Noble Riot is one of the venues around Denver participating in Natural Wine Week, April 15-20. (Provided by Noble Riot)

If Noble Riot is among your favorite spots to grab a drink in Denver, you’re not alone. Esquire just named the natural-wine-bar-turned-fried-chicken-joint one of the best bars in America.

The magazine’s 15th annual list honors 27 institutions nationwide, and Noble Riot is the only one in Colorado that made the cut.

“The fact that Colorado makes some pretty interesting natural wines is just one of the things you’ll learn at Noble Riot, an unlikely wine bar located down a graffiti-and-mural-adorned alley in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood,” wrote Kevin Sintumuang, Esquire’s culture and lifestyle director. “Whether you’re perusing one of the zine-like menus or being recommended pét-nat from Chile or pairing a big red from Palestine with a bucket of crunchy fried chicken, what you’ll discover is that wine can be wild and fun, even in the middle of craft-beer country.”

Troy Bowen, co-owner of Noble Riot, said he was honored and humbled that his bar was recognized for its effort. Though COVID-19 created unusual business circumstances, it also “brought out the hustle” allowed Noble Riot to come into its own, he said. Adding fried chicken to the menu was always part of the plan, but doing to-go sales enabled the restaurant to dive all the way in.

“It was such a fortuitous time,” Bowen said. “Giving that to the community at a time of desire when people want comfort, it was perfect and shaped what we did next.”

The list comes on heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered beloved watering holes, some permanently. Now, as the country turns a corner with vaccinations on the rise and doors reopening, bars have never been more important, Sintumuang argues.

A customer leaves with a to-go order as owner Troy Bowen, right, brings over more food to package up at Noble Riot Wine Bar on March 18, 2020, while much of Denver was shut down due to the pandemic. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

“This year’s best bars are a reflection of the desire to experience wonder once more–in being introduced to mind-expanding wines and whiskeys, downing pints in old churches, or hunkering in jazzy spaces again–and to be grateful for places that managed to remain intrinsic to the fabric of drinking culture in America,” he wrote.

See Esquire’s full list of this year’s best bars in America.

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