Springs Bikini Bar
2510 E. Bijou St., csbikinibar.com
Dressing female employees in the equivalent of underwear is never subtle, but there was a lighthearted feel to it the one afternoon we stopped into Chantal Abeyta's new bar. The day crowd leans older and rougher, with a propensity for the musical stylings of Bob Seger. The renovated interior is done up tiki-style, with grass accents hanging over booths and under bars, and our friendly server was indeed clad in a revealing bikini.
Ostensibly, you order and pay for food in the back, but a manager quickly took us in hand and, after recommending the chicken, provided full service. We went with a half-dozen sweet-and-spicy wings ($6), a butter-drenched pretzel with nacho cheese ($3), and the All American Burger ($8). Outside of solid sticky-sweet sauce on the wings, nothing rose above the level of cafeteria food, the frozen fries not even managing fla — hey, my eyes are up here! — Bryce Crawford
The V Bar
19 E. Kiowa St., 635-9599, vbarcs.com
This past August, ownership transitioned to the folks who also own Club Q, with co-owner Nic Grzecka quipping, "V Bar has for a decade been a straight bar with a lot of gay people in it, and now it's a gay bar with a lot of straight people in it." Which is exactly what I saw on a recent Friday, where I was much more transfixed by the elegant, atmospheric lighting that made our drinks glow like happy ravers.
The Mexican Martini ($12) of El Mayor añejo, Cointreau and lime juice plays it like a Cadillac Margarita, but the charred white oak aging on the añejo adds maturity and depth. The Savory Martini ($12) comes with DNA as complex as a good Bloody Mary — Ketel One vodka infused with 11 herbs and spices, Worcestershire, Tabasco and a purée of sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic and "secret ingredients." Flecks of dill heighten the absurdity. It's as spicy as a romance novel, but would slay with steak tartare. — Matthew Schniper
The Ute and Yeti
21 N. Nevada Ave., 634-0003, uteandyeti.com
It was pretty annoying, showing up at a bar that's supposed to be open and waiting 45 minutes for a missing employee to open it. But everything that came after made a visit to the Ute and Yeti, at CityROCK Climbing Center, totally worth it. Through a separate entrance, lumbersexuals find a fireplace and leather couches and a beautiful poured-concrete bar that meanders like a stream. Wood warms the walls, while a chandelier overhead is fastened with carabiners.
We counted 16 Colorado beers on draft ($5) and 25 canned beers ($2 to $5), like Boulder Beer's Mojo IPA, in the fridge. You can also get a large mocha ($4.30) made with UpaDowna's custom blend, resulting in a creamy mix of roasty chocolate notes. Food brought the Hot Turkey and Cran ($7), a good value with its pita chips and flour-coated ciabatta bread holding juicy turkey slices, thick-ass bacon and savory cheddar flavors over a cranberry mustard. — Bryce Crawford