Ten Denver bars for ten conversations

The Ten10 Group, a local marketing and communications firm, posts a monthly list called the 10Spot, created by former Rocky Mountain Newser Steve Foster to give residents of the Mile High City something to think about and talk about.

This month's 10Spot was near and dear to our hearts: 10 spots in which to have a conversation over a beer. While perusing Foster's favorite hang-outs, we started thinking about what kind of conversations we'd be having over those beers, which gave way to a new list: 10 bars for 10 different conversations.

1. Best bar for a break-up: When we're adding another broken heart to the string of lovers past, we like to go someplace crowded and casual, while still intimate. That's why we choose Forest Room Five, 2532 15th Street, where it's easy to have a private conversation in a dark corner -- and make a break for it if things get ugly. Seriously, though, it's not you, it's me.

2. Best bar for driving a hard sale: Real deals are made over drinks, and best done in bars that offer impressive alcohol in an impressive atmosphere. Take the corporate expense account to Colt & Gray, 1553 Platte Street, where even the big-city corporate hacks will appreciate the beer, wine and cocktails enough to drink until sufficiently liquored up.

3. Best bar for a long-winded philosophical rant: Something about the dark lighting and hipster crowd at the Thin Man, 2015 East 17th Avenue, makes us get on our high horse of snobbery, waxing poetic on the way the world works until our voices are hoarse or we have to take a break to bum an American Spirit cigarette.

4. Best bar for introducing your conservative parents to your live-in significant other: Nothing says "I'm a responsible adult" like listening to jazz over champagne, so we take our parents to Dazzle, 930 Lincoln Street, to meet the new "roommate." If things go poorly, at least there's a set to pretend to enjoy.

5. Best bar for making small talk over an obligatory catch-up drink: The best way to stave off awkward pauses and annoying questions is by supplementing conversation with an activity. The second floor of the Wynkoop Brewery, 1634 18th Street, is filled with pool tables and shuffleboard players, allowing you to enjoy a completely socially acceptable interaction while keeping the actual talking to a minimum.

6. Best bar for kindling a blossoming bromance: Nothing says man time like whiskey, so when you're looking to win over a new bro, head to a place in town that's devoted to that very spirit: the Whiskey Bar, 2203 Larimer Street. Sip on one of the spot's 115 mash-related offerings while discussing sports and chicks in a place close enough to downtown to later solidify your new friendship by actually pursuing one of those two activities.

7. Best bar for analyzing a relationship to death with the girls: Should I be concerned that it took him two hours to text me back? Do you think we're dating exclusively? This one is different, right? We like to get the girl crazy off our chests in places that have good drinks, good snacks, and good lighting. Like the A' Côté Bar à Absinthe, 2239 West 30th Avenue, at a wooden table beneath the chandelier.

8. Best bar for avoiding a wiretap: If you're in desperate need of certain privacy to shake off your band of pursuers, best head for a real dive, preferably out of town. Boulder's Outback Saloon, 3141 28th Street, is a good bet, with a seedy atmosphere, dark rooms and enough of a crowd to hide any illicit activity you may be plotting.

9. Best bar for delivering an annoying monologue on your wine knowledge without getting punched in the face: We get it. You've been to Napa and Burgundy, you once were a lucky taster of a 1979 Mouton Rothschild and your cellar contains bottles worth more than our cars. And once you get a couple of glasses of cabernet in your bloodstream, you'd like to tell everyone ever all about it. Whether you're an old world snob or a new world enthusiast, Trios Enoteca, 1730 Wynkoop Street, will give you plenty of conversation fodder--and at least a couple of like-minded patrons who will hang on your every word.

10. Best bar for working your suave swerve: Whether we're trying to pick up a potential new lover or seal the exclusivity deal after a dozen dates, we do our sweet-talking at the dimly lit, sex-infused Kitchen [Upstairs], 1039 Pearl Street, in Boulder. Bonus points if we're able to nab a low seat by the window, which offers a view of the Flatirons over Pearl Street.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk