Boulder is known both locally and nationally as a beer town. With 15+ breweries and a number of tap houses, you have no shortage of options if you’re looking for something made of hops and barley. The University of Colorado even ensures there are a number of dive bars if shooting well liquor is more your speed. This isn’t to say that those are not attractive options, but unfortunately, the cocktail scene that has grown large in Denver over the past few years has been noticeably absent from the foothills town. Until recently.
Hotel Boulderado is one of the most historic and recognizable landmarks in downtown Boulder. Opened in 1909 to increase tourism, Hotel Boulderado has defined much of the spirit of the rest of the city and stands as a must see for a visitors eager to learn the history of the town. Balancing the traditional Boulder history with modern demand is a constant concern of Boulder businesses, and this year the Boulderado undertook a complete redesign of its three bar/restaurants to bring them into line with its core style.
If you ask most residents about the basement of the Boulderado, you’re likely to hear a great deal of stories about drunken, dirty nights in The Catacombs, a dive bar that oddly made its home underneath the high end hotel. Despite its accurately descriptive name, stumbling college kids never seemed to fit the vibe of the hotel, and management at the Boulderado saw an opportunity to reinvent the space. A new cocktail bar that uses the low ceilings and dark rooms to reflect on a very specific time in history is the result.
License No. 1 opened this year in the former Catacombs space, a name change that pays homage to the Catacombs receipt of the first liquor license in Boulder after the 1967 repeal of the liquor ban. It is a dark, brick walled group of rooms completely reminiscent of what you would imagine to be an early 1900s prohibition bar. Edison bulbs maintain the dimly lit atmosphere and lead you to one of two bars, each worked by professional cocktail crafters serving up a solid menu of classics and new twists. The menu, crafted with the help of Allison Widdecombe, features an Old Fashioned, Paloma, and Negroni that make the trip worth the effort alone, even if you’re based in Denver.
In addition to the drinks, License No. 1 features a menu of food from its above ground sister restaurants, The Corner Bar and Spruce. A salmon sandwich, worthy of a fine dining restaurant, and roasted Brussels sprouts are a must if you can make it in for a late lunch or early dinner, especially since the entire menu is 25% off during happy hour (5-7pm every day). Be nice to your bartender and you can even get a custom pairing of truffles and Colorado whiskeys.
Boulder may love its college bars and craft breweries, but License No. 1 will certainly find its place as a staple with the crowd looking for a classic, delicious drink.
License No. 1
2115 13th St. Boulder, CO 80302