Best of 303: Denver Booze 2014

In Denver there are few things that matter more to its residents than booze. Sure the mountains and 300 days of sun are great and all but none of that would be quite as enjoyable without our liquid sunshine. And if 2014 proved anything, it was that it’s not just about beer anymore. With many new bars and distilleries (re-)opening, it’s easier than ever to get the hard stuff in an increasingly delicious ways. Here are our favorite reviews from 2014 of where we liked to get our drink on:

Note: this is a chronological list of past reviews, to see the most recent reviews scroll to the bottom. Also for your viewing pleasure, all photography was created by 303 Magazine. 

The Happiest Hour: Cocktails at Atticus

Atticus, Happy Hour, Camille Breslin, Molly Martin
Photo by Camille Breslin

Words by Molly Martin

What: Cocktail hour specials at DU’s neighborhood retreat

Where: 1115 East Evans, Denver, CO

When: These specials are offered 3 p.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday

Pros: The ambiance is more elevated than your typical local haunt, but it’s still casual enough for patrons to feel comfortable settling into a booth with a laptop (yes, there’s wifi) for an afternoon break. Specials include $5 charcuterie boards with house-cured meats and $1 off  perfectly balanced cocktails. $1 off beers and $2 off wine by the glass is also offered.

Cons: These specialty cocktails are still a bit pricey, even with the happy hour discount. Just remember, these cocktails are anything but your typical vodka soda or Jack and Coke, and are certainly worth the extra few bucks.

“Atticus is offering up creative American cuisine with a focus on using local ingredients. This restaurant and bar is the first venture to open from Table to Tavern, a restaurant group that is a collaboration between the people behind Boone’s Tavern, Blackbird and Paradigm Restaurants (owners of Table 6)….If you’re lucky enough to catch Atticus’ cocktail menu co-creator Anthony Giovanni, you’ll get a dose of fun mixology knowledge along with your drinks. Giovanni, along with Williams and Graham’s Sean Kenyon, designed Atticus’ current cocktail selection as an introductory lesson for patrons, helping them to get to know what an elevated cocktail can really be. The plans are for an ever-evolving cocktail selection that will get increasingly adventurous.” Read the full review here.

Beer Banter: Art and Alcohol At Odd 13

Photo by Delmy Gooch
Photo by Delmy Gooch

Words by Ryan Hodros

What: Odd 13 Brewing

Where:  301 East Simpson St., Lafayette, CO

When:  Taproom operates Monday 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Tuesday-Friday 3 p.m.- 11 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Pros:  Delicious Brews, amazing artwork and a fun community atmosphere

Cons: The beers are difficult to find outside of the Lafayette Taproom

“In an industry where many breweries are defined by quirks, I expected a company with Odd in the name to be about as zany as I could handle.  But aside from the amazing comic book-style artwork adorning their walls (courtesy of childhood friend Jesse Glenn and Ryan’s cousin, tattoo artist Joshua Gerics), the only real quirks are a love of barrel aging and Brettanomyces, both of which are used on many of Odd’s beers.  This brewery brings big flavors that would satisfy seasoned beer drinkers and passing fans alike.” Read the full review here.

Beer Banter: De Steeg Brewing, Denver’s Secret Hot Spot

De Steeg, Breweries Denver, craft beer denver,


Words by Ryan Hodros

What:  De Steeg Brewing

Where:  4342 Tennyson St., Denver, CO

When: Wednesday – Friday 4 p.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m.- 11 p.m. Sunday 2 p.m.-  9 p.m.

Pros:  Great atmosphere with an amazing array of beers

Cons:  The location can be difficult to find.

“Tucked away in an alley with a wordless sign hanging outside, it’s easy to zip past De Steeg Brewing. But as a relative newcomer to Colorado, just knowing where De Steeg is and what they have on tap makes me feel more like a local.  They have the atmosphere and brews to make them THE secret place for Denver locals in the know.” Read the full review here.


Fork It: Ste. Ellie, Denver’s Swankiest ‘Speakeasy’

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Photo by Roman Tafoya

Words by Brittany Werges

What: Ste. Ellie, Colt & Gray’s speakeasy sister

Where: 1553 Platte St., Denver, CO pro tip: Its entrance is a little hidden. You can find it  on Platte street, between Paris Cafe and Colt & Gray.

Pro: Ste. Ellie oozes with a posh yet unpretentious attitude that can’t be matched in Denver. The luxe interior, paired with an amazing bar menu makes this spot a must-do for any date night or whenever you want to slink away for a couple hours. It is the perfect city escape. Take the night off and grab a tiki drink, chat with the bartender and definitely chow down on a burger or some caviar & champagne if that fits your fancy…

Con: Ste. Ellie does have odd hours. It claims to close at midnight but on some nights, if you stick around long enough, it’ll stay open until two. But you have to be in the door before the clock strikes 12 because otherwise you’ll be out of luck.

“Off Platte street in the Riverfront Neighborhood of Denver, there is an unassuming glass door.  It sits alone on a stretch of brick wall and at first appears to be nothing special. It’s a door that feels unwelcoming….maybe an exit and probably locked. Everything about it says, “do not enter”. But all of that fades away the day someone shares the secret…” Read the full review here.

Beer Banter: The Red Ale Project at Black Shirt Brewing

Black Shirt Brewery Lindsey Bartlett
Photo by Lindsey Bartlett

Words by Ryan Hodros

What:  Black Shirt Brewing

Where:  3719 Walnut St., Denver, CO  

When: Wednesday-Saturday 2 p.m. -10 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.- 7 p.m.

Pros:  Delicious red ales in a fun atmosphere with an amazing view of the Colorado sunset.

Cons:  Fewer beers on tap makes it hard to have a drinking adventure.

“Many drinkers put little thought into the color of their beer.  Taste and aroma usually top the people’s list of priorities, with alcohol-content factoring in somewhere nearby.  I’m guilty of this myself at times, focusing on “dark or not dark” at the liquor store after an exhausting week.  But at Black Shirt Brewing, they’re trying to change the way Coloradans think about beer, putting color at center stage with a variety of red ales on tap.” Read the full review here.

Thirsty Girl: Speakeasy Heaven at License No. 1

Photo by Lindsey Bartlett
Photo by Lindsey Bartlett

Words by Lindsey Bartlett

What: License No. 1 Bar in the historic Boulderado Hotel.

Where: 2115 13th Street, Boulder, CO, pro tip: Use the side entrance as well as one through the hotel lobby.

When: Tuesday through Sunday, open 5 p.m. to Midnight. Live music in the jazz lounge as well as vintage movie showings are some of the special events.

Pros: The comfortable and speakeasy era atmosphere is perfectionist in its details. From exposed brick and red leather, this interior just screams 1920s end-of-prohibition party. Check out the billiards room, it is very popular among the patrons. Plus, the bartender makes a killer Old Fashioned.

Cons: Catacombs holds an inexpensive, grungy, college shaped place in my heart and will be missed. But, the refreshing change of pace to License No. 1 is in fact a return to the bars roots and historic significance.

“Immerse yourself in another time, like a pre-prohibition fairy tale from the 20th century, at License No. 1. Catacombs has been put to rest, and in its place, the historic nod to a Boulder landmark. License No. 1 is the first booze slangin’ bar in the county, yet playfully re-imagined with high end drinks at cost effective prices. It is an underground Boulder gem you must experience for yourself.” Read the full review here.

Beer Banter: BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats

Bru Boulder Tressa Hodros
Photo by Bru Tressa Hodros

Words by Ryan Hodros

What:  BRU handbuilt ales & eats

Where:  5290 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, CO

When: Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. -10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Pros: Well-designed beers in a cozy environment with a knowledgeable staff.

Cons:Bigger beers mean you’ll have to come back a few times to sample everything.

“…Ian and his crew built the entire restaurant almost from the ground up, including the tables and the concrete bar.  “I’ve always had a passion for knowing how everything works, so we took handbuilt to the next level,” he told me, and the attention to detail really shows.  Ian is in every corner of his pub, from the artwork on the walls to the customized tap-handles. Walking into BRU is like crawling into the  head of the artist himself.” Read the full review here.

Beer Banter: A New Standard of Beer Pairing at Bittersweet

Bittersweet Tressa Hodros
Photo by Tressa Hodros

Words by Ryan Hodros

What:  Bittersweet Artisanal Cuisine

Where:  500 East Alameda Ave., Denver, CO
When: Open  5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday
Pros:  Bittersweet has an excellent beer pairing program and a mind blowing beer list. 
Cons:  Absolutely none.  Seriously, my experience there was close to flawless.

“With a beer list that’s enough to make any beer fan go mad, Bittersweet is the kind of place that easily merits a marker on any beer map.  The beer reviewer in me thinks that the story should end there and go straight to the review, but that would not do justice to a restaurant that puts Denver in league with other great culinary cities.” Read the full review here.

Beer Banter: Wild Woods Brewery

Wild Woods Tressa Hodros
Photo by Tressa Hodros
                                                                           Words by Ryan Hodros
What: Wild Woods Brewery 
Where:  5460 Conestoga Ct., Boulder, CO
When: Open  4 p.m. – 9 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday
Pros:  Delicious beers that strike a remarkable balance between flavors
Cons:  The brewery was a little hard to find on my first visit

“Surrounded by lush hiking trails and beautiful scenery, Coloradans are probably used to hearing about “outdoorsy” products.  So it’s no doubt easy to hear about a beer that’s “inspired by outdoors” and immediately dismiss it as a gimmick.  But at Wild Woods Brewery, it’s so much more than just a gimmick–these beers are not only delicious and amazingly well-balanced but also put nature in every aspect of its product and its business.” Read the full review here.

Beer Banter: Beer and Metal Meet at Trve Brewing

TRVE Rose McPherson
Photo by Rose McPherson
                                                                       Words by Ryan Hodros
Where:  227 Broadway, Denver, CO
When: Open  2 p.m. – 11 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, 2 p.m. – 12 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Pros:  Expertly made beer enjoyed in a heavy metal atmosphere
Cons:  The music can be a little loud at times so don’t expect to always come here to converse with friends.

“Usually, the beers being offered by a microbrew is enough to get me to show up to a taproom with at least a smile on my face.  But as I sat in Trve Brewing sipping a glass of Eastern Candle and watching the sky change from blue to orange to red as the sun went down, I realized I’m going to have some issues with taking taprooms outside of Colorado seriously in the future.  The mix of great music, amazing beer, immersive atmosphere, and people that appreciate the first three made it difficult to leave.” Read the full review here.

Visual Guide: Cooper Lounge 

Photos by Roman Tafoya
Photos by Roman Tafoya

Words by Brittany Werges

What: Cooper Lounge 

Where: Union Station- 1701 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO
Denver, CO on the Mezzanine level. Pro tip: In order to get upstairs you have to check in at the Great Hall.

Go for: an expertly crafted cocktail when you’re feeling fancy. You can’t go wrong with a timeless fashioned or a palisade sour.

The Low Down: The Cooper Lounge is hands down most beautiful and elegant bar in Denver. Located on the mezzanine level, overlooking the Great Hall, this gorgeous space has all the details perfected. From the heavy crystal tumblers to the tufted couches, everything in this bar is pure luxe. Come here after a swanky dinner, or get dressed up and make a night of it. The bartenders are incredibly friendly and knowledgable so you’ll skip all the pretentiousness too. The cocktails are a little pricey , around $14 on average but if there’s one place that’s worth it, it’s here. Because the atmosphere and service–they literally serve you your cocktail on a silver platter– cannot be beat.” See the full guide here.

Visual Guide: Terminal Bar

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Photo by Roman Tafoya

Words by Brittany Werges

What: The Terminal Bar

Where: Union Station- 1701 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO
Denver, CO in  The Great Hall

Go for: A wide range of local beers on tap and a more relaxed atmosphere. 

The Low Down: With top notch service and a timeless vibe, Terminal Bar is the spot to come to hang out on a Saturday night. With roughly 27 beers on tap, this self proclaimed ‘gastropub’ will serve you burgers and fries while you watch commuters zip through. If you’re on the go, step up to the terminal window and order a beer from the front. Want to stick around longer? Grab a table on the patio and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city. See the full guide here.

Thirsty Girl: RiNo Yacht Club At The Source

RiNo Yacht club, The Source, guide to the Source, Source Denver, Source restaurants, Source Denver restaurants, RiNo restaurants, 303 magazine, roman tafoya,
Photo by Roman Tafoya

Words by Arielle Shapiro

What: RiNo Yacht Club is a full bar specializing in craft cocktails

Where: Center of The Source, 3350 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO 

When: Open Wednesday-Sunday, 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m.

Pro: If you have any burning questions about craft spirits or local distillers feel free to ask the Yacht Club, as many of the employees have a background at The Proper Pour, The Source’s liquor store.

Con: The drinks can be a little expensive but trust us, it’s worth it.  

“Located dead center of the thriving marketplace, The Source, is the RiNo Yacht Club. It is the newest addition to the renovated foundry turned eclectic culinary paradise. Considering the open and communal atmosphere of the building, owners Mary Allison Wright and McClain Hedges wanted to create a common meeting ground that brought together the culture of each retailer in the form of a globally diverse bar.” Read the full review here.

Visual Guide: Mile High Spirits 

Mile high spirits, mile high spirits new location, 303 magazine, mile high spirits review, mile high distillery, fireside whiskey
Photography by Roman Tafoya

Words by Arielle Shapiro

What: New location of Mile High Spirits

Where: 2201 Lawrence St., Denver, CO

Pro Tip: Mile High does not have a sign, so look for the  brick warehouse on the corner of 22nd and Lawrence. Also Mile High makes an amazing Moscow mule but if you’re not a vodka lover, ask for a whiskey mule in its place for a fresh rendition of their most popular drink.

The Low Down: With a recent relocation to a killer new venue, Mile High Spirits is instantly back on top of Denver’s underground nightlife scene. Mile High Spirits is a private label distillery and tasting room that produces some bang out products made in all-glass stills, making this distillery one of Colorado’s most unique. Also known as a music venue, this new location at 2201 Lawrence is twice the size and catered for larger production plans. Denver based rock and roll band, The Congress, played Mile High’s long awaited grand opening mid-November, bringing together music fans and long-lost regulars alike. The new location is beautiful and impeccably designed, complete with a lounge area, wrap around bar and soon-to-be stage with built in PA system.” See the full guide here.

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