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Colorado Nightlife

39 Degrees Lounge
Sky Hotel
709 E. Durant Avenue
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 970 429 7860

Though it's named after the latitude of Aspen, come 3 o'clock in the afternoon, 39 Degrees feels like it's the center of the universe. Located inside the Sky Hotel, this is the most happening après scene in town for the youngish crowd. The lounge is retro, with spiky silver Sputnik chandeliers, low-slung sofas, and a fireplace. For après eats, try the Italian meatball sliders or the bruschetta with spinach and fontina cheese. Don't miss a peek at the pool area out the window—and bring your swimsuit if you'd like a piece of the action. The hotel hot tubs are open to all those with a 39 Degrees tab.

Open daily noon to 1:30 am.

Belly Up
450 S. Galena Street
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 970 544 9800

The place to go for live music, period. With long lines that sometime wind around the block, the club can seem like a scene from another city. But once you get inside the large, tiered room, with rich wood chairs lined up along the low bars overlooking the stage and round bar tables huddled into cozy booths, you'll know you're far from a dingy city club. And the acoustics are amazing, too. Go to the Web site for upcoming shows.

Opens nightly at 8 pm.

Bonfire Brewing Co.
127 West Second Street
Eagle , Colorado
Tel: 970 306 7113

This small-batch microbrewery and taproom in nearby Eagle is worth the 30-minute drive from Vail. Opened in December 2010, the bar's 10 taps feature the house brews, with an emphasis on IPAs (try the Firestarter), brown ales, and wheat beers. If you like what you're drinking, look for Bonfire's label at local restaurants and bars, including Larkspur and Bully Ranch in Vail Village.—Samantha Berman

Coyote Cafe
210 The Plaza
Beaver Creek , Colorado
Tel: 970 949 5001

This isn't your boss's Beaver Creek. The slope-side Coyote Cafe, a fave of the mountain staff, is a refreshing alternative to the swank that's been steamrolled across the village. Inside, you'll find a Corona logo–bedecked kayak and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, and a buffalo head mounted on the brick wall. The clientele can be as colorful as the decor: Lift operators, ski school instructors, and snow bunnies stream in at 4 pm and again after 10 pm for late-night action until 1 am. The tap selection includes Dos Equis and Fat Tire along with the standard Bud and Bud Light, or you can try your luck with a $58 pitcher of Cougar margaritas made with Corzo Añejo tequila.—Sarah Tuff

Open daily 8 am to 1 am.

Dusty Boot Steakhouse & Saloon
304 St. James Place
Beaver Creek , Colorado
Tel: 970 748 1146

A chain bar and restaurant with three other locations in Colorado, the Boot is kicking from 3 to 5 pm, when for just $6 patrons can get some pretty decent grub (quesadillas, fish tacos) along with a draft beer. Like the Coyote Café, it's got an over-the-top margarita (the 46-ounce Platinum for $200). But mostly it's an island of good value—where mostly regular Joes tip back cans of PBR and shots of tequila—in a sea of Veuve Clicquot and caviar. Though the blond wood and bright lights don't scream Alpine coziness, the tin ceiling and cowboy posters are nice touches, and there are 16 beers on tap.—Sarah Tuff

Open daily noon to 10 pm.

Elevation Bar
304 East Hopkins Avenue
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 970 544 5166

Snag a seat in the lounge and peruse the lengthy list of hard-to-find wines, selection of creative cocktails and late-night menu—slow-roasted rum-and-coke pork tacos, ahi pizza, and more—served till 11:30 nightly.—by Samantha Berman

536 E. Lionshead Circle
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 476 3789

With its enormous deck at the bottom of the Eagle Bahn gondola, the bar is an après-ski people-watching magnet—especially during the March–April spring season. ("Is she wearing a bikini?") It's also known for its daily drink specials and overall kicked-back vibe.

Hop Garden
565 Mountain Village Boulevard
Telluride , Colorado
Tel: 970 728 7467

This bar at the base of the Village Express gondola is where fresh-off-the-slopes locals down German beers while people-watching from the patio. Nibbly? The Bavarian pretzel with sweet mustard or a cup of Biersteiger's beef chili should tide you over.—Samantha Berman

J Bar
330 East Main Street
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 800 331 7213 (toll-free)

This bar is quintessential Aspen. The Victorian woodwork and authentic pressed-tin ceiling tiles at the 1889 bar inside the historic Hotel Jerome will make you feel like you are calling at a Wild West saloon. Even with the heavy history, the vibe is bustling and fun, though. Order a J Bar burger and a signature Aspen Crud (a boozy milkshake made with bourbon and vanilla ice cream) and enjoy the local buzz.—by Samantha Berman

Last Dollar Saloon
100 E. Colorado Avenue
Telluride , Colorado
Tel: 970 728 4800

It only seems like the Last Dollar Saloon exclusively sells Budweiser longnecks. A scruffy (but fully stocked) spot with a pool table, fireplace, and Clapton's "I Shot the Sheriff" on the jukebox, it shouts a happy dive vibe. Beware the nickname: The Last Dollar is usually called the Buck by the same unintentionally misleading locals who call Colorado Avenue "Main Street."

Open daily at 3 pm.

New Sheridan Bar
231 W. Colorado Avenue
Telluride , Colorado
Tel: 970 728 4351

You can't throw a stein in the Sheridan without hitting a Realtor, but they're generally convivial these days (Telluride's in the midst of a record real estate boom). Besides, the bar's usually too loud for them to hard-sell much. Telluride's oldest watering hole (inside the New Sheridan hotel), the Sheridan retains a 19th-century elegance with mahogany paneling, a hand-carved bar, and a giant, vintage painting of a Rubenesque nude.

The Red Lion
304 Bridge Street
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 476 7676

This elbow-to-elbow packed bar, where ski-boot-clad revelers gather in Vail Village after a day on the hill, has a great selection of local microbrews. There's also live acoustic music nightly—expect to hear some Elton John and the occasional Goo Goo Dolls riff. Beat the crowds by reserving a table in advance on the website.

Samana Lounge
228 Bridge Street
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 476 3433

Vail's epicenter of electronic music, Samana lights up the after-hours scene with hip-hop, techno, and live music. The dance floor sizzles after 10 pm on weekend and holiday nights.—Samantha Berman

Ski Bar
333 Bridge Street
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 476 0360

Owned by three young guys, this is party central in Vail Village, complete with $15 cocktails. The nightclub draws a young, sexy crowd gabbing on their Razr cell phones. The gimmick is themed rooms—including a 1950s jukebox room, disco dance floor, and a smoking lounge.

304 E. Hopkins Avenue
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 970 925 9700

If Austin Powers were in town, there's one place you'd find him here, pinky in the air, at the Lucite bar. Opened in 2007, Social restaurant and lounge has candy-colored chairs and funky flowered wallpaper stuck to every flat surface. The menu is global tapas and the cocktail list reads like a pretentious travel guide, from the San Tropez (with absinthe, cognac, champagne) to the Hong Kong (iced green tea with Chivas). When it gets late and the restaurant clears, head upstairs to the cozy wine bar.

The Tap Room
333 Bridge Street
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 479 0500

Let's face it: Few things taste better after a long day of skiing, at least to carnivores, than a heaping bucket of chicken wings. That's why Monday nights at the Bavarian-themed Tap Room, when all-you-can-eat wings are just $7.95, are packed with anyone who might be pinching pennies around Vail. The $3.50 Colorado lagers from 3 to 6 pm every day are a big draw, too. The best spot in this bar is at one of the deck tables: Skip that last run to stake out a spot with a view.—Sarah Tuff

291 Bridge St
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 476 5070

A good rule of thumb: If you are looking for a casual night out, go where the ski bums go. It's not the swankiest joint in town, but Vendetta's is well loved by Vail veterans, including the patrollers and instructors who come around for late-late-night pizza and beer.—Samantha Berman

Woody Creek Tavern
2858 Upper River Road
Woody Creek , Colorado
Tel: 970 923 4585

Located about six miles outside of Aspen, this iconic old hangout of Hunter S. Thompson is frequented as often for its local color as for its food and drink. The walls are plastered with little snippets of history—including newspaper clippings, posters, stickers, and photos of celebs who frequented the joint. There are Colorado beers on tap, or try the house special: margaritas made with fresh-squeezed lime juice.—by Samantha Berman

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.