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  • The music room at License No. 1 bar under the...

    Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    The music room at License No. 1 bar under the Hotel Boulderado will have you drinking with your pinkie raised.

  • Press Play is a vintage video game arcade and nightclub...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Press Play is a vintage video game arcade and nightclub that sits on Pearl Street.

  • The Dark Horse holds its famous Trike Race on Tuesdays....

    File photo

    The Dark Horse holds its famous Trike Race on Tuesdays. It's awesome to watch grown adults hauling ass around the bar on three wheels.



So here’s the thing.

You’re not going to go wrong hitting up any bar in town. Boulder’s got you hooked up as far as a fun night out goes.

But we all have those friends who are looking for something. Like the girl who’s not-so-secretly hoping to make out with a stranger. Or the guy convinced he can play the shit out of pool, but actually just plays like shit. Or … you get the picture.

So it’s best to know what you’re getting into. Let your sexy bar smarts be your defining characteristic when you go out. At least until the booze kicks in and you become the one who, once you start dancing, your friends conveniently forget your name.

Home of all the chochkies

World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill, 2922 W. Baseline Rd.

I’ll go ahead and call this a great first-date bar. You’ll snag a drink from one of the two bars, and just walk around. That’s two hours right there, staring at all the random stuff that’s hanging from the walls and ceilings, exploring the hallways and little inlets in the wall that you’ll secretly think about making out in. Great conversation starters. Also good: the mid-30s crowd leaving it all on the stage during karaoke night. Or the tricycle races that lap the bar on Tuesdays. You don’t even have to be charming, just up for good drinks and lots of bar-given entertainment. (Though hey, don’t be that jerk that lets your tipsy gal walk into the wrong bathroom. Those signs are tricky and find even the wisest of us staring awkwardly at a guy at the urinal, trying to back out the door.)

Shake. Dat. Ass.

Absinthe House, 1109 Walnut St.

Let’s first dismount our high horses, and accept Absinthe for what it is: A quality spot to shake it out. (Not off. Narrowly avoiding the T-Swift quote.) And if you can get the boys to STFU, you’ll realize it’s good for everyone. The craft beer line-up has grown into an impressive collection that’ll quiet down all the beer snobs. The rooftop — especially in good weather — is an excellent spot to half-dance, half-make drunken conversation with that guy you’ve been eyeing. There’s couches inside for the girls who foolishly wore heels and/or arguing couples. But the dance floor, well, that’s where it’s at for anyone willing to bust out the Lawn Mower or Shopping Cart. They always have great DJs lined up – most recently, they hosted REMIX Saturdays featuring DJ Knives — and a big floor to bust a move.

Watch your heads, and pucker up

Pearl Street Pub and Cellar, 1108 Pearl St.

Ah, a classic, low-key bar. First off, yes you’ll be told to kiss a giant stuffed buffalo head. And yes, it’s always in various levels of cleanliness. But you’re not a true Buff until you laid one on the Pearl Street Pub taxidermy head. I’ll leave the level of tongue to your discretion. Once that’s done, head to the bar upstairs. Sip as you wander to the games in the back room, or hook around to the stairs. Down there, you’ll find low ceilings (hence the ducking), lots of pool tables and other games to distract you. Follow its Facebook page to see when bands stop by, too. It’s great for some band you’ve never heard of, yet leave loving.

Still ducking?

Sundown Saloon, 1136 Pearl St.

Good. Because down at the Downer (as those in the know call it), you’ll want to watch your head walking through this low-ceiling bar. Course, I’m also almost 5 foot, 11 inches, and am always on the lookout for things like this — especially since I’ve been knocked down by various tree branches this year. Anyway, this is a favorite for most of us. It’s got the mellow vibes, solid drink deals and enough pool tables to get you bent over, ready to … hit the balls in the hole … yikes, that really went downhill. They’re known for discounted PBR pitchers and Kamikaze shots, and for tables so banged up you can play a game of quarters guilt-free. No matter what you wear, or what mood you’re in, you’ll fit right in at this catch-all spot.

Wine ‘n’ dine, college-style

Half Fast Subs, 1215 13th St.

Not a bar, you say? Shush, you don’t know. I mean, any shop that’s got a one-and-done limit must be good, especially for a quickie. You’ll walk in, spend about 15 minutes just reading the sandwich menu (seriously, largest … sandwich menu in Boulder), and then order. For drinks, there’s either the 32-ounce Strong Island (my favy-fave), margarita or Hurricane. Only fools don’t order one. Sit inside and watch some sports, or out on the patio to watch as folks teeter up and down the Hill. Add in quality subs and it’s all you need for a Tuesday, er, Friday night.

Gaming vs. actual social interaction

Press Play, 1105 Pearl St.

Allow me to help the couch-ridden stretch their legs, get out of the house, and yet not stop gaming. That’s right, over at Press Play, you’ll get shots in science-y looking tubes, a dance floor to strut onto and a whole room of arcade games to lose track of time on. Like other spots in town, Press Play also has themed nights, like Throwback Thursdays and Sunday 1-2-3 — $1 mystery cans, $2 domestics and $3 you-name-its.

Home of the fish bowl

Walrus Saloon, 1911 11th St.

The fish bowl, questionable peanuts in a barrel, and a game in the back that stumps even the most savvy bar-goer. (It’s a ring on a string, and you swing it onto a hook across the way. And yes, I’m rhyming now.) It’s the bar we all end up at eventually, so accept this. You’ll dance, you’ll play air hockey in the back, you’ll have at least 14 strangers rub against your bum as the hordes push toward the bar. Yes, it’s crowded and usually has a line, but it also makes for great drunken-people watching. They also have great daily deals, like Table Tennis Tournaments every Monday or Wednesday’s Ladies Nights. Go get silly.

Curvy, and you like it?

The Sink, 1165 13th St.

There’s never a moment I’m not thinking about food. I love it. And if you’re looking for a way to go out with your booze-seeking friends and still eat, head to The Sink. Epic pizzas and some mouth-watering burgers all ready for you to put in your belly. I recently fell in love with the loaded mac ‘n’ cheese myself. Add in a great drink from a lengthy bar menu and you’ll have everyone stuffed and happy. The walls are covered in all kinds of cool cartoon-y murals and signatures from every visitor they’ve ever had, as you wind back to room after room. Watch the all-white shirt in the blacklight room. Plus, you can say you’ve partied at the same spot frosted-tips Guy Fieri and President Barack Obama kicked it at.

All the purple

Attic Bar and Bistro, 949 Walnut St.

I really shouldn’t say that. The bar’s a perfectly normal color, with its couches, pool tables and other bar games in the back. But what I always remember The Attic by is the Fat Albert. No, not a swarthy man who greets you with an awkward hug, though that would be memorable too. I mean the purple drink that’s on special every Tuesday and Thursday night (and the daily happy hour) for $3. It tastes like grape and awesome all rolled into a cup. They’ve got live music, too, and plenty of spots to plant your rump and discuss the meaning of life over a discounted Pabst tall boys on Saturdays, or two-for-one Long Islands on Wednesdays. Additional perk: It’s a bit off the beaten path, and therefore isn’t overly crowded.

You so fancy

License No. 1, 2115 13th St.

We don’t always have to act our age. Like sometimes, why can’t we all just sip on a tasty cocktail on a leather couch, listening to a laid-back local band? Or gather around a bar that’ll offer you a Moscow Mule instead of Sex on the Beach? (Though let’s face it, both are grand.) Well over at License No. 1 — a bar tucked underneath the Hotel Boulderado – you’ll take a step back in time and enjoy things like a Sidecar or Manhattan. You’ll slide into a more secluded booth to chat with friends under muted lighting with your pinkies out because you’re fancy like that. It’s a nice break from the madness that is the typical college bar, while still with your college friends.