Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow

The news spread faster than a beer spilling down the 72 foot (or 70.1 foot, depending on who's measuring) bar at Duffy's Shamrock on Court Place. The joint was closing — soon. Everyone had accepted that someday the owners, the Lombardi brothers, would sell the building that occupied a prime piece of downtown — but no one expected that someday would come so soon. But now Duffy's was certain to close before the end of the year — and maybe even by the end of November.

Denver was losing another landmark. A liquid landmark, sure, but these more modest monuments to everyday life are what create the real flavor of a city.

As Duffy's regulars and irregulars alike bonded over the bad news last Friday, they started compiling a list of other lamented losses. The Terminal, with its three happy hours a day. (Consolation prize: the space just celebrated its tenth anniversary as the LoDo Jax). The Riviera in Glendale, the first bar I visited in town, set in an old quonset hut — then later leveled and rebuilt as an outpost of Las Delicias. (Good green chile, but still...)

As the beer flowed, so did the names of great joints where you can still raise a glass. Club 404, owned by the Feld family for more than fify years. Campus Lounge. Carioca Bar. Stadium Inn. Mozart Lounge. My Brother's Bar. Brewery Bar II. Lancer Lounge. Recovery Room. Some, like Don's Mixed Drinks, have survived ownership changes and stayed as deliciously divey as ever. Others, like the former Punch Bowl, have changed owners and orientation, and are working their way back up to joint status.

Before the town's last, best joints issue their own last call, I'm compiling a list of Denver's true dives. It's a work in progress; please feel free to pour out your own opinions. Cheers. — Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun