Jimmy’s in Aspen is a ‘best bar’ | AspenTimes.com

Jimmy’s in Aspen is a ‘best bar’

Chadwick BowmanThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – One of Aspen’s longtime watering holes was recognized nationally as one of the best bars in America, no easy feat.Jimmy’s An American Bar and Restaurant was placed on a list of the top 50 bars in the country for 2011 by Food & Wine magazine. It joined other taverns from such locations as Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago and Boston. “Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains,” Food & Wine gushes, “this Aspen institution has more than 100 tequilas and mezcals, makes terrific margaritas and hosts legendary Saturday night Latin-dance parties.”The only other Colorado bar selected to the prestigious list was Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder.Jimmy’s, which opened in June 1997, was started by Jimmy Yeager, who says his goal has always been to “facilitate the social experience.” He and his partner, Grayson Stover, have formulated a blueprint for success by hiring a knowledgeable and friendly bar staff, using quality ingredients and trying to stay ahead of the curve in the cocktail industry.”We have gotten a lot of national recognition pure and simply by the virtue of what we do and by the exposure that we get by being in a market like Aspen,” Yeager said. “We felt like we are always on the front edge of what’s going on in the cocktail world.”Yeager likes to call his products “highly crafted cocktails,” which he says begin with the bartenders.”The art of bartending is not so much about the drinks. The art of bartending is about creating an atmosphere and bar experience,” Yeager said. “We build a bar of very, very friendly bar staff, who know their craft but understand that they are creating a nightly party and they facilitate that party.”Jimmy’s was recognized by Food & Wine magazine as having an array of quality tequila. Yeager said when he was running a bar 28 years ago in Southern California he was one of the first buyers of high-quality tequila in the U.S. “I was personally in the very front of that wave in this country,” he said.Yeager takes trips to Mexico in search of tequila and often will bring his bartenders with him as part of the educational experience.The bar mixes and stirs its cocktails, both classic and contemporary, by using fresh ingredients and fresh juices, but Yeager also stressed the importance of the ice.”All cocktails depend on ingredients as well as proper ice. It really does make a difference,” Yeager said.He said the right amount of water creates the right balance to a cocktail. Yeager said they use harder ice than most other bars and also custom-make their own ice in a larger format to better a cocktail. They call that ice B.F.I.C.s or big, f—ing ice cubes. He also said they hand cut their own ice in the shape of cubes or spheres, depending on what the cocktail mixture calls for.Also noted in the Food & Wine write-up of Jimmy’s is its Latin-dance parties held on Saturday nights.”Twelve years ago, I personally learned how to dance the Argentinean tango and salsa,” Yeager said. “There was no place to dance in the valley, so I pushed some tables around on a Saturday night in January, and for the last 12 years we’ve been running every Saturday. It’s such a wonderful, eclectic mix of the Latino and Anglo cultures. It’s really become somewhat known.”Yeager said Jimmy’s has never used a public-relations agency and was pleasantly surprised when it was selected for the list of best bars. But he said most of all, he enjoys what he does.”There are not a lot of small towns that I can do what I do at this level with the company of other great establishments,” he said. “I love providing a social venue for people to gather, eat, drink and be merry. I love hosting. I believe it’s a very important part of people’s experience to have a great social experience.”cbowman@aspentimes.com

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