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Happy hour at The 9th Door is magnificent

The Place:The 9th Door

, 1808 Blake Street, 303-292-2229

The Hours: Monday through Friday from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m.

The Deals: $3-5 house cocktails and sangria; $12 sangria carafes; $2-4 tapas

The Digs: Walking into The 9th Door is like walking into the movie Aladdin, and happy hour there is like finding yourself in a tiny gem of a bistro somewhere in the middle of El Born. The space is dark, illuminated only by the open front wall, which opens to Blake Street, and gothic lanterns suspended over the bar area. The bar itself is grandiose and beautiful, and the lounge consists of low tables surrounded by plush, colorful stools.

The Verdict: If you're looking for a downtown happy hour where rowdy patrons sling back beers and gobble baskets of greasy bar food, The 9th Door isn't your kind of joint. But if you're in the mood for a more sophisticated and mellow setting with stiff cocktails and tantalizing tapas that are fresh and won't have you rolling yourself out the door, then by all means, go. The Sevilla cocktail ($4) adds a lemony twist to a gin martini, and the mojitos ($4) are poured with a heavy hand. We'd be hard-pressed to choose a favorite from the tapas list, but the Tostas Truchas (smoked trout with horseradish, $3) were just fine, as were the Tostas Ajos (roasted garlic, goat cheese, currant jam, $3). Try the green apples and idiazabal cheese ($3) for dessert. The service was slightly rushed, but our drinks arrived quickly. Parking can be a bitch, but even so, this is a perfect spot to grab a bite and a drink before enjoying a baseball game, concert or cultural performance at DCPA.

Overall Grade: A-

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