+ Green Russell: Frank Bonanno’s Genuine Gin Joint
Tucked away in a subterranean space below Larimer Square, Frank Bonanno’s new cocktail lounge is literally underground. But unlike the Prohibition-era speakeasies it’s modeled after, Green Russell is otherwise aboveboard. Indeed, given the buzz it generated prior to its opening, you’d be hard-pressed to find a drinker in Denver who doesn’t know about this dark, cozy den, where local masters of mixology tailor their libations to your tastes Thursday through Sunday nights. The friendly crew also gladly serves up a limited but cheeky selection of eats that includes slices from Wednesday’s Pie, the tiny shop that Bonanno has installed as a faux-front for the bar.
+ The Shag Lounge: Getting Down(town) and Dirty
The cheeky name of this downtown nightspot is at once a double entendre and an homage to the eponymous artist, http://www.shag.com whose jazzy retro sensibilities inform the décor, which evokes a groovy Space Age swinger’s pad (complete with tiki torches and a stripper pole). If the motto “cheap drinks and good times” doesn’t say it all, theme nights like Rhythm & Booze Saturdays and SCuMBag SuNDaYS sure should—Shag is for guzzling up, getting down, and being seen doing it, whether on the dance floor or out on the patio. Whether it’s for you depends on your tolerance for hipster hysteria on any given night.
+ Tracks: For the Rest of Us
Gay oriented but straight inclusive, Tracks sends out good vibes to any and all who sport open minds and boogie shoes, hosting a horde of theme nights. Gaga for Goth? Fulfill your dreams at Deathwish. Dig drag? Then don’t forgo Drama Drag (complete with sightings of Nina Flowers, a hit on RuPaul’s Drag Race). Love ladies’ nights? Babes Around Denver hosts a First Friday that scored Westword’s reader’s choice award for Best Club Night 2010. Located northeast of downtown, Tracks is just this side of paradise for partiers. Insider Tip: Just a cheerful cheapskate? Show up before 11pm on Thursdays or 10pm on Saturdays and you’ll be ushered in for free, in time to guzzle drink specials galore.
+ Falling Rock Tap House: The Opus One of Beer
If Denver is the so-called Napa Valley of beer, Falling Rock Tap House is its Opus One—a legend. Though it’s not itself a brewery, beer geeks come from far and wide to sample the constantly changing selection of about 80 drafts and more than 130 bottles—which itself comes from far and wide as well as near, Coloradan and Belgian craft pours, many of them vintage, being the taphouse’s specialties. Shelves lined with 2000-plus beer bottles from the owner’s personal collection make the sprawling, ever-bustling (if not downright raucous) two-story feel like home—as does the cheeky sense of humor reflected in various words to the wise about customer etiquette that appear on the menus.