License No. 1 Liquor Bar: Boulder's underground bourbon lounge
I hop down the familiar 13th Street entrance, dipping beneath the iconic Hotel Boulderado and into what used to be the Catacombs Bar. I used to play guitar at the open mic here 18 years ago. But on this evening, my feet pad over plush, dark, patterned carpet instead of sticking to the floor. In May, 2014, the bar re-opened as License No. 1, a self-described "distilled spirits–focused bar and lounge reminiscent of an upscale speakeasy." The place still feels cozy and Catacomb-y, but the full facelift has added more than a touch of class. It's nice now, and there are no neon beer signs to mess with your eyes. I walk through several dark rooms, past a few romantic nooks, and up to the bar for an Old Fashioned, the signature cocktail made with the Boulderado’s own single-barrel Buffalo Trace Bourbon (plus sugar, cherry, lemon peel and bitters). Two bartenders pour it through an ice sculpture and into a martini glass. I stare over the rim as I take a sip, my eyes finally adjusting to the low light.
License No. 1 will still have live music in the "Cabaret Room," Wednesdays through Saturdays, where they also plan on screening vintage films on Sundays.