Beckwith: Aspen’s booze bracket |

Beckwith: Aspen’s booze bracket

The madness has descended upon Aspen. Locals are sprinting toward the finish like a guy running late for the :08 Centennial bus. There’s bedlam about with college bros vying for an open seat any place they can get a drink. I’ve gone from Shooter McGavin freaking out — “I saw two big, fat skiers having sex in the woods off Coffee Pot. How am I supposed to ride with that going on?” — to Kevin Nealon soothing — “Doing the Bull Run, feeling the flow.”

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to really watch the NCAA tournament between work, visitors and snowboarding. I’ve been following Sister Jean and company mostly through the ESPN ticker because CBS took a vow of celibacy to restrict their streaming service to only good, paying customers. However, in the spirit of the Final Four, Aspen and spring break, we’re putting this column in brackets and pitting booze against beer, liquor versus bubbly for the title of Aspen’s favorite libation.

Let’s go to the tap, meet the contestants and break down the matchups.

No. 1 seed Veuve Cliquot vs. No. 1 seed brown liquor

This is your Kansas Jayhawks-Villanova Wildcats game. Veuve is Aspen’s perennial powerhouse. They travel well season after season and are always in the middle of every big weekend. Identified by groups of messy people in matching colors, they’re as synonymous with this city as botox and fur coats.

On the other side, you have a resurgent old guard. Sticking to what works — the art of the smooth shot with an ability to shut you down — brown liquor has been a choice of residents’ palettes since the mining days. Like the Wildcats stealing a title a couple of years back, bourbon carved out a corner of Aspen with the Marble Bar at the Hyatt.

No. 3 seed craft beer vs. No. 11 seed mezcal

Here’s where it gets exciting. It’s a trendy program trying to quell the charismatic underdog who will test your courage under duress.

You have the storied Michigan machine from the traditional alcohol arena — Big Blue being Bud Light’s Juliet to the frat guy’s Romeo — trying to take a title in a different sport. Like John Beilein, they have a good game plan; attack with versatility (i.e. a wide range of options, the goofy German Mortiz Wagner) and exploit trendy, hipster weaknesses (IPAs and 3s).

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers are a group of grizzled ball players who know how to execute no matter what, accompanied by a surprising bite. They’re playing like the team that was supposed to be there. Since I’m killing the analogies, No. 1 seed Virginia, the more popular brother of mezcal — tequila — showed up to the first round with a premade mix and got put in a blender by wine in a can aka No. 16 seed UMBC, a thing I didn’t know existed until recently that was brilliant at first but faltered in the second go ’round.

Back to Two Mezcal Mules for Sister Jean. They’re fun, they make you a little delusional and you can’t wait for the next encounter. It’s the perfect team to represent mezcal.

Expert’s picks

Rock Chalk Cliqout and Villa-I Don’t Know Ya face off in a showdown to be pieced together for ages. Both sides exchange haymakers with Veuve bringing mimosas for breakfast and bourbon spiking your cup of joe. In the second half, I Don’t Know Ya comes out strong with well-executed classics for apres. However, in their excitement to get back to the promised land, they overdo it. After one too many shots, they’re vulnerable. Team Cliquot has kept up but they’ve been waiting to pop the game wide open with a deep cabinet, featuring a Rose All Day special. It’s an almost unfair tactic that drowns opponents.

Here’s what I’d like to see happen in Two Mezcal Mules for Sister Jean and Go Big Bud Light: Craft beer shows up with its clueless domestic overlords and tries to get too fancy. Annoying beer snob decides to push his awful chili beer while the unrefined oaf trying to look sophisticated brings a Fat Tire and the Fad Five get ousted because they’re not actually a contender.

This is where it gets dicey. In order for Mezcal to win, though, they have to stick with what works and pray they don’t black out. I would show up with a bottle, some shot glasses and a strong faith in higher powers.


For the sake of this column, a growing contempt of puns/analogies and a fear of insufferable Wolverine/Philly/craft beer fans, let’s say the championship game is Cliquot against Mezcal. (Let’s face it, IPA-lover taking on bourbon know-it-all is the Patriots-Eagles of finals.) In this totally made-up, inconsequential and definitely not angry-emailable piece, Veuve wins.

Who did you think was going to win? This is Aspen. Veuve always wins.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor for The Aspen Times. Eamil at

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