Taylor Swift needs virtually no introduction. She is a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning country-turned-pop singer, songwriter and performer who has taken the world by storm, and this month, she’s coming to Denver. Swift is passing through the Mile High City on Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15 at Empower Field on her Eras Tour, which is projected to become one of the highest grossing tours, like, ever.
Swift’s current tour is a celebration of her catalog of work — ten albums (some of which she has re-recorded after her original masters were sold without her permission) which she’s turned into a swiftly-paced, 44-song, three and a half hour long set list that walks concert goers through the motifs, feelings and songs associated with each album’s “era.”
Whether you were able to score tickets to the shows or not, we’ve assembled our own Eras Tour of Denver-area bars.
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Taylor Swift: Buffalo Rose
1119 Washington Avenue, Golden
“Feeling lucky today, got the sunshine
Could you tell me what more do I need?”
— “A Place In This World,” Taylor Swift
Swift’s career began in country music. She played small stages and sang at local sporting events starting around age ten before gaining big fame by sixteen when her first hit, “Tim McGraw,” made the Top 40 in 2006.
The youthful, vibrant energy of her debut album already had the relatable, deep-cutting lyrics on life, love and growing up that are synonymous with Swift, with tracks like “Our Song,” “Picture To Burn” and “Teardrops On My Guitar.”
To embrace Swift’s true country roots, head out to Buffalo Rose on Golden’s main street (a town with a dining scene that’s totally worth exploring). The original Buffalo Rose has been around since 1859 as an event venue and saloon, even hosting the likes of Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. Since 2019, the Buffalo Rose has been polished back to its original glory through recent renovations, making this a cool, western-inspired destination complete with three bars, a restaurant and event space.
Belly up to the State Room bar for the Underboss, a play on a martini made with pickle brine ($15), or head up to the Sky Bar which has a retractable roof and the largest selection of draft beer in town.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version): Cooper Lounge
1701 Wynkoop Street
“We were both young when I first saw you
I close my eyes and the flashback starts
I’m standin’ there
On a balcony in summer air”
— “Love Story”, Fearless
Fearless is Swift’s multi-platinum sophomore album, chock-full of iconic tracks that solidified her as a pop-country star at the ripe age of twenty, like “Forever & Always”, “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me.”
The lyrics of Fearless focus on falling in and out of love, complete with Romeo and Juliet motifs. The album was also the first of Swift’s re-recording projects. The new edition dropped in April 2021 and highlights her now-more mature vocals. It also includes a throng of additional “vault” tracks pulled from the cutting room floor from the original album recordings.
The Cooper Lounge, a bar that is situated on a balcony, just makes sense for the iconic Fearless era. It is the perfect destination for a fancy, fun and elegant night out overlooking the bustling Union Station, which has a clock out front that fits right in with the album’s princess and Cinderella motifs when it strikes midnight. The bar’s selection of upscale cocktails feels celebratory, making it a perfect toast to the era.
Put on some red lipstick and be fearless when ordering cocktails like the colorful In Bloom, made with vodka, Hendrick’s Flora Adora Gin, butterfly pea flower, lemon and lavender honey topped with club soda ($17), or the large format Agua Rosa with tequila, Combier, Aperol, lime, strawberry and champagne ($99, serves 4-6).
An honorable mention for Fearless: Pony Up (1808 Blake Street), where a fun, laidback atmosphere collides with fantastic cocktails and an even better food menu (don’t miss their lineup of unique French Dips). Plus, every one of its signature cocktails are $13 — which is Swift’s favorite number — and the Fearless era is when Swift began writing the number 13 on the back of her hand.
Speak Now (Taylor’s Version): Forget Me Not
227 Clayton Street, Cherry Creek
“All I can say is I was enchanted to meet you”
— “Enchanted”, Speak Now
Speak Now, Swift’s third album, comes in swinging with teenage angst — a blend of the familiar love songs with tracks like “Mine” and “Enchanted” to the sass-filled tunes like “Better Than Revenge” and “Mean.” There’s a lot of buzz around Speak Now at the moment: it was announced that it is up next on the re-record list, with Taylor’s Version dropping July 7.
Similarly buzzy is the Cherry Creek neighborhood and its crop of new bars and restaurants, including Forget Me Not.
The bar from the Culinary Creative Group was an immediate hit when it opened in 2021, and its patio has been hopping ever since. The space is nestled on a happening section of Clayton Street in a free-standing space that was formerly, and aptly, a flower shop.
With its fun, sweet-meets-sassy disposition, Forget Me Not is the perfect Speak Now destination. It has a floral-inspired, upscale décor with splashes of purple — the album’s iconic color — with a cocktail list to match.
The Coquette made with mezcal, cardamaro and amber vermouth ($14) and the Satine made with rum, guava, chocolate, lime and sparkling wine ($15) are just a few notable options on its enchanting drink list.
Check out Forget Me Not’s sister restaurant, Bar Dough (2227 West 32nd Avenue), that will have a full Swift-inspired drink menu running the weeks surrounding the concerts.
Red (Taylor’s Version): The Cruise Room
1600 17th Street
“We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah”
— “22”, Red (Taylor’s Version)
Swift transitioned from country into pop slowly, and Red was her first official crossover album, firmly planting a foot in the pop genre with hit tracks like “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “22,” which were sharp departures from her previous twangy country-accented vocals and banjo riffs.
The Red era is a journey through Swift’s coming of age — a deep, complex reckoning with growing up. It flip-flops between the promise and the gravity of adulthood, mirroring the switches back and forth across the album between country and pop influences.
Deepening the exploration into her coming of age, Swift re-released Red in November 2021, and with it came the ten-minute version of the album’s fifth track, “All Too Well” — widely regarded as one of Swift’s career masterpieces along with its accompanying short film. (It’s also known among fans as the ultimate Jake Gyllenhaal diss track.)
For an embodiment of the multifaceted Red era, look no further than the Cruise Room. With its walls awash in red lights, enveloping guests in its moody yet elevated glow, this swank cocktail bar in the Oxford Hotel is the literal manifestation of the era.
A classy place that feels just right for Taylor’s coming of age album, general manager Justyn Brogan summed it up perfectly: “The dark red decor and retro vibe of the iconic Cruise Room make it an ideal destination for adult Swifties looking for a romantic date night or a fun spot to take gorgeous selfies while enjoying handcrafted cocktails with girlfriends.”
For a red-hued cocktail to match, try the Beet Farmer ($16) made with vodka, beet powder, lime, sugar and rosemary, or the Blossom Sour ($17) made with whiskey, lemon, honey and floral lychee fruit.
Keeping with the crossover album theme, you can also check out Hudson Hill, The Wild or Side Pony, all of which are crossovers themselves, transitioning from coffee bars during the day to cocktail bars in the evening hours.
1989: Death & Co
1280 25th Street
“When we first dropped our bags on apartment floors
Took our broken hearts, put them in a drawer”
— “Welcome To New York,” 1989
1989, Swift’s fifth studio album, is the glittery pop record that catapulted her career into uber-stardom. It contains some of Swift’s most iconic tracks of all time, including “Style,” “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off.”
This album garnered Swift a whopping ten Grammy nominations and three wins for Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Music Video for “Bad Blood,” alongside many other accolades, including spots on many lists of the best albums of all time.
True to its pure pop nature, 1989 is a love note to the city of New York and celebrates freedom as Swift spread her wings as an independent (and massively wealthy) adult. This was Swift’s era of slinking through her glamorous life in the city alongside a crew of girlfriends that included Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss.
An offshoot of the New York City original, Denver’s Death & Co is fitting for the 1989 era. It serves New York glamor, and feels appropriately grown up with a little edge — perfect for a 1989-inspired flirtation with the boundaries of freedom.
Its cocktail menu might as well be multi-platinum, with an extensive liquor selection and an always-rotating lineup of some of the most ingenious cocktails available in the city. Swifties rejoice: on the menu are two cocktails that bear names of Swift songs: the Mirror Ball (Japanese whisky, pisco, Cocchi Rosa, Genepy, lemon, raspberry and fennel) and the high-octane Anti-Hero (rye, two varieties of rum, Amaro Nonino, pineapple and Angostura bitters).
If you’re looking to try out a vintage spirit from the actual year 1989 in honor of the era, seek out Run For The Roses at the Dairy Block — a sleek, speakeasy-style cocktail bar with a massive vintage spirits collection.
Reputation: Dew Drop Inn
1033 East 17th Avenue
“Dive bar on the east side, where you at?”
— “Delicate”, Reputation
Reputation is pure angst — an album that came out in 2017 after Swift spent three years in hiding following her highly-public feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
With edgy beats, snake motifs and perfectly dramatic tracks like “Look What You Made Me Do” and “Don’t Blame Me,” this album goes hard and takes no flack. The iconic line, “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead,” appears in this album, and could not ring more true. The fairytale love of Fearless has been shed and replaced by a spurned Swift, hungry for revenge.
This was a rough time for Swift, and she mentions drinking…a lot — a Swift-approved thirteen times, in fact, referring to Old Fashioneds and clandestine dive bars instead of the see-and-be-seen locales of the previous 1989 socialite era.
If you are in your own Reputation era, pay a visit to the Dewdrop Inn in Uptown, one of the endeavors from badass women bar owners Margaret Moore, Leigh Jones, Mel Unruh and Kiendl Smith. It’s a dressed up neighborhood dive bar — a perfect blend of no frills atmosphere with elevated gastropub food and creatively updated and reasonably priced bar staples.
Also not to be missed are Dewdrop’s sister bars Horseshoe Lounge and Embassy Tavern — two very Reputation era-esque locales to slink into a dimly lit corner booth to seethe, plot your revenge, or just sip a great cocktail and glare into the void.
Try the Salted Espresso Martini ($11) or the Old Fashioned (one of the best in the city, $12) and let the games begin.
Lover: Room For Milly
1615 Platte Street
“And there’s a dazzling haze, a mysterious way about you, dear”
– “Lover,” Lover
Just as Swift was said to be reaching the peak of her artistic career, she defied expectations with the Lover era, not defeated by naysayers diluting her to a tired popstar or a girl flitting in and out of relationships.
After nearly a decade of public romances and subsequent breakups, the Lover era was a departure from her personal tumult into finally basking in the feelings of what love should be alongside partner Joe Alwyn (who she split with earlier this year).
Not to be dismissed as just a love album, the Lover era wasn’t all sunshine: it was during this time that news broke about the betrayal of her masters being sold, and it was during this time that Swift spoke out publicly against anti-LGBTQ+ laws, breaking her political silence.
This complex era manifested in a mix of bubbly, poppy scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs anthems like “Cruel Summer” and “Paper Rings,” alongside wistful reflections on love like “Daylight” and “Cornelia Street” and songs of empowerment like “You Need To Calm Down” and “The Man.”
A visit to Room For Milly feels like peering through rose-hued glasses, but with the strong backbone and poise that bolsters the Lover era. The atmosphere is youthful yet composed, and feels well-traveled with lush fabrics, vintage-inspired wallpaper and exotic cocktails.
The cocktail lounge is based on the fictional story of Milly Parker, a vivacious, global traveler who lived at the turn of the century and defied expectations of women during her time, seizing experiences, education and a little revelry for herself. Just like Taylor, if she was a man, she’d be the man.
Match the pink-hued Lover era with the SS City of Paris ($15), made with vodka, grapefruit, rosewater and sparkling rosé, described as “youthfully adventurous, bright, clear-eyed with a hint of mischief.”
Folklore: Fort Greene
321 East 45th Avenue
“Love you to the moon and to Saturn
Passed down like folk songs
The love lasts so long”
— “Seven”, Folklore
A welcome reprieve from the darkness of the pandemic, Swift released the Grammy award-winning Folklore in late summer 2020, bringing a new sound to her discography: an acoustic-forward, indie-folk record on which Aaron Dessner of The National joined the producer team.
In addition to a new sound, Folklore was Taylor’s first departure from autobiographical songwriting and, true to the album’s name, is stylized as a series of vignettes and folk stories about a fictional cast of characters ambling their way in and out of teenage love, love triangles and apologies.
This summer-y, folksy album includes songs that follow character arcs in tracks like “Betty” and “The Last Great American Dynasty” and haunting, stripped-down tracks like “This Is Me Trying” and “Mirrorball.”
With its mismatched vintage glassware and welcoming, artsy vibe, Fort Greene is the Folklore era destination. Decked out with lush green walls and plush vintage furniture, its cozy yet bright atmosphere feels like a place where the storytelling of Folklore could have been dreamed up.
Order the Greenepoint, its cheeky take on the classic Greenpoint made with rye, green chartreuse, cardamaro and cherry bitters ($14), or the funky Full Cry made with sotol, Port, oolong simple syrup and lemon ($13). It also has an extensive list of spirit-free cocktails, beer and natural wine selection.
Evermore: The Tatarian
4024 Tennyson Street
“Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind”
— “Willow”, Evermore
Evermore, which was released in December 2020, less than five months after Folklore and two days before Swift’s 31st birthday, is the autumnal answer to Folklore. It brings a darker, spookier tone to Swift’s pair of pandemic albums. Bryce Dessner, twin brother and bandmate of Aaron Dessner, also joined the producer list, deepening the album’s folksy, acoustic tone.
The album artwork depicts Swift among a wooden forest in a woolen plaid shirt jacket, a perfect vignette to set the tone of the sounds to come, from lush tracks like “Willow” and “Ivy,” to stories of love and loss like “Champagne Problems” and “Marjorie.”
The Tatarian, with its woodsy decor and a botanical cocktail list to match, captures the essence of the Evermore era. The clever beverages are each named for a tree and use botanically-derived ingredients to boot, from the namesake Tatarian, a take on an Old Fashioned made with maple lapsang syrup ($14), to the Ashbrittle made with honeysuckle liqueur ($14).
If you want to take the “lost in the woods” aesthetic of Evermore even further, drop by Forest Room 5, where you can order a cocktail and drink it beside a “creek” or a campfire.
Midnights: Sunday Vinyl
1803 16th Street Mall
“When the morning came we were cleaning incense off your vinyl shelf ‘Cause we lost track of time again
— “Maroon”, Midnights
Midnights, Swift’s latest addition to her discography, is described by her as “the stories of thirteen sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” This is, by far, her most mature album to date — a true pop album marked with subdued, moodier tones and retro-inspired synth riffs, with a 1970s aesthetic influence to match.
It’s glamorous and sophisticated and youthful yet mature, just like Sunday Vinyl at Union Station. Its pink walls are decked with edgy, thoughtfully-curated art and its extensive vinyl collection is projected through luxuriously high fidelity Sonus Faber loudspeakers.
Sunday Vinyl is the perfect match-up of modern with vintage, true to the Midnights era aesthetic, with a killer menu, extensive wine list touted by extremely knowledgeable staff (many of whom are sommeliers), and a vibe that feels relaxed, inviting and just plain fun.
Be sure to check out its Flight Night, where the love of wine and vinyl collide on Wednesdays when a genre or artist is paired with a curated wine flight to match the vibes ($50 for a five-wine flight). Later this month, for a special “double feature,” the Sunday Vinyl team will be spinning all of Taylor Swift’s eras back-to-back on July 12 and 13 with a wine selection dedicated to each of her albums — a can’t-miss event for Swifties.
For other places to embrace a Midnights-inspired evening sipping wine, head to RiNo wine bar Noble Riot where you can pair bubbly with fried chicken, or the nearby Infinite Monkey Theorem, a women-owned and -operated winery.