Many have tales of memorable nights in unassuming bars; starting with trepidation but ending with bonds forged with seasoned patrons whose very presence has molded the furniture. In Colorado, dive bars are sanctuaries for locals to destress with Fernet Branca shots and chilled brews, sharing gripes about work and life, but always cherishing the establishment they’re in.
While the elegance of high-end cocktail lounges, boasting local ingredients and masterful mixology, has its allure, there’s a unique warmth in places where the bartender remembers your regular drink. Thus, I present a guide to Colorado’s cherished dive bars, crafted from recommendations of friends, mixologists, and spirits aficionados.
Beyond the glamour of Rocky Mountain’s upscale venues, find the heart of local life in these must-visit spots:
- Gold Pan Saloon (Breckenridge): Recognized for Jamo shots and a proud legacy of holding the longest liquor license west of the Mississippi.
- Moosejaw (Frisco): Transitioning from a biker’s haven to being renowned for its colossal Mother Lode burger, embracing a wild-west ambiance.
- The George (Vail): A snug underground haven frequented by ski resort staff, known for delicious food and unity.
- Coyote Café (Beaver Creek): A straightforward spot to grab a shot before hitting the ski tracks again.
- Woody Creek Tavern (Aspen): A quaint, celebrity-favored lodge with a wholesome menu and captivating interior.
- Victoria Tavern (Salida): Ideal for a fall drive, providing affordable spirits and live performances.
- Bucksnort Saloon (Pine): Perhaps the most picturesque bar adorned with signed dollar notes and a scenic alfresco area.
- Crooked Creek Saloon (Fraser): Essential for Winter Park visitors, energetic with live bands.
- The Lariat (Grand Lake): A pet-friendly locale offering midnight munchies and chilled beverages.
Denver’s Hidden Jewels
In Denver, Star Bar steals the limelight. Its distinct decoration, low roofs, and sloping floors exemplify the dive bar essence. Along with a diverse drink menu, if you’re fortunate, you might catch a local icon performing karaoke.
Embassy Tavern (formerly Phil’s Place) stands tall amidst RiNo’s upscale scene, characterized by its simplicity and casual ambiance. Neighborhood gems like Horseshoe Lounge in Uptown, The Owl Saloon on Colfax, and Crow Bar are synonymous with relaxed charm and pocket-friendly beverages.
For a nostalgic vibe, visit PS Lounge on Colfax, where the atmosphere reminisces a vintage household. Venturing south on Broadway, explore bars from Sputnik to the Brown Barrel Tavern, each offering unique experiences. Although The Occidental in LoHi offers a refined menu, it retains the spirit of a dive bar, as does Herb’s Hideout downtown, a jazz paradise.
If attending a show at The Fillmore, the aromatic Sancho’s Broken Arrow is enticing. For retro gaming, The OneUp Colfax is the spot, and post a Cervantes gig, 715 Club offers delightful cocktails.
On Denver’s edges, Golden’s Rock Rest Lounge and Ace Hi Tavern, or Sedalia’s Bud’s Café & Bar, offer unforgettable experiences. Evergreen’s Cactus Jack’s Saloon and The Little Bear Saloon resonate with music lovers.
Not to forget, the iconic Don’s Club Tavern in Denver, a landmark since 1947, is a must-visit. As you explore, remember hydration and nourishment!
More than mere bars, Colorado’s dives encapsulate the state’s rich legacy, lively culture, and its residents’ zest. From alpine retreats to Denver’s heart, each bar has a unique narrative and charm.
Whether you’re a native or a traveler, these places offer an unfiltered glimpse of Colorado’s essence. For more insights and tales, check out our homepage.
Here’s to new stories and adventures in the heart of the Centennial State! Cheers!