Best New Bar: Our winners over the past dozen years
We've spent a lot of time in bars since the first Best of Denver issue made its debut in 1984, and sometimes we even remembered to give awards to those bars. One of our most popular categories? Best New Bar, snagged this year by Ace. Some years we didn't make an award in this category, and other years we gave it to a spot that's now shuttered. Here's a look back at the winners over the past dozen years.
Grab a seat: Williams & Graham.
Williams & Graham, 3160 Tejon Street
Best of Denver 2012 award: It took longer than expected for Todd Colehour and Sean Kenyon, author of Westword's "Ask the Bartender," to get the doors open at their spot in Highland, but the wait was worth it: They created a sexy, sexy place with Williams & Graham. Step across a threshold concealed by a miniature bookstore and you're in a 1920s-themed world, filled with plush leather, dark woods and quirky artifacts from the age of Prohibition. It's the perfect setting for enjoying Kenyon's comprehensive cocktail and spirits list, which includes inventive twists on classics and rare selections from all over the world. And don't miss chef David Bumgardner's menu, either: The food is excellent and perfect for pairing.
El Diablo, 101 Broadway
Best of Denver 2011 award: From the moment Jesse Morreale bought the old First Avenue Hotel, he envisioned something special for the big space on the first floor that faces both Broadway and First Avenue. And he created it with El Diablo, a hellaciously clever tequila joint and Mexican restaurant. (Sean Yontz is in charge of the kitchen.) To one side are booths beneath Mexican-style murals lit by salvaged, red glass lamps, to the other tables flanking First Avenue, and at the edges are a handful of dark corners, suitable for all sorts of debauchery. But the center of the action, without a doubt, is the massive bar in the center of the space, which is always flanked with drinkers. That bar pours margaritas that run the flavor gamut from sweet to spicy, as well as Mexican beer and dozens of varieties of tequila and mezcal. And, as at any great bar, an air of naughty sexiness hangs over the entire scene, making anything feel possible. The devil you say!
2010: No Award
Tooey's Off Colfax, 1521 Marion Street
Best of Denver 2009 award: As a local rep for PBR, Alissa Anderson visited a quite a few bars in this town. The next logical step was to own a bar of her own. So last October, she and her husband bought the former Club Boca, which had been vacant for close to a year, did a quick renovation that involved moving the bar to the front near the window, and opened in a flash. Just as quickly, the bar was attracting regulars, especially service-industry folks, and Anderson started bringing in bands, DJs, art shows and a whole lot more. While the place still doesn't have a sign up, it's pretty easy to find: Just look for the neon beer lights and lots of people in the window.
The Continental Club, 475 Santa Fe Drive - RIP
Best of Denver 2008 award: Every once in a while, a bar opens that just feels like home; if your home had cheap drinks (we're talking dollar PBRs all the time) and a damn fine jukebox stocked with everything from old-school punk to classic country to jazz and everything in between. The Continental Club is a simple, unpretentious joint; a little on the small side, but it works. And it's a welcome addition not just to the Santa Fe arts district, but to all of Denver; particularly since it augments that jukebox by bringing in live bands like Whiskey Throttle and Lyin' Bitch & the Restraining Orders.
Continue reading for more Best New Bar winners.