One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Winter Wonderland” – maybe it’s because we here in Aspen actually live in a winter wonderland. Or, perhaps it’s because the simple line, “later on, we’ll conspire, as we dream by the fire,” perfectly describes the way we long to spend our evenings.
Thankfully, there are myriad bars in which to do just this – especially at this time festive time of year.
With that in mind, we set out on a tour of bars in Aspen and Snowmass in search of a warm fire, a cozy couch or a killer view. We sampled their specialties — from hot toddies and holiday drinks to classic cocktails and creative concoctions — and now we’re sharing them with you.
Cheers, and Happy Holidays!
Egg ‘n’ Grog
from Nest at Viceroy Snowmass
1.5 ounces Jim Beam Red Stag Spiced
2 teaspoons egg beaters
1 ounce cream
1 ounce cinnamon/nutmeg syrup
Combine all ingredients in shaker over ice. Shake vigorously. Strain over ice. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
THE TASTE: A light and refreshing take on the traditional egg nog; perfect for a mid-day break from the slopes.
Alpine Cider Recipe
from Vue at the Westin Snowmass
2 ounces Myers Rum
1 ounce spiced syrup
7 ounces hot apple cider
1 large dallop cinnamon whipped cream
Combine liquid ingredients, stir. Top with cinnamon whipped cream.
THE TASTE: A classic hot cider, with just enough spice to warm you up after a day spent outside.
The Temerity Mule
from the Limelight Lodge
Raspberries, jalapenos, lime
Muddle raspberries, sliced jalapeno and lime in a traditional copper cup. Top with crushed ice. Add a shot (or two) of Russian Standard Vodka. Fill glass with ginger beer and stir.
THE TASTE: “We called it the Temerity Mule, not only for the obvious Highlands reference, but because temerity means bold and audacious,” said the Limelight’s Hunter Merten. “We think that’s exactly what a spicy, sweet and savory Mule is.”
from the St. regis aspen
1.5 ounces Patron XO Dark
Crushed candy cane
Mint leaf garnish
THE TASTE: Spiked hot chocolate is a standard ski-town drink. But this one’s in a different league thanks to the Patron kick and the crushed candy cane twist. And it’s Santa-approved.
from 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel
1 ounce Tullamore Dew
3/4 ounce Del Maguey Vida
1/2 ounce Camomile tea syrup
3 dashes rhubarb Bitters
Garnish with a grapefruit peel and served in a double old-fashioned glass.
THE TASTE: “We want to feature as many fresh ingredients as possible — all by keeping the integrity of the spirits. We want to showcase creative cocktails that are approachable for anyone to enjoy,” say the bar staff at the Sky. The Viva Vida fits the bill perfectly.
Sky Blueberry Tea
from 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
3/4 ounce Disarono Amarreto
1/4 ounce Pimm’s
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 lemon wheel
First, steam snifter glass or pour hot water to warm up glass, then dump water. Add all ingredients listed above into the snifter glass. Served snifter glass resting on top of a double old-fashioned glass filled with quarter hot water.
THE TASTE: Don’t let the name fool you, this is not your grandmother’s cup of tea. And that’s a good thing — after a long day on the slopes, you’re going to be sipping pretty with this cocktail.
from the Living Room at Hotel Jerome
1.5 ounces Pura Vida Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce Leopold Bros Absinthe
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
Tarragon leaf-helps to garnish the flavor in the drink
Combine tequila, absinthe, lime, pineapple and simple syrup in a pint glass. Add ice and shake until cold. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer, dash of bitters and garnish with fresh sprig of tarragon.
THE TASTE: This drink is a play off of the Mexican Mule. “In winter, it’s important to mirror the cold days with a refreshing drink,” says Christel Stiver, Living Room manager/sommelier. Adds Sam Gemus, Living Room bartender: “Instead of trying to create our own, we are bringing back and slightly modifying a classic. We are standing on the shoulders of great bartenders that came before us.”
Coconut ginger margarita
from Bia Hoi in Snowmass Village
Combine all ingredients and serve over ice with a citrus fruit garnish.
THE TASTE: “When I tried to order a different cocktail, a bartender at Bia Hoi in Snowmass Base Village turned me down and told me I wanted this one,” says Snowmass Sun editor Jill Beathard. “It still has the classic sour taste of a margarita, but the coconut makes it more refreshing, and the other ingredients make the flavor unique.”
Raising the bars
Think the St. Regis Aspen is just for the buttoned-down holiday crowd? Think again.
This winter, the luxe hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain is kicking the cocktail scene into high gear with a trio of new offerings.
In the Shadow Mountain Lounge, an overhauled winter drink menu will keep you cozy at aprés-ski. Try executive sous chef Tobias Burkhalter’s homemade Glühwein (a spicy, slightly sweet, red wine, which is a tradition in Swiss and German households during the holidays; Burkhalter is Swiss). Usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, sugar and spices, the St. Regis’ version of the traditional Glühwein features a delightfully subtle infusion of cloves, allspice and star anise, as well as a refreshing splash of orange and lemon. For the kids, a hot chocolate bar promises to delight.
Outside in the St. Regis Courtyard, tequila is the ticket. The recently carved Patron Ice Bar will be open daily from 4-7 p.m., serving up specialty drinks like the Spice up Your Cocoa, (Patron XO, Cayenne pepper and a lemon twist), Cocoa-Cherry Bomb (Patron Anejo and Grenadine Hot Chocolate) and Santa’s Mocha (see recipe, this page).
And, at Chef’s Club by FOOD & WINE, the Aspen cocktail scene is evolving again with a “Make Your Own Manhattan” menu.
“Anthony Bohlinger was finding that many of his bar guests were befuddled by the number of options presented when ordering a Manhattan. Bourbon or Rye? American or Blended? Bitters? Garnish? Vermouth…,” says spokeswoman Danielle Penn. “So he put together a menu that tracks a guest’s preferences and when presented with their drink, they also receive the menu, signed and dated by their bartender. A guest can either keep track of what goes in to their own ‘perfect’ Manhattan, or come back again and again to make a few tweaks, like giving Spiced Chocolate bitters a try, or a rye instead of a bourbon.”
So when it comes to cocktailing this winter, it seems there’s something for everyone at the St. Regis Aspen.
“We want to feature as many fresh ingredients as
possible — all by keeping the integrity of the
spirits. We want to showcase creative cocktails that
are approachable for anyone to enjoy.”
— 39 degrees at the sky hotel