The Denver cocktail scene has exploded in recent years.
Not only are new bars popping up every month, but old-school watering holes are holding their own with perfectly made classic drinks and new signature recipes. It’s a great time to be part of the Denver bartending community because everyone is really rooting for the success of neighboring bars. “The love!” says Poka Lola Social Club beverage manager Peter Danyluck when asked about the best part of the local bartending scene. “Cross-promotion, collaboration, and support of other establishments. It’s not a simple head nod, but a pause in service to come around the bar to hug another bartender from another spot. The respect.”
While you can find great bars all over the city, some of our favorites happen to be in hotels. And because we’re suckers for an excellent hotel bar, these six watering holes top our list of the places to drink in Denver.
Death & Co
Walk into Denver’s The Ramble Hotel on a Friday night, and you’ll stumble upon one of the liveliest nightlife scenes in the city. Set inside the new property’s gorgeous lobby is an outpost of the iconic New York bar Death & Co, which is designed with plush velvet seating, crystal chandeliers, and a mirrored back bar where the cocktail magic happens. There’s an exquisite libation for every palate, like the bright Rio By Nite (cachaça, apple cordial, ancho chile, China-China) and the rich Bad Sneakers (Japanese whisky, Islay scotch, coconut, citrus, cinnamon). The fantastic food menu means that you should come hungry for dishes like Maitake Bao Buns and Heirloom Bean Hummus. For a bespoke cocktail experience, you can also reserve a seat for Death & Co’s Suite 6A, which features creative cocktails made with rare ingredients and unique presentations.
Poka Lola Social Club
Tucked inside Dairy Block’s stunning The Maven hotel, you’ll find Poka Lola Social Club, a beautiful Art Deco-inspired bar that’s serving some of the best cocktails in the city. There, beverage manager Peter Danyluck and his team are creating delicious cocktails—not to mention homemade syrups, bitters, and sodas—that nod to America’s turn-of-the-century soda fountain culture. There are twists on classics like the Violet Vesper (gin, violet, aperitif) and creative signatures such as the Lil’ Pick Me Up—a savory, tangy blend of gin, pickled peppers, and lemon. Homemade bottled cocktails enhance the nostalgic vibe, and snacks like the French Onion Dip and Parmesan + Herb Frites help soak up the booze. Don’t miss Poka Lola’s daily happy hour, when Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and rosé are only $6.
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa has been serving Denver guests since 1892, so it’s an iconic place to learn about the history of the Mile High City. In addition to excellent dining options like breakfast at Ellyngton’s and afternoon tea in the hotel’s stunning atrium lobby, the on-property Ship Tavern is one of our favorite places to grab a drink in Denver. The old-school staff is down-to-earth and oh-so-friendly, especially when it comes to choosing from its extensive menu. Try the strong but smooth Old Creole cocktail, made with rhum agricole, Green Chartreuse, and Peychaud’s Bitters. Don’t leave without ordering Ship Tavern’s Chermoula Hummus, which was one of the best things we ate on our trip.
When we spoke to local Denver friends, they mentioned that Panzano is one of their favorite places to get Italian food in the city. And if you’re a guest of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver, all you need to do is walk downstairs to enjoy the restaurant and bar. Panzano boasts the biggest amari selection in the city, so you can expect plenty of Italian-inspired cocktails like the Monkey Wrench—a barrel-aged mix of scotch, bourbon, Cardamaro, Cocchi Dopo Teatro Vermouth Amaro, and rhubarb bitters. If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, Panzano has an impressive spirits and beer list that includes just about anything you can imagine. And if hunger strikes while you’re sipping a pre-dinner aperitivo, the fried Brussels sprouts are not to be missed.
We love a good speakeasy, especially when it’s a truly clandestine destination. Tucked in an alley around the corner from the luxe HALCYON, a Hotel in Cherry Creek, you’ll find a glowing light and vintage brass doorbell that rings the bar B&GC. Born in the ruins of the former Cherry Creek Post Office, this beautiful bar is a sight to see. It boasts a huge list of classic cocktails in addition to signature drinks like the Let Me Know, a satisfying mix of Plantation 20th Anniversary Rum, applejack, aquavit, golden raisin, brown rice, and lemon. If you want to experience this hidden bar, make sure to text for a reservation, as it usually cannot accommodate walk-ins.
The Cruise Room
Martini fans have to make a stop at The Cruise Room in The Oxford Hotel because it’s one of the most iconic bars in Denver. It was born after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, and entering the pink-hued, Art Deco room is like stepping back to a more glamorous time. If it’s a Martini you’re craving, The Cruise Room will make it however you like it, whether it’s with gin or vodka, dry or perfect, garnished with an olive or a twist. But even those who don’t drink Martinis can enjoy a variety of expertly made classic cocktails. Pop in for a drink, play a song on the jukebox, and enjoy snacks like spicy meatballs and crispy fries with foie gras aioli.