Platform 18 at Century Grand

Reviewed By: Leslie
I have a favorite pair of shoes.  They are so dear to me that I don't wear them.  If I had a glass case in which to display these shoes, I would place them prominently in the foyer of our house.  But I don't have a glass case, which makes Andy happy.  Our friends Shannon and Steven invited us to an occasion that required some dressing up. I thought that maybe this occasion would warrant The Shoes.  So we got dressed up.  I threw on my little black dress and my Happy Shoes and joined Steven and Shannon all aboard the authentic Pullman railcar turned swanky bar at Platform 18. We had a blast stepping back in time in this Gatsby era themed cocktail bar!

Ambience: As you pull into the parking lot of the Century Grand, the building is a bit stark--shades of charcoal. Your impression completely changes as soon as you open the door.  The hosts greet your just inside the door, surrounded by stacks of whisky barrels.  They are friendly and check you in, then lead you around the corner to your destination--an authentic Pullman railcar turned immersive cocktail bar.  Complete with moving scenery outside the windows.  It is a bit disorienting as you step through the door because it actually feels like a moving train. You take a second to adjust your bearings and are seated at swanky little mirrored copper tables, already set with a glass of champagne for each guest--a palate cleanser to prepare you for your cocktail experience. It's really hard to describe how your brain processes the "movement" of the train with the occasional billow of steam, entering and leaving tunnels, lights flickering ever so slightly, and the constant subtle chug-chug of the train moving down the tracks. I'm not sure if your body creates the movements based on the sights and sounds or if, somehow, the railcar is actually gently rocking--it really doesn't matter because you are transported to a different place and era.  The scenery outside the windows, by the way, is the same view you would see while riding the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge train in the Four Corners of Colorado.  It is a lovely snowy mountain scene as you follow the Animas River through the San Juan Mountains. 

Quality:  This is a cocktail bar only and no food is served.  That said, if you plan to go, maybe make sure you eat a large lunch or plan to eat dinner and then head over to your reservation at Platform 18 because the cocktails are excellent! The menu is a book that offers an extraordinary large selection of cocktails and tells the story of Hollis Cottley Pennington--the fictional owner of the railcar and the train platform. No detail was missed in this experience. Because there are so many cocktails to choose from, it seemed easier for us to ask the server for recommendations. The cocktails we received were very good! We ordered a cocktail each and kind of passed them around to taste.  All were complex, creative, and enjoyed immensely. The cocktail names were fun--The Man Behind the Curtain or Black is for the Dead--and we really enjoyed perusing the menu for creative drinks, drink names, and the story that wove through the pages--all 25+ pages... They also offer boozy ice cream, the only food aside from the cocktail garnishes on the premises. We didn't try the ice cream, but we will definitely return to Platform 18 and experiment some more.

Service: The servers are knowledgeable, experienced, and friendly. They seem young to have so much information regarding spirits, but they are very well versed and easily answer questions and make suggestions.  We had absolutely no complaints with our server, she had a real skill for sussing out your favorite drink and recommending something you might enjoy. Everyone we encountered from the hosts to the bartenders were friendly and welcoming.

Value: This is another time where you are paying for memories and therefore the cocktail prices, though hefty, were mostly ignored.  When the check arrived at the end of our 90 minute reservation, we were still so in awe of the whole train ride, scenery, and people watching, that we handed over our credit card without a thought.  In this case, the ambience far exceeded our expectations and we left happily chattering about the railcar, the drinks, the service, and how everything was pretty spectacular.  

There are three bar rooms in the Century Grand--Platform 18, Under Tow, and Grey Hen RX--each has a different theme but the commonality is that they are all set in the prohibition era and all three have that Great Gatsby-esque party feeling.  Century Grand feels like a step back in time, where you sip a prohibited cocktail while waiting for your train to arrive. The atmosphere is so detail oriented and pulled off so well--I really can't think of any negatives.  We loved it!  We will return as soon as we can snatch up another reservation--which is difficult and also adds to the mystique.  The 90 minute limit to your reservation goes by so quickly, yet seems like the just the right amount of time to enjoy your friends and the experience.  (But you definitely need to plan on eating just prior or right after.) Note that some of our photos include Under Tow and Grey Hen RX.