• Marty Caivano / Colorado Daily file photo

    Joe Alvarado pours drinks at the Walrus Saloon.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Colorado Daily

    Julia Pike, left, Eliza Yager, Sydney Langer and Brit Kruger sing happy birthday to Yager at the Sink.

  • Marty Caivano / Colorado Daily file photo

    Jessica Lynch, left, and Andy Hayes organize the rooftop bar at Boulder's Absinthe House.



Get home safe, folks

For the most part, I know you’re all thinking things through and making sure you have a safe ride home or are in walking distance of a friend’s house. Good! But for those nights that don’t go to plan, here’s a few helpful tips:

• Boulder Yellow Cab: Text 303-777-2001 or call 303-777-7777

• Download Taxi Magic (free app): Looking through it, it looks like you’ll want to download and get it set up before you head out. It’ll need your basics to set up a profile. Once that’s done, it’s as simple as opening the app and hitting “I’m Ready To Go.” It will find your location and get you hooked up from there.

• Don’t be afraid to ask: Bartenders are always hooked up with cab numbers, as are half the street vendors or your fellow bar-goers. So don’t be shy.

• Travel in groups: Please don’t walk home alone. I know you’re tough and sassy, but let’s not tempt anything to happen. We all want you home safe, and if you’re walking, it’s best to do so with friends you know well, and at least one well-charged phone should you need it.


Go anywhere, and there’s always “must-sees.” The places folks who have lived there a while will always take visitors or new-to-town folks.

And here in Boulder, our “must-sees” could take a while. Chautauqua trails, local craft breweries, more food than you can eat along the famous Pearl Street walk.

But the bars?

We’ve got a unique bar scene any 21-and-up lad or lady can enjoy. Especially if you’re up for “an experience.” Walk into any of these bars, and you’ll be guaranteed a crowd that frequents it, drinks that’ll surprise you and an atmosphere in which you’ll feel at home.

The Sink

1165 13th St.


Sure, the folks at The Sink could draw patrons just by name-dropping who’s been there, celeb-wise. President Obama, Guy Fieri, Robert Redford. Sure, that’s impressive.

But that place will hook you just by being The Sink. The walls are plastered with very odd ’50s/’60s artwork and signatures that date back just as long. The ceilings are low, the black lights are lit in the back room and the bar hits you the moment you walk in.

And that menu. The pizzas have as many toppings as the crust can hold and names that’ll make you giggle. I mean, come on, the Buddha Basil and the Slaughterhouse Five? Clever twists from “large pepperoni.” Not to say there’s not specialty burgers and entrees, such as “chicken and waffles” to fill you up, too.

Plan your visit wisely, and you’ll be in for a treat. Like Monday, which is Flip Night. Call a coin toss in the air. Win and your drink is 25 cents. Or Tuesday, when the Goldfish Races start at 10 p.m. and the margaritas are $3 each. (How Boulder …) From experience, I can tell you on Ladies Night (which is Wednesday) you get a hefty Solo cup worth of free well-drink goodness.

And all of this is nestled right at the foot of The Hill, where so many other grand things are happening every night. Definitely worth the stop.

The Sundown Saloon

1136 Pearl St.


First off, you’ll sound a bit silly calling this the Sundown Saloon. The Downer, my friends, is where it’s at. And while that sounds like this writer’s highly biased opinion, it also is what I hear from most people I talk to about the Boulder bar scene.

It’s one of the best bars in Boulder, they say, and definitely what any dive bar seeker is seeking.

You almost don’t see it as you wander down Pearl Street, but look closely and you’ll see the neon, pool-table sign hanging above the stairs. Head down, flash that ID and you’ll see a literal hole-in-the-wall spot.

It’s got your foosball, your shuffleboard, dart wall and a long line of pool tables. There’s the main bar when you walk in, and another bar will open up if the crowd’s going strong (which most nights it is). Seating’s limited, taken up by those sipping on $6 PBR pitchers or $4 Red Bull vodkas, and $1 Kamakazi shots flow freely on Friday and Saturday nights. Other nights, the deals are different but equally grand.

More often than not, you’ll see a crowd happy to settle in for the night, playing quarters and talking about whatever it was they did the night before. Don’t be afraid to put your stakes down for the next round of pool, and see where the night takes you.

Half Fast Subs

1215 13th St.


The drinks are legendary. No, really. Ask a local about the Strong Islands, and their eyes will float back to a happier, far more intoxicated time. They’ll remember taking that absurdly large pitcher out to the Half Fast patio, enjoying the afternoon and the people-watching.

And then, well, it’ll be a blur.

But it really is one of those drinks we’ve all had. That or Half Fast’s margaritas or Hurricanes, which come in equally impressive sizes. Don’t worry, there is beer for the timid or anti-hard liquor group, and a full soda station for designated drivers. Most afternoons, you don’t even have to be 21. You just need to bring your appetite.

Because when you walk into this shop, you’ll see a sandwich menu that goes on for miles. You’ll have your pick of hot and cold subs, vegetarian options and specialties such as the Stuffed Turkey, which is loaded with mashed potatoes and gravy. No joke.

A prime location on The Hill makes it a great spot to pre-game for a show at The Fox or to just enjoy a lazy afternoon after classes. It even has “happy hour sandwiches” from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with 7-inch subs running at $4.95. Well played, Half Fast.

Pearl Street Pub & Cellar

1108 Pearl St.


Another classic, tucked away on Pearl Street next to the Old Chicago. Don’t be fooled by the small store front, though. Or even the cramped bar you walk into once you’re through the doors. That place goes on for a while, down the stairs and back into a certifiable labyrinth (once you’ve been drinking).

You’ll find pool, games and ceilings that’ll knock those taller than 5-foot-8 on their sweet tushies. There’s even a second bar downstairs, to further enable inebriation. What’s great, here, is that if you’re looking for a relaxed spot, you’ve found it. Nab some of the (somewhat limited) seating and you can nestle into the Pearl Street Pub for a while.

Go on the right night, you’ll get a live show. Live musical show, you gutter heads. Folks running the place are always trying to get new bands on stage. (You can keep up with that by following the pub’s Facebook page.)

And of course, there’s tradition here. A giant, stuffed buffalo noggin hangs from the wall, waiting for a big ol’ kiss. (Let’s keep the tongue to the minimum.) Supposedly it’s lucky. Or it’s a ploy to get the poor thing some much-deserved macking. Either way, join the masses who’ve puckered up before you and head over.

Absinthe House

1109 Walnut St.


Guy or girl, there’s something about being in the middle of a giant dance floor surrounded by people in varying degrees of intoxication, all swaying to the same beat. It doesn’t even matter what that beat is, or if it’s “your kind of music.” It’s the experience.

It’s an Absinthe House experience, actually. While other bars boast dance floors, this place does it best. It hosts different DJs throughout the weekend, knocks the lights down low, kicks on the strobe lights and brings in a bass that’ll make you think you walked into the subwoofer. You’ll dance, you’ll laugh at how bad your dancing is and then you’ll dance some more.

And then you’ll head back over to the bar — one loaded with an impressive collection of craft brews and hard liquors — and sip on the beverage of your choice. Maybe you kick back on one of the nearby couches or tuck yourself away on the balcony that lets you watch from a distance.

But don’t forget about the rooftop. When Colorado plays nice, the view of the Flatirons and downtown is just as grand as any other patio, and there will be a DJ there, too, to keep the dance party going. Just remember to keep some good shoes in your car if this is your stop. Your feet will hurt after.

Walrus Saloon

1911 11th St.


You’ll always see a line outside and you’ll wonder why, because there are very few who claim the Walrus as their favorite bar.

Don’t be fooled, though. We all end up at the Walrus. You walk downstairs and can either get sucked into a dance floor that, on weekends, will be in full swing, or you’ll get shuffled past the girl selling beers from a tub near the bathrooms to a bar that’s always packed. It’s a dive bar meets dance hall meets “a place to show how bad you are at pool.” Because yes, there’s also pool and air hockey and foosball if you can get past the crowds.

And while we’ve all eaten the peanuts, just make sure you don’t let that be the only meal you eat that night.

I’ve found the Walrus to be a good place for any group. There’s always those two girls who want to dance, while the guys want to stand awkwardly and watch. There’s another who wants to sit, and there are comfy couches in the back for that (near a second bar that’ll get going on particularly busy nights). And with deals on fishbowls on the weekends — do not underestimate the trouble these bad boys cause — it always makes for a good first or last stop.

Follow Alex on Twitter: twitter.com/ansieh.

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