Happy Hour

Hello, Happy Hour: Unwind With a Burger and Draft Cocktails at Brass Tacks

Molly Martin
The key to a great happy hour is the magical combination of solid drinks at a price that doesn't make you regret going out on a weeknight paired with food specials and an atmosphere that makes you forget all your work day struggles. There are plenty of options in and around Denver, but we're aiming to find the best happy hours around. First up, we head downtown to Brass Tacks for draft cocktails and a really tasty burger.

What: Brass Tacks

Where: 1526 Blake Street

When: Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.

The deal:
$3 off draft cocktails, $1 off draft beer and house wine, plus food specials

For more info: Visit brasstacksdinebar.com
click to enlarge MOLLY MARTIN
Molly Martin
The place: Brass Tacks is the kind of place you want to be in any time of day, but happy hour just sweetens the deal. The tall ceilings make the space feel open, even if you're cozied in one of the leather-lined booths against the east wall. These four-person (or six if you're really friendly) seats are a personal favorite, both for comfort and because there's plenty of table space to spread out a feast.

Of course the same goodies can be had at one of the stand-alone tables on the other side. Or at the bar, where you have the advantage of watching the bartenders work to create intricate cocktails (starting at $14) such as the Turtles All the Way Down, with Macallan 12 Year whiskey, Brugal 1888 rum, pineapple, lemon, espresso and banana liqueurs and Pedro Ximénez sherry; or the Rock Salt Nails, a concoction of Botanist gin, celery root, Absentroux, manzanilla sherry and chamomile.

Though vertically Brass Tacks appears large, it's rather narrow, which helps the space feel intimate and open at the same time. Even without a ton of real estate, there's enough going on with the floor-to-ceiling shelves of booze, pressed-tin ceiling and mirror and art-strewn walls that the bar remains interesting. Make sure to look toward the back by the kitchen, where a large bingo board fills the wall. This item used to be a tool to call people up for their food orders, but now it's a glittering instillation unlike anything else around town. 

It's not the first time this space has housed something unique to Denver. It also hosted the oldest and most well-hidden vault in the city, which was put in around 1880. The building itself was originally erected in 1863 as a saloon and boardinghouse. Eventually, 1526 Blake Street became a bar called the Blake Street Vault, until 2017. Brass Tacks debuted in the space at the beginning of 2019. The ghost of a "lady in red" allegedly haunts the basement. Between the setting and the history, this venue is just fun to be in, and the food and drink solidify the overall experience.
click to enlarge The happy hour version of the burger at Brass Tacks is a single patty, but it has all the flavor of the full size variety. - MOLLY MARTIN
The happy hour version of the burger at Brass Tacks is a single patty, but it has all the flavor of the full size variety.
Molly Martin
What to order: One of the best things about happy hour at Brass Tacks is the discount on draft cocktails, making them $7 for a single or $10 for a double. These drinks are more complex than a basic gin and tonic or rum and Coke. We're talking the Pink Sangria, with rosé wine, pisco, pineapple, cucumber, grapefruit and lemon; the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, with two kinds of brandy, bitters and lemon-lime soda plus cherry and orange; and the 8 Amaro Sazerac, a complex number made with Cynar, Ramazotti, Amer Nouvelle, Montenegro, Averna, Vecchio Del Capo, Aperol, del’Erborista and green Chartreuse. Those are just three drinks that could be on the list of ten draft cocktails, which does change from time to time. But one drink that's always on this list is the paloma. The version here is made with tequila, Aperol, lime, grapefruit and Squirt soda and is one of the best takes on this cocktail in town.

There's a lot going on with the food menu, too. While it's all worth a go (hello, pastrami pork ribs), during happy hour you should take advantage of the specials, which knock $2 to $4 off regular menu prices for some of the most snackable items. This includes salt and vinegar fries with paprika ketchup for $3; a market board with meat and cheese, house pickles and grilled bread for $12; sweet corn beignets for $6; and the Little Gem salad with cured egg and Parmesan for $8.

One item you won't want to share, though: the burger. The happy hour version ($8) is made with a single patty instead of the double that's on the regular menu, but the perfectly grilled beef patty topped with American cheese, lettuce and "fancy sauce" on a soft sesame bun is just the right amount of messy and the ideal indulgence for a mid-week break from cooking.