Bottoms up: Town chooses its poison | AspenTimes.com

Bottoms up: Town chooses its poison

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen Face Shots for everyone.

After serious and not-so-serious consideration by more than 1,000 people at Thursday night’s inaugural Aspen Cocktail Classic, a creamy, pure white concoction was chosen to represent Aspen’s apres- ski scene during the coming season.

The party and cocktail competition, sponsored by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the Sky Hotel, featured 27 local bartenders serving up 2-ounce tastes of their own original concoctions. At the Sky Hotel’s lounge, 39 degrees, the community crowded closely together to imbibe and vote in three shifts of nine shots at a time.

Susan Muenchen of the MotherLode Restaurant was awarded first place, meaning her own combination of Bailey’s, Frangelico, Kalua, Ketle One vodka and cream will be served at bars and restaurants all over town this winter. The Aspen Skiing Co. will even put up a banner encouraging visitors to try the “Aspen Face Shot,” with some sort of “available everywhere” note.

It’s a new twist on marketing Aspen dreamed up by ACRA’s marketing director, Paul Rossi. As a proposed off-season event meant to get visitors talking about Aspen’s nightlife as soon as they arrive, Rossi plans on making the Cocktail Classic an annual event.

Locals and visitors at Thursday night’s party certainly saw the value in the competition ? or at least the value in a slew of free cocktails for one evening.

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“I hope people are taking this seriously and voting, because it’s such a great community idea,” said Ruth Krueger while weaving through the crowd. “We need a new drink ? what’s Aspen Crud?”

The drink ? a sort of milkshake with bourbon ? was made famous after years of experience at the Hotel Jerome and still lives on at the J-Bar. But the Cocktail Classic brought out drinks of all flavors and colors, including blues and pinks.

It also brought out a couple of local politicians, taking part in a new demonstration of democracy.

“It’s a great idea, and it’s great to see so many people coming together like this,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud, standing in line for her first taste of the night.

“I haven’t seen this many people getting crooked together in a long time, and I enjoy that,” said Councilman Tom McCabe. “You must appreciate community events like this with the seriousness befitting the occasion.”

Little Annie’s “Aspen Julius” was a fruity combination of Stoli Vanilla, ginger ale and orange juice. Mezzaluna took second place with its “Aspen Face Plant,” a mix of Stoli Vanilla, Coca-Cola, half and half and a “secret ingredient.”

Troy Stiles at the Little Nell’s Montana created the “Aspen Iced Tea,” a typical alcoholic iced tea drink made with orange juice and 7UP, saying he “could have been foo-foo and cheesy with the drink, but decided to create something accessible to the common man.”

“A lot of drinking goes on in Aspen, and it’s always voted the No. 1 party town, so it makes sense to have a drink contest,” said Aspen resident Steve Miller.

“I think this whole town could use a lift like this,” said Scott Nivlick from the Little Nell’s Greenhouse bar. “We need the resurgence of younger people in town, and this could do it. This will keep the nightlife up here ? we’ve always had a great one.”

Rossi said he learned a lot at this first party and hopes to have a similar event like a cocktail Taste of Aspen during Wintersk├Âl.

“Everyone was telling me it was the best party in years, so I think the town needed it,” he said. “A lot of people were there and took it seriously. I think they wanted to get involved and say ?I helped vote on this drink.? ?