Favorite

DRINK 2006 

The Independents guide to sippin, swiggin and swillin in the Springs

click to enlarge Barkeep, pour one for the swordfish! Heres to Barracuda - Bobs! - RICK GORHAM
  • Rick Gorham
  • Barkeep, pour one for the swordfish! Heres to Barracuda Bobs!

15C

15 E. Bijou St., Suite C (in the alley behind Old Chicago), 635-8303

The first martini bar in Colorado Springs, 15C arguably remains the best. Go down the alley to an unmarked door with a dim red light above it. Walk right into a mahogany-beamed and -paneled room, find a table or sit on a leather couch. Relax, light up a cigar, nurse one of the splendid martinis (a Ketel One up, dirty, with bleu cheese olives?). Check out your fellow patrons and wonder: Am I really as urbane and sophisticated as they seem to be? No, but neither are they. JH

Appetizers, wine by the glass

Ancient Mariner

962 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-5503 Manitou's Ancient Mariner features live music, mellow bartenders and a good jukebox. Local and visiting patrons play pool, pick each other up or snuggle with their honeys on the wooden dance floor. "Stand Up or Shut Up" open-mike nights are popular for erstwhile comedians, and the coolly delicious fresh-fruit daiquiris are the pride of Manitou. JNN

Appetizers, wine by the glass, dancing, jukebox, live music, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 5-7 p.m.

Antlers Grille at the Antlers Hilton

4 S. Cascade Ave., 955-5600 The best part of sipping a martini in a lavish hotel lounge is the James Bond, on-the-road feeling. But you can achieve it right at home, at the Antlers Grille. If hungry, saunter into the restaurant, where a commendable wine list accompanies fine food. To show off an evening dress or crisp suit, float near the pianist (Tuesday through Thursday) or three-piece jazz band (Friday, Saturday) and try out the plush armchairs. Drink in style. MS

Live music, full menu, wine by the glass

Barracuda Bob's

13860 Gleneagle Drive, 481-6446 Step into Bob's, and you've landed at your favorite beachside restaurant. The mood is casual, with a swordfish displayed above the bar, a hand-painted wall mural, free chips at the salsa and condiment bar, and lots of happy tunes. The crowd includes Air Force Academy cadets and staff, and neighborhood singles and families. Bob's sports an impressive beer selection, including Red Stripe Lager and Guinness Stout, and wines from Australia and New Zealand. Their Cabana Coolers include Mai Tais, Chi-Chis, several margaritas and tropical drinks. GS

Full menu, snacks, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: 4-6 p.m.

Bennigan's

3502 N. Academy Blvd., 591-0303 You can't go wrong at the bar in Bennigan's. One part Irish pub + one part all-inclusive atmosphere + one part menu-for-every-taste = a fine chain-restaurant bar. One of the more comforting aspects of Bennigan's is the uniformity of design across the entire chain it guarantees you won't know whether you're in Kansas or Colorado. This might seem trite, until you pound shot after shot of delicious Irish whiskey into your gut. AM

Full menu, TV

Happy hour: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. & 10 p.m. to midnight

click to enlarge Ash is a well-known regular at the Ancient Mariner. - COLLAN FITZPATRICK
  • Collan Fitzpatrick
  • Ash is a well-known regular at the Ancient Mariner.

Benny's

517 W. Colorado Ave., 634-9309 Benny's is the first stop of the C. Springs Dive Bar Trinity. Attention martini snobs: A dive bar means sincerity and character, not amateur-drinker hijinks. Betty, the bar matron, is legendary. With jokes to make a sailor cringe and serious ass-kicking ability when needed, she also is extremely friendly. Benny's also is the best playground for drunks in town. Pool tables, foosball, darts, video games, a fabulous country jukebox and a shuffleboard table make this place a drinker's pilgrimage. AM

Wine by the glass, jukebox, pool, games, live music, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Bijou Bar & Grille

2510 E. Bijou St., 473-5718 Hugs and laughter make a happy hour cheap drinks, friendly staff, and kickin' pool tables are just icing on the cake. The Bijou Bar & Grille is home to women hugging women, men hugging men, and lots and lots of laughter. This queer-friendly joint is devoid of pretension, and that's worth being happy about. BLS

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, games, live music, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

The Black Sheep

2106 E. Platte Ave., 227-7625 A dizzying number of rock & roll clubs have tried to make a go of it at this location. Here's hoping the new regime, run by the capable folks at Soda Jerk Presents, has a healthy tenure ahead. If its recent packed local shows are any indication, The Black Sheep is well on its way to becoming a scenester standby. Check out the new all-the-Pabst-you-can-drink-nights (Thursdays, $7) and DJ nights, in addition to the great local and national acts. BLS

Live music, pinball, dancing

Blick's Brewing Company

625 Paonia St., 596-3192 Got funk? Increase your quota by sliding in the screen door of this microbrewery near Powers for a decidedly un-bar experience: sparse family-room furniture, Dad's wooden bowl collection, Granddad's antique bar, a calico cat and handmade brewskis aplenty. Tasty beers named for snowboarding maneuvers include radiant McTwist Scottish Ale and a rich, brooding Corkscrew Porter. Fire up the on-site barbecue, or to hold your clan's next get-together under the parachute ceiling of this Everyman's comfy garage getaway. RS

Games, pool, TV

The Blue Star

1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086 Best Restaurant Wine List

Best Wine Bar

Readers' poll winner Proprietor Joseph Coleman is an exacting taskmaster, and has paid as much attention to creating the perfect bar as he has to creating the perfect gourmet dining room. The Blue Star's bar is awash in bold colors walls painted saffron, deep red and orange with blue highlights throughout. Brushed aluminum tabletops accent the high-top tables, and intimate corners provide comfortable spots to sit and sip. An extensive wine list boasts 600 bottles, ranging from $20 to $1,200. Elegant and eclectic, this is a great spot for a quick dinner; the bar menu is more extensive and imaginative than any other in town. KCE

Full menu, wine by the glass

Happy hour: Sun. all day; otherwise, 4-7 p.m.

Bombers

click to enlarge At Bennigans, they serve tasty drinks the size of your - head. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • At Bennigans, they serve tasty drinks the size of your head.

460 N. Murray Blvd., 574-8282 Scene ain't been the same since your brother's friend got booted from his sweet basement pad? Come to Bombers. Lots of room, a handful of pool tables and no fewer than three varieties of beer-sign lampshades highlight this relaxed, if sorta run-down, east side joint. Assert yourself in the male-dominated crowd with a turn at the decent jukebox, or by taking on all comers at the Friday and Saturday poker nights. KW

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Bristol Brewing Company

1647 S. Tejon St., 633-2555 There's nothing better than drinking right from the source. Pulling a stool up to the counter at Bristol is like being nursed by your mom. Large steel tanks loom over a friendly, micro-informed staff and the best shuffleboard table in town. Master brewer Jason Yester assures an ample stock of favorites: Laughing Lab Scottish Ale, Mass Transit Ale, Beehive Honey Wheat and Red Rocket Pale Ale. The brewery crew boasts even more creativity through its "IPA" series. Cheers also to Bristol's Tucker Mitchell for the unique, wood-aged Belgian "Skull & Bones" series. MS

Snacks, games, live music

Buca di Beppo

7252 N. Academy Blvd., 260-0444 Buca di Beppo's bar is simple, cozy and, with a half-dozen tables, an ideal spot for a meal or a drink. The walls are manically decorated with all things Italian, as is the rest of the restaurant; while distracting in the main dining room, this is quaint and interesting in the bar. What may be the only picture of Roberto Baggio in the city is enough to attract this paisan. AM

TV

Caf El Paso

3840 N. Nevada Ave., 634-3940 Salud, Amor y Pesetas y Tiempo para disfrutarlos" adorns the bar's terracotta wall. As you try to work that out, sip on a cool margarita accompanied with fresh salsa and warm chips, and peruse the appetizing menu. As you partake of freshly made Mexican dishes, the mariachi chords and soft buzz of conversation make it hard not to agree that Health, Love and Money and Time to enjoy them" says it all. WY

Full menu, wine by the glass, live music, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-6 p.m.

Castaways

107 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-5626 Lost" may be the stranded-on-a-desert-island show, but bugger that for a joke. Go hide yourself away in a desert island cove at Castaways, where they serve tropical cocktails in parrot-shaped glasses garnished with slices of pineapple and little umbrellas. Accompany them with exotic vittles: fondues, Kobe burgers and more traditional steak, lobster and oyster creations. Arrrgh, me hearties! Castaways brings your best pirate fantasies to life. WY

Full menu, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: 4:30-6 p.m.

Cedars Jazz Club

3125 Sinton Road, 578-5744 Jack Kerouac and the Beat writers would be proud we've got a hip jazz club in Colorado Springs. Cedars' dimly lit, elegant wine and martini bar charms the gourmet palate, while untouchably tight live jazz spills all over slick hardwood and plush couches. Divine cheese plates and other creations by chef Victor Matthews help temper a fine buzz. There's no better establishment in which to high-roll or cut a rug. Cedars is so classy that you'll look good just standing inside. Now that's style. MS

Appetizers, wine by the glass, dancing, live music

Cleats Bar & Grill

click to enlarge At Castaways, you can get your drink shaken, stirred or - flaming. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • At Castaways, you can get your drink shaken, stirred or flaming.

6624 Delmonico Drive, 548-8267 There's always something going on at Cleats: 50-cent pool on five tables (leagues and tournaments), darts, cribbage, poker, all-you-can-eat Friday nights, a taco bar on Mondays. Cleats has a homemade food menu, shows college games all the time on DirectTV, and calls itself "the friendliest neighborhood bar in town." JNN

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, poker, pool, TV Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m.

Chili's Grill & Bar

5807 N. Academy Blvd., 260-1788

2890 New Center Point, 638-6200

1706 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-0440 At Chili's, you'll be greeted with the familiar chalk art and friendly staff, so no worries about the great unknown. At happy hour, they serve half-price wells, drafts and classic margaritas. There are lots of other full-price margaritas to choose from too, like the rum-infused daiquiri cleverly disguised as a Reggae Sunsplash Caribbean Margarita. For food, they serve chips and salsa, chips and queso, and yummy wings. Happy hour brings a mix of people, including families that want to have dinner with their drinks, on the cheap. GS

Full menu, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. & 9 p.m.-midnight

Club Q

3430 N. Academy Blvd., 570-1429 Best Gay-Friendly Bar Readers' poll winner It's raining men! Specifically, gay men! And lesbians, bis, trannies, straights and every other sexual preference out there. Club Q is the bar that welcomes them all with open arms and a little smoochy air kiss. Drag queens perform and host bingo, line-dancing classes are offered, and the food is great. For the more low-key, pool tables and darts take up the back of the spacious club. Check out clubqonline.com to see what activities and drink specials are featured for every night of the week. KL

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, games, pool, poker, TVHappy hour: 2-7 p.m.

Cowboys Country & Western

3910 Palmer Park Blvd., 596-1212 Get'cher Wranglers on it's time to boot-scoot boogie at Cowboys. It's a huge bar that has pool tables galore and an impressive two-tiered dance floor. The only thing better than watching the mesmerizing line dancing is the friendliness of the patrons. Oh, and the beer's pretty cheap, too. KL

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dewey's American Grill

4659 Centennial Blvd., 262-9100 More restaurant than tavern, Dewey's still is a good place to drink, so long as you're comfortable being watched by the kiddies. Climbing a mountain of nachos will soften your landing on Wednesdays, when Stoli drinks go for $2.25 a $9 ticket to Happyville. Fruity-drink fans must try the strawberry margaritas, served on the rocks in a 25-ounce glass; one will give you the bends and two will send you to bed. DTR

Full menu, pool, games, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri., 3-6 p.m.; 9 p.m. to midnight

Dublin House Sports Bar & Grill

1850 Dominion Way, 265-8820 The Dublin House is a scene straight out of a beer commercial. With Mardi Gras beads strewn about and a drunk armadillo hanging from the ceiling, Bud Light in its clutches, the Dublin House has frat-party appeal. In one room, a lone acoustic guitarist plays John Mayer covers to a handful of semi-swooning ladies. In the other, smaller room, a fiesta of pool tables, music, drinking, drinking, drinking and pick-up lines abounds. The Dublin House is highly recommended for the North End crowd that doesn't want the dancing at or the drive to Rum Bay. SG

Full menu, snacks, wine by the glass, dancing, games, live music, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Duffy's Tavern

click to enlarge Its buckles, boots and beer at Cowboys. - CATHY CAYTON
  • Cathy Cayton
  • Its buckles, boots and beer at Cowboys.

4861 N. Academy Blvd., 599-7739 Formal happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, but for those working in the restaurant biz, it's half-off all the time. Darts, pool, poker, big-screen TVs, a smokin' hot bartender no wonder the place has a lot of male regulars. It's tucked away, like its sister bar, The Place in Back, and just as worth a visit. BLS

Appetizers, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Dutch Mill Tavern

503 W. Colorado Ave., 471-3370 There are many reasons to frequent the Dutch Mill Tavern inexpensive drinks, two pool tables, a dartboard and a very friendly bar matron are a few. The best reason, though, is the jukebox. One dollar earns you five songs. Not even cheap-ass bars offer such a deal. Rocking out to Cinderella's "Nobody's Fool," followed by Beenie Man's "Be My Lady," then AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," topped off with Johnny Cash's "Ride This Train," truly is a great night for one dollar. AM

Full menu, wine by the glass, jukebox, pool, games

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 7-10 a.m. & 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Eden

217 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-0999 Best New Bar

*Readers' poll winner Once one of the city's first churches, this long-empty historic building now is a bar. And not just a bar, really, but a series of bars under one roof. Eden is unlike anything the city has seen before. It's lushly decorated, sort of a Vegas-meets-Austin Powers look. The ice-blue Syn Lounge opens the eyes and the sinuses with its Popsicle brightness and white leather, clamshell-backed swivel chairs. Around the corner is another bar, decked out in red and black. Meanwhile, drink specials echo Eden's unusual appeal. Saketini, anyone? Or a flavored fruit mojito? An adventurous tapas menu with good values, especially on the hefty salads, makes Eden a dinner destination, as well. KCE

Full menu, snacks, wine by the glass, dancing

Happy hour: Wed.-Fri. 4-9 p.m.

Elephant Bar

7585 N. Academy Blvd., 532-0032 Sure Elephant Bar is a chain restaurant. But it's an inventive, kid-friendly chain, with entrees under $10, a surprisingly well-stocked bar and prompt, friendly, efficient service. The dcor is Trader Vic's as re-imagined by Donald Trump, leavened with a little Hollywood cool. If you're a downtown snob, take a trip to the Elephant Bar and find out just why all those Republicans like Briargate so much. JH

Full menu, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 3-6:30 p.m.

Erin Inn

6480 N. Academy Blvd., 599-9864 The Erin Inn is a wonderful dive that suffers the infamy of being on Academy Boulevard. The half-circle, recessed bar is cozy and drinker-friendly, and encourages eye contact with the stranger sitting across from you. The staff is easy-going, and the crowd is down-to-earth and chatty. The only problem is, once you're seated, it's hard to leave. AM

Appetizers, pool, games, jukebox, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Fanz Sports Grill

click to enlarge Shawna Homan serves it up big at Deweys American - Grill. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Shawna Homan serves it up big at Deweys American Grill.

817 W. Colorado Ave., 227-1226 Former Peppertree chefs make this your gourmet sports option. Aside from cheap pints and pitchers, pick your own New York strip, or try calamari, seared ahi or crab-stuffed mushroom appetizers all reasonably priced. Fanz gets the job done with a cozy bar, eight televisions and the seasonal football package. Don't just drink eat. MS

Full menu, wine by the glass, jukebox, poker, TV

Frankie's Bar & Grill

945 N. Powers Blvd., 574-4881 This is the place where the softball players and league teams sport their dirtied jerseys after the game. TVs are abundant, and so are pool tables and sports arcade games. Frankie's offers good food with basic drink specials to help make the innings, periods and quarters a bit more foamy. MS

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, games, jukebox, live music, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Good Company

7625 N. Union Blvd., 528-8877 Owners Bob and Nancy give this bar a true family feel. Good Company boasts the staple big screens for every sightline and is perfect for any sports need or a drink after work. They offer great food and drink prices with a full menu and generous specials, a gorgeous patio, Golden Tee Golf and other games. Most importantly, there's ample ventilation. This ain't your average barstool sports pub. MS

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, games, poker, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Golden Bee

1 Lake Circle, 577-5776 Nestled beside The Broadmoor Hotel, the Golden Bee bursts with unique charm. Enjoy chilled pots of toothsome cheese on crackers while downing yards of Boddington, Harp or Guinness. They also serve choice port and scotch, and their full menu includes an excellent chicken pot pie. Other menu items include steak-and-kidney pie and delectable sandwiches on cranberry walnut bread. Since 1961, the Bee has offered harmony and bonhomie under the street chummy sing-alongs are featured nightly, and little bee stickers are tossed onto all who visit. JNN

Full menu, wine by the glass, live music, TV

Guthrie's Bar & Grill

1410 Kelly Johnson Blvd., 260-8486 When one of my co-workers told me he found the best bar in Colorado Springs, I balked, because it was within Briargate. But within five minutes at Guthrie's, I could see where he's coming from. They have the finest wings (smoked, then fried); Andrea, the amazingest bartender to ever grace this town; and reasonable prices. Owners Suz and Gator really care about their patrons, and it's clear that they've been doing everything right for their 16 years in business. SG

Appetizers, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, poker, TV Happy hour: Mon.-Fri., 4:30-6:30 p.m.; happy-hour prices all the time for

food-service employees and cadets

Harry's Sports Bar & Grill

4767 N. Carefree Circle, 380-1111 There must be some sort of unspoken rule that requires each sports bar to support an out-of-state team secondary to the Broncos, of course, in Colorado. At Harry's, it's the Miami Dolphins, and you'll find Dolphins memorabilia throughout the bar. They've got TVs strategically placed throughout, and though it's a fairly small strip-mall joint, they've got plenty of regulars and enthusiasts to keep the place full of jerseys and loud cheers. SG

Games, pool, jukebox, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Hatch Cover

click to enlarge Fanz fans (from left): Joseph Karvonen, Chris Thornton, - Danielle Osowicki, Ben Glab, Carl Pilger and Iris Kirk. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Fanz fans (from left): Joseph Karvonen, Chris Thornton, Danielle Osowicki, Ben Glab, Carl Pilger and Iris Kirk.

252 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-5223 The Hatch is your loyal Broncos fan enclave. There's no better place to pray for a miracle while sucking down beers and snacks. Though it's not a full-on sports bar, per se, and there aren't that many televisions, the Hatch has the right spirit. MS

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, live music, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 2-6 p.m.; Sun.-Thurs. 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Hooters Restaurants

7285 Commerce Center Drive, 955-4668

750 Citadel Drive East, 596-3111 So, I have to admit that I went into Hooters with the sole purpose of out-Hooters-ing the Hooters girls. This, however, is impossible. How can you compete with girls jumping rope and hula-hooping in hot pants and tank tops? You just can't. That's why their motto is "delightfully tacky, yet unrefined." They just don't care how ridiculous it gets in there. Oh, and they have wings and beer and stuff. Just tell your girlfriend you're there for the wings. SG

Full menu, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri., 3-6 p.m. & 10 p.m. to close

Il Vicino

11 S. Tejon St., 475-9224 The consummate Colorado Springs experience requires sitting on Il Vicino's patio drinking a Wet Mountain IPA (brewed in-house) during Springspree, watching the city go by. For those who prefer a climate-controlled environment, Il Vicino's bar is perfect, but beware: The bar is dangerously close to the chef's station, which makes it nearly impossible to avoid eating one of their gourmet wood-oven pizzas. The Bianca: spicy oil, mozzarella, capocollo ham, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, rosemary, goat cheese, gorgonzola and fresh tomatoes. You can choose from one of their many pizzas, build your own or select other Italian fare to go with your World Beer Cup-winning beverage. SG

Full menu

Happy hour: Mon.-Sat. 3-5:30 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Irie Rasta Pub

315 E. Arvada St., 471-8561 The Irie Rasta Pub comes live, direct and authentic from the island of Jamaica. Irie Rasta serves jerk chicken or vegetarian callaloo ackee (callaloo is a green leafy vegetable, like spinach, and ackee is Jamaica's national fruit; callaloo ackee also can be ordered with shellfish). Wicked Rum Punch is very affordable; the Big Bamboo drink is a mix of rum, juice and vodka. Everyone is welcome, and the place exudes happy, friendly feeling. As David, the chef, says, "All the dishes and drinkies are good and better than good. Are you feeling that now?" JNN

Appetizers, wine by the glass, dancing, games, jukebox, live music, pool, TV

Happy hour: Wed.-Sun. 4-7 p.m.

Ivywild Inn

1529 S. Nevada Ave., 636-9532 Buried behind a cluster of fast-food joints and sporting the only lot in town without a Subaru, the Ivywild is an unapologetic dive. Grab a stool at the densely smoky bar, join the cast of working folks and let Birdie the bartender serve you shot after shot of Beam. Crank up the jukebox, shoot pool or conduct business on the pay phone " if you still have the strength to stand. DTR

Pool table, jukebox, TV

Jack Quinn's Irish Ale House & Pub

21 S. Tejon St., 385-0766 Jack Quinn's hanging glass lamps shine down on soft wood, low comfy pub stools and "settles" (enclosed booths). Extensive scotch and whiskey selections and draught imports invite serious drinking. A thoughtful menu offers lamb stew, corned beef, vegetable boxty (puff pastry) and more. Tempting appetizers include Ballycastle fish cakes or The Ring of Kerry. There's enough live music to please everyone: Irish rock (Big Paddy), zydeco, swing and more. There's never a cover charge at the Jack. JNN

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, live music, TV, karaoke

click to enlarge Guthries gets a two-thumbs-up rating. - RICK GORHAM
  • Rick Gorham
  • Guthries gets a two-thumbs-up rating.

Happy hour: Mon.-Sun. 3-6 p.m.; Sun. 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Jose Muldoon's

222 Tejon St., 636-2111 Jose Muldoon's claim to fame may be one big margarita. More precisely: 4,765.5 gallons of margarita, served up on a Guinness World Record-worthy day in 1999. Since then, the size may have been scaled back, but Tex-Mex flavor at Jose's still is on a grand scale. Your best bet is to saddle up to the bar for complimentary chips and salsa, or indulge with a friend and get a plate of the tastiest nachos in town, then wash it all down with their "signature sauce" a margarita, of course! SJG

Full menu, wine by the glass, snacks, games, jukebox, live music, trivia, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Judge Baldwin's

4 S. Cascade Ave., 473-5600 Colorado Springs' first microbrewery, with four in-house brews on tap at all times, is a popular destination for the happy-hour crowd. The Indy recommends the seasonal brew. It changes several times a year, giving brewers the chance to flex their imaginations. Although it's on the first floor of the Antlers hotel, Judge Baldwin's isn't quite a hotel bar. Its pub-like atmosphere feels homey, with lots of regulars. Soak up the beer with an order of fish 'n chips, and you'll forget you're in the tallest building in town. BLS

Full menu, live music, pool

Happy hour: 5-7 p.m.

Keg Lounge

730 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9531 Mosey over to Manitou and cozy in at the Keg Lounge for that neighborhood-bar feeling even if you're not from the neighborhood. Check out their way-better-than-bar-food selections and a decent jukebox full of the classic rock that gives you warm fuzzies. Top that with great service and Alice in Wonderland-like bathrooms, and you'll see why the Keg is a must-stop on your way through Manitou or up the Pass. CSB

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, pool, live music, jukebox, poker, TV

Kimball's Wine Bar

113 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 447-1947 Though it reeks of popcorn, and all drinks are served in plastic cups, film buffs will love this tiny poster-decorated space. Independent and inviting, Kimball's offers a cross-section of worldly, inexpensive wines ($4-$6 a cup), two kinds of port, champagne and an all-Bristol draught beer selection. Teetotalers can make rich, delicious choices from the espresso-filled DazBog coffee list, enjoy Josh & John's ice cream from next door or have a panini sandwich all during movie time. There is a two-drink maximum, and, of course, IDs are required. JNN

Wine by the glass, snacks

Laura Belle's

734 N. 19 St., 630-7600 The second station of the C. Springs Dive Bar Trinity is Laura Belle's. Besides the larger-than-life Elvis statue next to the stage, it's got good acoustics, a wraparound lounge-style bar, three pool tables, foosball, darts, a jukebox and all the mullets you can count. With sporadic hip-hop and reggae DJs, Laura Belle's has the potential to be the hippest of the hip on the west side. AM

Snacks, wine by the glass, dancing, live music, jukebox, pool, games

Happy hour: 1-7 p.m.

Loonee's Comedy Club

1305 N. Academy Blvd., 591-0707 Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Academy Boulevard? While Colorado Springs might not be a mecca for comedians, we are lucky enough to have the venerable Loonee's Comedy Club. And these folks know how to drink: Loonee's has a two-drink minimum. That's what we like. You can fill your belly before the belly laughs begin, and even the sandwiches on the menu have a kooky twist try the Tonya Harding Club sandwich or the Heckler. BLS

click to enlarge Heres to a Girls Night Out at the Hatch Cover! - RICK GORHAM
  • Rick Gorham
  • Heres to a Girls Night Out at the Hatch Cover!

Full menu, wine by the glass

Macaroni Grill

2510 Tenderfoot Hill St., 540-9833 The Macaroni Grill provides classic Italian favorites such as limoncello, along with a gorgeously priced personal-label house wine series out of Sonoma. A full bar and competent wine list serve both the main restaurant and a separate bar area. This is a great place to create your own pasta dish while filling up on tannins and sulfites. Take a shot of lemony goodness as an aperitif or digestif. MS

Full menu, wine by the glass

MacKenzie's Chop House

128 S. Tejon St., 635-3536 Best Place For Happy Hour

Readers' poll winner OK, look past the beautiful, tree-shaded outdoor patio and the plush leather interior. And the attractive servers and the excellent prices though with $2.50 wells and half-price martinis, they are slightly unforgettable. Forget even the smoking lounge, with the excellent selection of cigars, and the perfectly portioned, tasty appetizers. (Mmmm.) MacKenzie's happy hour rules because of one thing: You get the cocktail shaker when you get your martini. No wimpy 3-ounce pours you get to administer the juice yourself. Now that, friends, is true decadence. BLS

Full menu, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Maxi's Lounge (in the Doubletree Hotel)

1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-8900 People go to a hotel bar for the ambience and anonymity, and Maxi's is full of both. Sure, the martinis aren't so great, but that's not really the point. The dcor is straight out of the "70s, from carpet to ceiling. Whether you're there to escape real life, or to conduct a secret rendezvous, Maxi's is a place where you're sure to be left to your own business. SG

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, pool

Happy hour: 5-9 p.m.

Meadow Muffins

2432 W. Colorado Ave., 633-0583 There's no getting bored at Meadow Muffins. Beyond the live music, pool tables, trivia games and west-side crowd, there's just so much cool stuff to look at. Like the antique buggies hanging from the ceiling; or the giant, pulley-driven fan above the bar; or the people walking by outside. A special treat: During Broncos games, hear startling shouts of glee over a PA system that sounds like it belongs in a New York City subway station. KW

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, games, live music, pool, trivia, TV

Happy hour: Tuesday all day; Friday 4 p.m. to close; otherwise, 4-7 p.m.

The Melting Pot

30-A E. Pikes Peak Ave., 385-0300 Though you can do the full fondue shebang at a bar-area table, it's not all chocolate and cheese at The Melting Pot. They've got a seven-page wine list, an impressive selection of bottled microbrews and no fewer than 20 martini choices. Try the carrot cake martini or their appletini, with 25 green apple Jolly Ranchers dissolved into every special liter of vodka. Could an Atomic Firetini be next? KW

Appetizers, wine by the glass

Mill Hill

click to enlarge John Shemanski (left) and Randy Bauer talk over the finer - points of margarita-making at Jose Muldoons. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • John Shemanski (left) and Randy Bauer talk over the finer points of margarita-making at Jose Muldoons.

1668 S. 21st St., 632-6932 Don't rock the jukebox ... I wanna hear some Jones. Then get down to the Mill Hill Saloon, a classic honky-tonk perched high on the crest of a hill on 21st Street on the west side. It's impossible to miss just look for the life-sized bucking bronco perched on the roof. This is a knock-back-a-few-after-work kind of bar, friendly and loaded with regulars. KCE

Appetizers, wine by the glass, dancing, games, jukebox, live music, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Murphy's Tavern

2729 N. Nevada Ave., 634-9196 The last stop of the C. Springs Dive Bar Trinity is Murphy's, and it's strictly for the serious drunken monkey. With only a jukebox, a pay phone and a video machine nestled so far in the corner as to be inaccessible, Murphy's is a place to concentrate on drinking and chain-smoking. The semicircular bar lets all patrons see each other, while angled mirrors allow for sly machinations. Super-sexy bartenders and Ron, the hyperactive sexy leprechaun, make the experience worth a hangover from hell. AM

Snacks, wine by the glass, jukebox, TV

O'Furry's

900 E. Fillmore St., 634-3106 If you can fry it, O'Furry's has it on the menu in their NASCAR- and hockey-themed bar. Like chewin' tobacco? This is the place to have a chaw as you knock back a Bud Light or one of a range of Colorado brews on tap, as a pop-idol-wannabe serenades the karaoke crowd. Red meets Blue in this earthy hideaway tucked snugly behind The Omelette Parlor in Fillmore Street's industrial heartland. WY

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Old Chicago

7115 Commerce Center Drive, 593-7678

118 N. Tejon St., 634-8812

4110 N. Academy Blvd., 536-0633

3190 New Center Point, 591-8994 Mmmmmmmmm ... beer. Homer Simpson would feel right at home at Old Chicago. With 35 tap beers and 110 beer choices in all, you could kill a lot of time sampling, choosing favorites and taking their World Beer Tour (which also earns you prizes). Happy hour happens twice Monday through Friday, and includes drink specials to delight all beer- and wine-lovers, not to mention discounts on select appetizers. Best of all, you can actually have a conversation at Old Chicago, and your best bet is to do it over a pizza or their kickin' wings. Mmmmmmmmm ... wings. Plus, they have a loo that Marge Simpson would be proud to squat in. CSB

Full menu, jukebox, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.; 10 p.m. to midnight

Oscar's

333 S. Tejon St., 471-8070 In the heart of South Tejon Street's watering-hole district, Oscar's stands out for its simple interior, friendly staff and fish tank-TV combo. Happy hour offers good and stiff drinks at fair prices, and freshies seem to replace the empties with barely a nod. If you need a quick Gulf Shore vacation, visit Oscar's and slurp oysters, gulp beer and celebrate the end of a brutal Monday. DTR

Full menu, jukebox, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.

Our Bar

1836 Dominion Way, 532-0277 When Our Bar opened, the whole place was painted white, floor to ceiling. Now they've created a stage, painted to give the joint a more inviting feel, and created specials and different reasons for patrons to show up nearly every day of the week. On the weekends, they even have homemade breakfast: huevos rancheros, biscuits and gravy and more. The folks are friendly, the crowd diverse, and, perhaps most importantly, the drinks are strong. SG

click to enlarge Oscars happy hour offers good, stiff drinks and ice-cold - beers at fair prices. - RICK GORHAM
  • Rick Gorham
  • Oscars happy hour offers good, stiff drinks and ice-cold beers at fair prices.

Full menu, jukebox, pool, games

Happy hour: 3-7 p.m.

Overtime Sports Bar & Grill

2809 Dublin Blvd., 531-6032 Sports bars should have an enormous projection HDTV, 20 TVs bordering the room showing other games, great food, great people and lots of seating. Overtime has all of these, and they also have pretzels at the bar. SCORE! The owners are friendly and maintain a small-bar feel with banners, jerseys and hockey sticks hanging from the wall. (Overtime even has its own jerseys.) This is where Avalanche fans come in droves to watch the game. It's the perfect bar for cheering or booing, but just make sure to get there early. Although the seats are plentiful, they fill up fast. SG

Full menu, wine by the glass, jukebox, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-6 p.m.

Panino's Restaurant

604 N. Tejon St., 635-7452 The downtown installation of this neighborhood pizza-and-panini destination is a regular hangout for Colorado College students and downtown denizens. Although it's a popular family restaurant, its bar scene is hopping. A longtime supporter of the CC hockey team, Panino's is a great place to enjoy Italian food, the game, a shining Molson sign and a revolving happy-hour menu that pleases even the barest wallet. BLS

Full menu, wine by the glass, wi-fi, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m., Sat. 4 p.m. to close

Paradox Lounge (behind Southside Johnny's)

528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487 From inside the blue-lit beauty that is the Paradox Lounge, a patron might linger obsequiously in an effort to finger some semblance of paradox. It's a fantastic ploy. The contemplation allows for some earnest sipping from an impressive drink menu that boasts both "serious" and "creative" martinis, "original cocktails and mojitos," "classic cocktails," a standard beer list of domestics, premiums and micros, as well as a mid-range, yet expansive, wine selection. The lounge area, with its brick walls, high ceilings, fireplace and leather furniture, passes for a living-room loft on slow nights. When it picks up, the place is decidedly "urban hangout." All that's missing is the down-tempo DJ. VM

Appetizers, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Penalty Box Lounge

3045 Jet Wing Drive, 391-9906 The Penalty Box, located just off South Academy and across the street from a huge neon "JESUS" sign, is a classic strip-mall bar. The atmosphere and dcor is reminiscent of the rec room that your Dad never got around to finishing, but Lawdy, they have tons of drink specials. KL

Jukebox, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. & 4-7 p.m.

Paul's

310 S. 8th St., 520-9737 Paul's is a good place that doesn't deserve to be in a strip mall. On a weekend night, it gets sorta nutty, but on weekdays, it's rather relaxing. The usual pool tables and darts are available, and TVs abound, but it's the great seating and cheap drinks that draw regulars. KL

Snacks, wine by the glass, games, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 5-6 p.m.

click to enlarge At Our Bar, find much more than just blondes and guys - with hats. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • At Our Bar, find much more than just blondes and guys with hats.

Phantom Canyon Brewing Company

2 E. Pikes Peak Ave, 635-2800 Phantom Canyon is a mecca for Colorado Springs beer connoisseurs. With eight to 10 selections daily from the on-premises brewery, each a unique and delightful taste sensation, even beer newbies are sure to find a brew to enjoy. Add an atmosphere that is clean, classy and hip, and you can easily understand why Phantom is one of Colorado Springs' quintessential drinking destinations. Just be certain not to commit the cardinal sin ordering a Bud Light here is sacrilege. SJG

Full menu, snacks, wine by the glass, pool, games, jukebox, live music, trivia, wi-fi, TV

Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. & Sun.-Thurs. 10 p.m. to close

Pine Gables Pub

10530 Ute Pass Ave., Green Mountain Falls, 719/684-2555 For some real comfortable Rocky Mountain drinkin', climb the Pass to the Pine Gables Tavern. Leave your mark by doodlin' on a dollar bill and pinning it to the wall or ceiling of this homey place. A big stone fireplace anchors the main room, and historic photographs line the dark walls. Pines Gables has all your favorite local bands playing live on weekends; a buck will get you classic rock tunes on the juke, which is interspersed with a bit of country and newer alternative. If you stay for one drink too many or the music makes your head pound, take advantage of the "drug store" behind the bar, where Advil and the likes are for sale. Tip: When you leave, make sure not to fall in the lake! CSB

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, pool, jukebox, live music, poker, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Place in the Back

2370 Academy Place, 574-5196 Gotta love a place where you get in and out so affordably. Inside a North Academy strip mall and done up in corrugated steel that makes an Indy staffer feel right at home, the Place clearly is a regulars' joint. An adorable bar staff doles out super-cheap drafts, along with microbrews and top-shelf bevvies. AR

Appetizers, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

The Point

1545 S. 8th St., 473-1155 Smallish, smoky and full of regulars, The Point is everything an ordinary neighborhood spot ought to be. The harried barman is an archetypal veteran of the trade, quick-witted and evincing a downtrodden sense of humor. Pony up to the bar or climb into a cozy booth and let the jukebox's dulcet tones from Cash to Oasis take all your troubles away. DTR

Full menu, jukebox, TV

Happy hour: Fri. 5-8 p.m.

Polo Club Bar & Grill

7290 Commerce Center Drive, 599-9100 The Polo Club is a strange hybrid of hotel bar and foliage-filled wonderland. Nestled in the Embassy Suites on the north side of town, the restaurant/bar is home to the excellent room-service food that conference guests at the hotel get. The bistro-style menu features luxurious entres, like trout meuniere and steak Diane, while a bar appetizer menu boasts the usual suspects suitable for soaking up booze. Chat with the friendly barman, or sit in the lobby and marvel at the splendor of the indoor rainforest. The Polo Club even has its own Bristol beer on tap Polo Club Ale although in other parts of the city, it goes by the name Mass Transit." BLS

Full menu, wine by the glass, TV

Prime Time Tavern

230 Pueblo Ave., 632-5246 Red and black vinyl mingle in this spacious downtown tavern just off Wahsatch, giving it a Marvin Gaye kind of feeling. Adjoining the bar is Merl's Soul Food restaurant, offering catfish, mac and cheese and perfect greens. Friday nights, a DJ spins and the dance floor is packed. Most afternoons, well-dressed old-timers from the Elks Club across the street line the bar, telling stories and drinking beer. KCE

Games, jukebox, dancing, pool, TV

click to enlarge Snuggle up and snog at Paradox Lounge. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Snuggle up and snog at Paradox Lounge.

Happy hour: Mon.-Wed., all day

Rascal's

1785 B St., 576-2238 The place just screams "hole in the wall." Rascal's (by Fort Carson) is situated between liquor stores and Oriental massage parlors, but is a treasure trove of pool tables, live music, and a well-stocked jukebox that never would get old. KL

Appetizers, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Red Hot & Blue Southern Bar & Grill

4290 N. Academy Blvd., 592-0300 Red Hot and Blue is one of those chain eateries that drives home its theme by covering its walls with hundreds of related pictures. The reason it works at this chain is that the pictures all are of Southern cultural icons, who are much more interesting than, say, those from the Midwest. Furthermore, the savory aroma of barbecue goes great with a beer. AM

Full menu, TV

Rendezvous Lounge

128 N. Tejon St., 632-1381 The dcor is Miami-meets-Manhattan glamorous, with a large bar and a cozy area with movable sofas. Plus, they have those trippy lights that change color every couple of seconds. Just as it advertises, Rendezvous is all about the "tinis. All are described in the glossy cocktail menu, complete with tantalizing photos of scantily clad women. It's a nice little package. BLS

Snacks, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: Mon. all night; otherwise, 4-6 p.m.

Rico's Caf & Wine Bar

320 N. Tejon St., 630-7723 Sometimes you don't know what's missing until it arrives. This is the feeling you get at the new Rico's Caf & Wine Bar. Located next to Poor Richard's bookshop, Rico's serves coffees, teas and an eclectic range of wines, all accompanied by savory tapas, fresh pastries or rich brownies. Whether you need an afternoon sanctuary or a comfy place to meet, Rico's is where you can hear yourself think as you imbibe. WY

Full menu, wine by the glass, live music, wi-fi

Ritz Grill

15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484 If downtown has a neighborhood bar, it's the Ritz. You'll see the same folks at the same stools on the same night, week in and week out it's a place where everybody truly does know your name. One patron even has a personalized brass plaque mounted on the booth where he has dinner several nights a week. Characterized by excellent service, the Ritz sets the standard for quality food and drinks and a friendly night out. KCE

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, live music, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Sat. 4:30-7:30

Royal Tavern

924 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9916 One of the joys of a heavy drinking habit is stepping out of your comfort zone and mingling with strangers with whom you have nothing in common, save for a damaged liver. The best place in Manitou to do this is the Royal Tavern. Experience the grittier side of the Manitou populace while shooting pool, making eyes at the bartender or just downing some domestic suds. Close quarters, cool paintings of dogs and cats boozing it up, and a decent jukebox make this bar a must on any Manitou pub-crawl. AM

click to enlarge Chris Brock lines em up at the Penalty Box. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Chris Brock lines em up at the Penalty Box.

Wine by the glass, jukebox, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-6 p.m.

Rum Bay

20 N. Tejon St., 634-3522 It's five bars in one massive sensory overload, but since it's packed every weekend, Rum Bay must be doing something right. Have a grand ol' time, Hunter S. Thompson-style, as the different music competes for brain space. Head for the karaoke bar for a palate (and soul) cleanser. KL

Appetizers, wine by the glass, dancing, games, pool, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Sam's (the World's Smallest Bar)

20 N. Tejon St., 473-0678 According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Sam's is the smallest bar on earth. With four stools and occupancy of five, the place is cozy and intimate. Glass windows onto Tejon Street's bar row allow "big-screen viewing" of the bizarre courting rituals and barbarous fighting habits of the town's most notorious boozers. Ask the regulars about the lady who fought the light pole, lost the battle and rode away in an ambulance. AM

Appetizers, wine by the glass, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Sharky's Bar & Grill

5910 Omaha Blvd., 638-1180 Who says there aren't beaches in Colorado? Whoever they are, they haven't been to Sharky's, where the back patio gives way to a nice bit of sand. Yeah, it's for volleyball and horseshoes, but a beach is a beach. Arrive before the 5 o'clock whistle for $1.50 beers, flip down your shades and catch the sun's last rays. Even during winter, we can pretend, can't we? DTR

Full menu, games, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 3-5 p.m.

Shuga's

702 S. Cascade Ave., 328-1412 It's that rare, special thing: a smart bar. Vintage-chic dcor, barstools with backs, and a vast white vinyl couch provide the setting; the players are clever professionals and sexy philosophers. Shuga's menu and libations are divine. Hipster owner Alexis and her individualistic, pretty staff serve chocolate and lavender martinis, titillating liqueurs, and exceptional espresso at this elusively appealing and unique place. JNN

Appetizers, wine by the glass, live music

Happy hour: Noon to 2 p.m. & 4-6 p.m. & 10 p.m. to midnight

Southside Johnny's

528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487 Ah, Johnny's! If you like big, friendly, slightly smoky bars with live music, affordable drinks and a competent staff, Johnny's is for you. Try 'em on nights when Martini Shot takes the stage it's an eclectic crowd where bikers, businessmen trying to be cool, young guys who are cool and sloe-eyed hotties in skimpy tops all jam the dance floor. JH

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, live music, jukebox, pool, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

click to enlarge Oooh, pretty: Rendezvous Lounge. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Oooh, pretty: Rendezvous Lounge.

Spanky's Grill

445 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 538-0068 Spanky's is a little confusing, for its sort of diner-meets-sports-bar dcor. Think red and black paint, tiled floors and corrugated metal siding, but then toss in Muhammad Ali pictures and TVs lining almost the entire place. You can't argue with plenty of seating, including comfy booths, and a menu full of bar-perfect grub. Or a Tuaca dispenser! No word yet on whether spankings are administered at Spanky's, but regardless, you're still sure to have a ball. KL

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: 3-6 p.m.

Spike's Place (at the Mission Hill Restaurant)

6799 N. Academy Blvd., 598-3107 The Mission Inn has been on North Academy since the '70s. Now, across the street from Freaky's North, the place still has its hacienda air that caters to neighborhood locals. Spike's Place, named after the former owner, is a hole-in-the-wall smoky bar with a big-screen TV tuned to sports, a fireplace, electronic darts and an original painting of Spike, depicted as an Old World bandit holding a can of Coors. Happy hour gets you discounts on beer, wine and margaritas. Appetizers are basic Mexican fare if you want trendy neo-Mexican fusion, go elsewhere. GS

Full menu, wine by the glass, jukebox, games, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Squatting Chicken

5020 N. Nevada Ave., 599-8064 What the cluck? How has a roost this fantastic stayed off the radar for so long? Sure, it may be a bar in a barn, but who cares about that, when you've got a patio, an outdoor bar and horseshoes! Add in a staff that's far more rock than cock, a taste-bud-tempting menu (including fried chicken), more fun distractions than chicken kitsch on the wall (well, almost), and you've got a nest suited for any fun-loving hen or rooster. SJG

Full menu, wine by the glass, pool (outside), games, poker, jukebox, live music, dancing, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-6 p.m.

Sufferin' Bastard Tavern

632 Peterson Road, 596-6326 Within sight of Peterson AFB's main gates, Sufferin' B's is a smoky little hole in the best sense of the phrase. With a slew of weekly specials, including $1 schnapps, $5 pitchers and big ol' 32-ounce drafts for $4, the place caters to military clientele as well as a healthy blend of bikers and neighborhood regulars. "The best part," a former regular wrote me, "is that you'll never, ever get fucked with." Thanks for that, B's. AR

Snacks, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, pool, TV

Tam O'Shanter Pub

332 W. Garden of the Gods Road, 266-8922 Dave & Buster's, step aside. Tam O'Shanter is like an arcade for adults, but with a sprinkling of neighborhood bar for good measure. With pinball, multiple arcade games, a dance floor and, of course, karaoke, it's a playground, complete with cheap drinks. Some nights it feels like a UCCS bar, some nights a working man's retreat, and some nights a hipster paradise, but it always feels inviting. This place is by no means an authentic Irish pub, but it does capture a Cheers-y neighborhood-bar-feeling that warrants a return trip. BLS

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, games, jukebox, poker, pool, live music, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

The Thirsty Parrot

32 S. Tejon St., 884-1094 The closest you'll come to Margaritaville this side of the Mississippi is downtown at The Thirsty Parrot. Caribbean dcor, complete with ample straw and bamboo cover, marks this former music-venue-turned-cowboy-bar-turned-Jimmy-Buffett-bar. One can't help but relax in a beach-themed atmosphere where the rum runs wild and the sea breeze blows over dartboards, pool tables and foosball. MS

Full menu, wine by the glass, pool, jukebox, live music, games, TV

click to enlarge Have a cluckin good time at the Squatting Chicken. - COLLAN FITZPATRICK
  • Collan Fitzpatrick
  • Have a cluckin good time at the Squatting Chicken.

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

This Is It Lounge

1367 N. Academy Blvd., 597-9969 With a multitude of Chinese takeout places and a Laundromat nearby, this is a perfect place to stop in and enjoy a $1.50 Coors Light. The bartender could be described as grizzled, but that doesn't make him unfriendly. It isn't glamorous, but as far as strip-mall bars go, this is it. BLS

Snacks, wine by the glass, games, live music, pool, TV

Happy hour: 7-11 a.m. & 4-7 p.m.

Thunder & Buttons II

2415 W. Colorado Ave., 447-9888 Thirteen years ago, Thunder & Buttons was a great west side bar and restaurant and then it burned down. For years, it was missed and mourned. Then it was rebuilt, restored and revived to be as good as new, and maybe even better. T&B II is comfortable, unpretentious, friendly, and a lot more affordable than its downtown counterparts. (And for patrons, it's a lot easier to find a parking space). Take advantage of happy hour, and you and a pal each can throw down a couple of drinks, share a monumental platter of cheese nachos, and still have change from a twenty ... if you're a really miserly tipper. JH

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, live music, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Sat. 4-7 p.m.; Tues.-Sun. 10 p.m. to close; Sun. 2-5 p.m.

Tony's

311 N. Tejon St., 228-6566 Tony's. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Is it your wonderfully full bar, your snappy and sexy staff? Or, perhaps it's your live music, or your superb jukebox, featuring everyone from Neil Diamond to Operation Ivy? It's probably your array of fried foods. But who's to say? Granted, the weekly poker night is such a draw that it's hard to get into the bar, but that's a piddly complaint. One thing is for sure: Tony's has developed a massively dedicated clientele, ranging from CC kids and hipsters to post-work suits and crusty trucker sorts. Dedication isn't earned easily, so visit Tony's to see how they keep 'em coming. KL

Full menu, wine by the glass, live music, poker, jukebox, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Townhouse Lounge

907 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1085 Manitou's Townhouse Lounge, located near the Penny Arcade, is rather deceptive. On the outside, it appears to be a little nook. Once you step in, though, it's a bit like "Dr. Who's" Tardis mystifyingly large, with plenty of room for tables, TVs, and a big back hall for a pool table. Best of all, on Sundays they feature $2 mimosas and a $2 build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Hallelujah! KL

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, live music, pool, TV

Triple Nickel Tavern

26 S. Wahsatch Ave, 477-9555 The newest addition to the downtown bar scene isn't really downtown, but a couple of streets away. A rock & roll bar, the Triple Nickel is filled with Steelers memorabilia (a welcome accessory at the recent Super Bowl party, which drew large crowds), a jukebox with Ozzy and Metallica, and one of the best values in town: a pitcher of Pabst for only $5.55. Only the brave should attempt the Triple Nickel burger, loaded down with three half-pound patties. BLS

Full menu, games, pool, TV

Ute Inn

204 W. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, 719/687-1465 A long wooden bar fairly screams out for a shot glass to be slid to some bedraggled outlaw. Rough, hewn timbered walls evoke a romanticized Wild West in this subtly lit bar. Generous appetizers accompany the traditional beverages, and a couple of pool tables, a jukebox and welcoming bar staff will help you get in touch with your inner cowpoke. WY

click to enlarge Rejoice! Sandys at your service at Townhouse Lounge. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Rejoice! Sandys at your service at Townhouse Lounge.

Appetizers, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, pool, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

V Bar

19 E. Kiowa St., 471-8622 The latest manifestation of that oh-so-retro-hip urban phenomenon, the martini bar, is perfectly expressed in V Bar. Small, narrow, dark and impossibly cool, V Bar is favored by people who are younger, more stylish and better-looking than you. The martinis are expensive and wonderful, and the bartenders are even better-looking than the customers. JH

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Walkabout Pub & Grill

1919 E. Boulder St., 471-1188 Walkabout is not for the faint of heart, but who cares about the faint of heart? The parking lot is full of motorcycles, and the bar is hopping by 6 p.m. It's not unusual to see a couple slow-dancing to the jukeboxes at this time of night. $1 fried treats and two-for-one drinks make this a popular hangout for bikers and neighborhood folks. BLS

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, jukebox, live music, poker, pool, TV

Happy hour: 4-7 p.m.

Wayfarer British & Irish Pub

520 S. Tejon St., 633-3300 One of the most fun things about the Wayfarer is saying it. The name just rolls off the tongue, and if you've partaken of the particular Irish liquid cheer they offer, feel free to add as many "-erer"s to the name as you'd like. With a lovely selection of Irish and English beers on tap, including Smithwick's as well as the ubiquitous Guinness, the pub indeed can sabotage your pronunciation. Add to that the cozy, dark wood interior and the fact that their jukebox has Flogging Molly, and you just might think about adding an "O'" to your name and moving in. AR

Full menu, wine by the glass, dancing, games, live music, jukebox, TV

Happy hour: Mon.-Sat. 4-7 p.m.

Will's Sports Bar

424 S. Nevada Avenue, 475, 2122 Grandpa, is that you? What's that you say? You've decided to spend eternity hanging out at Will's Sports Pub? Well, I can't say I'm surprised: After all, it is an exact replica of your basement bar, minus the mold and mildew scent, and with a smidge more seating. Sitting in those oversized snuggling chairs is like receiving one of your bear hugs. Will's even has that endless supply of draft beer you always wanted. Why, Grandpa, I believe our visits are destined to be frequent, even if you're there only in spirit. SJG

Full menu, snacks, wine by the glass, pool, games, free popcorn, TV Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m. & 9 p.m. to midnight

Wines of Colorado

8045 W. U.S. Hwy. 24, Cascade, 684-0900 Famous for its Colorado Wine Burgers and well-known for consistent quality, Wines of Colorado is an oenophile's dream in the Rockies. Selling every day including Sunday, the restaurant's tasting room offers samples, gifts and bottles of the best wines Colorado vineyards offer. There are Pinot Grigios and Noirs, Chardonnays, Cabernets and more, plus pear and apple hard ciders. Singles, families and parties can sit and sip cozily indoors. Come May, the patio and creekside tables will be open. JNN

Full menu, wine by the glass

The Worker's Lounge

2627 Delta Drive, 392-8712 Whoever said religion is a populist sedative never drank beer at the Worker's Lounge while watching sports on the tube, surrounded by amiable cohorts. The Worker's Lounge takes its dialectic seriously. Don't read too much into the name, though: Post-modern irony is sly, and can make anything seem foolish. Drink up, and enjoy it! AM

Games, jukebox, TV Happy hour: 4-6 p.m.

Yukon Tavern

525 S. Circle Drive, 475-0050 Did it ever occur to you that you don't have to go to Boston, Dublin or Pueblo to find a cool neighborhood bar? You know, the kind that has eight pool tables, no karaoke, no live music, a kickass jukebox, old-school pinball, leatherette booths, drink specials galore, plenty of space for the regulars and a friendly welcome for newbies? Try the Yukon it's been at the same South Circle location for nearly 30 years. And forget all the brunch specials hit the Yukon between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday for the free buffet and the (not-free-but-reasonable) "Build your own Bloody Mary" bar. JH

Full menu, wine by the glass, games, jukebox, pool, TV Happy hour: Mon.-Fri. 4-6 p.m.

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