A hand-held, Executair brand travel bar late last week was discovered on Amtrak’s Winter Park Express. For weeks, the “ski train” that carries its passengers directly from Denver’s Union Station to the base of the Winter Park resort was hiding one empty brown briefcase, the alcoholic contents of which had been drained on an indulgent end of January trip.
This winter season, Amtrak and Winter Park introduced their Express train lounge car. Through the end of March, it will be serving 360-degree mountain views across a two-hour rail journey, now with beer, wine, spirits, and snacks onboard.
The spirits of course are shooters, the beers New Belgium, and the snacks, brands from Kind to Sara Lee. As for the views, they start with sunrise and a 7 a.m. Denver departure time. They’re interrupted only by a system of 28 tunnels that cut through the Rockies along the way, and they peak near the two-hour mark, at around 9,200 feet. For a meditative 6.2 miles, and just before emerging in Winter Park, the Express train goes dark passing underneath the Continental Divide.
By that point, it’s last call for the lounge car; conductor Brad Swartzwelter instructs diners and imbibers to head back to their regular seats. But for the 90 or so minutes before, through sunrise and then dusk on the way back east, there’s enough time for a full-on train car breakfast and a proper après ski. Eater tried it.
Enlisting the help of Run for the Roses, a new bar coming this spring to Dairy Block, two extravagant travel menus were created using a mix of the lounge car’s offerings and some of Denver’s own for the morning and evening trips.
Highlights were Amtrak’s hot cocoa with a healthy splash of Becherovka liquer, the train’s blueberry muffins paired with Fruition Shepherd’s Halo cheese, Oscietra caviar piled on potato chips, and Cart-Driver’s chicken liver mousse spread over packaged pound cake. The last time the Executair was seen that day, it was shortly before the gin martinis came out.
Here, a visual guide to making the most of the ski train this season, travel bar not required.