Libations: The perfect ‘patio pounder’ at Meat & Cheese
Welcome warmer weather with Dan’s Hard Iced Tea at Meat & Cheese
From May 1 to June 12, celebrate mudseason, offseason or whatever you’d like to call it with 15 percent off everything in the farm shop and restaurant.
It’s here. The time of the year in Aspen where hotels shut down for a few weeks for repairs and deep cleans, the lifts stop spinning, finding a parking spot in town becomes easy and many restaurants treat their staff to a long break by taping signs to their door proclaiming “Closed until (end of May or beginning of June), thanks for a great winter season!”
Offseason can be a great time to get away from Aspen, but for some people whose offices don’t close down for a monthlong break (I’m looking at you, Aspen Times), it’s important to have a few places left to go for lunch, dinner or the all-important after-work or weekend drink. So for the next month in this libations column, we aren’t taking an offseason hiatus, instead we are focusing on showcasing some of the bars and restaurants that cater to the year-round locals and choose to stay open for all of (or the majority of) the spring mud season.
To kick things off, we are starting with Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop. Not only does the restaurant and attached market only close for two days this offseason, they are celebrating locals by offering 15 percent off the entire menu and items in the farm shop from May 1 to June 12.
With the weather getting warmer in town and our attention turned toward hiking, climbing, biking and drinks on the patio, we were happy to taste Meat & Cheese’s latest creation that debuts April 25 on their new spring menu, called Dan’s Hard Iced Tea.
A rift off Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Dan’s Hard Iced Tea is a classic “patio pounder,” according to bartender Dan Kiely.
Starting with a base of cantaloupe tea, from there the cocktail has a little bit of lemon to add some acid, some honey simple syrup to bring sweetness where the cantaloupe did not, lavender bitters and then the final dimension of Contratto Aperitif, which adds an orange (and alcoholic) component. To top things off, Kiely adds an orange twist and rosemary sprig “just to give it a little bit of herbal essence.”
The result is an insanely easy to drink cocktail, and I can honestly see myself taking down a few of these on a sunny day. The fruit tea is the predominant flavor in the drink and the honey simple syrup adds the slightest touch of sweetness — but not too sugary, because “it’s Aspen; no one wants a sweet drink in Aspen” — to keep the tea from being bitter.
According to Kiely, like most drinks on the menu, the process to come up with Dan’s Hard Iced Tea was a collaborative effort among the four bartenders at Meat & Cheese along with other staff members and owner Wendy Mitchell.
“The best cocktails are always collaborative efforts,” he said. When “one person makes a drink, it’s great for them, but to get something that everyone likes, it’s nice to have different input.”
So with an eye toward outdoor activites and patio season, we see a lot of Dan’s Hard Iced Tea in our future here at the ATW.
“This would be the perfect drink when you’re done hiking up Smuggler or up Ute and you come and sit out on our patio and you just want a nice, refreshing ‘patio pounder,’” Kiely said.