Yacht Club Lands on List of North America’s 50

Mary Allison Wright and McClain Hedges, the husband-and-wife team that owns Yacht Club, have reason to celebrate.

It landed at number 42 on this year’s list of the 50 Best Bars in North America. The news was announced at a live event in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, on May 4; it was the second round for a list that launched in 2022.

In the inaugural edition of the 50 Best Bars in North America, Death & Co’s Denver location inside the Ramble Hotel in RiNo landed at number 36. That bar is an offshoot of a concept that started in New York City, but Yacht Club is a Denver original.

Wright and Hedges, who met while following Phish on tour and moved to Denver from Tennessee, have been staples on the local bar scene for a decade. In 2014, they opened what was then dubbed RiNo Yacht Club inside the Source. It operated out of the central bar there for over four years.

In 2019, Wright and Hedges shut down that iteration with plans to move into their own brick-and-mortar — news that the 50 Best organization apparently needs to catch up on, as its description mistakenly says that Yacht Club is still located inside the food hall.

a person pouring a cocktail into a glass.

Yacht Club mixes high and low seemlessly.

Shawn Campbell

One pandemic later, the couple finally made good on that promise to open a place of their own, launching the current version of Yacht Club in December 2021 at 3701 Williams Street, next door to Brasserie Brixton in the Cole neighborhood.

Part dive bar, part industry hangout, part cocktail and natural wine destination, this place mixes high and low seamlessly. It’s a club that’s not a club at all — everyone is welcome, and everyone can find something to love.

Along with its stellar beverage program, Yacht Club also serves a refreshingly un-serious selection of snacks, led by the main attraction: hot dogs that come with various toppings and a bag of Lay’s chips.

This isn’t the first honor for the Yacht Club. Last June, it was named one of four U.S. finalists for Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar at the 2022 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. It also nabbed Westword’s 2023 editor’s pick for Best New Bar.

The World’s 50 Best Bars organization also honored Yacht Club with the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award 2023. “Behind the bar, Yacht Club flexes its eco-credentials, both reusing and reinventing by-products of cocktail production,” reads the website. “Fruit peels and offcuts that would be otherwise discarded are re-used and fermented in a variety of styles for use throughout the cocktail list, empty glass bottles are used as vessels for pre-batching and there are no single-use containers, coasters or utensils in any part of the operation. All waste from the bar is measured, categorized and sorted, with continual changes to processes in order to reduce its ecological footprint.”

The Best Bars picks were made by an anonymous panel of 260 industry experts that includes “bartenders, bar owners, drinks media and cocktail connoisseurs,” according to the organization’s website.

And even if they got the bar’s location wrong, they were certainly right in choosing to honor Yacht Club. So raise a glass (and a hot dog) to this Denver standout. 

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