Decide on Aspen’s official drink Thursday |

Decide on Aspen’s official drink Thursday

Aspenites can belly up to the bar Thursday night to choose a cocktail to call their own.

Local bartenders will create unique concoctions at the inaugural Aspen Cocktail Classic, which will deem just one mixed drink a new local craze. The party, for anyone in town over 21, is Thursday at the Sky Hotel’s lounge, 39 degrees, and could feature as many as 25 professional drink mixers.

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association has put the event together with the Sky Hotel to “create a buzz” for this winter’s apres-ski crowds. The chosen libation will be served all over town this ski season and will even be promoted by the Aspen Skiing Co.

The rules for competing potent potables are simple: Combinations of the hard stuff must be prepared with liquors available at every bar in town and must have the word “Aspen” somewhere in the title. Local establishments such as Mezzaluna, the Little Nell and Elevation are taking part in the competition, which includes free hors d’oeuvres catered by 39 degrees.

The party begins at 9 p.m., and ballots will be tallied at 11:30 p.m. The town’s “most tantalizing pour” will then be announced.

Paul Rossi, ACRA’s marketing director, came up with the idea for the Cocktail Classic, based on the lively apres-ski crowd at Whistler/Blackcomb.

“I’d like to see Aspen get back to the roots of that,” Rossi said. “The idea is when a visitor comes to town, they have an identifiable community brand. We can promote fun and excitement through this drink.”

Rossi said Skico has agreed to promote the drink with a banner, possibly at the bottom of Aspen Mountain, with a message of trying Aspen’s favorite cocktail, available everywhere. He said the price will be fixed at each establishment in town.

The chamber is footing the bill for the drink samples on Thursday, and there will be specials at the bar on all other drinks. Rossi said “the more, the merrier,” and he expects a “gargantuan” turnout since Ruggerfest crowds will fill Aspen this weekend.

“This is a chance for locals to get together and decide what our visitors see and drink when they come to Aspen,” he said.

Rossi and other organizers encourage anyone attending this Thursday’s bash to ride public transportation, use a designated driver or ask bartenders to call Tipsy Taxi.

“We need something that looks great, tastes great and gets everyone who comes to Aspen talking about it,” said Jacque Hegarty, sales and marketing director at the Sky Hotel. “It should be something easy to drink, something colorful that crosses over all the age brackets: the young, hip snowboarding crowd and the longtime Aspen visitor.”

Jimmy Yeager, owner of Jimmy’s Bar and Grill, said his restaurant might compete with a variation on their own Smoky Margarita, a combination of top-shelf tequila, Grand Marnier, mescal, lemon, lime, orange and cranberry juice. Yeager said it might be called the “Aspen Smoky.”

As for serving another bartender’s drink for the year, Yeager said the competition is a great idea, and he’s looking forward to participating.

“Whatever the rules are, we’re in,” he said. “Why not?”

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is]

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