South nighttime hangouts 

Being miles from Denver can be a plus

To our west is Pikes Peak. To the north, God and the Air Force. And to the east we have ... um ... well ... New York.

But drinking and music, those things can be found in most any direction. And the landscape that extends from downtown Colorado Springs to Pueblo is certainly no exception.

Let's start with Pueblo's Downtown Bar (103 Central Plaza, 719/544-1499), which brings together the best of both worlds. It was here that the Haunted Windchimes played some of their first gigs, back before they became A Prairie Home Companion celebrities. The bar also has great taste in beer: Coors and Coors Light are conspicuously absent, in deference to a rotating selection of Colorado microbrews on tap. At any given time, some 50 whiskeys are on-hand, and as owner and general manager Adam Gazzola points out, his venue gets musical acts who can't play the Springs because of contract agreements with Denver booking agents.

Other venues with that geographic advantage include Kim's Pixie Inn (440 S. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo, 719/542-8370), where internationally acclaimed bashers like the Adicts and Agent Orange hold court. The same goes for Phil's Radiator (109 E. C St., 719/671-5503), which is ensconced in an old mechanic's shop that comes complete with beer garden.

You'll also find live music and libations at Pueblo's Senate Bar (219 S. Grand Ave., 719/545-8501), and Smitty's Greenlight Tavern (227 N. Santa Fe Ave., 719/543-2747).

Moving to the burgeoning world of Colorado breweries, Pueblo's Shamrock Brewing Company (108 W. Third St., shamrockbrewing.com) sits in a lovingly restored century-old building that housed a 1940s auto dealer, a cigar shop and a pool hall. Take a seat at the vintage mahogany bar and order the Belgian White — a gold-medal winner at the 2010 Colorado State Fair's Foamfest — or the silver-medal-winning Instigator Doppelbock. Shamrock brews also find their way into a menu that includes Irish Ale Cheese Soup and Black Forest Porter Cheese Cake.

Also keep an eye out for the Royal Gorge Brewing Co. (413 Main St., Cañon City, royalgorgebrewing.com). Brewer Jeff Lockhart, formerly of Ouray's Ouray Brewery, is handling the beer, which is accompanied by a standard brewpub menu.

OK, enough with the beer. If you need polished classic rock in a posh atmosphere, the Tavern at The Broadmoor (1 Lake Ave., broadmoor.com) is your destination of choice. Each Thursday through Sunday, the seriously talented guitarist Lewis Mock leads the Tavern Orchestra through renditions of hits by the Beatles, Beach Boys and the Monkees that'll have you forgetting the last several decades ever happened. Or if you prefer a more piano-bar atmosphere, The Broadmoor's Golden Bee (1 Lake Ave., broadmoor.com) will entertain you with Scott Joplin tunes and encourage you to croon along to "Margaritaville" and, yes, "Piano Man."

Got a thing for bikers and blues? The Shovelhead Saloon (4130 S. U.S. Hwy. 85/87, shovelheadsaloon.net), a "fun family friendly biker bar," offers both. Located near the Security/Widefield area, the Shovelhead features live blues every Monday night, karaoke on Friday, and $1.50 PBRs and Schnapps shots during weekday happy hours.

And finally, if you work in the service industry, you'll want to visit the Hatch Cover (252 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., hatchcover.biz). Sunday and Monday "industry nights" reward your hard work with drink specials starting at 9. Not only can you vent about the past week's worst customers, you'll be surrounded by people who have bar etiquette and know how to tip.


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