Bar Talk: Stark’s Alpine Grill
With a spritz menu fit for its relaxed slopeside patio and classic cocktails prepared to match a more sophisticated vibe inside, Stark’s Alpine Grill seems to be outfitted to please a crowd of varied interests.
I recently found myself tucked into one of the restaurant’s cozy, curved, velvet booths alongside the ATW’s fantastic food correspondent Katherine Roberts to craft a pair of columns focused on the food and drink offerings laid out in front of us.
Stark’s Alpine Grill, located in the less-than-a-year-old Viewline Resort in Snowmass Village, bills itself as a casual yet cozy space with seasonal American cuisine, a cross between a steakhouse and a contemporary supper club.
Kathrine and I were there on a Thursday, which during summer in Snowmass means a bustling crowd on Fanny Hill enjoying the free Thursday night concert.
The patio was packed. Its location on Fanny Hill is positioned in perfect view of the concert and crowd below, and with beer prices starting at $6 and cocktails ranging from $14 to $16, it seems like a good alternative to hauling your picnic blanket up the ski hill if you’re looking for a new Thursday night concert perspective.
While Kathrine and I didn’t get to experience the patio scene firsthand, we did get to hear the music from our indoor spot.
I decided to start my evening off with a spritz, as if I were outside.
Stark’s has four spritzes to choose from, all $15. Initially, I was intrigued by the Chandon Garden Spritz, a cocktail consisting of Chandon, orange bitters and herbs and spices, but when my dining and drinking companion for the evening inquired about what the herbs and spices were, the employee told us the drink was premade by Chandon, and the description was just what the bar was given.
As a drink columnist, I was looking to try a drink bartenders would mix themselves rather than just crack open and pour into a pretty glass, so I went with the Sunset Breeze spritz, made with Lillet Rosé, prosecco, Fever Tree grapefruit soda and grapefruit.
The cocktail was an attractive pale pink and yellow – it looked exactly like the shell of a grapefruit Jelly Belly. It was served in a classic and good-sized spritz goblet.
The Lillet and the Fever Tree cut through whatever tart acidity might have been present from the grapefruit, making it easy to sip and pair with just about anything on the menu.
Kathrine also ventured into the spritz menu during our dinner, albeit for her second cocktail of the night, opting for the Picture Perfect made with St. Germain, sparkling rosé, Fever Tree soda and basil.
After one sip, she declared it a “porch pounder,” and I crowned it the most well-styled drink of the night, despite the fact that it was perfectly clear. The “glass” (it was actually plastic) was unique and fit the supper-club feel of the space. It truly was picture perfect.
I enjoyed our smattering of apps – skillet cornbread, smoked trout spread and pink pepper crusted elk carpaccio, which you can read more about in better detail than I’m capable of describing in Kathrine’s food column.
To pair with the entrée course, I chose the Spirit in the Dark, $16 from the signature cocktail menu, purposefully looking for something a little more herbal and spirit-forward to accompany the burger I ordered.
Speaking of the burger, the Tavern Burger at Stark’s is now in the running for my favorite burger in the area. The wagyu beef tastes of quality, and whatever special sauce they put on the burger takes the flavor up enough to sit in my top burger spot. The burger also comes with fries, which are crisped to perfection and instantly conjured up memories of the salty golden goodness that comes out of the McDonald’s fryer.
But back to the drinks: The Spirit in the Dark is made from The Botanist gin, genepy (an herbal aperitif), lemon, thyme and blackberry. It checked the spirit-forward box, but the herbal component was mostly just there in aroma, not taste. The blackberry gave it a nice juicy flavor and feel, in addition to providing the beautiful berry color the drink sported.
There are two more categories to the cocktail section of the drink menu: the classics for $14 each and a non-alcoholic list for $9 a glass.
After my experience at the Boisson dinner (read more about my zero-proof experience in “Bar Talk: A Sober Approach to Drinking”), the three non-alcoholic drinks caught my eye. I’m excited to see a restaurant like Stark’s dedicating a section to creative mocktails for patrons.
At first glance, the menu and various settings at Stark’s Alpine Grill seems to be at odds with each other – does it want to be a casual American eatery with a party patio or an intimate supper club? However, after settling in and exploring the menu, I believe Stark’s makes the case for itself to be all the above. Instead of conforming to one vision, the restaurant lets customers choose their own adventure, with drink and food options to compliment whatever that might be.
Back in 2013, while working on a proposed box set of archival recordings, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge came across a group of songs that had been recorded in the late 1980s but never released.
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