With 2018 halfway done, we're looking back at six months of thirst-quenching, creative and satisfying drinks in new bars, taprooms and beer gardens throughout Denver. We're not content to imbibe boring booze or sit in the same tired sports bars. Instead, we're attracted to bold flavors, new ideas, expert craftsmanship and generous hospitality. Here are the ten best new bars of 2018, so far:
2706 Larimer Street
Three of Denver's bar elite teamed up to open American Bonded this spring. Sean Kenyon of Williams & Graham, Kevin Burke, formerly of Ste. Ellie and Colt & Gray, and Justin Anthony of Matchbox combined their talents and sensibilities to add a welcoming and inexpensive option to Larimer Street. While Kenyon and Burke have previously soared in the stratosphere of craft cocktails, here they stay grounded in the classics while presenting a wide range of American whiskeys. Anthony's populist leanings at Matchbox get a slight bump, but not at the expense of still feeling overwrought or exclusive.
3501 Wazee Street
On the ground floor of Zeppelin Station, you can take your pick of Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Quebecois or Hawaiian cuisines, topped off with some Italian gelato — but you're going to need something to wash it all down with. Climb the stairs to Big Trouble for Asian-themed cocktails sporting pop-culture names from movies, television and comics. Bring friends for "We're Going to Need a Bigger Boat," a massive punch bowl on dry ice that will take a team to conquer. Big Trouble? Big Fun!
2845 Walnut Street
Booz Hall is the first of its kind: a collection of several tasting rooms for Colorado wine and spirits producers under one roof. The opening lineup comprises Jackrabbit Hill Winery, 3 Hundred Days of Shine, Rising Sun Distillery, Woods High Mountain Distillery and State 38 Distillery, all offering samples of their wares, plus mixed drinks and special pours hard to come by elsewhere in the city. Taste your way through the delights of Colorado's boozy variety — from Hotchkiss to Salida, Golden to Monument — without ever leaving the building.
Canopy comes from bar expert Greg Gallagher, who also launched the Roosevelt, Gaslamp and Front Porch, all comfortable and unpretentious watering holes that combine a welcoming vibe and attention to detail that rises above standard neighborhood joints. Canopy fits right into the Broadway scene, where bar-hoppers can stop in and almost certainly run into friends, or linger a little longer in the cozy booths.
1635 Platte Street
This is a side project from the beer experts at Denver Beer Co. next door, and the focus is the flavors of Mexico. The starting point is clean and refreshing lager perfect for a hot summer day, but the brewers explore international styles while adding rare ingredients from Mexico for surprising bursts of boldness. In a city full of experimental beers, Cerveceria Colorado stands out for its roots in tradition and eye to the future of brewing.