Denver’s dive bars are an endangered species. As developments continue to move into formerly forbidden territory, many lowbrow watering holes have dried up — or been cleaned up into welcoming neighborhood joints, and sometimes even renovated beyond recognition. The most recent victim: The Hangar, an eighty-year-old joint at 8001 East Colfax, which closed after last call on August 18. Denver officials have deemed it a "public nuisance."
But isn't that one definition of a true dive bar?
“Get bombed at the Hangar.” That was the motto of this dive — and with three happy hours a day, the Hangar offered ample opportunity to do so. The grocery-store-turned-tavern became the Hangar in 1938, catering to the military crowd at the newly opened Lowry Army Air Force Base. Lowry is long gone, of course, but those patriotic patrons were remembered with the Beer Can Bomber, a scale replica of a B-17 bomber built out of vintage beer cans by local artist Chris Lewis and commissioned by current owner Lorie Thomas. The bar earned extra points for the WWII-era tiki corner (tiki bars, too, are a rare find in Denver).
Thomas, who's owned the Hangar for a dozen years, has vowed to fight on; she has a hearing with the city next month.
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In the meantime, should the closure be permanent, we're looking for candidates to replace the Hangar on our list of the Ten Best Dive Bars in Denver.
We've had to update this list before, usually after bars disappear for good. But occasionally there's a comeback. After a bad fire several summers ago, the Rocky Flats Lounge on Highway 93 is rebuilding and is close to reopening.
And the Squeeze Inn, whose closure two years ago motivated the most recent version of our Ten Best Dive Bars list, reopened late last year with new owners. It's so clean and shiny that we think it no longer qualifies as a dive, but it's definitely a great bar. See for yourself on Saturday, August 25, when the Squeeze Inn hosts a parking-lot party at 5985 West 48th Avenue from noon to 4 p.m., with a car show and live music.
Do you think the Squeeze Inn belongs back on the dive bar list? Or do you have another nominee? Post a comment or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.