Nightlife & Music

Top Bars With History In Denver

October 24, 2013 6:00 AM

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El Chapultepec (credit: CBS)

El Chapultepec (credit: CBS)

El Chapultepec (credit: CBS)El Chapultepec (credit: CBS)

Sure, you can stroll through LoDo and find any number of amazing, hip and swanky new bars, all with impressive cocktail menus and lots of great character. But how often can you stop in a bar that is more than a century old, a place with more history than all of those swanky downtown bars combined? There are only a handful of truly historic bars in the Denver area, and if you don’t take the time to visit, then you are really missing out. Here are a few of those amazing and historic Denver bars.

My Brother’s Bar
2376 15th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 455-9991
www.mybrothersbar.com

It’s the oldest bar in Denver. There’s no website, no real web presence, barely any activity on its Facebook page and there isn’t even a sign on the building. Yet those in the know are well aware of this true Denver historic establishment. My Brother’s Bar has been serving up drinks at the corner of 15th and Platte since the early 1880s and it’s known for one of the best burgers in town. It’s a divey place with a large patio and Girl Scout Cookies pretty much year-round. My Brother’s Bar was also the famous hangout for Neal Cassady and his pal Jack Kerouac during Kerouac’s “On the Road” days. Look closely at the décor, particularly in the back near the restrooms, and you’ll see traces of the famous writer and even a photo or two.

The Cruise Room
1600 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 825-1107
www.theoxfordhotel.com/dining/the-cruise-room

Located in the main lobby of the Oxford Hotel, the Cruise Room is known as the first bar in downtown Denver. It opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and remains one of the most popular spots in the area. The beautiful bar is thoroughly decked out in Art Deco décor, with all of the original artwork and furnishings still in use. The decoration of the bar itself is historic, having been patterned after one of the lounges on board the Queen Mary. The best part of this amazing little bar is the classic cocktail menu and tremendous hand-crafted martinis. A drink here is absolutely like stepping back in time.

Related: Top Historical Sites in Denver

Ship Tavern
321 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(800) 321-2599
www.brownpalace.com/Dining/Ship-Tavern

There is no denying the history of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. The famous hotel opened in 1892 and, with exception of Calvin Coolidge, every president since Teddy Roosevelt has stopped in. The bar lives up to all the eloquence of the Brown Palace.
Ship Tavern is filled with all of the antiques and ornate woodcarvings that help make both this bar and the Brown Palace itself so beautiful. A true vintage pub, this bar has a great microbrew selection, a huge wine list and a delicious menu.

El Chapultepec
1962 Market St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 295-9126
www.thepeclodo.com

Locals call this popular jazz club “The Pec,” and it may be small but it’s filled with tons of amazing history. The Pec opened in 1933 and has served up cool drinks and hot jazz ever sinces (along with some great Mexican food as well). The Pec has been featured throughout the country and is a popular stop for many famous musicians as they tour through Denver. Just who has played this famous bar? The list is too long to name but you could’ve seen all three of the Marsalis brothers here, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Red Holloway, Plas Johnson, Charlie Rouse and many more. You can still catch local jazz bands here just about every night of the week.

Related: Top Historical Spots in Denver

The Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage St.
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 534-9505
www.buckhorn.com

While My Brother’s Bar is known as the oldest bar in Denver, The Buckhorn Exchange has the number one liquor license in the state. It’s really known as a restaurant offering up Colorado classics like beef, buffalo and quail with exotic appetizers including alligator and Rocky Mountain oysters. Be prepared to step back in time as 575 pieces of taxidermy adorn the establishment.  Five US Presidents have dined at the Exchange since it opened in 1893.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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