Best Band Playing Country the Way It Was Meant to Be Played

The Hollyfelds

The Hollyfelds five — Eryn and Keith Hoerig, Kate Grigsby, Tim Mallot and "Magic" Sam Spitzer — are blessed with talent to spare. The music on Saratoga, their most recent full-length, and the forthcoming EP Black Heart Blue, offer up crystalline harmonies, irresistible melodies, sturdy playing, and lyrics that feel lived rather than invented. But arguably their most important quality is sincerity. Instead of smirking at country music's verities, the players unabashedly celebrate them — and that makes all the difference.
Barker Lounge
Ask Barker Lounge co-owner Patrick Vigil whether dogs are allowed in his canine-themed bar, and he'll laugh like you've posed the most obvious question he's ever heard. Look around, he'll say, aiming his arm at every man inside his stray (straight + gay) establishment. Of course they're welcome! All men are dogs. (Get it?) But the four-legged variety? "We see dogs every day," Vigil says. "Dogs get bones before their owners get drinks." As long as hounds stay on their leashes, they're all invited, day or night. "When people are out walking their dogs," Vigil adds, "the dogs walk them to the Barker lounge." And then, at the end of the night they can walk their owners home.
Stadium Inn
Sarah James
Be it fact or folklore, the Stadium Inn claims to sell more Jim Beam per square foot than any other bar in the country. This stat means $2 Beam drinks and shots all day, every day. It also means that each October, the first fifty lushes to sample all seven varieties of Beam that the bar offers receive a Degree of Bourbonology, an honor confirmed the following January in a cap-and-gown ceremony and other shenanigans. With these wallet-friendly (and resumé-building) incentives, how can you afford not to wander into (and later stumble out of) the Stadium Inn for some cheap, cheap Beam?
Bars love gimmicks — they get you in the door, they get ya drinking more. And while any ol' place will sling a free drink or two for correctly calling a coin flip or sinking a quarter in a shot glass, only the true neighborhood joints shill drinks and cash. At the Edgewater Inn, it's all about back-alley Yahtzee. Pay a buck and get three rolls of five dice: Land a straight, four of a kind or a full house, score a free well drink or signature schooner of draft beer; drop five of a kind and win the progressive pot, which often climbs up over $200. You only get one shot at riches per visit, so make it count.
Barista Greg Lefcourt has everything we've ever wanted in a java jockey. He's certainly got the skills, since his just-right java earned him the gold at the Mountain Regional Barista Championship in Thornton this past January. But he's also got the right amount of chutzpah to go along with his lattes. Whether it's boasting that Boulder cafes beat the beans out of Denver's or dismissively wagging his porta-filter at any barista who dares challenge his caffeinated concoctions, this guy's love of the grind and the game comes across as vibrantly as a cup of perfectly roasted beans.
Robischon Gallery
Northern Colorado artist Jack Balas has made a habit of approaching handsome young men over the years. His intentions are noble, however: He simply wants to take their pictures and use the photos as preliminary works for his eye-catching drawings, watercolors and paintings. Tattoo Detour, mounted in the dog days of July, was made up of images based on the guys that he met on a working vacation in Hawaii. It was the first time Balas had worked out of a suitcase instead of his well-appointed studio, and he loved the experience. The expertly drawn and painted figures — surfers, in particular — mostly hit the mark, and the show was therefore unforgettable.
Early mornings are for coffee and late nights are for beer, but the rest of the day? That's for Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, a powerful seasonal brew from Great Divide Brewing Company that's been infused with espresso from Pablo's Coffee. The two Denver stalwarts (Great Divide popped its top in the Ballpark neighborhood in 1994, while Pablo's steamed to life at 630 East Sixth Avenue a year later) have similar business models and independent streaks, which is why the combo is such a great wake-up call.
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey has its roots in beer, since the Denver micro-distiller was founded by Aspen Renaissance man and gonzo legend George Stranahan, who also started Flying Dog Brewery, which left Colorado last year for Maryland. But the award-winning hooch producer got even deeper into the beer world recently, by deciding to give its used whiskey barrels to local breweries like Oskar Blues, which uses them to age some incredible special beers. And Oskar Blues is returning the favor, giving a hundred barrels of "wash" (unhopped, fermented beer) every week to Stranahan's, which runs it through the still to begin the whiskey-making process. How can you not drink to that?
Infamous on Colfax for both beginning and ending nights, often simultaneously, the Squire Lounge's Bionic Beaver is just like the suicide slushies of your childhood, only much more incapacitating. For ten bucks, watch in awe as the bartender fills a 52-ounce pitcher with vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, PBR, grenadine and cranberry/orange/pineapple juices. This recipe is not exact, of course, but that's the beauty of the Beaver — you never quite know what's coming. Topped with a handful of neon-colored long straws and served with a mixed look of pity and respect, this colossal concoction is guaranteed to deliver. If all you receive is a headache and regret, well, don't say we didn't warn you.
The Donnybrook Writing Academy combines insightful, amusing writing and an ironic embrace of elitism for an unfailingly snarky look at the Denver music and arts scene. Music is the core concern of the Donnybrook crew, but the topics don't stop there. You can find everything from the invaluable sex advice of Ivyy Goldberg and opinions on Denver's most fuckable rock stars to the Snobcast podcast. This is also one of the most beautifully designed blogs not only in Denver, but in all of the worldwide blogosphere. In fact, it's your one-stop shop for proof that elitism in the defense of elitism is no vice. This blog should be required reading for hipsters everywhere.

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