630 E.17th Ave.
If you understand the difference between someone who just plays the notes and someone with the gift of music, then you understand the true art of mixology. And you’ll be hard pressed to top the offerings from the pros at the Avenue Grill . One worthy note at this Upton fixture is the Ivy Gimlet — a perfectly proportioned cocktail with a hint of mint, lovingly served in a glazed iced glass.
523 E. 17th Ave.
A quick stroll one block down and across the street you’ll find Steuben’s, home of casual comfort food with solid talent behind the bar to complement the eats. Recently when I was there with friends and someone ordered a mint julep. I come from Mississippi, she from Louisiana, so you can imagine my skepticism at their ability to pull off something so purely southern. I turned to her in amazement that she thought they’d know how to make a proper Mint Julep. They did. I was impressed. It was a delicate balance of flavors that would make anyone south of the Mason-Dixon Line proud.
The Thin Man
2015 E 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80206-1105
Closer to City Park, get caught up in the vibrant energy of The Thin Man. The first time I went there with friends it reminded me of a small New York gem, an unassuming place that’s a fixture in the neighborhood where good friends get together. Behind the bar here you’ll find house-made infused liquors served chilled. With a wide variety, there’s something for every taste, though the cucumber gets a lot of praise.
Cherry Creek Grill
184 Steele St.
Denver, CO 80206
With jazz fusion on the MP3 player, memories of James Bond’s classic line “shaken, not stirred” pop into my head. So that begs the question, where to go for the iconic cocktail? While the last decade has seen the creation of seemingly countless flavored variations on the theme, the original, served up and extremely dirty still stands the test of time. And the masters at the Cherry Creek Grill deliver it “on the money” every time. With a lively bar scene, great food, and elegant ambience in a casual setting, it’s no wonder the Cherry Creek Grill is always busy.
The Churchill Bar At The Brown Palace
321 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
With its impressive selection of scotches from various regions of Scotland, the elegance of sipping an aged single malt or blend at The Churchill Bar reminds us why Entrepreneur Magazine crowned it as one America’s Best Business Bars for 2010. Whether you’re closing a deal or simply wish to enjoy one of life’s more refined pleasures, your time at The Churchill Bar will be well spent.
The Salty Rita
200 Quebec St.
Denver, CO 80280
Tucked away off Quebec in the Lowry Town Center rests my favorite mid-week watering hole,The Salty Rita. Happy Hour varies by the day but runs every night from 9 pm-midnight, with specials on a number of drinks including the always-potent house margarita. With or without salt, their tequila-rich version won’t disappoint. But go easy: they pack a wallop. There’s ample indoor seating with big screen TVs available year round, with a good-sized patio open during the warmer months.
2401 S University Blvd.
Denver, CO 80210
Missing your old college hangout but not the stale bar smell? Then head over to The Pioneer. They serve up great food and drinks in an atmosphere they describe as “a unique place with an old soul.” With college memorabilia on the wall, just like you’d expect, the Pioneer is a great place for a cold draft anytime. Ask for our favorite barkeep Adam.
– By Scott Smith for CBSDenver.com