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Getting cozy (and drunk) at the Walnut Room

Happy Place: The Walnut Room, 3131 Walnut Street, 303-292-1700

The Hours: Monday through Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

The Deals: $3 well drinks; half-priced appetizers, draft beer and house wine; weekend happy hours include $5 Sauza margaritas and $4 Absolut you-call-its.

Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.

The Digs: There are bars that we absolutely love in the summer -- namely the kind of drinking dens with a bumping patio and spectacular drink specials that make us giddy with inebriated joy. We also have a pocket list of destination winter bars -- cozy snow globes where you can snuggle up to a pint and gaze at the flakes falling outside while you listen to your friends gloat about powder turns and bitch about their in-laws. The true test of a great winter bar, however, is whether it makes you giddy with the festivus spirit even when it's sixty degrees in the middle of December and the horizon holds no chance of precipitation.

The Walnut Room makes the cut.

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Because it's December, the joint is bedecked with pine garland and Christmas lights, and the warmth of the staff on a recent Thursday night made us feel like we were home for the holidays. Located on a quiet block in Five Points, the Walnut Room boasts one of the most efficient watering holes in Denver -- a space where you don't feel crammed even when the aisle between the long bar and the high-top tables becomes packed with patrons. It's clean and comfortable, and it provides guests with a stellar neighborhood drinking establishment thankfully bereft of lackluster service and bathrooms that make you want to hold it until you get home. Wanna shake your booty? No problem. Walk through the double doors at the end of the bar and into one of the best small music venues in Denver. Bonuses: There's plenty of parking, and their patio kicks some serious ass in the summertime.

The Verdict: The Walnut Room does happy hour -- and it does it well. The beer selection is solid, and the 2-for-1 pints made us look twice at our tab to make sure our server hadn't forgotten to charge us. True, the happy-hour food is so unremarkable that it's almost cliche: red baskets of cheesy bread dripping in grease ($2.50) and chicken wings (ten for $5.50) tossed in buffalo hot sauce and served with bleu cheese dressing in small cups that should be bigger -- but at least the snacks are cheap. And the servers, happy little elfish hipsters who refill your beers with freakish speed, are delightful and friendly. The vibe -- regardless of whether there's a great show about to start or it's a Saturday afternoon when hungover folk gather to nosh on pizza -- is consistently jolly, and customers always appear to be enjoying themselves. We dig.

Overall Grade: B+

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