Champagne to flow on Aspen Mountain |

Champagne to flow on Aspen Mountain

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Veuve ClicquotA pop-up champagne bar on Aspen Mountain won the OK from Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday.

ASPEN – Aspen Mountain soon will have champagne powder.

Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday approved a liquor license application from Aspen Skiing Co. that permits a traveling champagne bar on the ski slopes. Only Commissioner George Newman voted against the proposal, questioning the wisdom in potentially contributing to intoxicated skiers and riders. He noted that Skico recently took steps to prevent overconsumption of alcohol at its Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro at Aspen Highlands.

“It seems like the 3 o’clock rush down Spar is challenging enough without weaving people,” he said. “I just don’t get it.”

Skico sought the county’s OK for an “addition of optional premises” to the liquor license held by the Sundeck restaurant atop the mountain to cover the champagne bar, a portable affair that can be towed to various spots.

Small, snow-chilled flutes of Veuve Clicquot will be available for $15 per glass, according to David Bellack, Skico senior vice president.

“You would have to be affluent and determined to become impaired,” he said.

“You can already get drunk on the mountain if you want to,” Bellack added, noting the other restaurants at the ski area that serve alcohol.

Nonetheless, he readily agreed with suggested conditions on the operation – that a nonalcoholic beverage also be available at the bar along with a simple snack of some sort to keep patrons from imbibing on an empty stomach. And, commissioners stressed, at least two people must staff the bar at all times.

Skico planned to have two or more individuals staffing the bar anyway, Bellack said, and they will all be trained to serve alcohol responsibly.

“We’re doing it because it’s fun and it will be a fun experience for the guests,” he said. “We don’t have any real hope of making money on it.”

The plan announced by The Little Nell is to make use of social media – Twitter and the like – to provide guests with clues regarding the location of the bar. The Nell is Skico’s luxury hotel at the base of the mountain.

“I think this could be a really fun idea – unique,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards. “On the other hand, $15 a glass makes me think a lot of people will feel excluded. Are you sending out the right message?”

Commissioner Rob Ittner, too, called the bar a “neat idea” and predicted Skico would be diligent in operating the bar responsibly.

The bar debuted on Presidents Day weekend near the Sundeck but hasn’t been in operation since, as it’s awaiting the liquor license that allows it to move, according to Little Nell general manager John Speers. The application must now go to the state, which issues the optional premises component to the Sundeck’s liquor license.

The Little Nell intends to operate the bar primarily on weekends. Skico doesn’t plan to use it for anything but the service of champagne, but the license would allow any type of alcohol to be sold, Bellack said.

“I like tequila, but I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” he said in response to a comment by Commissioner Jack Hatfield.

The license is valid for a year. Skico officials indicated they will review the operation with commissioners in the fall, in time for an earlier debut of the bar next ski season.