License No. 1 and The Corner Bar

On May 5 this year, the Corner Bar in the 100-year-old Hotel Boulderado reopened, with a facelift.


Boulderado owner Frank Day rolled out the first update and changes after being closed for two weeks in April. It is the first part of a major upgrade in The Boulderado during the early part of this year, the second upgrade being Catacombs. What once was Catacombs; a dingy, underground college bar that is now on its way to being a classy, speakeasy now aptly named License No. 1.

License No. 1 reopened on May 13th with a new menu, decor and more cocktails. Allison Widdecombe, the award-winning bartender from Williams & Graham in Denver created License No. 1’s cocktail menu.

Dahlia The Corner Bar

The Corner Bar’s renovations include adding entirely new wallpaper, the wood got a fresh dye with a deep mahogany color and the entire space was varnished. They ripped up the stagnant carpet that covered the interior, and replaced it with wood floors and re-tiled the area underneath the bar. The well-known patio outside on the corner of 13th and Spruce still remains, but they’ve also added soft seating with couches alongside the west side of the hotel sidewalk, that will have a moveable bar behind it, and a soon-to-be-built long bar with stools for people watching.


The Corner Bar’s menu was overhauled to reflect new seasonal changes and dishes, while keeping some longtime favorites like the nachos. Their happy hour menu now segments small bites and drinks between $4-6. Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. daily, and on Sunday from 3 p.m. until close.

I think The Corner Bar’s patio is underrated. It’s one of the larger ones in town, and their flash fried brussel sprouts and polenta truffle tots, are stand-outs on the menu for shared appetizers. Really impressive dishes.

The Corner Bar

License No. 1 (what once was Catacombs) originally had the first liquor license in Boulder in 1969, hence the name. The aim is to head back to its prohibition-era days – where perhaps “wet” activity might have been going down in the basement during those “dry” periods.


The 7000 square-foot space has the longest running elevator still intact and seats 300 people. The space is now filled with red leather booths, red and gold velvet curtains, mahogany tables, whiskey barrels, and vintage signs. Their bar was restocked with a large list of impressive whiskeys, twenty-six craft beers on tap (many being Colorado local), and a variety of spirits.

Speakeasy-esque, ring the bell for service to enter License No. 1
Speakeasy-esque, ring the bell for service to enter License No. 1

If you were a Catacombs regular, you might recognize the core of the space, but the interior is a major overhaul and you won’t find your buy one get one deals or Long Island Ice Teas.

Worth noting is the service industry buzz that, they were scheduled to open in early May with The Corner Bar, but it was pushed back because of last minute management and staff changes. Former, long-time employees of Catacombs, were told they would lose their jobs and some would be able to reapply. I’ve heard a lot about it but it seems to have died down, with their new hires and new management. Although it is unfortunate, it just seems like an internal mistake that perhaps wasn’t forseen.

The Daily Camera reported from owner Frank Day:

“We needed some different people for what we had,” Day said, referencing a the new menu of unique cocktails. “(Friday’s actions) in retrospect, were handled clumsily with an unintentional consequence … It’s unfortunate. We’re suffering for it.

“I’m sorry it happened.”

With little nooks and crannies, there’s different vibes you can experience, from room to room. On Sunday nights they plan to host vintage movies, the music lounge will include live blues and jazz music Wednesday through Saturday, and the billiard room is still there.

Personally, I’m glad to see a true bar open in Boulder that is a good place to gather with groups and enjoy a drink. So many of the places you might venture to in Boulder, are restaurants and are open a bit later for a bar. Just a good bar bar is what’s needed and License No. 1 fills that need, while perhaps those theater-goers at Boulder Theater may want to stop by for a pre or post theater drink.

License No. 1 is open daily from 5 p.m. to midnight. They allow you to order small bites from Q’s, which honestly, isn’t as impressive but Q’s is reopening as Spruce in August and they hope to revamp themselves.