A Star Is Born

7908 Has a Uniquely Aspen Take on the Supper Club

Since opening last summer, the restaurant/lounge has elevated town's social scene with a buzzy atmosphere and decadent comfort food.

By Rebecca Cole Photography by Nick Tininenko November 21, 2018 Published in the Holiday 2018 issue of Aspen Sojourner

7908's lounge heats up later in the evening.

The Stork Club. El Morocco. The 21 Club.

Inspired by these legendary nightspots—where celebrities, athletes, and royalty rubbed shoulders with poets and politicians while wining, dining, and dancing—Roger Wilson sought to create a similar vibe for his supper club, 7908, albeit in a uniquely Aspen way.

“What’s the No. 1 place in Aspen that allows all types to meet and connect?” he asks. “The gondola. That’s what I’m trying to do here.”

He cites three key elements of a true supper club: dining and dancing, eccentric and colorful characters, and a “raucous and regal” ambience—not to mention great booze and good food.

A former actor and screenwriter, Wilson may be best known for his role as Mickey in the ’80s hit Porky’s. (Less known is his passion for yoga; he teaches it to kids through the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club.) In the style of a majordomo, Wilson curates every aspect of the experience at 7908 (named for the town’s elevation), from the art on the walls to the disco ball in the separate lounge and the dining room’s carefully placed mirrors that allow every guest to see (and be seen), no matter the seat.

The dark, pubby atmosphere of Finbarr’s, which used to occupy the subterranean space, has been replaced by a light, airy aesthetic: whitewashed brick, funky lighting that casts a golden glow in the dining room, blond bamboo floors, and a mix of materials like wood, leather, and metal. The cool, elegant décor comes courtesy of local interior designer Kristin Dittmar.

7908's large bar

Moscow Mules on tap

Sophisticated portraits of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and Jim Morrison—all from Cha Cha Gallery—line the walls, along with David Gamble photographs like Andy Warhol’s Kitchen Sink. Gamble’s image of the Dalai Lama in the lounge is especially playful; when the DJ hits the booth and the beat starts thumping, it seems like His Holiness is both shielding his eyes from the disco lights and covering them in horror from the debauchery.

Cocktails continue the theme of spirited chic. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World features Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, Rémy Martin Louis XIII cognac, vermouth, and Bénédictine; it goes for a cool $500. Lacking that kind of cash, I opted for the El Morocco, made with Savage & Cooke’s Second Glance American whiskey, Hennessy VS, house-made cherry tincture, and Carpano Antica vermouth, for $18. It came with a mini glass dome infused with cinnamon nutmeg smoke and was served on its own elevated plank. Smoky, sweet, and delicious.

Other creative cocktails include the Aspen Extreme, made with Marble Distilling’s vodka and its Moonlight Expresso coffee liqueur, and the Kiss and Tell, with Bombay Sapphire gin, beet shrub, aquafaba, tarragon, and lemon. 7908 also offers a rotating selection of draft cocktails, including manhattans on tap made with Woodford rye and house-made bitters and Moscow Mules with house-made ginger beer. A big reason for the impressive cocktail lineup (and expansive wine list) is director of spirits Matt Corbin and Master Sommelier Jonathan Pullis, both pilfered from Chef’s Club restaurant.

Roasted chicken with grilled lemon and frisée

As for Executive Chef Craig Walker’s fried chicken, I’d call it the best in town. Maybe in Colorado. Seriously. The Louisiana native serves it up crispy, crunchy, and lightly seasoned on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and nestled atop homemade ranch sauce and drizzled with chili honey. Other mains include a burger made with Wagyu beef from Hotchkiss’s 7X Cattle Company, Moroccan-spiced Colorado lamb served with hummus and naan bread, and pan-seared halibut. A separate bar menu is also available.

And, yes, 7908’s Aspen Nachos have gotten a lot of play—$120 for a plate of chips? I came ready to scoff. But I have to admit they were delicious; house-made Yukon gold potato chips were topped with cream, egg bits, pickled shallots, chives, and capers—and accompanied by a whole tin of Imperial Osetra caviar (hence, the price).

Over the top and with a side of chutzpah, for sure, but that’s what 7908 does so well. 415 E Hyman Ave, 970-516-7908

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