The space will match the party a little better during this weekend’s Apres-Ski Cocktail Classic.
The inaugural event last year had most elements, including grand tastings, in a ballroom of the Westin Snowmass Conference Center. Not a bad location, but maybe not the setting most people have apres drinks in.
Kim Haasarud, a mixologist and a producer of the event, said this year she and her colleagues wanted it to be more “experiential.”
“Last year we had it in the ballroom, which was great, and it was warm and nice, but this time we are actually moving it outside, slopeside,” Haasarud said. “(The Westin has) all these different kind of layered decks, so it’s all going to be on the deck with fire pits and little tasting areas all throughout the area.”
There will still be a few tables inside, but the goal is to make it feel more like apres.
“It’s going to look so sexy,” Haasarud said.
The seminars also will move to a new home in the Alpine Springs Room on the hotel’s top floor.
New this year, a local’s pass is available for $150 that allows patrons to attend the grand tastings on Friday and Saturday and any three seminars.
“We have a lot of great talent from all over the country that’s flying in giving seminars,” Haasarud said. “We definitely want to give them another opportunity to see that, too.”
An Aspen resident making a big splash at this weekend’s event is Jimmy Yeager, owner of Jimmy’s restaurant, who will be running an ice-cutting station during the grand tastings.
Taking it one step further, Yeager will lead a seminar about ice. Jimmy’s regulars have seen the perfectly smooth, large ice cubes in some cocktails at his restaurant. But what’s the big deal?
“There are different types of ice, and it really dramatically affects cocktails,” Haasarud said. “Sometimes when I go to a bar, and if I order a margarita and it’s made with the ice in the big machine, I mean that’s fine, but it’s literally going to be a different drink 10 minutes later because of the rate of dilution.”
Another seminar Haasarud is looking forward to is “A Rather Cordial Conversation: The Science and History of Liqueurs.”
“(Anthony Caporale is) actually going to make it so you can make your own cordials, so it will be very interactive,” Haasarud said.
Besides talking a lot about ice, a big theme this year will be punch, Haasarud said.
“I think apres ski can be kind of seen as a little retro, and so can punches, so it’s a perfect fit,” she said. “Expect to see a lot of punch bowls around.”
This year the Classic also is involving more Aspen bars, Haasarud said. The final event of the weekend is a pub crawl through downtown Aspen with seven stops, starting with Irish coffee at Jimmy’s. The crawl also will include a barrel-aging discussion at the Chef’s Club and an absinthe seminar at Justice Snow’s.
Haasarud, a mixologist based in Phoenix, owns a consulting firm that helps hotels and restaurants with their beverage menus. She is also the author of a best-selling series of cocktail-recipe books.
Her husband, Kevin, used to produce the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen along with Joe Lang. The men also now produce the Classic, as well as Laura Albers.
“We always try to get back to Colorado,” Haasarud said.
Tickets are available online at www.apresskicocktailclassic.com.