These aren’t necessarily the newest, or the longest, or the cheapest happy hours in Denver. But what they bring to the table is, in our view, far more important. It may be intrigue in the form of an ever-changing snack menu or tap list. It may be value relative to quality. Or it may simply be an air of sophistication in a town that, let’s face it, can sometimes feel like one giant bar crawl. Here are 11 venues we trust when we want to relax in style - we'll even go so far as to call them Denver’s 11 Best Happy Hours.
Why We Love It: Arguably the most magical getaway in all of Denver, with a dining room designed to whisk you to an old mountain cabin, this contemporary Baker favorite updates its Nosh & ’Tails menu each week to bring you nibbles and sips for half the price of its regular repertoire. Think fancy potato skins with cheddar mousse and green-chile cream, lamb tamales or brandade with smoked onions and crostini.
Details: 5-6:30 PM Monday-Friday at the bar
38 S. Broadway; 303-777-3505
Why We Love It: With sing-alongs in the piano bar, a smoking patio, two-for-one drink deals, free wings on Fridays and summertime pig roasts, this Capitol Hill throwback to the Beat era never changes - and that’s a blessed thing.
Details: 4-6:30 PM and 10:30 PM-12:30 AM daily
980 Grant St.; 303-860-1655
Why We Love It: Though this vibrant Jefferson Park charmer specializes in refined Pueblan cookery, the family who runs it is more than happy to keep things hopping throughout the afternoon with $3 house margaritas and $2 tacos (steak, chicken, pork or vegetarian).
Details: 3-6 PM Tuesday-Friday, 2-4 PM Saturday-Sunday
2311 Federal Blvd.; 720-287-2296
Why We Love It: The fraternal owners of this home-away-from-home for beer buffs in LoDo are widely known for their passionate expertise in curating a bottle list that goes on for pages while overseeing 24 ever-changing taps. (Check the Twitter feed to see what’s new at any given time, be it Trinity Seven Day Sour Vert Gueuze, Dogfish Head Noble Rot or Brouwerij Het Ankus Gouden Carolus Easter Ale.) During happy hour, select drafts go for $4 a pint; in addition, the kitchen knocks a buck off the price of everything in the menu’s snack section, including these pretzel bites and cheese balls fried in ale batter. Grab a table toward the back and it’s like chilling in your own wood-paneled, Midwestern living room - only way better.
Details: 3-7 PM daily
1530 Blake St. Ste. A; 303-758-9608
Why We Love It: At nearly 20 years old, this LoDo pioneer is still the fresh and funky place to see and be seen it was when it opened. In fact, post-cocktail revolution, it’s even better. Today you can pair those crab-and-andouille-topped hot dogs and curried mussels - not to mention $1.25 oysters on the half shell - with an array of house-infused libations on the cheap, all while watching the world go by from the ever-hopping sidewalk patio.
Details: 4-6 PM daily
1539 17th St.; 303-292-5767
Why We Love It: Though this brilliant Ballpark destination’s happy-hour menu is tiny - with only three dishes and a handful of drink specials - the payoff is huge, because chef Alex Figura is just that talented. The flatbread changes daily; the sourdough on the pork-belly sandwich is house-baked. And the “Each” sampler - a chef’s choice of three one-or-two-bite snacks (samples pictured) - really showcases what this place is all about. Cooler still, just yesterday, Lower48 officially opened its patio for all-day happy hour every Sunday that the Rockies have a home game.
Details: 5-6 PM daily; all night Monday-Wednesday at Service Bar
2020/2020A Lawrence St.; 303-942-0262
Why We Love It: Frank Bonanno was a local trailblazer in the art of housemade cheese, and his fresh ricotta, mozzarella and burrata remain among the best in town. At his urbane, underground Italian hang in Larimer Square, you can score the first two for $4 each; throw in a meatball slider, puffed cracklings dusted with smoked paprika, and a craft beer, well cocktail or glass of wine, and you'll still waltz out just $20 lighter.
Details: 3-6 PM Monday-Friday at the bar
1453 Larimer St.; 303-534-5855
Why We Love It: The bustling, cosmopolitan vibe of the Hotel Monaco’s long-standing modern Italian dining room sets just the mood for lounging over a generous array of $4 local beers, $5 wines by the glass, $6 cocktails and $5-$7 small plates that range from wild-boar pizza with sundried-tomato pesto to mini-entrees like veal scallopini. Some of chef Elise Wiggins’s best-loved dishes are among them, including the mushroom-stuffed crespelle in fonduta and the fried Brussels sprouts with pistachios and green apple (pictured). You bet Panzano's on the short list of all-time faves.
Details: 2:30-6 PM daily in the lounge
909 17th St.; 303-296-3525
Why We Love It: Exquisite Japanese plates of the sort Wayne Conwell's Highland go-to is famed for never come cheap. But compared to their regular prices, $10 for a new-style sashimi sampler, dragon roll or sake flight represents a major bargain. Plus, Sasa’s happy hour starts when most are wrapping up, so you don't have to play hooky to enjoy it.
Details: 5-7 PM in the lounge
2401 15th St.; 303-433-7272
Why We Love It: First there’s the suave, interior-design-magazine vibe emanating from the corner of this modern Scandinavian go-to that’s carved out as a lounge space. Then there’s the selection of snacks chef-owner Ryan Leinonen turns out, far from the average grub: meatballs du jour, elegant terrines, cheese plates with wondrous gjetost. And finally, you’ve got flights of house-infused aquavit in flavors like grapefruit-rosemary and fig-cardamom. It’s one snazzy setup.
Details: 5-7 PM Tuesday-Sunday at the bar or lounge
2134 Larimer St.; 303-379-9759
Why We Love It: This instant darling among savvy Denverites sticks to the winningly unpretentious script for what it calls the “early work-release program”: $2 cans of Utica Club and $3 drafts, $5 you-call-it house cocktails and a quartet of comfort noshes like chicken-in-a-biscuit and tacos de chicharrónes on housemade tortillas.
Details: 4-6 PM Tuesday-Sunday
2500 Larimer St.; 303-292-0700