Bar Talk: Have a sip of history with the Aspen Crud |

Bar Talk: Have a sip of history with the Aspen Crud

Rose Laudicina
Bar Talk
The Aspen Crud at the J-Bar in downtown Aspen on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
If You Go …


330 E Main St, Aspen, CO 81611

11:30 a.m. – 12 a.m. M-F

11:30 a.m. – 1 a.m. Sat. & Sun.

Note: The Hotel Jerome and the J-Bar will be closed April 18th to May 25th for the spring offseason

For over 100 years, residents and visitors alike have been enjoying the Aspen Crud.

It’s a drink that’s simple in concept but served with a hefty side of history.

Dished out year-round at the J-Bar, the Aspen Crud made its debut during Prohibition, a drink born from breaking the rules and having a little cheeky fun while doing so.

During Prohibition, the J-Bar, like many other bars across the country, transformed from a local watering hole to serving decidedly younger customers as a soda fountain.

As one version of the lore goes, of-age patrons would saddle up to the soda bar and ask for the crud when ordering a milkshake. The result was a vanilla milkshake with a few shots of bourbon added to the mix, allowing the bar to serve a drink that in appearance was just like any other shake, but in taste was for adults only.

Another version of the story has the customer adding their own bourbon or whiskey to the milkshake while the server looked the other way. Regardless of which version you choose to subscribe to, it was a clever way to enjoy a treat in multiple senses out in the open.

“This was their tradition all through Prohibition,” J-Bar bartender Derek Pace said. “Instead of being a speakeasy or hiding alcohol, people would drink it right out in the open, you just had to know to ask the bartender for ‘The Crud.’”

Once Prohibition ended in 1933, the J-Bar remained a soda fountain but added some alcoholic drinks (officially) to its menu. It wasn’t until 1946, when the bar was remodeled and moved to its current location that it returned to its roots as a full bar.

The Aspen Crud, as it came to be known, was also a favorite of members of the 10th Mountain Division who would enjoyed a Crud when traveling to Aspen, skiing Ajax and staying at the Hotel Jerome, where a room at the time cost 50 cents a night; and it and continues to be beloved by locals and visitors, served up at the Aspen Historical Society’s annual ice cream social and daily at the J-Bar, attached to the historic Hotel Jerome.

The Aspen Crud, said to be the oldest drink in Aspen, at the J-Bar on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Whether it’s snowing or in the middle of summer, “it’s not a seasonal thing, it’s a year-round thing” Pace said of the Aspen Crud, adding that the J-Bar is firing up the blender all day long to serve customers the boozy milkshake.

When served at the J-Bar, the Aspen Crud is made with Woody Creek Distillers bourbon, demerara syrup and vanilla ice cream, blended together with ice and served with a Luxardo cherry on top.

Pace also said he’s had a customer order a variation on the traditional Crud, adding Grand Marnier to make it more of an orange creamsicle milkshake.

But no matter which version you go with, and whether you blend it up at home or let the professionals take control, it’s creamy and dreamy and a perfect sip of Aspen history that every one should indulge in.