Best Rugby Bar 2002 | Cadillac Jack's | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
At Cadillac Jack's, real dudes with broad shoulders and real broads with hoarse throats gather to cheer their favorites on the tube and celebrate the dull ache of the latest scrum with plenty of beers and, yes, rugby songs. The tavern is especially lively in the latter half of September.

Taking customer service to new levels, Swanky's pumps soft-porn Cinemax movies through the bar's bank of televisions. This entertainment approach gets points with patrons, who attempt to score while watching the pros hit home runs with ease, amid orgasms and under great lighting. Pick-up lines come easy, too: "Say baby, how'd you like to go to my place and do that?"

Everyone loves firefighters, but no one shows their feelings as enthusiastically as the female customers on the rooftop deck of Lodo's Bar and Grill. Warmed by the sun and perhaps a few cocktails, they stand at attention whenever a truck races out of the nearby fire station -- and salute the boys by flashing them as they barrel by. The record (thus far): a 22-boob salute.

At Pints Pub, bartender Steve Lighthouse has developed a loyal following that appreciates his good humor, effortless shmoozing -- and the great drinks he pours. Born in Belfast, Lighthouse grew up in Denver and was educated at Stanford, so he brings a rare perspective to the bar. A theater lover, he recommends shows to his customers, and he considers it part of his professional responsibility to collect new jokes to share with patrons. But don't mistake him for a pushover: One Lighthouse quirk beloved by his friends is that he refuses to work on St. Patrick's Day. Seems he doesn't like all the drunks.

The Brown Palace has always stirred up a nostalgic longing for the martini's golden era, when the drink wasn't mixed with chocolate or blueberries and the concept of "class" meant more than a big wad of disposable income. When the hotel's Atrium, always an elegant choice for tea or a quiet cocktail, recently revamped its after-work menu options to include such tempting tidbits as house-smoked salmon tart and chilled, poached asparagus, it wisely retained its popular martini cart, which enables servers to offer swillers handmade martinis done tableside. You name the poison -- your choice from three vodkas and three gins -- and the cart- tender shakes or stirs according to your whims. Throw in a citrus twist, a jalapeño or an olive from the garnish assortment, and sit back in the refined ambience of the Brown's lobby as the hassles of the day slip away. Or is that sip away?

You may feel as though you're sitting inside a big lime in Lime, a trendy, way-cool space, but that just makes you crave a marg all the more. Pucker up: Lime's Mighty Margarita is 21 ounces of frozen glory, a mix of Sauza Gold tequila, Grand Marnier and a signature (and secret) lime mix that's more like a breath of citrus-kissed air than a slug of sweet-and-sour. The menu promises that "one is all you need," and it's right. Yowza! (Lightweights can have a "Mini Mighty.")

Just add tequila and go, go, go. Those beautiful bad boys at the Boulder Beverage Company created a real liquid asset with Margarita on Tap! Each box holds enough non-alcoholic juice -- a combo of lime and lemon -- to make 24 five-ounce margaritas on the rocks. Available in local liquor stores, the marg mix is about to go national: BBC's Brian Gansmann will be talking it up on QVC April 28. Tap in while you still can.

One sip of the strawberry lemonade at Julia Blackbird's, and you'll be transported to Santa Fe. No packaged-mix drink that looks all pretty and pink and tastes like Kool-Aid, this lemonade is made fresh with fat chunks of strawberry. It's just sweet and tart enough to cool the tongue through a plate of spicy enchiladas. Bottoms up!

They're baaaack! At Mexican restaurants around town, baskets of chips and salsa are suddenly reappearing. Eateries that still feel the economic need can cash in on their chips -- and let the rest fall where they may.
The snappy Little Anita's is owned by a family from New Mexico, and the restaurant's reliance on chiles from that area makes all the difference. Chips come freshly fried, slightly oily and hot, so it's a pleasure to dip them into the cool salsa, fired with red and green chiles and hot enough to make you sweat, but also boasting layers of flavor from fresh cilantro, diced onions and lime juice. The chips and salsa run $1.50 an order, but Little Anita can be forgiven for that, because the rest of the fare is so inexpensive: Platefuls of enchiladas, chiles rellenos or burritos cost only $5.25 each. So c'mon, chip in.

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