Bar Talk: Local Jungle
It can be a jungle out there around the holiday season. So why not embrace it and escape it with a delicious drink in hand at one of the coziest spots in town?
Nestled at the corner of East Hopkins and Monarch in downtown Aspen, is a small cottage that is home to Bear Den Aspen, an eatery that opened right before the pandemic shutdown and has proven it deserves its place on Restaurant Row.
Many people around town will praise their baked goods, comforting soups and other homemade items, but their cocktail menu is definitely not to be overlooked.
While there is no true rhyme or reason to the cocktail list – it’s not really themed to a specific season, although the drinks do rotate with the fan favorites sticking around – it’s curated with drinks the staff love and fun flavors the bartenders enjoying working with.
One customer favorite on the cocktail menu is the Local Jungle.
Crafted with Tito’s vodka, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), lime, agave, pineapple and a secret house herb infusion, the drink is vibrant in both taste and appearance.
Despite having two strong acidic ingredients – pineapple and lime – the cocktail is smooth and balanced, and vodka is a nice neutral choice for the base that allows the other bright flavors to shine through.
One of the flavors that stands out the most is lemongrass, which is part of the drink’s “secret sauce” aka secret house herb infusion and what helps make the libation stand out among others on the menu. (I promise that I did my journalistic duty and tried to get the bartender to reveal the other herbs used, but lemongrass is the only piece of the puzzle I got.)
There are plenty of other tempting craft cocktails – I’m specifically looking at you, La Noche, a tequila-based drink made with activated charcoal, passion fruit and more – on the Bear Den Aspen menu, a majority with a tequila or mezcal base and none at the moment of publication involving gin.
However, it’s easy to taste why the Local Jungle is a house and customer favorite and a staple to return to again and again: The Local Jungle is an easy sipper to be enjoyed in any season, and a cocktail that, I agree with the bartender’s opinion, is a sure bet for anyone to enjoy.
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