Forget the food: Just drink at the Burnsley Hotel

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Happy Place: The Burnsley Hotel, 1000 Grant Street, 303-830-1000

The Hours: Monday through Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Deals: Half-price beer, wine, and cocktails; $3 tapas.

Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.

The Digs: The Burnsley Hotel was built in 1963 with suites that were briefly rented as apartments before the hotel later added a jazzy lounge, a setup that's remained steadfast through numerous owners and developers.

The cozy lounge, strewn with velvet booths, is softly illuminated by small votives flickering in red glass bulbs. Dark oak blends with deep crimson and gold upholstery, and a piano sits in the open space between the bar and the cushy booths that line the east wall. The space evokes a nostalgia for vaudeville and cigars, women in pincurls and men betting their salaries. It's the kind of place where you'd expect to find an old bachelor sitting at the bar sipping scotch and drowning in his melancholy existence -- a place where people cheat on their spouses and conjure up shady business deals while the sun shines brightly outside.

The Verdict: The best part about happy hour at the Burnsley is the booze. No matter what you order, or how much of it, it's half-price. This goes for high-end whiskeys, all wines by the glass, martinis -- you name it. We prefer sipping our way through the wines, some of which are rarely available by the glass anywhere else.

The worst part about happy hour at the Burnsley is the food. Seriously. Our perky server walked us through the tapas list as we tried to make a selection, pointing out along the way that since they were all "so good," we could get a sampler platter for thirteen bucks. We were set. The array of small bites arrived on a tray that looked like something you'd see in the office cafeteria, or at Casa Bonita. One compartmentalized end held the spinach artichoke dip, with the red pepper hummus in the middle; the quesadillas and Gorgonzola potato chips held down the center; and mushroom risotto cakes and bruschetta capped the other end.

The most notable feature of this party tray was the potato chips. They tasted exactly like McDonald's french fries -- the fries you ate when you were seven, long before you knew about capitalism and hydrogenated oil and LDL counts. It was an unexpected memory, and we relished it for a moment until we realized that the thick goop of white Gorgonzola sauce on the potato chips tasted nothing at all like Gorgonzola. Not even close. The risotto cakes tasted of fryer grease, the quesadillas like rubbery, overprocessed cheese. And while we have pretty high standards for spinach artichoke dip, the ceiling-beige paste that occupied the small enclave at the end of the platter was indistinguishable. The most flavorful aspect of the pita slices were the grill marks, and the hummus was nearly inedible. We'll eat damn near anything with a buzz on, but we couldn't eat that sampler platter pretty no matter how hard we tried.

Overall Grade: C+

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