There are two types of people: those who love the holidays and those who don’t. This one is for the eggnog drinking, ‘Frosty the Snowman’ singing, holly jolly folks. If for some reason you want to get away from your cozy living room full of Christmas movies, we’ve got some good holiday drinking options to keep you in the holiday spirit. These restaurants and bars do a great job of decorating and relishing in this joyous time of year.
Where: 2199 California St., Denver
When: Monday, Closed; Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Friday, 5:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.
The Lowdown: Vegan fare, dancing lessons, poetry and tarot readings — intriguing. The Mercury Cafe uses 100 percent wind energy and has planted 57 trees in the surrounding neighborhood — not to mention LED lighting, compost and recycling. But to the point, it’s got all the funky Christmas decorations — garland, lights and ornaments all over the ceiling for this holiday season.
We suggest hitting up one of its many events this month – Swing Nights every Sunday ($10), lessons at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and dancing at 8 p.m., or the John Lennon Sing-a-long on Sunday, December 10 at 1 p.m. — a perfect chance to sing ‘So this is Christmas, and what have you done?’ with a bunch of other people. Or just go any given night and have some organic fare like the garlic linguini with spinach and tomato ($16) which comes with a side soup or salad. Grab an organic beer and dance the night away in a Christmas wonderland.
The Oxford Hotel – Cruise Room
Where: 1600 17th St., Denver
When: Sunday-Thursday, 4:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 4:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.
The Lowdown: The Oxford Hotel has an old-time elegance — maybe because it opened its doors in 1891, so it’s a sight to see any time of the year. Right now and every holiday season, the lobby is adorned with lights, garland, a wreath and a gorgeous tree with gold leaves and pink and blue ribbons. It’s a little girl’s dream tree.
As for the drinks, its Cruise Room Martini Bar is the longest continually open bar in Denver having opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. It was actually modeled after a bar on the Queen Mary.
It’s small and dimly lit with red lights brightening up the walls and green liquor bottles glowing along the bar. Fetch one of its famous martinis, stroll out into the lobby and transport yourself to Christmas in 1933.
For more drink options in the Oxford along with unique fare, Urban Farmer has a happy hour Monday-Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., featuring apps like Crispy Veal Sweet Bread ($8) with orange marmalade and herbs, $6 wines and $5 select beers.
The Thin Man
Where: 2015 E 17th Ave, Denver
When: Monday-Sunday, 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.
The Lowdown: Situated on a quaint part of the 17th street strip of Capitol Hill – this place is anything but quaint on a lively weekend night. Its got Christmas lights up all year long, so really you can go anytime of the year and feel that ‘Christmas vibe.’
The Thin Man is the epitome of a dive bar, with quirky decor such as its religious paintings on the walls. For the holidays, its added lots of lit up wreaths throughout. It’s a small space so the lights and all the people at night are sure to put you in a festive mood. Complete with a full bar, craft beers and house-infused vodkas – happy hour is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which means $1 off wells, wines and drafts. On any given weekend, a cool show will be going down in the basement. If you get hungry, try a hummus plate ($6.50) with bread and olives, or a roast beef panini ($7) – roast beef, cheddar, cream cheese, horseradish and spinach. If anything, the religious paintings may make you feel like you’re at church service on Christmas Eve.
Union Station – Terminal Bar
Where: 1701 Wynkoop St., Denver
When: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.
The Lowdown: When it comes to Denver, it doesn’t get more Christmas than Union Station. The green and red lights on the front of the building at night say it all. Not convinced? It’s got a daily Holiday Tree Market from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Santa visits the kiddos every Sunday through Christmas Eve.
The inside is decked out with a towering Christmas tree covered in large, shiny ornaments and ribbons. Other small trees, lights and garland are strewn about the place. Conveniently by the tree is the Terminal Bar. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with $4.50 draft beers and $7 cocktails. Try a Moscow Mule (Reyka vodka, ginger beer and fresh lime) or a whiskey sour (old Forester bourbon, fresh lemon and simple syrup). Grab a drink and sit at one of the many tables in the middle of the station by the tree. The station has several other spots within its huge space to have a drink, such as the Cooper Lounge on the upstairs level.
Miracle Pop-Up Bar
Where: 1610 Little Raven St. Suite 100, Denver
When: Open daily 6 p.m. – close
The Lowdown: Tucked in the riverfront restaurant Wayward, is a pop-up bar — a Christmas pop-up bar. It’s called Miracle, and it’s an international phenomenon with more than 50 pop-up bars around the world. This is its first year in Denver, and it’s the most Christmas-crazed bar you’ll ever see. It’s got a non-stop Christmas music playlist, wrapping paper on the walls, trees with presents underneath, lights, stockings — the works.
As for the drinks, they’re Christmas-y, too. How about a ‘You’ll Shoot Rye Out’ ($12) made with pumpkin spiced rye whiskey, Budweiser-marshmallow syrup and egg white? All cocktails are $12 in addition to shot specials and local beers on tap. This magical Christmas corner is open until Christmas Eve (at least) – so get yourself some spiked eggnog and sing along to ‘Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer.’
The Brown Palace – Atrium
Where: 321 17th St., Denver
When: Monday-Sunday, 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
The Lowdown: The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and recently had its 30th Annual Champagne Cascade which is a tower of 6,000 Champagne glasses. Like the Oxford, it’s full of history and transports you to another time. The lobby has high ceilings and ornate details in its wooden interior. The large center chandelier sparkles with lights and the archways are covered in garland and of course, there’s a nice tree centerpiece.
Enjoy a refreshment at the Atrium which is in the middle of all the holiday splendor. It offers tea service from noon to 4 p.m. with British pastries, finger sandwiches and assorted tea. The platters range from $40 to $250 if you’re trying to get fancy and break out the Veuve Clicquot.
After 4 p.m. comes the cocktails and appetizers – some of the offerings include Bacon & Egg Bites ($12) – steamed egg whites, slow cooked egg yolk caramel and bacon-onion marmalade and heirloom tomatoes & burrata (half $14/ full $22) served with country dill bread. To sip on, one of the many Lobby Tea Cocktails such as the Lady Grey 75 ($15) — Lillet Blanc, Palace Grey Tea Syrup, lavender, fresh lemon juice and champagne. Or maybe a glass of Le Charmel Rosé ($12).
Where: 1415 Market St., Denver
When: Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday, 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
The Lowdown: If you’ve spent a lot of time in Europe, you’ll know that Germany is big on Christmas. Denver’s Annual Christkindl Market stems from a German tradition of handmade decorations, German Christmas carols, hot spiced mulled wine and other German treats like Marzipan.
The market is open daily until December 23 — check it out, then head to the German bar, Rhein Haus for an extra dose of Christmas. Get greeted by Nutcrackers, then surround yourself with big pine cones, garland and Christmas trees. The wooden trusses along the ceiling are white with little trees painted on them which is year round, but it adds to the holiday decor.
Cozy up by the fireplace with a mug of Glühwein (mulled wine). Or maybe play some Bocce ball indoors with one of the many German biers. Warm up with a house baked pretzel ($5.50) served with the sauce of your choice such as the spicy honey mustard. Not to mention, happy hour is daily from 10 p.m. to close. And coming soon, its 12 Days of Christmas which hasn’t been announced yet, but usually consists of daily food and drink specials — here’s the line-up from last year.