Esquire: Denver has 2 of the best 18 bars in America

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DENVER -- Occidental and Shelby’s Bar and Grill in Denver were recognized as two of the best 18 bars in America by Esquire. The list was compiled by David Wondrich, who is known as one of the world’s top cocktail historians.

In the article, Occidental is described as a “modern, thrilling dive that happens to be owned by Sean Kenyon, one of America’s top mixologists.” The bar is located in LoHi at 1950 W. 32nd Ave.

The exterior gives the appearance of a small dive bar in a thriving Denver Highlands neighborhood but on the inside, you’ll find a tasty list of cocktails.

“It’s kind of fun to surprise people with that,” lead bartender Haley Landers said. “You walk into a full bar playing punk rock music with low lighting you don’t expect to get a good drink.”

Shelby’s Bar & Grill is featured in the article.

"You’ll remember that Denver used to be an ornery frontier town, full of crust and character," the article says.

The family-owned bar is located at the intersection of 18th and Welton streets in a building that was first a funeral home in 1906. The exterior gives the appearance of a dive bar, and that is exactly what it is.

“Good conversation, pretty good food, cheap drinks, not too much entertainment, so you have to talk to people,” owner Howard Nelson said. “That’s how bars should be.”

Esquire’s annual list of Best Bars in America will be featured in the June-July issue that hits newsstands Tuesday.

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