Long ago, when viaducts still spanned the no-man's-land between downtown and the Highland neighborhood, Denver's bohemian crowd flocked to 15th and Platte streets for late-night coffee and cigarettes at Paris on the Platte, or to Muddy Waters on the Platte, just up the hill. But both coffeehouses are long gone (Paris on the Platte held on until 2015), and once-quiet Platte Street now bustles with gleaming office buildings and imposing apartments.
Although workers and residents of those buildings are eager to frequent establishments along the street, the recent closings of the Dead Battery Club and Ste. Ellie (an offshoot of Colt & Gray) left a couple of gaps. But now there are two new options on Platte Street: The Broken Cage just took over the former home of the Dead Battery Club, and Room for Milly is about to open at 1615 Platte Street, just across the plaza from where Ste. Ellie poured drinks from 2013 to 2019.
Room for Milly, named after flapper-era world traveler Milly Parker (whose fictional biography you can read here), is the latest project from Fiona Arnold and Jeffrey Knott, who also own Blue Sparrow Coffee and Queens Eleven. This is their third opening in the past few months; Queens Eleven, a cocktail and coffee bar, opened at the end of 2019 at 3603 Walnut Street, and the second location of Blue Sparrow has been brewing up coffee next door to Room for Milly since January.
The new cocktail bar captures the spirit of the Roaring Twenties in both its design and its menu. Arnold says she and her team designed the space, with Semple Brown as the architect and Sprung Construction as the builder. Cushy olive-green banquettes, marble tabletops, copper-topped drink rails, oil paintings (curated by Kate Finds Art) and colorful wallpaper add to the feel of an explorer's conservatory or library, and a hand-painted mural behind the long, wrap-around bar depicting palm trees, elephants, camels and temples adds a touch of Orientalism popular in European salons at the turn of the century.
The food and cocktail menus combine decadence and playfulness, with mixed drinks skewing exotic and elaborate — even the house martini comes with surprising ingredients — and snacks and small plates drawing from vintage upscale dining. There's caviar, for example, but it comes with Ritz crackers; you can score a single serving for $18 or get "the whole damned tin" for $95. Waldorf salads, deviled eggs, devils on horseback, croquettes and chilled shrimp add to the cocktail-party vibe, and you can even get a single-serving Wellington, stuffed not with beef, but with locally made Clyde's sausage. If you can't decide what to try, ask for the Rooftop Party, which for $55 comes with one order of every small plate.
Arnold and Knott's other bar, Queens Eleven, specializes in inexpensive cocktails in the $8 range, but Room for Milly goes a little more upscale, with prices in the low- and mid-teens. Spirits range far beyond the standard gin, vodka, rum and whiskey, though, with cachaça, calvados, sherry, Cappalletti, rhum agricole and other more obscure offerings serving as the base for various drinks. There's also a full page of zero-proof cocktails.
The official grand opening of Room for Milly's is Friday, February 28, but Knott says you can stop in this weekend for a soft opening with a few discounts. Come the end of the month, the bar will be open officially from 3 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For reservations and details, call 720-630-7020 or visit the Room for Milly website.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.