Capitol Hill’s Haunted Mansion Puts the “Spirit” in 12 Spirits Tavern

Photo by Maya Boustany

If you’re a paranormal activity and bourbon fanatic, this local haunt is right up your spooky alley. This combination may sound a bit odd, but who doesn’t enjoy spending happy hour with a few local ghosts? 

Located in the basement of the Patterson Inn is 12 Spirits Tavern, open seven days a week for the happiest of hours. The bar serves up an intimate list of boozy cocktails and small handheld bites. While the space is limited, it’s a perfect conversational lounge ideal for a quick drink or two after work. 

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Chris Chiari, Patterson Inn and 12 Spirits Tavern owner, often sees visitors reading a book and enjoying a cocktail while Scott Allen, general manager, is slinging drinks behind the bar — like Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. All jokes aside, Chiari and Allen both double as bartenders, as the tavern was originally just an expanded amenity for guests. It wasn’t open to the public until May 2022. 

With a reported 12 spirits haunting the grounds, the bar pays homage with 12 bottles of bourbon displayed on the back of the bar every night. 

Though the tavern is in the basement, the mansion’s Victorian-era decor upstairs bleeds through the floors and takes you back in time to when the Patterson family owned the estate. What used to be a smoking lounge for US Senator Thomas Patterson (CO 1901-1908) now offers a handful of bourbon-forward cocktails like the coffee old-fashioned ($12) with bourbon, coffee bitters, sage and blackberry or a lemongrass whiskey sour ($12) with bourbon, egg white, lemon juice and lemongrass simple syrup. 

The fare includes a selection of savory hand pies, the most intriguing being its slop tart ($6) — basically what would happen if a pop tart and sloppy joe had a baby. It’s a pastry filled with ground beef, tomato, onions and a house spice blend.

If that food baby isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, the menu also features small bites, from pretzel bites ($7) served with beer mustard to tasty grilled cheese toasty points ($8), complete with brie, gruyere and caramelized onions melted between two sourdough slices with cranberry compote and tomato jam for dipping. 

If the tavern piqued your interest about what’s going on upstairs, the Patterson Inn is one of Colorado’s most haunted hotels. In fact, it was featured on an episode of The Travel Channel’s “Portals to Hell” back in 2020. 

READ: We Tried It – A Night in One of Denver’s Most Haunted Hotels at Patterson Inn

While the owner has random encounters with ghostly haunts, each guest’s experience is one of a kind. One thing’s for sure — the tavern will leave you feeling boozy and ready to explore more of Denver’s historic mansions in Capitol Hill. 

12 Spirits Tavern is located at 420 E. 11th Ave., Denver. It’s open daily from 4 to 9 p.m.

All photography by Maya Boustany.

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