05 December 2014

A happy hour tour through Northern Colorado (with a little Denver thrown in for good measure)





I wasn't very positive earlier this week when I reviewed Uncle in Denver:

A serving of superiority makes the ramen so much better...

But it made me think about all of the places I genuinely love to visit, and how lucky I am to live in this part of the country, where, overwrought snobbiness or not, people care about interesting beers and tasty, healthy bites. So, in honor of all those serious cooks and thoughtful brewers, I thought I'd share a list of my favorite places to  do my favorite thing: drink and eat snacks.  That's right, it's a HAPPY HOUR TOUR across Denver and NoCo!  

Denver

I've reviewed the Cruise Room, off the lobby of the Oxford Hotel, before, so you can read all about it here. And while they don't offer a special happy hour per se, it's worth a stop to have a martini in the swankiest bar in LoDo. Cocktail Menu

Highland Tap & Burger is large yet cozy inside, and the noise during happy hour is at a moderate din, just enough to make you feel not so alone.  The wait staff knows the menu (meaning, they've clearly tried most things on it) and makes you feel at home. They've got a good selection of taps, but their happy hour cocktails are pretty special (and boozy).  Happy Hour Menu

Linger is super-chic and the waiters are so fancy in their black outfits, but it's still pretty laid back despite the outwardly snobby trappings.  Their food is a creative, fusion-esque take on street food from around the world (please, please get a chicken bun if you go), and their cocktails are equally appropriate as works of art or as a way to kick back on Friday afternoon. Happy Hour Menu



Fort Collins

Ace Gillett's is a Prohibition Era-style speakeasy in the basement of the Armstrong Hotel.  You can go down though the hotel lobby or the unmarked side entrance from the street, and it's all dark and cozy when you get down there.  The happy hour menu is a great deal, and the drinks are some of the best-made I've had.  These bartenders have standards. Menu

The Astoria is more for slinking in after you've had enough to drink that you need some carbs to soak up the poisoning.  Along with another beer.  But the place serves great small plates of homestyle Cuban food, and the drinks are simple and nice.  I reviewed it fully right here just about a year ago, and I still think it's charming as hell. Menu

Jax Fish House has delicious fresh apps and tasty cocktails that are pretty mild on the alcohol content, but they're a great compliment to the peel and eat shrimp, mussels and frites, or my personal favorite, the dynamite seafood sliders with house-made kimchi.  Their happy hour also runs every day of the week, making it a great score post-afternoon hike at Horsetooth Mountain Park. Happy Hour Menu



Greeley

I know, right?!  There are places in Greeley now!  Well, one.

1908 Speakeasy is not perfect (their bartenders are young and need your guidance to ensure you're happy with your drink), but they're trying, and it's a cute attempt at recreating Ace Gillett's.  Located in the basement, underneath Kress Cinema, there's no sign--just a dark little bar that does a pretty good job of looking 1930s-ish.  The menu is dedicated to recreating Prohibition Era favorites, but beware: anything with lemon juice is going to be really lemon-heavy unless you warn the bartender to go light on that ingredient.  If you exert that little bit of control, however, you'll be just fine.  The fried macaroni and cheese balls are oh-so-bad for you, but oh-so-worth-it.   Drink Menu     Food Menu



Loveland

Henry's is a pretty generic looking fake-Irish pub with sports on television screens throughout the restaurant.  But their taps favor some great local breweries, the bar tenders know what they're doing, and the smoked salmon platter with dill cream cheese, capers, red onion, pumpernickel, and hard boiled egg is actually a great snack to share. The service is friendly and the menu is comforting and junky, perfect in cold weather. Menu

Next Door is downtown, a short walk from Henry's, and boasts a similarly NoCo-proud tap list.  They also make some great cocktails. A major part of the menu is small plates, so it lends itself well to a happy hour stop. The menu gets updated regularly, but in its current incarnation, the quinoa cake with Manchego cheese, smoked paprika aioli, and micro greens is actually delicious with prosecco. Happy Hour Menu

Pourhouse Bar and Grill has been in Loveland since before their downtown was cute, and happy hour runs all day Sunday (11am-6pm Monday through Friday).  They deserve to be rewarded with a visit for their generosity alone, but they also deserve your patronage for their extensive Scotch menu, local-centric taps, and lots of good red wines.  Their appetizers are pretty tan (read: lots of fried stuff), but the sweet corn and portobello rangoons are quite nice. Drink Menu  Food Menu