Rough day at the office? The Avenue Grill's martinis will shake it right out of you. The bar offers about a dozen ways to stir things up, each one a well-balanced concoction that's sure to please. Gin or vodka, vermouth or not, two olives or six -- whatever your poison, the Avenue's got the antidote to a bad mood. Sidle up to the smooth, classic-looking bar and have the bartender -- who'll remember you next time, we bet -- mix one up while you decide whether you need one of the Grill's superb burgers to go with it. If your day has been really rough, go for the wicked Crown Royal Manhattan, which won't just put hair on your chest -- it'll put hair on the hair on your chest. We can see-through clearly now.

Readers' choice: Purple Martini

Every corner of janleone, a Mediterranean eatery located in an old East Colfax mansion, is warm and inviting -- from the charming garden patio to the lovely main dining room. But there's something about the cozy Col-Mar bar area -- named after the intersection of Colfax and Marion, where the restaurant sits -- with its baby grand flanked by comfy rounded chairs and tables, that makes this a very special spot. The pianist changes, but it's often Steven Johnson or Chris Veltry, and no matter who's tickling the ivories, they have us feelin' all right each Friday and Saturday night. That's when you can also nosh from the Col-Mar Bar menu, which features some of chef/owner Jan Leone's specialties, including crispy calamari and a half-pound lamb burger slathered with cucumber yogurt sauce and sided by addictive French fries. Play it again, Jan.

Every corner of janleone, a Mediterranean eatery located in an old East Colfax mansion, is warm and inviting -- from the charming garden patio to the lovely main dining room. But there's something about the cozy Col-Mar bar area -- named after the intersection of Colfax and Marion, where the restaurant sits -- with its baby grand flanked by comfy rounded chairs and tables, that makes this a very special spot. The pianist changes, but it's often Steven Johnson or Chris Veltry, and no matter who's tickling the ivories, they have us feelin' all right each Friday and Saturday night. That's when you can also nosh from the Col-Mar Bar menu, which features some of chef/owner Jan Leone's specialties, including crispy calamari and a half-pound lamb burger slathered with cucumber yogurt sauce and sided by addictive French fries. Play it again, Jan.

The original bar at Nisei Post 185 was a dark, smoky lounge, a room frequented by artists and working men and craggy-bearded World War II veterans back in the days when the post catered to downtown's burgeoning Japanese population and the term "LoDo" would have been laughed at. But now there's a valet outside to park your car, and inside, the once-dingy bar has been turned into a groovy sake lounge complete with vivid lighting and a waiting area for folks who want to dine in the restaurant. But that restaurant, Mori, is largely unchanged, and when it took over the bar operation, it added several classic Mori features. The dining-room menu, for example, is a takeoff on the Tokyo subway system, with a dizzying array of possibilities -- and so the bar's sake list is enormous, too, the largest in town, with 36 sakes, as well as sake-based cocktails, to choose from. Although it all tastes like so much lighter fluid to the uninitiated, true sake aficionados -- a population that appears to be growing -- will appreciate the selection. While not totally representative of the 1,800 sake breweries in Japan, this roster still manages to offer some highlights from the very sweet to the very dry. If you know what the phrase ginjo-shu means, Mori is your man.

The original bar at Nisei Post 185 was a dark, smoky lounge, a room frequented by artists and working men and craggy-bearded World War II veterans back in the days when the post catered to downtown's burgeoning Japanese population and the term "LoDo" would have been laughed at. But now there's a valet outside to park your car, and inside, the once-dingy bar has been turned into a groovy sake lounge complete with vivid lighting and a waiting area for folks who want to dine in the restaurant. But that restaurant, Mori, is largely unchanged, and when it took over the bar operation, it added several classic Mori features. The dining-room menu, for example, is a takeoff on the Tokyo subway system, with a dizzying array of possibilities -- and so the bar's sake list is enormous, too, the largest in town, with 36 sakes, as well as sake-based cocktails, to choose from. Although it all tastes like so much lighter fluid to the uninitiated, true sake aficionados -- a population that appears to be growing -- will appreciate the selection. While not totally representative of the 1,800 sake breweries in Japan, this roster still manages to offer some highlights from the very sweet to the very dry. If you know what the phrase ginjo-shu means, Mori is your man.

Boo! Sam Arnold, culinary cutup and owner of The Fort, has been scaring diners for several years now with his annual Awful Offal dinner, a Halloween feast whose multiple courses feature many of the byproducts of butchering an animal. Talk about frightening: The lineup includes buffalo tongue, Rocky Mountain oysters (that's bull's balls to you), lamb brains, sweetbreads (the thymus gland), broiled kidneys and calf's liver. You'd think they'd have to pay you to eat this stuff, but the $50 per person event always sells out. Cat got your tongue? Arnold might serve it to you next October.

Boo! Sam Arnold, culinary cutup and owner of The Fort, has been scaring diners for several years now with his annual Awful Offal dinner, a Halloween feast whose multiple courses feature many of the byproducts of butchering an animal. Talk about frightening: The lineup includes buffalo tongue, Rocky Mountain oysters (that's bull's balls to you), lamb brains, sweetbreads (the thymus gland), broiled kidneys and calf's liver. You'd think they'd have to pay you to eat this stuff, but the $50 per person event always sells out. Cat got your tongue? Arnold might serve it to you next October.

You might see triple dragons if you imbibe too many drinks at this longtime Denver institution, but the next time you have a hankering for Chinese, what's the harm of washing down that lo mein with a Zombie or two? Since 1976, Twin Dragon -- an otherwise tasteful place -- has been trotting out exotic drinks in the most hilarious vessels. The Zombie, a combination of two kinds of rum, triple sec and fruit juices, comes in a skull; the Scorpion, a deadly mix of Amaretto, orgeat, triple sec, brandy, gold rum and "special fruit juices," arrives nearly spilling over the sides of a bowl held up by three fat little cranky-faced boys. Long gone are the days when the back room was set aside as a place where people could basically pass out on the floor after drinking too much, but the Twin Dragon will help you call a cab if things get fuzzy. Until then, though, grab your honey and a Love Potion, and ask to see the restaurant's selection of fortune cookies with dirty sayings.
You might see triple dragons if you imbibe too many drinks at this longtime Denver institution, but the next time you have a hankering for Chinese, what's the harm of washing down that lo mein with a Zombie or two? Since 1976, Twin Dragon -- an otherwise tasteful place -- has been trotting out exotic drinks in the most hilarious vessels. The Zombie, a combination of two kinds of rum, triple sec and fruit juices, comes in a skull; the Scorpion, a deadly mix of Amaretto, orgeat, triple sec, brandy, gold rum and "special fruit juices," arrives nearly spilling over the sides of a bowl held up by three fat little cranky-faced boys. Long gone are the days when the back room was set aside as a place where people could basically pass out on the floor after drinking too much, but the Twin Dragon will help you call a cab if things get fuzzy. Until then, though, grab your honey and a Love Potion, and ask to see the restaurant's selection of fortune cookies with dirty sayings.
Skylark Lounge
A few months ago, a skinny Texan walked into the Skylark Lounge and ordered a round of Make-Me-Overs. "Make me wha'?" the bartender replied. Since the newly transplanted Longhorn lived just a penny-tossin' distance away from the watering hole, he figured he'd better teach the bartenders how to make his favorite party shot. The Texan told the story of the drink: It was created one night several years ago by a barman named Jeff at Emo's in Houston -- not to be confused with the bar's more famous location in Austin. Anyhoo, the Texan whistled, let's get down to business: two parts Crown Royal, two parts Seagram's 7, two parts Amaretto. Top it with a squirt of pineapple juice and shake it in a chilled mixer. Then serve it straight up. Then shoot it straight back. "Ooooweeee!" cried the Texan, expressing his approval. Ever since, the Skylark has been serving up round upon round of the tastiest shooters this side of the Bayou City. Ooooweeee!

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