Bars + Nightlife

The Best Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries in Telluride

Telluride wouldn’t be a ski town without a great après scene. Its bars go far beyond dives, however, ranging from a historic watering hole to a modern-day speakeasy to a distillery making its own peppermint schnapps.

231 W Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435, USA
If there are ghosts haunting the Historic Bar—which was rebuilt in 1895 after a fire decimated the original building—we don’t blame them for wanting to stay for eternity. Tucked within the New Sheridan Hotel, the tin-ceilinged space is what Rocky Mountain dreams are made of, from the carved mahogany bar to the affordable prices. Don’t miss the leaded glass panels and brass chandeliers, both of which are original to the 1895 space.
100 E Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435, USA
A Telluride favorite since 1978, Last Dollar Saloon is renowned for two things: $5 margaritas (made with agave tequila and served in a pint glass) and an eclectic selection of beers from all over the world (more than 60 at last count). Start your evening on the right note at the bar’s popular happy hour, which goes from 3 to 5 p.m. and includes four Telluride Brewing Company beers for just $4 each.
118 Lost Creek Lane, Telluride
This Oklahoma institution opened its first Colorado outpost in 2018 at the Lumière Hotel, offering unconventional menu items like cauliflower steaks with mushroom risotto, mahi-mahi mango ceviche, and new spins on local classics, like a green-chili chowder with roasted corn and poblano peppers. Beyond the food, the cocktails here really sing—you’ll want to try the Misty Maiden, with locally distilled vodka, lemon, grapefruit, and St. Germain.
225 S Pine St unit f, Telluride, CO 81435, USA
The owners of Sidework hit on the idea for their cozy little eatery after listening to locals grumble about how hard it was to find a low-key place to have a drink and casual bite during the summer and winter tourist seasons. They already owned the brewpub around the corner, so they turned the adjacent space—which they used for “sidework” like filling water pitches and rolling silverware into napkins—into the spot everyone was craving. Today the narrow, intimate bar serves self-described “American-American comfort food,” which includes small plates like blue claw crab soup, fig flatbreads, and charcuterie boards, and larger dishes such as olive-oil-poached branzino and beef short ribs in red wine reduction. For the perfect start to your night, drop by during the daily happy hour for discounts on select wine, beer, cocktails, and mini filet mignon sliders.
225 S Pine St, Telluride, CO 81320, USA
A beloved member of Telluride’s nightlife scene for more than two decades, Smuggler’s Brew Pub shows no signs of slowing down. The restaurant has won multiple awards at the Great American Beer Festival with its classically styled lagers, seasonal suds, and experimental beers, all brewed on-site. Stop by the downtown hotspot and pair a burger with brews like the German-style Marzen and the Fallen from Grace, which takes cues from the Trappist breweries of Belgium. If you’d rather have a cocktail, Smuggler’s also has an extensive “fire water” selection, plus house-made juices, bitters, and teas. Try the Defibrillator, made with cold brew coffee, Italian chocolate liqueur, Irish cream, and Ketel One vodka.
152 Society Drive
Started by two friends who met at a bar, Telluride Brewing Company has come a long way since its founding in 2011. Its Face Down Brown ale took home the gold medal at the 2012 and 2014 Great American Beer Festival, and its Whacked Out Wheat beer recently won silver at the 2018 World Beer Cup Awards. Only available in Colorado, all the brews here have cheeky names. Stop by the tasting room to sample everything from the Freaky Fish Belgian double IPA to the Ski-in-Ski-Stout.
152 Society Drive
Telluride was a fount of local liquor in its Wild West heyday. Today, the town is returning to its boozy roots with help from Telluride Distilling Company, which produces gluten-free vodka (made entirely from sugarcane), whiskey (finished in charred oak sherry barrels), and peppermint schnapps (based on a recipe from the Alps). Stop by the distillery for a bartender-led tour, then treat yourself to a Telluride Mule cocktail, made with ginger beer that’s also brewed on-site.
627 W Pacific Ave, Telluride, CO 81435, USA
This local favorite is known for its global fusion fare and jam cocktails (yep, jam cocktails—surely Queen Elizabeth would approve). Stir blueberry jam into a gin-citrus libation, or warm up with pepper jam and tequila. It’s all so delicious There now has a Denver location as well.
700 West Colorado Avenue
Opened in 2018, The Tunnel is a speakeasy for the modern era. You enter the 12-seat restaurant through a trap door—after supplying a password, natch—but that’s where the old-timey-ness stops. Once settled in the quaint, hidden dining room, guests enjoy an inventive, five-course tasting menu, paired with cocktails, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Make a reservation for one of two nightly seatings, and then check Facebook or The Daily Planet classifieds for the weekly password.
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