Gunner’s Libation: Tales of the Aspen Cocktail | AspenTimes.com

Gunner’s Libation: Tales of the Aspen Cocktail

by Amanda Rae / ATW

"Drinks?"

Universally understood, only one word is necessary to spark celebration: Of the end of a workday, the beginning of a night out, or simply toast to family, friends, fun, health, and good fortune. Aspen — hands down the partiest mountain town in Colorado, we think — has long gone pro. Proof positive: the colorful array of original cocktails that honor Aspen's cool, quirky nature, shaken and stirred by creative bartenders who keep our whistles wet, year after year. Cheers, my dears!

ASPEN CRUD

J-Bar at Hotel Jerome

As many of you know, the famed Aspen Crud was conceived as a means to help hardworking miners evade Prohibition laws at the historic J-Bar, downgraded to a soda fountain during those years (1920-1933).

"They'd spike your milkshake with a bottle of bourbon they had hidden in the wall of the bar," says former lead bartender Ryan Sterling. "The 10th Mountain Division guys, when training for the war, would come here with the miners and enjoy an Aspen Crud, long after Prohibition ended."

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Today's version: two ounces of Jim Beam in a 14-ounce glass of whipped vanilla ice cream and milk. "Traditionally it was much more than that," Sterling clarifies. "It was a hard day in the mine—you didn't want a milkshake, you wanted ounces of Jim Beam!"

Except it wasn't called Jim Beam yet back then: The spirit was rebranded in 1933 for James B. Beam, who rebuilt the company post-Prohibition.

PUERTO DE ASPEN

Jimmy's Bodega / Jimmy's: An American Restaurant

"The original cocktail at Dead Rabbit NYC is a mezcal-based drink called the Port of New York," says proprietor Jimmy Yeager, who created the pink Puerto de Aspen with Jimmy's bar manager Chris Kelner and sommelier Greg Van Wagner. "Our main change is using tequila and adding Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur to get the spicy, smoky overtones."

Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and fresh watermelon juice sweeten the bottled beverage, served over Jimmy's signature BFICs (big f–kin ice cubes). Yeager introduced the bottled cocktail program upon opening Bodega in June 2014. So successful it was that the formula was soon adopted at Jimmy's, too.

"With so little time to prepare the Bodega, I wanted to still offer an exciting cocktail program but not have to train a bunch of new bartenders to make complex cocktails and be distracted by such complexity instead of paying attention to our guests," Yeager explains. "Bottled cocktails ensure consistency and quality by having them all made in advance to our specifications."

Those who call it a cop out, think again: Waitstaff are able to self-serve, eliminating delays in getting drinks on the double.

MAKE IT

Downhill Snapper Bloody Mary from The St. Regis Aspen

tomato juice

1 ounce V8 juice

6 lemons, juiced

6 limes, juiced

1/2 ounce Bloody Mary seasoning

11/2 ounces Tabasco sauce

5 dill sprigs

5 basil leaves

2 tablespoons cracked black pepper

2 olives

1 pickle slice, for garnish

1 lime wedge, for garnish

Prepare Bloody Mary mix by combining tomato and V8 juices, lemon and lime juices as well as the Bloody Mary seasoning. Let the mixture marinate for 24 hours. When ready, add vodka, Tabasco sauce, muddled dill, basil and fresh cracked pepper. Pour over ice and garnish with olives, pickle slice and lime wedge.

Fun fact: the vodka-and-tomato-juice cocktail that preceded the Bloody Mary was imported from Paris to the first St. Regis Resort in New York City circa 1934. Concerned that guests might take offense at the moniker, barkeep Fernand Petiot renamed it the “Red Snapper.” Today, every St. Regis property around the globe claims its own signature spin: Osaka’s Shogun Mary blends gin, yuzu, soy, and wasabi in a martini glass; Mexico City’s Sangrita Maria is made with mezcal and puréed chiles. Aspen’s Downhill Snapper (1992) is inspired by Colorado’s change of seasons. According to “The Bloody Mary” hardbound St. Regis recipe book, “The subtle coolness of dill evokes winter; basil and refreshing citrus are redolent of bright summer days.” Thankfully, that’s about as weird as it gets.

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