Sure, we could all use a vacation on a sunny island where the only thing on your to-do list is to sip a cocktail while listening to the waves. But you can’t always get away, and Denver is pretty far from the tropics. If you need a beachy break and can't leave the state, though, you're in luck. A visit to one of these spots will give you the chance to get away without going far at all.
Tropical drinks await, so break out that Hawaiian shirt, put on your favorite sunglasses, and head out for cocktails that are heavy on the rum and island vibes.
Adrift218 South Broadway
adriftbar.com You can’t talk tiki in Denver without starting at Adrift, which has been open since 2012 and got a makeover and new ownership in 2016 after being purchased by Paul Tamburello and Loren Martinez of Little Man Ice Cream. Pair your booze with island-inspired eats like Spam musubi, loco moco and jerk chicken. There are some solid happy-hour deals ($5 mystery shots? Sure!) and a solid selection of tiki classics like mai tais and Painkillers — or go big with punch bowls that serve two to four people.
Castaways Cove100 South Park Avenue, Unit C102, Breckenridge
castawaysbreck.com At 9,600 feet in elevation, this may be the highest tiki bar in the country. Castaways is located in the basement of the River Mountain Lodge and replaced the former tenant, Tiki Mana, in November 2019. Along with piña coladas, mai tais and the Man in the Yellow Hat (made with banana, obviously), this tiki retreat specializes in a cocktail that's ideal for cold weather days: hot buttered rum. It also offers a full food menu with Hawaiian-inspired fare like Spam musubi, coconut shrimp, and mochiko chicken with mac salad.
The Electric Cure & Velvet Lounge5350 West 25th Avenue, Edgewater
theelectriccure.com While Adrift is a Denver tiki OG, this place — motto: "Drink rum, stay weird" — opened in 2021. Co-owners Lexi Healy and Veronica Ramos are industry vets, but this is their first venture as owners, and they're having a ton of fun with it. Expect the unexpected: Alpacas on the patio? Penis-shaped totems? Bartenders wearing shark heads? Yelp reviews accusing the place of Satanism displayed proudly outside? It’s all fair game here. Plus, the Electric Cure team just opened a haunted gay pirate ship-themed tiki escape called Hell or High Water in the mezzanine level of the new Fuel & Iron bar on Blake Street.
Tiki on Main836 1/2 Main Street, Louisville
tikionmain.com Located behind Bittersweet Cafe, this summer pop-up is open Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m. and runs through mid-September. The outdoor, thatched-roof bar serves tiki classics and original creations like the Pisco Punch infused with chamomile and served in a giant seashell, and the Ocean Grill menu offers food options like kalua pork, jackfruit sliders, spicy ahi nachos and grilled kebabs. There's entertainment nightly in the form of live music and silent discos.
Jungle2018 10th Street, Boulder
jungletiki.com This tiki bar brought the tropics to Boulder when it opened in the summer of 2019. Along with burgers, chicken sandwiches and other snacks (the jerk-marinated chicken tenders pair really well with strong, fruity cocktails), Jungle emphasizes serving cocktails in creative ways, such as the I'll Show Chu Mine, which comes in an instant noodles mug.
Pug Ryan’s Tiki Bar150 Marina Drive, Dillon
pugryans.com/tiki-bar If you can’t stand the idea of drinking tropical cocktails without an actual beach nearby, this is your best (only?) option in Colorado. Pug Ryan’s Brewing Company’s seasonal pop-up sits on the shores of Lake Dillon at 9,000 feet. Open through September, it serves all the classics, as well as a selection of beer on tap and in cans. The sea breeze may be a little different up here, but the rum runners and Dark and Stormys will make you forget that you’re landlocked...for a little while, anyway.
Swaylo's Tiki Restaurant & Bar1315 Dry Creek Road, Longmont
swaylostiki.com The tropics came to Longmont in March when Sean and Rebecca Gafner opened Swaylo's in a former Outback Steakhouse location. "Swaylo" is a nickname for southwest Longmont (SWLO), and Swaylo's has quickly become a community gathering place for beachy cocktails and food that runs the gamut from huli huli ribs and coconut oolong tea sea bass to crab rangoons and smoked octopus tostadas.