Just as the Silver Queen Gondola is the great equalizer—uniting locals and visitors of all stripes within its cozy confines for the ride of a lifetime—Roger Wilson envisions 7908 (415 E. Hyman Ave.) as the most inclusive yet exclusive nightspot in town.
“It’s a gigantic, floating Dionysian gondola,” says the bar, restaurant and dance club’s celebrity owner. “A 6,000-square-foot open theater of entertainment, fine dining, cocktails and fun. A bit of old-school raucousness, ya know?”
Harking to the late, great, urban supper clubs of the last midcentury, 7908 has drawn a diverse crowd since opening in July. To watch multigenerational crowds flow through the sophisticated, subterranean space—an Alpine-chic dream of whitewashed brick, cool gray wood and supple leather, thanks to a tony revamp by Kristin Dittmar Design—is to see how naturally they absorb Wilson’s vision.
An evening at 7908 might begin with a meal of “elevated” comfort food in the sleek, 66-seat dining room. Plucked from New Orleans by city-native Wilson, chef Craig Walker showcases his Southern Louisiana heritage through hearty yet uplifting seasonal dishes highlighting Colorado ingredients. Think buttermilk-marinated fried chicken tossed in sweet-spicy chili honey with chicken chicharrones; fresh ricotta from small-batch Olathe milk; and braised lamb on a spread of green hummus, lamb-fat-seared naan, tzatziki and Moroccan ras el hanout spice.
Steak, fish and craveable pasta dishes (spiralized zucchini with confit tomatoes for the gluten-free set) will appear this winter too. Decadent staples include the Aspen Nachos with Yukon chips, cultured cream and caviar (at Aspen prices too, ringing in at $120); and a 7X Beef wagyu burger with pecan-praline Tender Belly bacon and Walker’s “most ridiculous, super-high-end Cheez Whiz” made from artisan truffled fromage.
Casual diners will settle in the 40-seat, banquette-lined lounge to sample a more gently priced bar menu, possibly finding a cultural tradition close to both Wilson’s and Walker’s roots: red beans and rice. Master sommelier Jonathan Pullis and award-winning spirits director Matt Corbin orchestrate libations before, during and after dinner—from cinema-themed craft cocktails (Two for the Road, Laughter in Paradise) to $10 draft Manhattans and draft rosé, sipped equally alongside Coors Banquet or bottle service on the adjacent seductive dance floor, commandeered by resident DJ Brian Normand (aka Kid Kamillion).
An instant hit, 7908 has expanded already, adding wine-cellar shelving for Bordeaux and Burgundies, and upgrading dining-room sound and lighting in advance of clearing tables and chairs for frolicking until last call. Because, Wilson says, “we’re all in the enjoyment of Aspen together.”