For its fourth iteration, the Aspen Après Ski Cocktail Classic saw an array of global drink-making talent descend upon the mountain city to mingle with their already strong crop of cocktail creators. The event—sponsored by William Grant & Sons—takes place at several venues around town (as well as a pop-up Grand Tasting Village and Private Reserve Room) and its aim is two-fold: to bring cocktails into the après ski world (which is traditionally dominated by champagne) and to demonstrate Aspen’s food and drink mastery. This year it included a free Hendricks Top of the World Bar (at 12,000 feet) and culminated with a cocktail competition bar crawl across 12 venues. All participants in the crawl, for which each bar served up one signature cocktail based on a sponsor spirit, could vote along the way. The following five cocktails reflect a wide swath of what was on offer and definitely the breadth and depth of the annual experience.
The Hippocras Punch
There’s nothing quite like a hot boozy drink after mountain sports. With Hendricks‘ hot gin punch, there’s a soothing chamomile, cucumber and rose flair countered by winter spices. It’s a strong alternative to the Hot Toddy and the recipe, created by Sebastian Derbomez, comes in batch format for those looking to whip it up for a group.
2 parts Hendricks Gin
4 parts white wine
1 part chamomile tea
1 part caster sugar
.5 part chopped pineapple
2 cinnamon sticks
4 orange peels
1 teaspoon of white pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small pot and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Pour into a teapot and serve warm (preferably in teacups). Garnish with pineapple and cinnamon stick.
Glenfiddich Bobby Burns
For the whisky cocktail lover, a Bobby Burns provides an alternative to the more common scotch drinks, but still allows the base spirit to flourish. While at Aspen’s Hotel Jerome, we had an opportunity to try a Bobby Burns based upon a recipe from the Glenfiddich‘s Senior Brand Manager Michael Giardina. It’s potent and delightful all at once.
2 oz Glenfiddich 15
.75 oz sweet vermouth
.25 oz Benedictine
Stir all ingredients and serve up in a coupe glass, with an orange twist and cherry.
Icelandic Winter Punch
It makes sense that a fun, fruit-forward winter punch would draw its origins from an Icelandic brand. Reyka Vodka‘s Grand Tasting Village drink, envisioned by Trevor Schneider, unites a few citrus components, vanilla and some sparkling water for a playful sipper that effervesces with the best of them.
1 oz Reyka vodka
.5 oz Solerno
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz vanilla simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
.5 oz pomegranate juice
.5 oz sparkling water
For the vanilla syrup, make a normal simple syrup but for every 24 oz made, add .5 oz of vanilla extract. For the cocktail, combine all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and shake/strain. Serve in a Collins glass and garnish with mint sprig.
Tequila doesn’t have to be a summer spirit. With a mezcal rinse and a bit of Ancho Reyes, the Oaxacan Daisy spices things up a bit—warming and bold. Developed by Bryan Dayton, the co-owner of Boulder, CO’s OAK and Denver’s Acorn, this winter tequila concoction really kicks it up a notch.
1.5 oz Milagro Reposado
.5 oz Ancho Reyes
.5 oz lime juice
.75 oz agave
Rinse glass with a splash of Montelobos Mezcal. Combine all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and shake. Serve in a margarita glass and garnish with lime.
Untitled by Jim Meehan
With Japanese whisky all the rage, we asked PDT’s acclaimed bartender (and author of their cocktail book) Jim Meehan to whip us up something using the Nikka Coffey Grain iteration while in the classic’s Private Reserve Room. Punctuated by sherry and citrus, it was a refined and curious creation that lent just enough spice to the whisky. For those looking to make something distinct, Meehan’s vision is worth pursuing.
2 oz Nikka Coffey
.75 oz Sandeman Amontillado Sherry
.5 oz Nonino Amaro
.5 oz orange juice
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
Shake with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe with no garnish.
Oaxaca Daisy image courtesy of Emily Arden Wells, all other images by David Graver