Much in the way that hats and scarves warm one’s outside when the air turns frigid, bars with fireplaces and hot drinks are the best places to close out cold days to warm one’s inside. When not cozying up around the hearth or burrowing under blankets at home, a handful of haunts around Colorado are ideal for toasty libations and nibbles in winter. Here are 10 of our favorites.
The Crown, Breckenridge
Home to one of Breck’s most appealing patios on summer mornings and afternoons, The Crown is also one of the resort town’s coziest après-ski/evening haunts in winter. Located on the south end of Main Street, the unassuming upstairs coffee shop has a menu of “hot boozy drinks.” These include mainstays like the Irish coffee and hot toddy (made with locally distilled Breckenridge bourbon, of course) as well as the sweet tooth-soothing Tootsie Roll (hot chocolate with chocolate whiskey), Warm Apple Pie (Fireball whiskey, vanilla vodka and apple cider) and others. Also on the menu here: homemade cinnamon rolls.
The place is illuminated by rustic-chic hanging lanterns and an old chandelier. The best spot to curl up with your cup and catch up on the day’s antics is the couch next to the gas fireplace. You just might fall asleep there if you stop by after a day on the slopes. The Crown is open until 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
215 S. Main St., Suite L
Ski Tip Lodge, Keystone
A full evening experience to reserve well in advance, the Ski Tip is not simply a place for a warm nightcap but rather an extended dining experience that culminates in a scrumptious final course by the fire. Originally the site of a stagecoach stop for miners seeking gold in the 1860s, the lodge was purchased and run in the 1940s by Max and Edna Dercum, who also helped found and run the Arapahoe Basin and Keystone ski areas.
The historic building still operates as a bed and breakfast, with nine rooms and suites. Ski Tip’s multi-course fine dining extravaganza begins with hot soup and includes a rotating selection of locally sourced salads, appetizers and entrees as well as a sizable wine list. Then comes the dessert selection, also changing seasonally, but always including its winning mainstay, apple strudel. Dessert is served in the fireside lounge, ensuring that you leave with rosy cheeks, warm in side and out.
The Forge Publick House, Fort Collins
There’s something alluring about sitting fireside on a cold night, surrounded by red-brick walls. The Forge is one of Fort Collins’ best-kept secrets. Tucked into Old Firehouse Alley in the heart of historic downtown, it’s a lively gathering place year-round with its bounty of obscure and always changing craft beers on draft, hard seltzers, wines and nonalcoholic options, board game collection and live music lineup.
Imagine an old English pub vibe (after all, “pub” is short for public house) — cozy, padded high-back chairs and lounges, bookshelves and the aforementioned fireplace, which looks as if it could still be used to forge metal tools. The best feature of this hidden haunt, however, is its decadent grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade pie. If you’re lucky, the day’s fresh pie will be apple with a bubbling cheddar cheese crust.
255 Firehouse Alley
License No. 1, Boulder
Situated below the Hotel Boulderado, License No. 1 emanates a 1920s speakeasy ambience with its wood-paneled walls and bar shelves lined with booze and books. The bar is unquestionably classier than it was during its days as catacombs. The cocktails are short and strong and the place hosts a double performance of live comedy every Thursday as well as live music several days a week. The pub fare hits the spot when you’re craving comfort food, but there are also a couple of farm fresh salads to remind you that you’re not underground forever.
2115 13th St.
King’s Club, Vail
No membership is required for this stately yet inviting lounge located in Vail’s Sonnenalp Hotel. There are plush chairs in every corner, including at the bar and surrounding the piano, which is often rolling under the fingertips of a local musician on weekend evenings. The warm vibe is capped by arched doorways and a fire in the stone fireplace. Some days a guitarist entertains while on others a band is playing everyone’s après-activity favorites.
Given the Sonnenalp’s Bavarian roots, a German Hefeweizen feels appropriate here, but the place is also famous for its mudslide martinis. For true belly warming, there’s a long list of whiskey, Scotch and cognac offerings, plus a small food menu and decadent dessert options.
20 Vail Road
The Living Room, Hotel Jerome, Aspen
The Jerome crowd typically piles up in the hotel’s J Bar, but you may prefer a cozier option, The Living Room. Situated off the main lobby, The Living Room’s vibe is homey — interesting paintings, side lamps and dim lighting. It’s possible to get any of the J Bar’s nibbles here as well as a selection of fancy bites (foie gras, tuna belly, beef tartare). The menu’s champion offerings, however, are its hot cocktails, which are tasty and complex, often sprinkled with spices and sometimes 24K gold.
330 E. Main St.
The Great Room, Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek
Whether or not you’re staying at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, the couch closest to The Great Room’s towering stone fireplace is Beaver Creek’s coziest après-ski spot. Freshly renovated, the spacious lounge features high ceilings, wood beams, rustic chandeliers and deep, cushy sofas with pillows to be arranged in just the right configuration. The temptation to nap is strong, but live music in the evenings will help keep you awake. If you’re not transfixed by the fire, the sweeping views of the slopes pair perfectly with gourmet munchies (fondue, anyone?) and a glass of red.
0130 Daybreak Ridge, Avon
The Study, Hotel Teatro, Denver
Located in the formidable Hotel Teatro within Denver’s historic Tramway Building, The Study is a less-frequented corner of comfort in which to kick back on a cold winter day or night. Although you have to order next door at The Nickel, The Study, lined in bookshelves, is set up for private sipping in high-back chairs or family style in front of the fireplace. A barrel-aged cocktail fits well with the mood, particularly the flavorful Nickel Negroni.
1100 14th St.
Williams & Graham, Denver
A throwback to the bygone Prohibition era, Williams & Graham is a speakeasy-styled cocktail bar disguised as a bookshop. Accessed through a secret door amid shelves, the lounge is dark and classy, its red walls illuminated by dim electric candles and hooded lamps. The Libations menu is long and features classic cocktails as well as seasonal inspirations, all with fun names and a creative mix of ingredients, including numerous nonalcoholic options. In addition to its clever drinks, Williams & Graham also offers a selection of flavorful dishes, ranging from bone marrow to burgers, vegan flatbread to sweet desserts.
3160 Tejon St.
Upstairs Wine Bar, Colorado Springs
One of the best-kept secrets in Colorado Springs, this wine bar masquerades as a French bakery (La Baguette) most of the time, but opens in the evenings on Thursdays (sometimes), Fridays and Saturdays to serve fresh breads, inspired small plates, desserts and an impressive selection of reds and whites (dozens offered by the glass). The best way to try them is in a flight or two, ideally while reclining on the worn leather sofa in front of the fireplace.
2417 W. Colorado Ave.
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