Best Denver tiki, island-themed bars: Where to get a good rum cocktail
Jimmy Buffet once said it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. We’re here to tell you that it’s summer somewhere, too.
For a state with no coastline, Colorado boasts an impressive roster of island-themed bars serving up rum-forward cocktails and year-round tropical fantasia.
From creamy, macadamia nut coladas best enjoyed on patio palapas at Adrift Tiki Bar to sipping from a coconut at Jungle, the neon-lit, plant-filled bar in Boulder, here are six spots where you can get a head start on summer.
Beautiful glasses illustrating jungle and sea creatures are among the drinking vessels containing well-balanced cocktails at Jungle. Have your phones ready: Some drinks come with a side of pyrotechnics. Jungle hosts drag bingos, jazz on Wednesdays and oyster pop-ups with Mountain Salt Seafood, spotlighting a different oyster farm each month. “We just want to be a little neon beach escape for anyone,” says Jake Novotny, Jungle’s general manager. The Boulder bar is looking to open a second location in Denver.
- Cocktail to try: With bell peppers and ripe mango, the Tiki La Sunrise puts a vegetal twist on the spicy marg and is served in a glass with a cactus as the stem.
- If you go: 2018 10th St., Boulder; 4-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; jungletiki.com
From puffer fish lights to an octopus ceramic bowl that cradles fresh fruit, you could play a game of beach i-Spy at Adrift while you’re waiting for bartenders in Hawaiian shirts to garnish your drink with flower petals. An unassuming outpost off of Broadway, the dimly lit bar has two spacious back patios and an outdoor fireplace. Spam musubi, rice bowls and pork belly lettuce wrap boards are also on the menu.
- Cocktail to try: Boozy and blended, the macadamia nut Chi Chi is made with Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum, vodka, macadamia nut liqueur, pineapple juice and a housemade coconut cream.
- If you go: 218 S. Broadway; 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; adriftbar.com
The Electric Cure
What would a tropical bar look like in hell? The Electric Cure in Edgewater provides a preview and bills itself as “an authentically odd little rum bar with satanic and land bird undertones.” That’s to say you just might be greeted by a hostess wearing black-cross contacts while bartenders in bikini tops make really good riffs on classic tropical drinks. The Electric Cure knows it’s not for everyone; it even advertises disapproving reviews on a window outside. Still, this irreverent spot consistently draws a line with rum revelers excited to pay an extra $3 to have their drinks garnished with sparklers. The team behind Electric Cure is opening a second concept at 1526 Blake St. this summer called Hell or High Water Tiki, a haunted bar with phallic and pirate themes.
- Cocktail to try: The Electric Cure’s menu presents classic cocktails in a bracket format pitting the classics against house reinventions, like the Rocky Mountain Flamingo, a spin on the Jungle Bird that’s made with guava.
- If you go: 5350 W. 25th Ave., Edgewater; 5 p.m.-midnight Tuesday through Thursday; 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; 2 p.m.-midnight Sunday; theelectriccure.com
Swaylo’s Tiki Restaurant and Bar
Located in a former Outback Steakhouse building in Longmont, Swaylo’s is a sprawling island-themed restaurant where you can sit in a beach bungalow or a pirate ship. “As a chef who was raised on the Pacific coast, seafood and beach vibes have always been something I wanted to bring to Longmont,” says chef and owner Sean Gafner. Pair tropical drinks with dishes like mango shrimp, sea bass marinated in coconut oolong tea or Huli Huli ribs. The Dole Whip on the dessert menu is a hit and is made with pineapple and vanilla soft serve then topped with mango, toasted coconut and macadamia nuts.
- Cocktail to try: The matcha colada is a tea lover’s twist on a piña colada.
- If you go: 1315 Dry Creek Drive, Longmont; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; swaylostiki.com
A funky tropical bar attached to Millers and Rossi, the Ohana Room’s menu covers the island classics from mai tais to daiquiris and hurricanes. (Skulls on the menu denote the high ABV cocktails). Before opening Ohana Room, the bar team researched classic island cocktails, and the menu comes with tidbits of history relaying the origin stories of quintessential Caribbean cocktails.
- Cocktail to try: Jamaican rum and Italian amaro collide in the Fernet Colada, a cocktail that’s bittersweet and herbaceous.
- If you go: 3542 Walnut St.; 6-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; millersandrossi.com
The Dive Inn is a dive bar, yes. But you’ll also pick up on a scuba diving theme that’s influenced by owner Jason Tietjen’s love for underwater exploration. If you can, snag a seat inside the 21-foot ski boat that’s permanently anchored in this Broadway bar (no Dramamine required). The cavernous bar also has spacious patios and cornhole sets.
- Cocktail to try: There are no craft cocktails here, silly, but you will find an arcade-style claw machine that’s stocked with White Claws. The double entendres are endless.
- If you go: 1380 S. Broadway; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
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