Woody Creek Distillers
For those who love locally-produced, artisanal spirits, the Woody Creek Distillers tasting room in Basalt is worthy of a visit. With a casual yet modern atmosphere that beckons locals and tourists alike, for an afternoon or evening cocktail, it may become your new favorite watering hole.
“I can’t stress how much we want people to feel like they’re in our living room,” said Christian Wilhoft, the bar manager. “Hospitality is number one.”
That much was clear one recent spring evening, when Wilhoft greeted tasting room patrons like old friends and whipped up creations from his special summer cocktail menu, as well as classics like Manhattans or just a good ol’ gin and tonic.
One of Wilhoft’s best recipes this summer is the fantastically-titled Porch Swing. The concoction of Woody Creek Gin, cucumber, mint and grapefruit deserves to be sipped while sitting in the warm, evening sunshine and enjoying the fleeting Rocky Mountain summer.
“Our gin is already a summer gin,” Wilhoft said. “And the Porch Swing is summer in a glass.”
By “summer gin,” Wilhoft means that Woody Creek’s version of the spirit doesn’t carry the piney bite of some gins and, instead, features predominantly citrus and floral notes.
“It’s like a cross between London dry and a more floral gin,” said Tracey Snow, the tasting room’s manager.
Another superstar on the menu is Summer on the Boardwalk. The refreshing blend of Woody Creek Vodka, watermelon and lemon also screams “summer” and goes down as easy as a July evening.
The coup de grace of Summer on the Boardwalk, however, is the slice of lemon sprinkled with watermelon Pop Rocks that floats atop the drink. Yes, that’s right, the candy you remember from childhood that crackles and pops in your mouth. Those not interested can leave the lemon on the side. But those with a nostalgic sweet tooth will be richly rewarded.
“It’s a refreshing summer cocktail,” Wilhoft said.
Woody Creek’s vodka is particularly connected to the Roaring Fork Valley.
That’s because the potatoes used to produce the vodka are grown on land owned by Pitkin County taxpayers through the county’s Open Space and Trails program. Woody Creek Distillers leases the land on which it grows the potatoes from the open space program, which in turn helps fulfill the county’s goal of encouraging agriculture in the valley.
“It’s great that we can use that land,” Snow said. “Our goal is to bring agriculture back to the valley.”
Prices: Cocktails: $8 during happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and $12 before and after that
Ambience: The tasting room combines rustic warmth and clean design for welcoming and relaxed vibe.
Signature drinks: The Porch Swing, with Woody Creek Gin, mint, cucumber, and grapefruit; Summer on the Boardwalk, made with Woody Creek Vodka, lemon, and watermelon and topped with a lemon slice sprinkled with watermelon Pop Rocks.