‘World’s Best Bar’ is Back
Third season in Aspen for Dante, now teamed with Snow Lodge at the St. Regis
The Snow Lodge at The St. Regis Aspen Resort
315 E Dean Street, Aspen, CO 81611
Cost: Cocktails are $24 a glass. Some cocktails are available batched by the bottle, enough drinks for 3 to 5 people depending on pour size, for $45
From afar it seemed like the typical offseason shuffle of restaurants in Aspen. Dante closed its doors at the Chef’s Club space in the St. Regis Aspen in the fall and when they reopened around the holidays it was as the return of The Snow Lodge, the winter outpost of the iconic Montauk-based Surf Lodge.
However, while the moniker on the door has changed, the cocktail list remains all Dante.
This is the third time Dante, a New York City institution and named 2019 World’s Best Bar by World’s 50 Best, has appeared in Aspen, so you could say third time’s the charm, except every iteration of their cocktail menu has been curated to impress.
“We’re always big believers in giving people what they want,” said Linden Pride, co-owner of Dante. “We like to write a cocktail list that is offering people the drinks that they would otherwise order but try to make them, or find innovation in ways that we make them, so that they’re the best possible example of it.”
One drink that this ethos seems to particularly shine in is the Mediterranean Gin and Tonic.
This G&T was originally created during a stint Pride had in Spain working with a gin company in Madrid for Dante.
“They asked us to develop an elevated gin and tonic,” he said. “It was really exciting for us to have the opportunity to think about what’s the ultimate gin and tonic.”
And so the Mediterranean Gin and Tonic was born. It’s on the savory side for a gin and tonic, inspired by Spanish flavors and made with Tanqueray gin, Manzanilla sherry, saline, olive bitters, lemon bitters and Sanpellegrino Tonic and garnished with a rosemary spring and olive.
The cocktail, $24, is fresh and clean with no lingering sweet tonic taste that more traditional G&T’s can have, and this is by design. Pride said his aim was to create a tonic-based cocktail that eliminated the lingering “syrupy and cloying” flavor and almost had a bright and spritz like feel to it (hence why it can be found under the spritz category on the menu).
“Last winter (when Dante was located at the base of Aspen Mountain in the spot currently occupied by Chica), the two top-selling drinks were the Aperol Spritz and the Espresso Martini. And in addition to that, people tended to be drinking a lot of tequila,” Pride said.
“So on our menu this year, we have tried to take those cues and those kind of three pillars and we have a really nice selection of spritz cocktails, which are light and fresh and should be a quite easy kind of afternoon session-able drinking and then we have kind of a bit of a focus on some espresso cocktails, which people are keen to enjoy – it’s kind of a bit of a wake me up, you know, get them going – and we have a really great wide range of fun tequila cocktails, which people seem to be calling for a lot.”
One of the fun tequila drinks on this winter’s menu is the El Diablo, $24, made with equal parts blanco tequila and mezcal, Crème de Cassis (black current liqueur), ginger beer and lime. This drink has layers of flavor with the slight spice of the ginger beer, the sweetness of the Cassis and the wisp of smokiness that hangs around at the end. While it’s a cold cocktail, its depth of flavor provides a warming quality, making it well-suited for the chilly Aspen winter.
Both the Mediterranean Gin and Tonic and the El Diablo (wildly different in taste yet equally complex) seem to pair nicely with just about anything on The Snow Lodge menu. For example, I enjoyed them with well-seasoned truffle fries, some perfectly fried arancini (still moist, not at all dry) and a charcuterie board that was as much a feast for the eyes as it was for the stomach.
While I’m curious about trying a few other items off the menu this season, Pride said he is looking to continue to evolve the drink menu and add some new cocktails to the mix, so there is always something worth coming back for.
“We love being in Aspen,” Pride said, “and we’re so excited to be back and looking forward to hopefully many more seasons.”
I think we can all raise a Mediterranean G&T and drink to that.
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