Libations: A commitment to detail and creativity at Marble Bar Aspen
The plan was to only go in for an old-fashioned.
Awhile ago, I’d written about the differences between a Wisconsin old-fashioned and the variation served in the rest of the country. In that article, I mentioned Marble Bar Aspen, as it had been named as having a quality cocktail outside the Wisconsin style.
Since then, there hasn’t been much of a chance for a visit, as the bar temporarily closed for the offseason. This past weekend, opportunity finally struck.
I was not ready for this drinking experience.
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I was enthusiastically greeted at Marble Bar Aspen by Angel the bartender, who was hard at work pressing ground ginger into a bottle to make his own infused simple syrup. Asking for a special drink to beat the weather this time of year, he immediately went to work on an “Angel-style” tippler, as of yet unnamed.
Based on a tippler recipe consisting of cucumber vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and cucumber juice, Angel explained that he talks to each customer and tries to tailor-make the drink, making sure he never has to create the same thing twice. While Marble Bar has a menu, Angel sees it as a starting point for adaptation, not as holy texts set in stone and passed down from the drinking gods. To this end, he added a slice or two of vodka-infused jalapeno pepper, a dash of his in-process ginger syrup and a sprig of mint on top. The extras gave it a fresh garden smell and lent the appearance of a health-food smoothie in a cocktail glass, perfect for blending in with the workout crowd. It hit the spot, the cucumber flavor was light and balanced with a faint spicy heat throughout making all the difference to the summery drink.
As he bounced between preparing my cocktail and serving other passersby in the hotel-attached bar (many of whom greeted him by name), Angel showed his passion for drinkmaking. Although he didn’t see himself as a mixologist (the name seemed too stuffy), it was clear his ideas were backed up by years of experience and good taste combined with a people-person who wanted each customer to be treated well and, in a way, a perfectionist, constantly tasting and adjusting his infusions, syrups and cocktails to create something he himself was proud of.
Space keeps me from writing about my entire experience, but suffice to say my trip wasn’t done after just one drink, and I did get my old-fashioned in the end. It was delicious.
Bonus: If he’s there, ask Angel for the 4G, and don’t be intimidated when he explains what’s inside.
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