The whole hog: Breckenridge Hogfest festival kicks off Friday with bacon and bourbon
If You Go
What: Breckenridge Hogfest
When: Friday, Aug. 23, through Sunday, Aug. 25
Where: Main Street Station and The Village at Breckenridge
Cost: The grand tasting and Sunday brunch are each $55 in advance. The bourbon pairing dinner is $100, and the VIP experience is $160. Designated drivers can attend for free, with a $20 option for VIP designated drivers. Visit RockyMountainEvents.com to purchase.
Brown spirit lovers rejoice. This weekend, there will be more than 100 unique bottles of whiskey, bourbon and other barrel-aged booze to imbibe at Breckenridge Hogfest. The fourth annual festival will take over Main Street Station and The Village at Breckenridge with bacon samples, live music and rare bottles from Colorado and beyond.
“It’s become an international passion,” said Shervin “Shevy” Rashidi, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Events, which hosts the festival. “You drink a whiskey like Nikka out of Japan, and it’s really balanced. It flows nicely. Whereas a whiskey out of Scotland … is bold and … aggressive with the flavor profiles. It’s been fun to see the different styles and different techniques.”
Rashidi has been in the food and beverage industry practically his entire life, and he started locally with the Kickapoo Tavern in Keystone in 1995. “I really saw River Run Village grow up, per se, and I was involved with almost all of those festivals in Keystone, like the Bluegrass and Beer Festival — I remember throwing 20 kegs in the back of my truck. When we started back in Keystone, there was really no festivals in Colorado. Now every weekend, everywhere, there’s a festival.”
Rashidi hopes you go to this one because he said “the bourbon is really where our sweet spot is.” Being involved with local businesses and restaurants such as Basecamp Wine & Spirits, Quandary Grille, Sauce on the Maggie and Sauce on the Blue, Rashidi has seen the bourbon boom firsthand and used his connections to bring allocated labels such as Sazerac Co.’s Old Rip Van Winkle to the event.
Sauce on the Maggie will be the main destination Friday night with a four-course bourbon pairing dinner crafted by chef Michael Irwin. Tasty and educational, guests will learn about the bourbons served once doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The first course includes pan-seared Outer Banks scallops and a barrel-aged bourbon balsamic reduction paired with Blanton’s Bourbon. It’s followed by a duck confit and white bean ragu served with a Luxardo cherry bourbon sauce and a Buffalo Trace Bourbon Manhattan. Two 1792 whiskeys will go with the third course: grilled flat iron steak with garlic herb cauliflower puree and veal demi-glace. Finally, dessert will be Palisade peach crumble and Chantilly cream paired with the popular 10-year edition of Old Rip Van Winkle.
The VIP experience opens at Sauce on the Maggie at 12:30 p.m., when folks can attend a seminar to learn about the process behind making Pappy Van Winkle and why the bourbon is so highly sought after.
The grand tasting runs from 2 to 6 p.m., and attendees will have a multitude of options for their 14 quarter-ounce pours. People can enjoy local brands such as Laws Whiskey House, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits and Breckenridge Distillery — which has attended each year. There also are more international choices like Glendalough Distillery and Slane Irish Whiskey.
“My first year, I was really nervous having that many spirits out there for people to taste, but it’s so educational,” Rashidi said. “They’re not there just to get drunk. They’re really looking at the color, listening to how and why it’s special.”
In between sips, folks can sample their choice of five bacons from Front Range pork vendors. Additionally, larger food dishes will be for sale a la carte from Five Star Catering, The Blue Fish, Shuck Brothers’ Oyster Bar, Moe’s Original Bar B Que, Pure Kitchen and other restaurants.
Providing entertainment for the day is Lemonade Allstars, a rock band composed of Bobby Messano, Bob Malone, James Dumm, Eddie Christmas, Johnny Ryan and Jeff Bostic. The musicians have performed with artists like Steve Winwood, John Fogerty, Ringo Starr and others.
Finally, Sauce on the Maggie will be cooking up a Sunday brunch to close out the festivities. Along with the food, diners can enjoy bloody marys made with Wheatley vodka. The doors open at 11 a.m., and food is available until 1 p.m.
On a recent trip to Spain, I discovered something that I believe tops the espresso martini. It’s called a barraquito.