The Ten Best Hipster Bars in Denver -- Summer 2014 Edition
The word "hipster" gets tossed around a lot in the blogosphere, usually as a derogatory term for someone who wears different clothes or likes different things than the troll or flamer employing the word as a slur. But every generation has had its defining iconoclasts -- the mostly young and style-conscious who appear to be in the minority but over time end up defining a decade. Beatniks, hippies, punks, goths -- they all know who they are and define themselves by the music they listen to, the clothes they wear and the stuff they're into. And they all claim they live their lives outside the mainstream and free of definitions. Except that, for everyone else, they're pretty easy to spot. If you're a cultural anthropologist looking to observe hipsters in their element or maybe you're just new to town and looking for a hand-built bar within fixie-riding distance where you'll feel at home, here are ten great hipster hives for a drink and maybe some banjo music.
What hipster doesn't love a good speakeasy?
See also: The Top Ten Doughnuts in Denver
The Meadowlark is a little hard to find, which makes it perfect for hipsters.
2701 Larimer Street
If you're into hipster-spotting, you'll be impressed by the quantity of pork-pie hats, mustaches, scarves (even in the summer), owl glasses and full-sleeve tattoos at the Meadowlark. If you're a hipster, you're there for the subterranean location, the no-nonsense bar with canned beers and simple mixed drinks (the bartenders mostly ignore the short cocktail list) and the taxidermy. Great local and touring live acts are also a draw. And for added hipster cred, the Lumineers -- the royal family of sing-along earnestness, suspenders and cellos -- got their start here.
9 & 8) Sputnik and the hi-dive
Don't even think about asking for water at the Hi-Dive.
3-7 South Broadway
Sputnik is the restaurant side and the hi-dive is the live-music venue, but both feature prominent bars and a dark, grungy atmosphere that appeals to the urban subspecies of hipster, the type who have been bemoaning the gentrification of the Baker neighborhood for years -- or at least since they turned 21 and started hanging out here. The hi-dive brings in some of the best indie bands from around the country, supplemented by vinyl nights and '80s dance parties. Sputnik offers cheap and eclectic food in a kitschy, mod-inflected dining room. Its bar displays jars of booze with unidentifiable stuff floating in them, a sign that something is being hand-made here, which hipsters love. Woodsier hipsters may appreciate a more rustic environment, so see our next choice, which was originally opened by the owner of these two.
7) Lost Lake
It's retro and rustic at the same time.
3602 East Colfax Avenue
Lost Lake's current clientele may not be old enough to remember this location's previous incarnation (a bar called The Bulldog), but they certainly appreciate the cheap drinks and surprisingly well-selected musical acts that are primary draws for the East Colfax hipster staple. But what's really bringing them in is the rustic feel of the place: it exudes a vibe that suggests it could be a secret lodge a lumberjack might saunter into after a hard day's work in the northwest -- maybe next to a calm, pristine body of water called Lost Lake. A bar top made from large beams of ancient wood, dim lights, a wood-burning stove, black-and-white movies on the vintage TV set, and leather-clad booths all create a perfect nest for hipsters looking to settle in for a night. Add $2 PBRs and well drinks at happy hour, restrooms of questionable cleanliness, a gritty Colfax address and sometimes superb bands, and you've got a hipster spot, for sure.
Keep reading for more of our ten best hipster bars.
3602 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO
3 S. Broadway, Denver, CO
7 S. Broadway, Denver, CO
206 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO
2532 15th St., Denver, CO
2810 Larimer St., Denver, CO
2811 Walnut Street, Denver, CO
1308 E. 17th Ave., Denver, CO
1422 Larimer St., Denver, CO