Legendary 1920s socialite Milly Parker was known for trysts, travel and a general commitment to extravagance. On Friday, February 28 Room for Milly — a namesake bar from Queens Eleven and Blue Sparrow Coffee’s Jeffrey Knott and Fiona Arnold — will open on Platte, bringing to the neighborhood a lavish watering hole. Filling a void left by the recent closure of Colt and Gray and Ste. Ellie, the bar will bring similar attention to premium drinks and a comfortable lounge atmosphere just down the block from previous site of the famed locales.
While there are certainly kitschy elements, the decor at Milly finds a way to be transporting rather than cute. The art — curated by Kate Meyers of Kate Finds Art — highlights mostly female artists, many of whom are local. From the large piece by Lindsay Cowles — a Richmond native who turns her oil paintings into colorful wallpaper — to a rendering of a screaming Jonah Hill, the decor takes itself lightly without ever sacrificing quality. This extends to Milly’s general aesthetic, which warps traditional refinement with a plethora of playful accouterments. “Blue Sparrow is more Paris, this is more London,” said Arnold of the bar’s design underpinnings which reference old English clubs. “We gotta have New York-sized spaces in Denver,” she continued. While the space is not nearly as compact as Queens, the design is intentionally cozy.
The menu includes one page of charming bar snacks and several pages of inventive cocktails, each complete with quotes from Parker that range from lavish to suggestive — each giving a glimpse into the woman’s decadent worldliness. The Putting on the Ritz ($18) — that combines Legendary sturgeon caviar with cucumber and Ritz crackers — probably best exemplifies Milly’s irreverent approach. The deviled eggs ($4) with Vadouvan French curry and a scallion ginger relish are a bit tamer but still manage to give the classic a cosmopolitan facelift. The fortune cookies (mp) — with chocolate and a garnish of edible gold leaf —are the most blatant display of the place’s flagrant upscaling and delight both in flavor and poise.
The cocktails are broken down into the lighter-proof aperitif-style Salon Cocktails and the more booze-forward Les Annees Folles — each one listing the classic drink that they play off of. The Douglas ($14) — a martini-style drink with Fino sherry, gin, salted-thyme honey and olive — plays up the matchless interaction between the sherry and thyme to brilliant result. The Cottage ($14) is cognac, rhubarb, orange oleo, lemon juice, Aperol and cinnamon, all served in a teacup and garnished with fresh flower petals. The Fuel Stop ($14) is bourbon, cranberry liquor and angostura bitters topped with a sprig of cedarwood-smoked rosemary and is a contender for the best-smelling cocktail in the city.
While the place is certainly chic, Arnold designed it to be neighborhood hangout. Milly’s upscale time-warp design and exceptional food and drink all coalesce to create a scene that is unlike any in the city, mischievously sitting at the intersection of elegance and excess.
Room for Milly is located at 1615 Platte St., Denver. It will be open Sunday – Thursday 3 p.m. – 12 a.m., and Friday and Saturday 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.