Dives versus DJs, Scotch versus PBR: Take your pick at Denver’s best bars for DNC visitors.
- Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto
- 1632 Market Street
- Open daily 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- About a five-minute walk from the convention center
THE PLACE: This split-level bar in LoDo is another dramatic creation by Kevin Delk (see Beatrice & Woodsley). It’s named for a pair of conjoined circus twins whose story is detailed on the website, and the décor has a sideshow vibe: red and blue backlit wall panels, booths shaped like drops of blood, fake doves hovering about rebar-and-nylon trees, and ax-lined banisters. DJs create a hypnotic soundtrack.
THE POURS: On tap from a tank that resembles something out of a mad scientist’s laboratory is a red house-made cocktail called the Succo Vaffanculo di Mario ($8), translated on the receipt as “Go Fuck Yourself Juice.” Allegedly a blend of 17 liquors, the recipe cannot be revealed. Or try the Rabid Monkey or Severed Goat’s Head (both $7.50)—they may sound hard-core, but they go down smooth.
- Pints Pub
- 221 W. 13th Avenue
- Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- RTD bus route 16
THE PLACE: Decked out in British iconography—the Union Jack, portraits of Churchill, Tube signage—this pub is a bit corny. But it’s also cozy, and stocked with enough good Scotch to lure connoisseurs.
THE POURS: Owner Scott Diamond’s collection of roughly 250 single malts features not only the UK’s finest (including some now-shuttered legends) but also Japanese and Indian producers. Bruichladdich 3D Mòine Mhòr ($10) is all peaty goodness, while even the Scotch-shy can savor the supersmooth, slightly sweet Balvenie Portwood 21 Year Old ($17). Meanwhile, of the dozen house microbrews on tap, two are hand-pumped cask ales. Soak up the booze with hand-cut curry fries, smothered in genuine Bisto gravy and melted Swiss ($7.25).
- PS Lounge
- 3416 E. Colfax Avenue
- Open daily 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- RTD bus route 15
THE PLACE: Parked on Colfax Avenue—a storied Denver street lined with Ethiopian cabbie hangouts, midcentury motor inns, flophouses, and burned-out marquees—the PS Lounge may be the dive of your dreams. It features faux-Greek statues draped in Mardi Gras beads, Elvis icons, and a jukebox blaring the Charlie Daniels Band one moment, Portishead the next; you’ll be drinking alongside well-worn regulars and young scenesters in roller skates. And then there’s the owner, Pete. Some nights he’s silent and scowling; others he’s all smiles and handshakes. But either way, he hands every lady a rose with her first drink.
THE POURS: Not only are the cheap, stiff well drinks generous, but the first round comes with Alabama Slammers on the house. Which isn’t to say the PS is a glorified drunk tank: Since it serves as the unofficial dining room for the neighboring pizzeria, Enzo’s End, the crowd uses slices of properly charred thin-crust pies to absorb all the alcohol.
- Sputnik / Hi-Dive
- 3 and 7 S. Broadway
- Sputnik open daily 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Hi-Dive open for shows only (see the calendar for info)
- RTD bus route 0
THE PLACE: Unlike the hair dryers on the salon chairs at Sputnik, the old photo booth actually works sometimes; throwback turntablists spin 45s; trivia contests and bingo games abound; and everyone from New Zealand punk trio Die! Die! Die! to chirpy LA-based popsters Dengue Fever has played next door at the Hi-Dive, Sputnik’s live-music venue. No wonder these adjacent joints attract such an eclectic bunch, from goths to geeks to neighborhood grandfolks.
THE POURS: There’s free-flowing PBR on tap, and lots of girly cocktails named for cakes and pies. But there’s also a surprisingly decent, if small, wine list (you’ll find Viognier and Verget du Sud), fetched by pigtailed waitresses who sometimes slide into your booth to take your order. There’s some bar food too: Try the skinny sweet-potato fries with kicky banana ketchup and habanero jam (among several other house-made dips; $3 small/$4.50 large).