The 1UP Arcade Bar - Colfax

In June 2020, when new guidelines finally allowed bars and casinos to reopen, the 1Up got left out because shared gaming devices were still a no-no. The extended closure might have been the end for our favorite place to play retro favorites from '80s pinball to NBA Jam, but it eventually reopened (with plenty of hand sanitizer). And we're damn happy it did. We dare you to find a better place for cheap suds and classic vidya games. So put a few dollars into the quarter machine, try to reach a high score over some Tecates, and keep the change, ya filthy animal. You'll be surprised at how little you spend.

Best Sports Bar
Courtesy of Blake Street Tavern

With the Broncos adding star quarterback Russell Wilson, the Rockies snagging former Major League Baseball MVP Kris Bryant in free agency and Nuggets star Nikola Jokic making the case to earn his second MVP award in the National Basketball Association, things are looking up for Denver sports fans — and there's no better place to catch a game than at the city's most valuable sports bar. Blake Street Tavern has game sound in each of its many rooms, a menu that includes sports-bar comforts done expertly, and a full bar with friendly waitstaff around every corner. Whether you just want to casually catch a game or are searching for a spot to focus on your favorite, Blake Street scores.

Best LGBTQ Sports Bar
Molly Martin

Tight End, owned by Steven Alix (co-owner of the Squire Lounge) and Sudy Kudva, is Denver's first (and only, officially) gay sports bar. Watch the game on one of nine televisions, sip a boozy beverage on the sound-equipped patio, and enjoy a safe space to take in all sports. The drink list has all your sports-bar favorites, such as beer — lots of beer — as well as shots of liquor and simple mixed drinks. On quiet nights when there aren't any big games, Tight End also hosts karaoke and drag bingo, which to some are the greatest sports of all.

PS Lounge
Scott Lentz
Like most great dive bars in this town, the PS Lounge is a place we’d never want to see in the daylight — but at night, the Lounge commands a special place in our bar-loving hearts. The place has its quirks: The cash-only establishment won’t let you keep a running tab, for instance. But where else would the bar's owner — Pete Siahamis, in this case — send you a round (or two) of Alabama Slammers, a sweet, Day Glo-orange concoction made of sloe gin, SoCo and orange juice that tastes more like Tang, just to show his appreciation for your patronage? Or hand out roses to every woman who comes in the door?
Best New Industry Bar
Molly Martin

For a decade, Priscilla Jerez worked at Tooey's Off Colfax, a haven for those looking for drinks and camaraderie with a side of punk spirit after a long shift. Now, along with business partners Chris Maynard and Dale Canino, she's re-created that atmosphere of late-night revelry at the Crypt, where the smoking patio out front is filled with people trading stories (and lighters) under the moonlight. And inside, you're highly likely to run into at least a few old friends while grabbing a cocktail or vegan late-night bite.

thecryptdenver.com
The Electric Cure
Molly Martin

Edgewater's newest (and only) tiki bar doesn't take itself too seriously, regularly hosting month-long themes that involve Jurassic Park, Krampus and good old-fashioned satanism. The art on the walls includes portraits of a half-naked George Costanza, Patrick Bateman, a tyrannosaurus, Frank Reynolds, Dr. Steve Brule and fat Elvis, and you might see a ceramic penis pop up every once in a while. But don't you dare accuse the Electric Cure's bartenders of screwing around with the drinks. Each theme comes with an elaborate drink menu full of rums and liqueurs, with the latest Devil-inspired go-round featuring names like Deplorable Day Trader, Passion of the Christ and Honey, I Shrunk Your Head.

TrashHawk Tavern
Molly Martin

There's no better place to get trashy on Chicago's famed (for its bitter AF taste) spirit Malört than this bar that debuted in 2021. Owner Erin Homburger spent most of her twenties living in the Windy City and has re-created the cozy, lived-in vibes of its neighborhood bars on South Broadway, in a comfortable space complete with pool table, large back patio, Montucky cans, "trash charcuterie" (aka Lunchables) and a long list of beer-and-shot combos, including the Chicago Handshake — a shot of Malört and a can of Old Style.

Best Sunken Bar
Molly Martin

Inside a building shaped like a castle (no surprise there) is one of the friendliest bars in metro Denver, a sunken square presided over by tattooed staffers and surrounded by captain's chairs, with high-tops and cozy booths circling the action. The vibe is relaxing and unpretentious, as are the patrons. Snag a 20-ounce personalized mug for $20, good for a lifetime of 20-ounce pours for 16-ounce prices (enjoy them at the sunken bar), and settle in for the night. The fare is simple but tasty, with budget food specials such as 75-cent wings every Thursday and buy-one-get-one-half-off burgers (among the best in town) on Tuesdays. With karaoke, bingo, trivia and chatty regulars of all stripes, you'll never be bored when you storm the Castle.

Dew Drop Inn
Molly Martin

Although it only opened in May 2021, the Dew Drop Inn already feels like a longtime neighborhood mainstay. That's because it comes from a team of longtime bar pros — the same women behind such staples as the Horseshoe Tavern and Embassy Tavern, among others. On cold days, the inside is a lively yet cozy respite from the snow; a large patio out front is ideal for summer sipping. Cocktails range from classics to new creations, there are two happy hours daily, and you can get a beer-and-shot combo for $8 anytime. All that is bolstered by the food from Fush, a man who worked at the iconic Falling Rock Tap House for 22 years until it closed. Here he's getting the chance to let his culinary talents shine with big bowls of mussels in spicy red curry, poutine with house-smoked pork, crispy Japanese-style fried chicken and much more.

If you're planning a night of bar- and restaurant-hopping, you don't need to wear your hiking boots for this crawl. Start off at Fish N Beer for happy hour, which kicks off at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and whet your appetite with raw and chargrilled oysters and a beer-and-shot combo — best enjoyed at a counter seat in front of the wood-fired stove. Then head next door to Hop Alley (you'll want to make a reservation) for some of the best Chinese food in the city from Uncle owner Tommy Lee: Don't skip the la zi ji and bone-marrow fried rice. Afterward, full and buzzed off booze and Szechuan peppercorns, saunter across Larimer for late-night drinks at the Embassy Tavern, where you can soak in the success of the night on the back patio.

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