The best new bars in Denver in 2014 are pouring Colorado beers from multiple tap handles, mixing killer cocktails with local ingredients and providing a high level of professional service to both educate and entertain customers. From laidback and loungey to lofty and luxurious, a wide variety of top-notch watering holes cropped up to serve thirsty Denverites last year.
Keep reading for our list of the ten best bars (in alphabetical order) in 2014.
10) Argyll Whisky Beer 1035 East 17th Avenue 303-847-0850
The kitchen at Argyll made our list of the fifteen best new restaurants in 2014; the bar is no less worthy. With an immense list of single malt Scotch whiskies and plenty of other spirits from around the world, Argyll certainly gets the quantity part of the equation right. But the quality is there too, in the level of knowledge and service provided by the bartenders. Whether you're looking for a tour of Islay whiskies or a rare cocktail buried in a historic book of recipes, Argyll's bar staff will not only get the drink right, but will offer great suggestions for your next round.
9) Asbury Provisions 2043 South University Boulevard 303-282-5485
Philadelphians Chris Topham and Jason Ladd opened Asbury provisions near the University of Denver late in the summer in the bar that had previously been the Renegade Publik House. They kept a strong emphasis on beers, offering 25 on draft and even more in cans and bottles. And while there are plenty of Colorado brews on the list, you'll also find a good representation from the rest of the U.S. as well as Belgium. If you're not in the mood for craft beers, ask for something from Grandpa's fridge, a vintage refrigerator behind the bar stocked with canned classics. While Topham is the beer expert, Ladd focuses on wine and liquor, offering a number of cocktails made with house-infused spirits.
8) Berkeley Untapped 4267 Tennyson Street 303-455-2222
What Berkeley Untapped lacks in square footage it makes up for with warmth and hospitality. Tap handles with a rotating list of local beers, a few carefully selected wines by the bottle and on tap, and a list of spirits with an eye toward bourbon give customers a unique selection of beverages. And for every drink you purchase, you get a token to drop into baskets marked with several nonprofit organizations. Each token represents 25 cents that Berkeley Untapped donates to the organization of your choice.
Keep reading for more of Denver's best new bars.
7) The BSide 1336 East 17th Avenue 303-474-4960
The BSide, owned by the same group that turned the Star Bar in the Ballpark neighborhood from a local dive bar into a destination beer temple, also has a strong beer program, with 25 tap handles from Colorado and beyond. But there are also batched cocktails on tap and a list of other mixed drinks, some created by the bar staff and some borrowed from top bars around the county. And if you don't like to drink on an empty stomach, the BSides list of TV dinners, including some of Denver's finest fried chicken, offers fun and filling fare.
6) The Cooper Lounge 1701 Wynkoop Street 720-460-3738
Each guest at the Cooper Lounge is escorted by a host up the stairs from the main lobby of Union Station to the balcony bar, where impeccably mixed cocktails and wines from an extensive list are served on silver trays fresh and seafood is brought over on carts from Stoic & Genuine. Reservations are recommended, since the bar fills up quickly with businessmen making deals, Crawford hotel guests and Denverites looking for a posh and relaxing experience that captures the golden age of travel by rail.
5) Dada Art Bar 2470 Broadway 720-350-4716
Iain Chisholm, who also owns Americatus Restaurant and Market just around the corner, opened Dada Art Bar earlier this year as "the neighborhood treehouse," as he put it — a bar and coffee house to hang out day or night. In addition to regular gallery shows from Colorado artists, Dada hosts live music, open mic and comedy nights, and a cine-club with film screenings and movie trivia. A short menu of panini and other Italian-leaning snacks complements a small but carefully chosen list of beers, wines and cocktails.
4) Golden Moon Speakeasy 1111 Miner's Alley, Golden 720-638-1155
The Golden Moon Distillery opened in 2013 in Golden, producing rare and unique spirits like creme de violette, absinthe and amer dit picon in addition to excellently crafted versions of gin, bourbon and apple jack. The speakeasy opened this year in downtown Golden serving equally creative cocktails based on the distillery's products. Cocktails range from innovative concoctions that highlight the herbal and aromatic notes of the spirits to classics built entirely from Golden Moon liquor. Vintage punches are part of the program too, and guests can enjoy nibbles like charcuterie and cheese boards or caviar with crème fraiche.
Keep reading for more of Denver's best new bars.
3) Inga's Alpine Lounge 5151 Leetsdale Drive, Denver 720-389-6203
Leigh Jones, owner of Inga's Alpine Lounge, says the spot is "our '60s and '70s version of a swinging kind of après-ski lounge, an over-the-top place where, if it were a lodge on a ski mountain, would have a fur-bikini-clad female villain or vixen of the moment on the slopes skiing away from James Bond." The bar, which formerly housed Pete's Patio Bar, is a kitschy mix of rustic simplicity and retro elegance. The curved, biscuit-hued booths were procured from the now-closed Morton's of Chicago in the Tech Center; the battle-scarred hardwood floors look as though they've been deliberately dented by the stomp of ski boots; tufted, swiveling, brass-studded bar stools are proper perches for both vixens and villains; a dated jukebox blasts tunes that span generations (think Tom Jones to Vampire Weekend); and an electric fireplace, the color of orange flames, harks back to the Dick Van Dyke Show era.
2) License No. 1 2115 13th Street, Boulder, CO 303-443-0486
While the heyday of speakeasy-themed bars may have come and gone, License No. 1 doesn't take the idea too seriously. It's certainly a little more gussied-up than its beer-soaked predecessor, the Catacombs, but a list of bar rules includes "no sniveling" and "never blame the booze." Plus, the Prohibition-era theme, with exposed stonework, read leather seating and gilt-edged mirrors works well in the basement of the historic Hotel Boulderado, which opened in 1909. And the bar's name is derived from the fact that the space was given Boulder's first liquor license in 1969 after a 50-year ban on the sale of spirits was lifted.
1) RiNo Yacht Club 3350 Brighton Boulevard 720-443-1135
The central bar in the open space of the Source sat vacant for several months after Caprock Farm Bar closed, but Mary Wright and McLain Hedges, owners of the Proper Pour liquor store in the food and beverage collective, thought it was the perfect spot to showcase their extensive knowledge by pouring the drinks they already loved talking about with their bottle shop customers. RiNo Yacht Club offers Hedges's creative flair behind the bar, Wright's worldly wine list and a menu of small plates from Acorn. The Yacht Club takes advandage of the open, airy space to provide an environment perfect for socializing.