F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously wrote, “His was a great sin who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours.” Of course, he was writing of sleep, but I don’t doubt that the well-known socialite and party animal of the 1920’s would agree with me that a great night out with a few strong drinks could help one lose consciousness for a while, as well. I was nearly at that point after just a couple of drinks at Green Russell speakeasy, which is now easily my new favorite location in Denver. This themed bar transports its guests back to a decade of flappers, Model T’s and Prohibition angst.
From its ambiguous website to its semi-hidden location, Green Russell pulls out all the stops when it comes to keeping with its 1920’s theme. To find it, you must first walk down a flight of stairs into a lower basement area on Larimer Street and enter a small main room with checkerboard tile and a host stand. To your right is Russell’s Steakhouse and straight ahead of you, through double doors that say “DO NOT ENTER,” and look as though they lead into a kitchen, is the charming, old-world speakeasy. Dark, intimate, and alluring, the main room is simply made up of a long bar surrounded with vintage chairs in a close, communal setting. Towards the back, booths for larger parties are available, adjacent to an antique phone booth where guests are encouraged to take cell phone calls so as not to bother anyone else around them. The atmosphere at Green Russell is so perfectly vintage that I almost believed I was back in a different decade. I half expected to see lingering Mafioso’s conversing in the corner, and was worried the FBI would bust in at any moment to shut the place down for serving alcohol. Try to get there on a Sunday or Monday at 7 p.m. so you can catch their live jazz singers and fall even deeper into the 20’s vibe.
The bartenders at Green Russell, dressed in traditional 1920’s style uniforms, deserve much praise for their hard work and knowledge of both classic and modern drinks. Not only does the speakeasy grow its own herbs and garnishes, but the bartenders chip away at hunks of ice for each drink and can make up a delicious concoction with any spirit of your choice. Can’t decide from one of their mixed drinks on the menu? Simply tell the bartender which form of alcohol you prefer, and they’ll whip up something special for you (and they have quite the heavy hand, I must say). A warning to the impatient: Do not expect your drinks to be made in a matter of seconds. Bartenders at Green Russell make their drinks with precision and take a little extra time to perfect each one.
It’s worth it, I promise.
So, grab your fella or dame, leave the wet blankets and the bushwa behind, head to this swanky juice joint and let’s all get zozzled (oh, come, on! I had to!). Green Russell is not merely a bar or lounge where you sit around drinking beer and watching sports, but a modern-day speakeasy that throws you back to a time when jazz singers, pin-striped hats and rebellion was all the rage. A time of freedom and easy living, the 1920’s is notorious for glamour, pleasure and innovation, and Green Russell Speakeasy captures it all.