he opened a few years ago next door, you can sample some of the fare coming out of the Deluxe kitchen at bargain prices, and in a hale-fellow-well-met atmosphere that lets in all the color and character of Broadway. Sometimes a few characters, too, when the garage-door windows are up. The booths are great for a group, the tables up front a perfect place to make a few new friends who might want to share your fried oysters and deviled eggs.
1610 16th Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: $1 tacos, $3 cheesesteak or nachos, $3 drink specials (pint-o-rita, Ketel One John Daly, Coronas).
Talk about street smarts! Dixons has always been a go-to spot for power breakfasts, power lunches, pre- and post-sporting events dinners, last-call drinks. And last year, when it finally decided to add a happy hour, it introduced one of the best deals in town — made even better when you enjoy it on the patio, where you can watch all those office workers who wish they could be spending a few happy hours with you. Get a $15 bucket of Coronas, a happy-hour version of Denver's Best nachos and a couple of dollar tacos, then drink to the passing parade.
The Ritz-Carlton, 1881 Curtis Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 2-7 p.m. daily in the lounge
Happy-hour deals: $3 draft beers, $5 select wines by the glass, $7 martinis, half-price bar menu appetizers
The bar at Elway's Downtown isn't exactly the first booze stop that leaps into your brain when you're searching for a bargain buzz, but every day from 2 to 7 p.m., the sophisticated lounge, full of moneyed leather and dark woods, hops with flirty socialites, Learjet-owning businessmen bunking at the Ritz-Carlton, and downtown loft-dwellers who get bleary-eyed from $3 draft beers, $5 wines by the glass and $7 martinis. The model types bypass the discounted chicken wings, flatbread, bison quesadilla and crab dip for an extra shot of vodka, though you may spot the odd one out delicately lifting a small forkful of tuna tartare to her lips.
672 Logan Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. and 9-midnight daily
Happy-hour deals: 2-for-1 drafts, wells, margaritas and Long Island iced teas; $5 snacks
Let's be honest: You don't go to Govnr's Park for the ambience. Its beer flags, big screens and cross-section of prepsters, sports fans and office workers are a dime a dozen. No, you go for the two-for-one Cuervo margs and Long Islands. You go for the two-for-one 24-ounce steins that almost always dwarf their bearers. You go because you know those two patios will be pretty sweet on a sunny day and just as welcoming at night. You go because for more than thirty years, this has been one of the best, most consistent happy hours in town. The faces change; the value does not.
1117 Pearl Street, Boulder
2780 East Second Avenue, Denver
5380 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard, Suite 101, Greenwood Village
Happy-hour hours: 2:30-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: $3.50 sake, $3 beer, 2 for $7 sushi rolls
Don't worry, be Hapa. No matter which good-natured location you visit, Hapa Sushi's happy hour is always crowded with pretty people. In Boulder, sweatshirted coeds sip Kirin and toss back Multiple Orgasm rolls, stuffed with crab meat and baked in The Sauce — savory, creamy, and strongly reminiscent of Japanese mayonnaise. In Cherry Creek, twenty-somethings in cocktail dresses zealously shoot rice wine. In Greenwood Village, Tech Center professionals in business attire display raw courage as they order their way through the specials. Conveniently, both beer and sake are on special during happy hour, in case you want to scratch the sake-bomb itch.
HAPPY (THE BITTER BAR)
835 Walnut Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 3-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 4-close Tuesday.
Happy-hour deals: $3-$4.50 beers, $4 wine, $4 sake, $3 cocktails, $1-$4 snacks
In a low stone building on a quiet block of Walnut Street, a team of all-star mixologists works behind a long wooden bar to put — and keep — Colorado firmly on the cocktail map. During happy hour, this Bitter Bar crew draws from the cuisine of Happy, the appropriately named home restaurant, to craft twists on classics that feature the flavors of Asia, incorporating such ingredients as orchid liqueur and cherry-infused gin. With drinks starting at just $3, happy hour is a frugal way to sample the capabilities of these award-winning bartenders.
76 Broadway, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. daily, 10 p.m.-close Monday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 p.m.-close Friday
Happy-hour deals: $2.50 bottles and wells, $3.50 calls and house wine, $1 off draft beers, $3 appetizers menu in the afternoon; $5 à la carte menu (including burgers and nachos), $2.50 drafts, 2-for-1 shots (limited) at night
A Sobo anchor before there was a Sobo, the Hornet is a go-to place for cinema fans heading to the nearby Mayan; Wash Park and Baker regulars; and just about anyone looking for a good time — and good deals. Working an unusual tide-like rhythm, the place fills to standing-room-only capacity before emptying out when a movie starts, then starts all over again. Time it right, and you'll get a good table to go with your tapas: The $3 chicken pesto pizza and the chicken tamales are great deals in the afternoon, while a $5 burger hits the spot when you're hungry late at night.
INTERSTATE KITCHEN & BAR
901 West 10th Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. and midnight-1:30 a.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: $2 and $3 canned and draft beers, $3 and $4 cocktails, $9 cooler of five beers, food $1-$3
For those of you who bemoan Denver's dearth of late-night nourishment, Interstate Kitchen & Bar is your highway straight to heaven. The retro-tooled hot spot juggles two daily happy hours, both of which offer killer deals on canned and draft beers and sharply potent cocktails, plus food specials that include the crazy-good, buck-apiece lap dogs that are the ideal counterpart to just about every liquid poison on the planet. The early happy hour is subdued, while the wee-morning gig, which draws a heavy restaurant-industry crowd (it's a great place to spot a chef) pulsates with testosterone and adrenaline.
1520 20th Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 9 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Friday
Happy-hour deals: $10 all-you-can-drink
LoDo partiers looking to start a night strong will find their gateway to blackout at Jackson's, which features a $10 all-you-can-drink deal during its nighttime happy hour. Hordes of twenty-somethings and baseball-game-goers pack the bar and vast rooftop patio, putting down Coors Light, well vodka and Jim Beam with a vengeance while fist-pumping to the likes of Journey before heading out for more bar-hopping.
1028 South Gaylord Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: all day Monday, 11:30-3 p.m. daily, 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-2 p.m. Saturday
Happy-hour deals: hand rolls $2.50, shrimp sushi $2.50, $3 Kirin, sake, house wines
Get in the swim at Japon, the sushi bar that's a Washington Park institution. But during happy hour, this sushi bar is also an excellent bar, where you can enjoy $3 Kirin beers, sake and house wine, and also grab a variety of $2.50 hand rolls. The only raw deal here is the fish, which is as fresh as you might feel after a few rounds.
JAX FISH HOUSE
928 Pearl Street, Boulder
1539 17th Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: $3 wines, $3-5 vodka martinis, $3 draft beers, $2 oyster shooters, $1 oysters, $3 snacks
The dollar-oyster deal alone would be enough to keep Jax in the happy-hour swim. But while that gimmick lures in some fans, both the Denver and Boulder Jax restaurants are awash with shellfish lovers and haters alike during happy hour. The highly visible patio in LoDo is a favorite place for yuppies to unwind in the summer; Boulder's outpost is popular with a raucous group of college students and recent grads. And, yes, those oysters — as well as other food specials, which were recently upgraded — slide down easy when accompanied by cheap draft beer and house-infused vodka drinks.
JONESY'S EATBAR/HORSESHOE LOUNGE
400 and 414 East 20th Avenue, Denver
303-863-7473 and 303-832-1180
Happy-hour hours: Jonesy's 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9:30 p.m.-close every night. Horseshoe 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Happy-hour deals: Jonesy's $2 off specialty cocktails, half-price wine, $3 cocktails, $2.50 Colorado drafts. Horseshoe $2 domestic drafts and $3 micros and imports, $2 wells and $3 calls, $3 wine; nightly specials
Jonesy's is a gastropub, while the Horseshoe next door is a lounge. But those aren't the names you'll use. You'll just call them "cool" when you text your crew to come to Uptown for happy hour and join you for some lamb sliders or a plate of bacon-covered mac-and-cheese fries and a can of Dale's Pale Ale. Need any more ammo? Let your friends know that both places have a wide selection of Colorado microbrews and that the ladies of Jonesy's and the Horseshoe — both owned by Leigh Jones — create a pin-up calendar every year for charity. Tip well and they'll sign your copy.
THE KITCHEN [UPSTAIRS]
1039 Pearl Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30 p.m.-close Sunday-Monday
Happy-hour deals: $5 wine du jour, $5 cocktail du jour, $4 wells, $2.50 beer du jour, $3-$13 nibbles
Each night after work, Boulder's hip, successful businesspeople climb a staircase on the west end of Pearl and converge at a long bar under flattering lighting to flirt with strangers, impress associates and socialize with other regulars. The clink of up-glass martinis and Riedel crystal punctuates a lounge soundtrack, while patrons nosh on roasted duck, house-cured pork terrine, brackish oysters, garlic fries, goat gouda mac and cheese, and sticky toffee pudding at heavily discounted prices. And if you can still handle dinner after all that, a three-course fixed-price menu is available for $26.
233 East Seventh Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 4:30-7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: 2-for-1 wells, house wine and domestics, first round; $8 pitchers
Where else but the Lancer Lounge could get away with having the Dirty Dancing soundtrack blaring — unironically — over the din of grizzled drinkers circling round the bar and pool balls knocking heads in the next room? This classic dive sticks out like the best kind of sore thumb, with a vibe not unlike an amusement park funhouse. You can actually score fake tattoos and stickers from machines near the front door. As for when to go, you'd be hard-pressed (or a chump) to show up when it's not happy hour: The Lancer's got three a day, including a classic drown hour. All together now: "I've...had...the time of my life..."
3200 Tejon Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3:30-6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
Happy-hour deals: $2 PBR longneck bottles, $3 wells and margs, $5 wines
All of Highland is hopping these days, with worthy restaurants popping up on every corner. And at the end of the night, when industry workers want to get happy, they head to LoHi Steakbar, which features both an afternoon and a late-night happy hour when the drinks are very, very cheap. And at any hour, chef/part-owner Sean Kelly will cook up some of the best pub grub in town, including juicy steaks and amazing burgers (try the one dedicated to Tejon, with green chiles and an egg on top). We're high on LoHi.
1575 Boulder Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: all day Monday, 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Happy-hour deals: $3 tacos, $2 Tecate, $5 coin margaritas
How do we love Lola? Let us count the ways. We love the inventive dinner specials, we love Saturday and Sunday brunch. And we particularly love happy hour — which, if we plan our brunch schedule correctly, follows seamlessly. During Lola's happy hour, you can order $3 chicken or fish tacos that are a meal in themselves (although other happy-hour specials, including the fried-chicken posole, are worthy of your consideration), washing them down with Tecate after Tecate for $2, or the town's best coin marg for just $5. And the fabulous view is free.
MARIO'S DOUBLE DAUGHTER'S SALOTTO
1632 Market Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 5-7 p.m. daily, drink specials 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
Happy-hour deals: half-price cocktails, $3.50 draft beer
The highly imaginative and very naughty Double Daughter's feels like Cirque du Soleil meeting Alice in Wonderland in the middle of LoDo. Plush red-velvet booths and dark lighting attract a crowd whose members pout suggestively at each other over the cutting-edge techno of a live DJ — and from 5 to 7 p.m., that crowd gets to drink draft Stella and vodka-based martinis at half price. When they return later that night, they can partake in daily drink specials that include oatmeal-cookie shots on Tuesdays and, fittingly, Red Bull with vodka on Fridays, when you want the party to go on and on.
1837 Pearl Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 5-6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: $4-$6 wines, $3 Stella, $5-$6 cocktails, $3-$9 bar menu
Mateo's regulars include men in suits and women in sparkling tops twisting stemware between manicured fingers, transplants from the coasts who have a good appreciation for the Colorado lifestyle. And during this bistro's happy hour, there's a lot to appreciate: French bar fare that includes decadently creamy Brussels sprouts gratin, a discounted croque monsieur or bistro burger, and a monstrous plateau provençal of cured meats, cheeses, olives and nuts. During the summer, we like to share snacks and sparkling wine on the secluded patio; winter has us posting up at the marble bar inside for bowls of brothy mussels.
MCCORMICK'S FISH HOUSE & BAR
1659 Wazee Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6 p.m., 9-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 3-6 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: Drink specials $3.95 (PBR draft)-$6.95 (Caribbean martini), food specials $1.95-$4.95
When McCormick's opened twenty years ago in the corner of the Oxford Hotel, it immediately upped the ante for this town's happy hours. How? With an incredible $1.95 happy-hour menu that included a cheeseburger and fries, as well as assorted fish specials, pizzas and whatever seemed to strike the cook's fancy that season. Although the menu has changed over the years — the snacks now range from $1.95 to $4.95, with the burger clocking in at $2.95 — McCormick's remains the best deal in town. And the historic atmosphere is just the cherry in your Manhattan.
1002 Walnut Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 3-6:30 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: $1 off wells, draft beers, wine, sangria, $5.50 margaritas, daily drink specials, $1.50-$7 snacks
No matter what day of the week it is, at 3 p.m., the Med's hidden patio and bar are sure to be packed with an eclectic mix that includes students, professionals, athletes, hippies, singles, couples, online daters and just about everyone within a thirty-mile radius who occasionally imbibes alcohol. Frenzied activity ensues as everyone works the crowd, forming connections and making dates over an extensive list of Mediterranean tapas and daily drink specials that range from cheap sangria to half-price bottles of wine.
3230 East Colfax Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. daily, 10 p.m.-1 a.m.
Happy-hour deals: PBR $2; Dos Equis, Sol, Tecate Light, well drinks $3; 30/30 house margs for $5; free chips and salsa, nachos $3.95, other apps half-price. Late night, $1 tacos and more drink specials
Incredible house margs for $5 are just the beginning of the wonders of Mezcal's happy hour. Grab a seat at the bar, which offers both an excellent view of the many tequilas on offer at this hipster cantina (many of them on special during the late-night happy hour), as well as wonders of Colfax just outside the window, grab a menu that outlines the food deals (including one-buck tacos), and start ordering and drinking. The $18 bucket special buys you your choice of six happy hour beers. Olé!
1535 Pearl Street, Boulder
627 South Broadway, Boulder
VINE STREET PUB
1700 Vine Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 p.m.-close Monday-Wednesday, 11 p.m.-close Thursday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: $3 pints, $9 pitchers
The Mountain Sun group channels the spirit of those college roommates who maintained a constant house party, complete with a keg and a rotating roster of friends. The three pubs are a front for a microbrewery, and they each maintain a line of about twenty taps for the Sun's own solid, award-winning craft beers. During happy hour, hippies, hikers and lawn-game enthusiasts can indulge in $3 pints of heady IPAs and nitro stouts, supplemented by bar fare that pragmatically provides both bacon and beer-baked tempeh for the conscious eaters who frequent these establishments.
719 East 17th Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 5-7 p.m. Sunday-Friday
Happy-hour deals: Five reds and five whites by the glass for $5, $5 plates
The duck-liver mousse with pickled onions and fig compote and the lamb sausage bolstered by a mound of minted yogurt are must-eats at this temple of gastronomy, an urbanized and mood-lifting space whose bar overflows with refined foodniks noshing off John Broening's short but satiating happy-hour board dedicated to nourishing the hungry for five bucks a plate. Olivea's happy hour is more about swelling your belly than boozing your liver, but the $5 wine-by-the-glass specials are an oenophile's dream, especially if you're partial to smartly chosen boutique bottlings.
ONDO'S TAPAS BAR
250 Steele Street, #100, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight daily
Happy-hour deals: discounted tapas, $3 premium wells, $3 Heineken, $3-$9 sangria, $2 off wines, cavas and sherries by the glass; $4 paella
The Spanish just know how to take things up a notch: What at any other place would be sandwiches, snacks and jungle juice become bocadillos, tapas and sangria at Ondo's. This new tapas bar, under the stewardship of chef/owners Curt and Deicy Steinbecker, is as authentic as it gets in Denver. And during its twice-daily happy hour, it offers a nice slice of the menu — including paella and bocadillo, Spanish-style hot sandwiches on baguettes — at accessible prices. The sangria is another deal: $2 or more off.
100 East Ninth Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4:30-7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
Happy-hour deals: 2-for-1 sake, sushi and hand rolls; $1 oysters; $2.50 Kirin (22-ounce); $3 champagne; $4 martinis; $1 Corona (afternoon happy hour only)
In the afternoon, you may find you have Opal to yourself — which means all the more happy-hour offerings for you. The laundry list of specials includes two-for-one deals on nigiri and hand rolls, two-for-one hot sake, four-dollar martinis, three-dollar champagne, big Kirins for just $2.50 — and the incongruous dollar Coronas. Don't ask why, just enjoy. With any luck, you'll be able to enjoy on one of those long, wrap-around couches if you come to the first round of happy hour. Fair warning, though: This place can get packed at night.
1717 Champa Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 2:30-6 p.m. daily in the lounge
Happy-hour deals: $3 draft beers, $4 select wines, $5 specialty cocktails, $3-$4 plates
Rare are the happy hours that combine cheap liquids with stellar foodstuffs, but Panzano offers both in its convivial lounge frequented by city dwellers, jet-setting sojourners staying at the adjacent Hotel Monaco and unflinching food snobs whose eyebrows arch to the ceiling when they discover that exec chef Elise Wiggins doesn't just deliver sustenance on the cheap, but plates of pasta, lamb or beef sliders, pizzas spotted with everything from speck and prosciutto to gorgonzola and pears, and duck-liver mousse paired with Parmesan-dusted doughnuts. Her crepes, rolled with Hazel Dell mushrooms and draped in a fonduta sauce, are nothing short of transcendent.
PETE'S MONKEY BAR
717 East Colfax Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 5-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 3-6 p.m. Sundays
Happy hour deals: 2-for-1 drafts; $3.50 double-tall wells
When Dulcinea's 100th Monkey closed last fall, regulars were afraid that their good times were gone, too. But then Pete Penzenstadler, a bartender at Sancho's Broken Arrow — Dulcinea's sister club — opened Pete's Monkey Bar in the same space. And while he's kept a similar vibe, along with live music on Fridays and Saturdays, he's also given the place a couple new coats of paint and some loving renovation. Best of all, Pete's got different vendors in every night serving cheap food, including $2 plates of wings, $2 sliders, and slices from Sexy Pizza.
1600 West 33rd Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4:30-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 3-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Happy-hour deals: $3-$5 cocktails, $5 wines, $3 beers, $3.50-$6 snacks
Justin Cucci's Root Down opened in an old garage space in December 2008 and immediately attracted a crowd of hipsters drawn by the aesthetic (Grandma Pack Rat meets Andy Warhol), the local food focus, and the well-stocked bar. During happy hour, groups post up in the round booths and at high tables, sipping a rotating list of cocktails and munching on such snacks as veggie-burger sliders and edamame hummus with wonton chips. Our favorite order: the 42 Below Rosemary-Lavender Lemonade and sweet-potato fries dipped in lime curry. Bonus points for a lovely deck with a stunning view of downtown.
523 East 17th Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. daily, $5 deal after 10 p.m.
Happy-hour deals: $1 off wine, wells, select domestics
Steuben's has become a favorite go-to location at all hours, with a menu that offers something for everyone, with regional specialties from across the country. But if you just want to grab a stool at the bar, that's okay, too: Mixologist Sean Kenyon oversees a staff that creates wonderful things, including fig-infused Stranahan's and classic cocktails resurrected from pre-Prohibition days. The real deal here is offered after 10 p.m. daily, when you can get a burger or Chicago dog, a side (great fries, coleslaw or hush puppies) and a can of domestic beer for just $5.
1441 Larimer Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Happy-hour deals: $5 beer, wine, cocktails and snacks
When TAG opened last May, it gave a shot of sex appeal to Larimer Square. The swank booths in the funky dining room are usually full of Denver scenesters, talking animatedly over Troy Guard's brand of East-meets-West fare. And TAG brings out its best during happy hour, when diners can indulge in such Guard classics as Kobe beef sliders and Baja fish tacos, paired with cocktail creations from bar manager Mike Henderson, a leader in Denver's cocktail scene. Don't miss the daily mojito, crafted from seasonal fruit, or any of the drinks featuring the housemade tonic. The math-impaired will appreciate that everything on the happy-hour list is a flat $5.
250 Steele Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-6 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight daily
Happy-hour deals: $2 PBR, $3 Tecate, Dos XX and Sol, $3 wells, $4.50 mojitos, $5 margs; $2 happy-hour food menu and $1 tacos (10 p.m.-midnight only)
If Cherry Creek has a clubhouse, it's Tambien. The downstairs patio is a neighborhood gathering place, the dark restaurant/bar beyond a riot of Mexican memorabilia. And if you order a couple of the award-winning margs at the $5 happy-hour price, you could be making a few memories of your own. (Not that you'll be able to recall them the next day.) Smart regulars are already pouncing on Sean Yontz's excellent, $2 happy-hour food menu, which includes commendable queso and killer green-chile cheese fries. And buck tacos make the late-night happy hour even happier.
950 Broadway, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: Bistro Bites ranging from $3 to $8; $2 house wines and bottled beers, $3 premium drafts, $10 pitchers
When Tony's Market opened a downtown store a year ago, it added a few amenities that have made for many happy hours. This Tony's not only has all the features of its suburban siblings, but there's an eat-in bistro where you can get burgers, pizzas and salads for lunch and dinner (breakfast is coming soon), as well as an array of appetizers at happy hour. Some of our favorites: meatball sliders in Tony's homemade sauce, 2 for $4 or 3 for $5; Mile High wings (order them hot) that really fly at 6 for $3 or 12 for $5; and an incredible antipasto plate featuring Tony's meats and cheeses for $8. On Friday afternoons, the bistro even brings in live music. And on any day, Tony's has one unbeatable feature: Since the liquor license covers the entire store, you can buy a happy-hour beverage and sip it while you shop.
1575 Boulder Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6:30 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: 2-for-1 wines, $4 wells, $3 draft beers, $2.50 Bud and Bud Light, $5 snacks, $3 sliders
Highland has become Denver's hottest restaurant neighborhood, and from the stunning rooftop of Vita, with its view of the Platte Valley and downtown beyond, you'll feel on top of the world. And definitely above the LoDo fray; this is just the spot for those who enjoy drinking outdoors without having to fight plastic-cup-carrying crowds. During happy hour, Vita attracts all kinds, enjoying an afternoon in the sun while sipping 2-for-1 glasses of wine while snacking on $5 bruschetta and $3 pulled-pork sliders.
837 East 17th Avenue, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday
Happy-hour deals: $2.50 drafts; $4 house wine; $3.50-$5 appetizers; some $8 entrees during late-night happy hour
You may eat healthy, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself. At WaterCourse, you can down a Great Divide brew for less than three bucks, when drafts are discounted 50 percent during happy hour. This vegetarian restaurant also has a worthwhile selection of apps that mirror (in a meat-free way) what you might find at your neighborhood sports bar: nachos, egg rolls and the like. Like its sibling, City, O' City, WaterCourse has an inviting feel, even if it's a little more formal and less rough around the edges.
2203 Larimer Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: $3 you-call-it (top shelf excluded) plus daily specials
Although it's a relatively new addition to Larimer Street, Whiskey Bar remains true to this strip's roots. Within its affable confines, whiskey geeks and novices alike can choose from 115 premium whiskeys that include the usual suspects, such as Maker's Mark and Johnnie Walker, as well as selections not found elsewhere in the state. The happy-hour $3 you-call-it deal offers you a great chance to sample the variety and marvel at what grain mash can do.
Z CUISINE À CÔTÉ
2239 West 30th Avenue, Denver
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Happy-hour hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
Happy-hour deals: $5 select wines by the glass, $3 Stella Artois, $12 small plates
Z happy hour at Z Cuisine À Côté, Patrick DuPays's très charmant watering hole for hipster Francophiles and displaced Parisians, peddles plates that are nearly too pretty to eat, chief among them a gorgeous charcuterie board stamped with French and local cheeses, pâté de champagne, pork shoulder rillettes, an assortment of chutneys, candied pecans, petite cornichons and olives. Order one for yourself, then pair the pickings with a lovely glass of French wine, preferably a rosé, and bow in reverence to the passionate (and smolderingly sexy) Frenchman who makes living the happy-hour high life a Highland habit you won't want to break.