For skiers, spring is the best of times.
The snow is plentiful (March is Colorado’s snowiest month), the days are long (the time change offers daylight beyond 7:00 pm) and the après-ski scene is in full swing. No place thrives more in this perfect storm than Aspen, Colorado, a mecca for those who live to ski and love to party. Powder hounds hit the slopes mornings and the patios are packed with partiers on sunny afternoons.
If you can’t be in Aspen this spring you can at least have a taste of the cocktails and food that keep the après-ski scene cooking into the night at Aspen’s hottest spots. To get you in the mood, we’ve included recipes for three special après cocktails and a classic après dish, all of which you can make at home.
It may take a little shopping and a bit of imagination, but you can, through the power of food and, of course, drink, take a trip to the slopes.
At least in your mind.
Ajax Tavern’s Hyrup’s Elixer
Though it’s named for one of Aspen’s steepest Double Black Diamond runs, the Hyrup’s Elixir is actually as easy to make as a beginner slope is to ski. Colorado Whisky is at its heart, but a kiss of maple syrup and an apple-flecked rim softens the fall.
Vermont Maple Syrup, and a hint of apple.
Glassware: Martini Glass
Garnish: Apple Cider Sugar Rim, Dried Apple Chip
2 oz. Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky
1 oz. Vermont Maple Syrup
Directions: Rub rim of martini glass with lime, rim with cider sugar. Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into glass. Garnish rim with apple chip
The Viceroy’s Celery Surprise
This spring, Aspen’s most talked-about new après scene is actually in Snowmass at the Viceroy Snowmass hotel. A younger, hipper crowd has discovered the poolside scene at the Viceroy and is partying in front of the outdoor fireplaces while sampling the cocktails of mixologist Thomas Rekasis. Rekasis, who most recently created a poolside sensation with his healthy concoctions at Santa Monica’s Viceroy, has brought fresh juices, a Brazilian cachaca and the spice of a Serrano pepper to this refreshing drink.
Glassware: Martini Glass
Garnish: A thin slice of Serrano Chili at the bottom of the glass. A slice of Star Fruit on the rim.
2 oz. Boca Loca cachaca
1 oz. fresh squeezed celery juice (if you don’t have a juicer there are celery juices available at your local market)
¾ oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ oz. Simple syrup (make at home with equal parts water and superfine sugar boiled and cooled)
Directions: Place the Serrano pepper in the bottom of the martini glass and muddle. Place the rest of the ingredients in an icy shaker. Shake until frothy. Pour into martini glass and add Star-shaped slice of star fruit to the rim.
39 Degrees Aspen Slush
Poolside at Sky Hotel, just beyond the slopes of Aspen Mountain, a waterfall flows into a hot tub full of guests. Nearby, skiers done with their day sprawl on the sofas and chaise lounges that line the patio. Sunglasses are a must as the sun bathes the scene. To help cool off the crowd, mixologist Denis Cote of the hotel’s 39 degrees bar and restaurant, makes Aspen Slush. The sweet orange of Grand Marnier and, again, Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky, combine to make this a smooth drinking but oh so potent cocktail.
Glassware: High Ball Glass
Garnish: Sage leaf
2oz. Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey
1oz. Grand Marnier 100th anniversary bottling (Cuvée du Centenaire)
2oz. Apricot Puree
Splash of Lemon Juice
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
Directions: Place crushed ice (as close to shaved ice as possible) in a highball glass. In a shaker combine the Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Apricot Puree and Lemon juice. Shake till mixed and pour over crushed ice. Add dashes of orange bitters and garnish with a Sage Leaf.
The Après Meal
At the Ajax Tavern, the newbies go for a cone of truffle fries, but the traditionalists opt for a classic cheese fondue. Find some Gruyere and Emmantaler at your local cheese shop and improvise on the fixin’s. This is a fun and easy to make dish that will take you from the city to the mountains in a forkful.
Yield 3-cups Serves 4
1-clove whole fresh garlic, skin removed and smashed
2-c white wine
10-oz Emmantaler, grated
5-oz Gruyere, grated
2-T corn starch
Rub a heavy bottom pan with the whole garlic clove till it releases its flavor.
Add the wine and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile toss grated cheese with cornstarch.
Stir the grated cheeses into the simmering wine, a little bit at a time with a wooden spoon.
When melted and smooth, remove from heat, season with salt and pepper. Finish with kirsch.
Roasted fingerling potatoes:
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Arrange on a sheet tray and roast in a 375 oven till golden brown and cooked through. Approximately 20-minutes.
Choose mushrooms that can be easily skewered and dipped. Portabellas, Crimini, Chantarelle or Button mushrooms are all good choices.
Clean desired mushrooms and remove stems.
In a heavy bottom sauté pan, bring a bit of olive oil and a touch of whole butter to almost smoking point.
Add mushrooms and cook without moving till they begin to turn golden brown. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and stir.
Remove pan from heat and deglaze with a splash of Madeira or white wine.
Place pan back on heat and reduce wine till evaporated.
Toss mushrooms with chopped fresh parsley and transfer to a dish. Serve immediately or chill and reheat once ready to serve.