A new 30 MILES OF COCKTAILS! Post!
2030 W. 30th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211
“Hey Karl and Kelly!! What are you up too?” came a voice from a high balcony in one of the newer apartment buildings as we walked up 16th Street in recently renovated LoHi neighborhood. While still certainly odd to get yelled at while walking up a street, it took us both a moment to recognize our friends waving at us high above.
“Heading to Linger for a drink. Wanna come?”, I yelled back up. They again waved, saying they had plenty of beer at their place. So we continued on, moving further up the hill, past the massive Coney Island-inspired cream can of Little Man Ice Cream, and up to the former funeral home - now restaurant, Linger.
“It certainly is bright.” I said as we came up the staircase and high on the roof deck of Linger in the early evening. This was the part that Kelly wanted to see and the real reason we came here. Though Linger has been open for several years, neither of us have ever been here before, but have heard about the deck and view from many others. Growing up in Denver, Kelly was quite familiar with the large iconic ‘Olinger’ sign always looming over Interstate 25. Once the historic mortuary closed and turned into a restaurant in 2011… which still seems like an odd idea to me… thankfully the iconic sign was kept, though only ‘O’ is no longer lit up at night, leaving it as ‘linger’ (the smaller ‘mortuaries’ is also now lit up as ‘eatuaries.’)
Even before we looked around for the rooftop bar, we quickly realized that the crowd up on the deck was not really our normal crowd. There was a vibe around us of Saturday nights in LoDo, Coors Lights and Margaritas, and club kids having their first drink. We also noticed, after some frantic searching, there there was no bar on the roof deck either. A gutted RV, kitted out with bottles and taps, was sitting in the center and served as a self-service bar. Neat idea, but getting beers from the window of the RV was way to similar to ordering from a food truck.
I walked over and got Kelly a Dry Dock Apricot Blonde Beer and a Hall Farmhouse Red Amber Ale for myself. Once we had our drinks, we moved to the ‘self service’ area underneath the massive Olinger sign. Both of us would have preferred to sit at a bar, but here there was no other option.
“I think we got in here right on time”, I said as I motioning with my beer towards the growing crowd coming up the staircase and looking around confused, searching for either friends or a seat. Kelly didn’t notice as her eyes were closed, enjoying the breeze and cool evening air. I looked over towards the city. As I mentioned, many have told us that the view from Linger’s roof was one of the best in the city. I’m sure that was once the case. Now however, with the growing real estate in the rapidly gentrifying LoHi (stands for Lower Highlands) neighborhood, several new apartment buildings (including one being built right then next to the restaurant) blocked much of what should have been an otherwise brilliant view of Denver. So instead of looking at a partially completed sky rise, I looked down towards at Tejon & 16th Street and the growing queue around the massive milk can building of Little Man Ice Cream.
We were not impressed. The RV was a neat idea, but I missed sitting at a bar. The piped in music was kind of middle-of-the-road salsa dance mix that I found safe and inoffensive. There was also a greasy smell coming off the small kitchen, behind the RV and towards the back of the roof, that reminded me way too much of the Boardwalk and my youth on the Jersey shore. Kelly and I finished our beers and briefly thought about getting another, but decided against it. We saw the historic Olinger sign, checked out the view, and were done. We were a bit dissapointed. No need to come back. Besides, Williams and Graham is right up the street.
However, sitting up on the roof, I really missed the feel of a bar. That is where you really get a good judge of a place. As we defended the stairs, I suggested we give Linger another chance and have one more drink at Linger’s actual bar. So, we moved downstairs, through the main dining area, and up a small staircase to the cocktail lounge. I would have called it ‘the bar’, but no, it was a cocktail lounge and I was delighted. Aside from the series of thrown open windows that gave a much better view of the city (in my opinion), the lounge was a dark 70’s inspired bar. There were mirrors, a sort of tacky wallpaper, velvet art, Christmas lights under the bar top that gave a sort of classy, yet seedy kind of vibe. I loved it.
We sat down and Kelly ordered another Apricot Beer, but I wanted a cocktail. It’s easy to pull on a tap, but how about mixing a drink? After a quick scan of the menu, I decided on the ‘French Quarter’ (cognac, rye, green chartreuse, lillet rose, bitters.) However, it was hard to pin down on who was our actual bartender as it seemed there was a rotating collective behind the bar. The several times we had a question about the menu, a different bartender would answer it. So, who was our bartender? Apparently, all of them.
Aside from that, we enjoyed the bar a hell of a lot better than the roof deck. Better drinks, better music, better setting, and a much better view… though there was still that strong wafting smell of marajuana (or ‘Colorado Cigarettes’ as we’ve taken to calling them) that seems to be ever present in Denver nowadays. Also, the mortuary restaurant theme was more present here. I enjoyed that they went a bit classier rather then out of some sad goth’s wet dream. Sure, there were some odd pictures and paintings around the place.. a skull here, a casket shaped tray there… a collection of billiard balls over there (yeah, I didn’t get that one either), but the bar tables were far more subtler as sections of rollers for moving coffins around under glass. I wondered if people even knew what they were.
“What do you think?” Kelly asked. “Should we come back?”
“I don’t know.” I replied. “But it is growing on me.”
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