Platts: Mixology Madness
Year four is in the books for this cocktail festival that has now proven to be one of the favorite events of the winter season in Aspen. As in past years, there was a plethora of local, regional and national talent showing all of us attendees that bartending is truly an art form.
A big thank you to the creators, local Joe Lang, Laura Albers and Kevin and Kim Haasarud, for making it happen and helping it grow. I may not currently be or ever in the future be a mixologist, but I will forever be an adamant admirer of the craft. I’m overwhelmingly happy that our small mountain town is fortunate enough to have an event like this and to have the local talent to back it up. As Joe Lang said to me the other day, it’s really the local bartenders and the local attendees that are the soul of the four-day event. I couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations to all of the mixologists that killed it during the Grand Tasting, Pub Crawl, tasting dinners and various seminars. All of the creations were as tasty as they were creative, which is not an easy feat. I wish I could praise all of the drinks shaken and stirred throughout the weekend, as well as all the shakers and stirrers who made it happen, but unfortunately this column is only so long. So here instead is an overview of five of my personal favorite drinking experiences during the weekend.
Aspen Kitchen with Stoli Vodka
I had yet to be up to this new spot that all of Aspen has been anxious to see for the past couple of years. The talk around town was that it was a fun place, but it was much more than I ever expected. The extensive patio was filled with fun bar games by Stoli Vodka, as well as several fun pieces of schwag like Stoli branded headbands, glasses and fake snowballs (and yes, there were fake snowball fights). The interior almost had this chic Bohemian vibe with the wood floors and the fun decorative pillows on the chairs. It’s a place I hope to return to very soon for dinner, or maybe even more après fun. And hopefully the Stoli people will be there because they were just heaps of fun.
Mattias Horseman always knows what’s good in the cocktail scene and with the ever clever William Golde and the rest of the cocktail team at Chefs Club by his side, there was no way they wouldn’t come up with one of the most inventive drinks on the Crawl. They called it The Lady Marmalade and it was made with Henessey XO, lemon juice and vanilla simple syrup. They topped it off by foaming it with heavy cream and garbanzo brine. Wowza…it was a treat.
Alex Guevara is as hospitable behind the bar as he is ingenious. This bartender truly cares about how he treats his guests and it really shows. Plus, his drink titled The Durant during the Pub Crawl was refreshingly light. He made it with Stranahan’s Whiskey, Amaro Nonino, Cappelletti and lemon to “tie it all together” and then poured it in an absinthe rinsed glass. It was the perfect après refresher.
Local Matsuhisa bartender Sam Gemus came up with this tasty whiskey treat, which was served Friday and Saturday afternoon at the Grand Tasting Village. He called it The Swerve, which is basically a Manhattan made with Michter’s Rye, Foro Amaro and Angostura bitters, giving it an orange chocolaty taste. Gemus said he plans to bring the drink back to Matsuhisa so if it sounds appealing, make sure to go there and talk to him to try it.
I was thoroughly impressed with this restaurant’s tasty sipper during the Pub Crawl. I’ve known the new establishment for its incredible pasta, but didn’t know much about its cocktail program. This drink was made with King’s Ginger, also something I knew little about. It’s a liqueur with a ginger and citrus taste, making it go down far too easily. The drink they made involved tequila anejo, King’s Ginger, blackberries, orange blossom, a slice of ginger, lemon juice, simple syrup, a dash of Pimento bitter and ginger tea. I’m not sure if they have the ingredients to re-create this masterpiece, but it’s definitely worth going in and asking.
My favorite part about this whole cocktail experience is that it’s not fleeting. It doesn’t only come around once a year. It’s here all of the time. You just need to know where to look for it and who to ask. That being stated, by biggest piece of advice is to get out there and start exploring.
Barbara Platts is always in awe of the variety, talent and fun this town provides. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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