If you’re headed for the Mile-High City, you had better be ready to get a little light-headed in the pursuit of another breathless, restless night. Landing now, you’re just in time for Oktoberfest, a six-day celebration of the relationship between humankind and a frosty stein of ice-cold brew. Initially held in Munich to celebrate the marriage of two Bavarian royals, the festival has continued for more than 203 years because, well, the German people liked it. And so do we! The real thing actually lasts 16 days, so we recommend slowing it down a little this month so you can fully enjoy the sights, sounds and suds of what’s been called America’s best Oktoberfest. That said, we’re never ones to stick too closely to the program, so prepare to follow your wandering eye in this edition of Never Sleeps.
Trace a little bit of Playboy history for us while you’re in town by checking into the Warwick Hotel, once the home of the Denver Playboy Club, circa 1967. Though this Denver mainstay has seen many changes since those hazy times, we’re positive that lively spirit lives on, and you’ll want to soak that in a little before breaking out into the night. And it may have toned down in the decades since, but luxury and indulgence are still at the core of the Warwick’s values: it boasts Egyptian cotton sheets on every bed (we’re into it) and one of Denver’s only rooftop pools, perfect for enjoying what remains of the season before heading home.
Photo credit: Marketing Punk
Housed in the art deco dream that is the Oxford Hotel, the moody, windowless Cruise Room is…not what it sounds like. All chrome and neon décor, those in search of some of Denver’s best craft cocktails and martinis need look no further than this locally famous bar, a replica of a lounge on the now retired Queen Mary cruise ship. Seriously built in the shape of a wine bottle, the Cruise Room is a bustling reminder that no one can subsist solely on beer and bratwurst for six days, so drink up.
Photo credit: Holy Underground
Oktoberfest doesn’t have to be the only street festival you stumble through while in Denver. Final Friday—a crew of artists and promoters that throws an annual party to celebrate, you got it, the last Friday of the year—has put together a lineup of up-and-coming Denver musicians and artists to line one block of Denver’s Lorimer Street with all the audio-visual stimuli you can take. Capitalizing on the influx of Oktoberfest-ing tourists, all the proceeds will be used to send the musicians to the mecca of indie rock festivals, CMJ. And while this party goes down tonight and tonight only (Friday, September 27), you can use it as a springboard into Denver’s thriving art and music scene.
Denver’s official Oktoberfest calls the 20th block of the aforementioned Lorimer Street home, creating a pedestrian-only paradise of schnitzel, bratwurst, pretzels and beer for the half million people who’ll graze the festival grounds this year. Though the emphasis falls on German-style dunkels and weissbier, Colorado is itself home to more than 20 independent microbreweries; by all means, drink beer, but keep your stein sample-size so you can taste all the hoppy goodness the state has to offer. Otherwise, prepare for a barrage of eating contests, live music and group stein hoisting as main events.
If you’re not into the big event, take in a lower-key Oktoberfest celebration at the Lowry Beer Garden, where the connoisseurs in control will treat you to a thoughtful selection of Colorado bottles and draft brews to die for.
Photo credit: Williams & Graham
Need a break from the crowds? Duck into Williams & Graham for some high-concept cocktails, speakeasy style. The notoriously busy bar only takes reservations in person, but your patience will be rewarded when your hostess leads you through a secret passage (hidden behind a false bookcase) into the dimly lit beauty of a room. Lavishly adorned with dark wood, the bar boasts an almost overwhelming selection of spirits. The tequila list alone is enough to kill ya, so we suggest ordering something agave-based from the cocktail menu instead. The Garden Party—mescal and ginger liqueur dressed up in fresh carrot, lemon and orange juices—is a clean break from the brew-belly blues.