Prohibition may be long over, but speakeasies in Denver are alive and thriving.
Speakeasies came about in the 1920s, when the production and sale of alcohol was illegal. Entrepreneurs at the time sold and served alcohol in concealed basements with doors that only open with a secret password.
And because the owners needed to cover up the harsh taste of illegal homemade alcohol with various flavors, often sweet ones.. In fact, cocktails such as the Bee’s Knees, the Last Word, and the Mary Pickford were invented during this time.
Over the last few years, Denver has been quickly gaining a reputation for its craft beer and craft cocktails. Luckily, there are quite a number of hidden bars and speakeasies in Denver to sip these unique creations.
Of course, the secrecy and the “hiding from police” elements of traditional speakeasies is now gone, so fans of these places sometimes call them neo-speakeasies.
Here are 9 speakeasies in Denver worth checking out.
The Best Speakeasies in Denver
These secret bars are hidden in basements, alleyways, and in shops selling anything but alcohol. Read on to find out what they’re all about, how to find them, and how to get in.
Given its hidden location (behind The Halcyon Hotel), hush-hush membership requirements and lists, and period-appropriate décor and furniture, B&GC is often considered the most mysterious speakeasy in Denver.
If you do manage to make it inside, the ambiance is very retro; cozy, dark, with a dash of snobbery.
The interior design and even the menu harkens back to the Mad Men era (martini service and caviar, anyone?).
Reservations are strongly recommended because of the limited capacity.
Address: 249 Columbine St, Denver, CO 80206 | Reservations: 720-925-8598 (text only, no calls; no later than 3pm on the day you want to go)
Hours: Mon–Sun 6pm onwards
How To Get In: Make your way down the alleyway between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, look for the door labeled “Stair 3,” ring an antique brass doorbell, and wait.
Classy cocktails behind a swinging bookcase?
And I guess many other people are onboard, because this speakeasy is said to be the most popular in Denver.
Williams & Graham is tucked away in a corner bookstore that looks nondescript to the casual passerby, except that they’re open at odd hours.
Handcrafted cocktails, carefully crafted spirits, hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and dessert are all served. You might want to try their Sazerac with crowd favorite Roasted Bone Marrow and their house brownie for dessert.
Reservations aren’t required but to ensure you have a seat; they only have 60 seats available.
Address: 3160 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211 | 303-997-8886
Hours: Mon–Sun 5pm–10pm
How To Get In: Go inside the bookstore, give your name to the staff to add to the list, and wait. One of the bookcases will swing open and you’ll be seated inside the bar.
Located in Colorado’s River North Art District (RiNo) neighborhood, Millers & Rossi is a contemporary art gallery and retro ice cream parlor in the front and a speakeasy in the back.
You can browse through the art gallery featuring works of local artists and sample the ice cream offerings before you head to the back and have handcrafted drinks with their small plate offerings.
Bonus: they have Taco and Tequila Tuesdays!
Address: 3542 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205 | 720-257-5342
Hours: Tue–Thu 5pm–11pm; Fri 4pm–11pm; Sat 1pm–11pm; Sun and Mon closed
How To Get In: Enter the art gallery, head towards the back, go behind the desk, and find the “refrigerator” that leads to the bar.
Larimer Square is Denver’s most historic block and now home to some of the best shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Green Russell is right in this block and is the perfect place to unwind after a day of shopping and dining out.
It’s recommended to show up early, though; they don’t accept reservations and only seat visitors on a first come, first served basis.
Follow their rules so you and everyone else can have a good time, especially the rule about no cell phones outside of a specialized telephone booth.
Since this is a “chef-driven cocktail joint,” expect both the handcrafted cocktails and the food to be a notch above the rest. Try their takes on an Old Fashioned with their BBQ Charcuterie board.
You can also try one of their thoughtfully curated whiskey flights (the Jet Setter gets you a selection from Taiwan, India, and Japan).
If you end up coming too early, you can try the pulled pork in Russell’s Smokehouse, which you’ll pass on your way to the Green Russell.
Address: 1422 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80202 | 303-893-6505
Hours: Mon–Sun 4pm–10pm
How To Get In: Go down a flight of stairs, through the lobby of Russell’s Smokehouse, talk to the hostess, and you’ll be escorted to the Green Russell.
Their astronomy-themed bar is more 1960s instead of 1920s Prohibition, but the secret door at the back of a fully-functional business preserves the speakeasy culture.
You’ll find Retrograde when you enter Frozen Matter, an ice cream shop that offers a selection of both classic and quirky flavors.
But don’t fill up on the ice cream; you’ll want to leave room for the house cocktails at Retrograde. You’ll want to try The Stuff (their take on pineapple rum), The Wicker Man (citrusy gin cocktail with lavender-hibiscus foam), or They Live (brown-butter fat-washed whiskey).
Or you can make it a bartender’s choice: pick a spirit, tell them what flavor you like and dislike, and any allergies or dietary restrictions you have. They’ll whip up a custom cocktail for you.
They only seat 35 people and there’s no standing room, so come early.
Address: 530 E 19th Ave, Denver, CO 80203 | 720-772-7843
Hours: Mon–Sun 6pm–10pm
How To Get In: Go inside Frozen Matter, head to the back, find the walk-in freezer door, ring the bell, and wait.
Opened the day after Prohibition was lifted, The Cruise Room is the oldest speakeasy in Denver still in operation.
The interior features Art Deco décor preserved since they opened and a jazz soundtrack, making you feel like you stepped into the 1930s.
Order one of their classic martinis with oysters on the half shell, and let the ambiance take you back in time.
Address: 1600 17th St Denver CO 80202 | 303-262-6070
Hours: Fri–Sat 5pm–10pm; hours change so call in advance
How To Get In: Head into the lobby of the Oxford Hotel, go into the Urban Farmer, and check in with the host/hostess. The Cruise Room is to your right.
7. Peaks Lounge
Located inside another hotel (the Hyatt Regency), Peaks Lounge is a cut above the rest of the Denver speakeasies on this list, literally: it’s on the 27th floor.
While the location, ambiance, and menu are contemporary, it’s unlikely you’ll ever find this bar unless you already know about it.
Have one of their Colorado cocktails (try The 27th Floor) and one of their small plates while you enjoy views of the Rocky Mountains and the lights of the Mile High City.
Address: 650 15th St Denver, CO 80202 | 303-436-1234
Hours: Sun–Thu 4pm–12mn; Fri-Sat 3pm–2am
How To Get In: Go to the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center and take the elevator up to the 27th floor.
It’s a co-working space, events venue, coffee shop, and speakeasy all in one, inside an old boiler room.
To get to this Denver speakeasy, you’ll have to go through the Ice House Tavern, which prides itself on being a favorite hangout of Rockies fans before and after a game (Coors Field is a block away).
If you’re more in the mood to chill, make your way to the speakeasy downstairs and try the Boiler Room Old Fashioned or a Wynkoop Whiskey Sour for a local take on these popular drinks.
Address: 1801 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202 | 720-289-3990
Hours: Tue–Sat 4pm–12mn; Sun and Mon closed
How To Get In: Look for the Ice House Tavern, enter through the lobby doors, go down the stairs to your left.
Denver’s busy Union Station is primarily a transportation hub, but there are plenty of restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops to explore.
An unexpected treat is the Cooper Lounge, right up on the mezzanine overlooking The Great Hall.
Okay, so this isn’t really a conventional speakeasy in Denver, but it’s a quiet, hidden bar in the middle of a busy place.
You can have good food and creative cocktails in this modern, chic lounge while having a quiet conversation with friends or simply people watching by yourself.
Get here early and enjoy happy hour. Must-try cocktails include the Big Apple Sour and the Queen Bee, best paired with their antipasti board.
Address: 1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202 | 720-460-3738
Hours: Mon–Sun 4pm–10pm
How To Get In: In Denver’s Union Station, make your way to the main floor of The Great Hall, head to the south side, and look for the Cooper Lounge desk.
Visit a Denver Speakeasy Soon!
Denver is filled with memorable locations and experiences, and you can add visiting these speakeasies on your list.
We’ve come a long way from needing to evade the police, having to “know a guy who knows a guy,” and giving a secret password, but today’s speakeasies with a modern-day Prohibition concept offer an alluring sense of mystery and exclusivity that remains irresistible to today’s bar patrons.
Here are other trips you can take that allow you to experience tradition and history with enjoying alcoholic creations:
Have you been to a speakeasy, whether in Denver or anywhere else? How was the experience? Share it with us in the comments!