Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill
Mark Antonation
Saddle, stumble or slump on up to the piano in the corner at Charlie Brown's. Even if you've overindulged in the bar's strong cocktails -- that's what people do at Charlie Brown's, after all -- Pauly Lopez's playing will only sweeten the buzz. A veritable ivory-tinkling encyclopedia of Tin Pan Alley songs, show tunes, even sweeping classical pieces, Lopez welcomes all to join him in song around the keys. If he's feeling it, he might even rattle off a medley of old radio-station jingles. A post-theater crowd sometimes shows up to belt the numbers out properly, but most often it's just commoners who turn up to vocalize. Pauly don't play pop, so don't ask. But if you've got a secret soft spot for Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein and their musical ilk, by all means, sing out.


People can get their groove -- and their buzz -- on at Nederland's Acoustic Cafe. This funky coffee shop, founded by state representative Tom Plant, attracts both yuppie skiers and hippie townies. The diverse clientele comes not only for the beans, but also for the beats. Most Friday and Saturday nights, folk and jazz bands perform. And on Sunday afternoons, wannabe musicians can participate in a free-for-all bluegrass jam.


Best Place to Make Fun of Hipsters Making Fun of Yuppies

The Red Room

Yuppies go to the Red Room to feel edgy and urban, not to mention partake in a kick-ass selection of microbrews. Hipsters go to the Red Room for the amazing appetizers and $1.75 cans of Old Milwaukee...and, of course, to make fun of the yuppies. The rest of us go to the Red Room to comment on this behavior like lab technicians conducting some sick sociological experiment. Just make sure there's no one sitting at the next booth over making fun of you.


Funky Buddha Lounge
The see-and-be-seen bar that is the Funky Buddha has an equally fancy-pants upstairs lounge that keeps its cocktail-toting patrons nice and toasty, even in the heart of a snowstorm. In the summer, the plastic eaves roll down, and the place transforms into Denver's most beatific rooftop patio -- and we're not just talking about the view or the decor. With Gary Givant serving as a resident DJ, the entertainment is pretty swanky, too.


Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill
Mark Antonation
As Boulder's goody-two-shoes influence spreads insidiously across the Front Range, more and more smokers are forced to find public spaces that still allow the open practice of their vice. At Charlie Brown's, smoking is not only allowed, it's practically encouraged. Four people settling down to dine will be provided with at least three ashtrays, regardless of their location beneath the impotent No Smoking sign. Two enormous filter fans, a slight nod to the non-smokers on the other side of the bar, work overtime but do little to relieve lungs of secondhand smoke or clothes of the permeating smell of blessed nicotine. Smoke 'em while you still can, and do it at Charlie Brown's, where everybody might not know your name, but they certainly know your smokers' cough.


Sancho's Broken Arrow
Sarah McGill
For a bathroom to be considered "the best," it must reek more of personality than of your drinking buddy's puke. The men's restroom at Sancho's may not be the cleanest in Denver, but like the tie-dyed audience at a Phish show, hygiene is not central to its appeal. With elaborately airbrushed portraits of granola-centric staples like Bob Marley, Jim Morrison and John Lennon, the room can make a three-Long Island Iced Tea bender feel like an acid trip. Since it's a men's restroom, it is not completely free of graffiti (it takes only a few strokes of a sharpie to make a mushroom look phallic), but even your non-Deadhead friends will find the Jerry Garcia mirror groovy.
Gabor's
A women's restroom must always give a little bit more. For the ladies, it's a place not only to take care of business, but to seek refuge when the guys are going over the score of last night's Avs game for the umpteenth time. Gabor's offers a collage-crazy restroom that mostly resembles an introverted teenage girl's bedroom. The walls are covered with a mishmash of old Life magazine photos, Vogue fashion ads and poetry - not dirty limericks -- scratched on the walls. Portraits of beefcake Ben Affleck co-exist with portraits of beef-jerky punk icon Iggy Pop, with a painting of Charlie Chaplin in the left stall to keep you company. The rooms are an extension of Gabor's old- and new-school aesthetic -- and they could be more interesting than your date.


Sundown Saloon
It's hard to believe that one can actually find a bar with some diversity in a town teeming with rich white frat boys. Everyone from toothless locals cadging ciggies in the penalty box (smoking room), to burly Air Force guys out for some rugged homo-social bonding, to poor graduate students taking advantage of the free pool (until 10 p.m.) can be found here, rubbing elbows in perfect harmony. The jukebox, while schizophrenic in its selection, functions well as social glue: Pool players across the room can be heard singing along to Johnny Cash one minute and Radiohead the next. It's a beautiful sight, but remember: No matter what your race, color, or creed, don't put your damn feet on the pool tables.


Larry Daniel is the unflappable gent who has been running the door and deejaying at the Climax and its predecessor, the Raven, since the locale's disco heyday. He's also been putting up gracefully with hordes of punk brats and drunk scenesters since the venue started hosting rock shows in 1994. When he's trying to clear the room at 1:45 in the morning, he gets on stage and bellows into the mike, "All right, folks -- it's No-Tell Motel time!" Which is pretty funny during an all-ages show, when the crowd is made up of sixteen-year-old kids with liberty spikes.


Golden's historic Buffalo Rose is one of the state's better music rooms. What makes it so special? A split-level roadhouse layout and soundman Mike Maloney. The always-accommodating Maloney finesses the Rose's full-sized P.A. to perfection, thrilling listeners with a sound that's big but never blows out eardrums. Patrons enjoy Maloney's artistry, and players reap the bennies from behind the stacks with a stage mix that's arena-rich but not overdone.

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