12 February 2019
The 15C bar is less like a bar and more like an experience.
From the start you enter a world decorated by antique and vintage, an atmosphere of exclusivity. A rather bare door marked with a simple 15C lettering to signify the entrance. This exclusive feeling is not real, the bar is open to anyone as it stands, however the feeling persists as you sit down at the bar and look around. A mixture of neon lights and vintage lamps decorate the ceiling and walls, a clash of two time periods.
Classic wooden crown molding is accentuated by color in every form from the drinks to the food. This aesthetic is mirrored in décor. Paintings of various times and places hang on the walls, each of which is intriguing enough to catch my eye. One word comes to mind to describe this place: speakeasy. A place for reclusive conversation and drinking, a fitting description if not for how lively the place was.
This was only the first aspect of my experience. What followed was a mixture of martini drinks, conversation and cigar smoke.
It should be noted that 15C is not merely a bar. Whilst the staff specialize in martinis, something of an art form if they are to be believed, the bar is also held in high regard to cigar smokers everywhere. A customer can not only order food and drinks, but also a cigar from a generous selection.
While my evening did not involve smoking, the evidence of other patron’s activities hung loosely in the air. I initially thought that the smoke would create an unpleasant environment; however, I was pleasantly surprised. If anything, the smell and atmosphere only added to the aesthetic.
The staff were not only friendly, but incredibly helpful with choices and explanations. At several points in the evening I would ask a question which often resulted in descriptions, histories and additional recommendations. This cheerful disposition was mirrored in the patrons sitting at the bar, many of whom I managed to make friends with in a relatively short time.
I would recommend three drinks from the menu, though my choices are not indicative of the actual drink list. In fact, the list is so long and so varying that I would simply run out of time before trying everything. The following three drinks, however, are the ones that I found to be the best of the seven that I tried. It should be noted that the bartenders are not only artistic in their crafting of the drinks but are also incredibly creative. If you ask for something, they might just make it for you.
The first drink that I liked was the Cat Fight!!!, a drink both interesting in name and flavor. Sharp orange and cranberry flavors are accented by a peach aftertaste. It is remarkably smooth for a drink so dense in alcohol. The orange flavor also holds a bitter undertone that is quite savory as compared to other examples of bitterness often found in mixed drinks. Only a slight ethanol-ic taste appears above the flavors, something that I found very satisfying.
The second drink was the Tang. As described on the menu, the staff adamantly proclaim that the drink is not in fact Sunny D, however the taste is uncanny. If it wasn’t for the fact that I watched the bartender the entire time, I would have not believed it myself. A sharp orange and acidic citric flavor hangs over a sweetness that is delicious. Be warned, this one has the ability to get away from you.
My third drink was a classic for the chocolate lovers out there, the Chocolate Starfish. This drink was the pinnacle of my evening. An almost devastatingly sweet chocolate drink with hints of graham cracker and only the slightest scent of alcohol despite how much was added. It was both rich and lasting, with a sip of water bringing out vanilla afterwards.
In all, the 15C bar is the perfect place for many people. Cigar smokers and martini drinkers can try new things and come away with a memorable experience. The atmosphere speaks of an exclusive club, yet the staff and patrons alike allow for easy conversation. I would highly recommend this place for the legal crowd, especially those wanting an adventure in downtown Colorado Springs.