While we’re all chomping at the bit to travel, American Express is giving us a glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel. The Denver International Airport, or DIA, has just opened its newest, and most swanky, lounge to the public.

At over 14,000-square-feet, DIA’s Centurion Lounge is the second-largest and includes sweeping views and mountain inspired interiors. Geometric installations on the ceilings are meant to mimic the vastness of the Rocky Mountains while a living wall depicting them is visible from the concourse as well as the lounge itself.

The menu features Italian-Inspired treats from Executive Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson. The James Beard Foundation Award-winning Chef and Restaurateur, co- founded Frasca Hospitality Group and Scarpetta Wines, who brings a fresh perspective to the new Denver Centurion Lounge. With a focus on small batch, local and artisanal ingredients and cuisine, Chef Lachlan has developed a menu heavily influenced by his travels through the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Northern Italy. No more buffets but rotating menus from breakfast to dinner will offers dishes like Gubana French Toast and Rigatoni al Portonat. Below, Chef Lachlan has even provided some pairing guidance for those lucky DIA bound passengers.

“We’re excited to unveil a new Centurion Lounge at one of the most frequented airports by our Premium Card Members, Denver International Airport, and provide a safe and comfortable space them as they look to start their travels again,” said Alexander Lee, Vice President of Travel Experiences and Benefits. “We collaborated closely with local partners to design a space that brings to life all of the unique offerings of Denver, from their renowned craft brewery and culinary scene, to the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.”

While Denver is known as the Mile High city, the new lounge has many nods to its lesser known attributes. The aptly named Craft Beer Bar 1 is an homage to Denver’s 70+ breweries and will seasonally rotate beers made locally in Colorado. First up are offerings from Denver Beer Co, ODD13 Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery and Left Hand Brewing Company. Cocktail lovers, have no fear, mixologist Jim Meehan created Colorado-inspired cocktails. Anthony Giglio was tapped to close out the drinks with a carefully curated wine list.

While things are certainly a bit different, what’s been Chef Lachlan’s biggest challenge?

“Biggest challenge recently for sure has been settling in to the duration of the virus. The inability to freely travel for inspiration and to connect with our colleagues has had an enormous impact. As someone who is used to being in Italy 4-5 times a year developing new ideas, this has been a curveball.”

See below for Chef Lachlan’s Top 5 Recommended Pairings: 

  • Quinoa Salad, cucumber, tomato, roasted cauliflower, olives, oranges, pine nuts —> Avery Liliko’i Kepolo Wheat Witbier
  • Roasted Chestnut Soup w/ apple and Speck —> Breckenridge Brewery Avalanche Ale 
  • Grilled Chicken in salsa verde Amatriciana Potatoes and Green Beans —> Tivoli Helles Lager
  • Girini de Pasta – root vegetable, prosciutto, hazelnut —> Denver Beer Co., Incredible Pedal IPA
  • Tiramisu shooter —> Elevation “Lil Mo’ Porter”

Safety is of course on everyone’s minds and the now standard practices of social distancing have been implemented across all lounges. Other safety practices include reduced capacity, increased cleaning frequency, strict requirements concerning face coverings and more.

Fun and games are still allowed, even encouraged. With safe and distanced pool and shuffleboard tables, large-scale versions of Connect Four and even checkers on offer. As an official stance, and to put all at ease, “ As part of The Centurion Lounge Commitment, games will be cleaned and sanitized after each use.”