Platts: The craft cocktail generation |

Platts: The craft cocktail generation


In this town, we have many things that help unite us. We all love talking about the weather and how it will affect our fun. We can’t help but brag about some form of athletic activity we just did. And we all have, or desperately want, a dog.

But, one of the things that really brings us all together — an activity that makes us leave our differences at the door and coalesce as one in joyful, inebriated glee — is après.

Grammatically, this may confuse some people. In many places, the word après is just known as a preposition, a word that simply offers timely direction (a.k.a. “after”). But here, it’s much more than that. Après is just as important as breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s the time in the day to imbibe and indulge with friends and/or family following an enjoyable time on the slopes.

And, once a year in Aspen, it means hundreds of talented mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts come to town, with quality spirits in hand, to bring us four days of ethanol-induced happiness in the Après Ski Cocktail Classic.

I’ve dabbled in the Cocktail Classic before, when it was a slightly smaller operation in Snowmass. However, this year it was based at the Little Nell and sprinkled throughout downtown Aspen. And I was downright giddy to participate.

Being 24 years old and around an unlimited amount of fine cocktails is a tantalizing experience, to say the least. Even though I’ve been drinking for seven or eight years, I’ve only been legal for three of those. Because of this, going up to a bar and ordering whatever I desire from the bartender still contains a bit of magic. Even though it’s a routine act for me, the experience has a taste of forbidden fruit.

Take that taste of forbidden fruit, add roughly 75 bartenders, give them high-end spirits and put them on the porch and pool area of the Little Nell serving delicious drinks for an entire weekend. That’s more than magical…it’s a dream come true.

Even without an event to tell us, it’s obvious that we are in a trendy time for the cocktail. Gone are the days of simple drinks with cheap mixers and even cheaper booze. Now, we have bitters. We have finely filtered liquor. We have fresh fruits and vegetables and garnishes. And we have passionate, creative people to mix those all together for our enjoyment. The Cocktail Classic simply gives us a way to get these people together to share their craft. Plus it gives us a worthy excuse to binge drink (there are no spittoons at cocktail tastings).

From bitters that tasted like mouthwash and thick smoke simultaneously to a violet liqueur, each drink was just as impressive as the next. As were people’s stories about how they made the spirit or how they got into the spirit-making industry.

From server to guest, everyone had a wide grin on their face, which is really what après is all about.

Here’s to many more Classics to come.

Barbara Platts was placed in the detox room in the Pitkin County Jail after the Après Ski Cocktail Classic weekend. She has since been released and can probably be found sipping extravagant cocktails at Justice Snow’s. Reach her at

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