The Mile-High City's best warm-weather cocktail spots.
The last snowfall of spring is behind you, Denver… right? While cold snaps can pop in at anytime, warmer days mean eager drinkers are out in force, ready for the best outdoor bars. Denver is an outstanding city to grab a drink in the sun, so we asked Brandon Wise for his favorite spots. He’s the director of beverage operations at the Sage Restaurant Group, whose popular venues include Departure, Kachina, and Departure Elevated—a rooftop pool bar that’s itself ideal for a sunny day. Here are his other picks for the season—whether you’re after fresh margaritas on a rooftop deck, or small-batch mezcal on a casual patio.
Mercantile Dining and Provision
“One of the best restaurants in Denver just happens to have an incredible beverage program,” says Wise, “and a fine patio to enjoy it on. The outdoor area at Mercantile sits right in the heart of Union Station where the people-watching is some of the best in the city.” The best drink for a first-timer: The “Drinkers Choice,” letting the mixologists craft a creative cocktail on the spot, or any glass from the rotating selection of rosé, curated by wine director Patrick Houghton. mercantiledenver.com
“One of the best happy hours in Denver,” according to Wise, is on the rooftop deck of Los Chingones, in the epicenter of the emerging RiNo district. “Fresh margaritas, agua frescas, and sangrias highlight a very approachable and affordable drink list. Everything is perfect to enjoy under the big skies of Denver." loschingonesmexican.com
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
“WTF,” as it’s known, “has a great rooftop bar in LoDo that attracts a pretty diverse crowd during the weekend brunch scene.” Alongside a Croque Madame, Wise recommends ordering anything from their “solid selection of domestic craft brews and Colorado whiskey.” whiskeytf.com
“Palenque boasts the best selection of mezcal in the city,” vouches Wise. The South Broadway sister establishment of Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, their mezcal service starts with a mezcal-infused tea served as a primer. “It’s a great way to sample artisanal agave spirits,” says Wise. And the patio is its own draw. “Lounge furniture and casual service make for a relaxing atmosphere, reminiscent of a backyard BBQ at a friend’s house… if your friend had all of the mezcal, that is.” palenquemezcaleria.com
Denver’s go-to tiki bar changed ownership recently, and in the process, “got a nice refresh” with new décor and cocktails. “With fun tropical cocktails rooted in classic tiki culture, the patio fills up on a regular basis while the sun is shining,” says Wise. “My advice: get there early and take advantage of their iconic happy hour menu. What’s not to love about a $5 Mai Tai?” adriftbar.com