Tucked discreetly behind a service door on the southeast corner of the Clayton Members Club and Hotel, cocktail enthusiasts and those in the know will find the building’s newest tenant, Five Nines.
The name, derived from a term for the most refined silver (99.999% pure, or “Five Nines”), is a love letter to cocktail culture purists. The bar features a progressive menu that walks through an evolution of mixed drinks. It starts off with “Uncut Gems”— a nod to the classic drinks that birthed cocktail culture. The Pimm’s Cup, Vesper and Old Fashioned (all $13) all make an appearance and the bartenders have an eye for what made them great in the first place.
But for all of its old-school charm, this place isn’t one to be left in the past. On the next page of the menu, “Forged in Fire” returns to the forged metal theme, with each of its drinks evoking fire in the form of spice, temperature or fire itself. Absinthe is flamed in the glass for the Quick Fix ($13) and Chartreuse is set alight over the Dragon’s Breath ($13), setting these otherwise vintage drinks apart from their roots.
The final step on this journey through the annals of cocktail evolution is titled “Compounds and Concoctions”— an opportunity for the mixologists to make their mark. The drink menu was developed by Kyle Bobkowski, formerly at Seven Grand and Poka Lola, and Eugene Marenya, formerly of American Bonded. The final page of the menu gives them artistic license to forge their own unique take on cocktail culture. Ranging from exotic takes like the Unbreakable Bond ($15) — featuring matcha tea infused St. Germain, luxardo bitters and Italicus Bergamotto — to simple exaltations of impeccable liquors like the One Eye Open ($15) with Aberfeldy 12 highlighted with turmeric honey and lemon, these cocktails are dripping with panache.
Each step of the way features a non-alcoholic option that has been carefully mixed to match the theme, like the Tres Pomelos topped with a brûléed grapefruit. Booze or not, you’re bound to have a good time and cocktails aren’t the only thing on the menu.
At intervals of roughly every hour each night, the bar hosts featured performances on its intimate stage. Low lying tables and booths face the curtains which open to reveal a small stage for the performers from the local Hard Candy Dancers to illuminate the room with performances ranging from burlesque to contortionism.
“We truly believe the combination of creative craft cocktails and playful bar bites, complemented by unique immersive entertainment, is unlike anything else in the city,” said Marenya.
The food fits the setting to a tee. The menu was developed by Clayton Members Club executive chef Greg Deflorio, who took the opportunity to curate a set of hor d’oeuvres suited to the exclusive-feeling venue. Small plates of classic bar standards to match the flavors and atmosphere range from House Potato Chips with malt vinegar ($9) to a plate of Serrano Ham and Manchego with pickled vegetables ($18) featuring Gran Reserva Serrano that melts in your mouth.
The place oozes class, with the cocktails and fare served in the dimly lit room reminiscent of an underground jazz club. Low lying tables and an impressive selection of high-end bottles behind the bar ensconced in brass fixtures and clean wood shelves make up the space. At the end of the room, a low stage hides behind heavy curtains which the performers emerge from periodically. The whole thing is undeniably sultry. The texture of the jamón, the taste of the cocktails on the tongue and the silky dances elicit a sense of relaxed luxury.
Five Nines is an immersive homage to cocktail culture with no expense spared. Its attention to detail sets it apart from the traditional Denver cocktail scene. It isn’t a secret, but you’ll need to keep a sharp eye out to find the right door to this new Denver gem.
Five Nines is located underneath the Clayton Members Club and Hotel at 233 Clayton St, Denver. It is open Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and is otherwise available for private events.