September 13 2007, 8:18 AM
I have never travelled by train before. It's on the list of Things To Do Someday. But I can now say that I have dined in a private, vintage rail car. Yesterday I was treated to lunch on the Patron Tequila Express. The private car is owned by John Paul DeJoria, who owns the Patron Spirits Company, and it's absolutely gorgeous. Car #50 was built in 1927, and it's decked out in intricate wood carvings and original 14th-century Gothic art. DeJoria uses it for personal travel (the train has hosted the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Clark Gable, and Huey P. Long) and for promotional events for Patron. Lunch was served on the train on Track 3 at Union Station. Denver chef Matthew Franklin -- formerly of 240 Union and soon to open The Wine Experience Cafe in Southlands -- created a special five-course meal using Patron products in each course. Cooking with tequila may seem a bit unusual, but Chef Franklin turned out plate after plate of amazing food. And of course, I imagine that lunch on the Patron Tequila Express always includes a few tequila tastings. The entire line of Patron products was available for sampling, and I had a teensy taste of most of them (tequila tastings conducted in the early afternoon are more about sips than shots). And while the reposado is my favorite of the line, with its slightly softer flavor from spending a few months "resting" in oak barrels, the highlight of the sampling was Patron's newest product. If you like high-end spirits, you'll want to try the Gran Patron Burdeos, an "ultra premium" anejo (aged) tequila that is triple distilled and then placed in barrels that were formerly home to Bordeaux wines, adding a hint of vanilla-berry softness and a Cognac flavor to the spirit. Sadly, the limited edition bottles are currently only available through restaurants, though they say the bottles may hit retail outlets for around $499 in the future. For now, true tequila snobs can check out Patron's best at a handful of restaurants and clubs around town. Mezcal, Chama, The Palm, Cool River Cafe, the Diamond Cabaret and La Boheme currently have it on hand, along with Jimmy's in Aspen. It's good stuff, for sure, but it'll cost you; expect to pay around $75 or more for your drink.