Nothing beats a fireside cocktail after hours of skiing. The ability to dress down and warm up with your fellow travelers is as much of the Aspen Experience as the mountain itself.
Aspen has countless après-ski bars and lounges, suitable for all preferences, but beyond the atmosphere, there are a handful of handcrafted cocktails made for après-ski. We recently asked Jacob Johnson, head bartender at element 47 bar and 2017 Bartender Shootout Champion, to share his favorite cocktails to stir and sip around Aspen.
What Makes a Perfect Après-Ski Cocktail
Most bartenders and après-enthusiasts would agree that après cocktails should be light and quaffable, with a fantastic garnish (an Aperol spritz is a great example). Avoid overly-filling drinks before dinner. Get something you can order two or three of and not feel uncomfortable. For Jacob, “bubbles are a must.”
Without further ado, here are the best après-ski cocktails in Aspen.
Little Dragon at Element 47
If you’re in The Little Nell lobby, make your way to the element 47 bar and order the Little Dragon, our riff on a margarita-spicy, slightly embittered. Patron, Grand Marnier, grapefruit, lime, Aperol, and a tajin rim make this refreshing and easy to drink.
For those not keen on tequila, order a classic hot toddy or vintage cognac Brandy Crusta.
Scarcelli at Hooch
For clear cravings, stop into Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar for one of their seasonal elixirs. This winter, we love the Scarcelli, made with Haymans Old Tom Gin, Del Professore Vermouth, Suze, Salers Aperitif, and orange.
Available winter 2018. For current offerings, browse their menu.
White Chocolate Raspberry in The Limelight Lounge
This après-ski cocktail combines vodka, white chocolate Godiva liquor, raspberries, chocolate, and cream. No dessert necessary.
Stop by The Limelight Lounge and ask Chrissy, head bartender, to create it for you. If inclined, you can also make it at home; here’s the original recipe from Chrissy herself.
Bartender’s Choice at Chair 9
For other bars around Aspen, Jacob always recommends ordering “dealer’s choice” drinks. His reasoning? “These bartenders spend minimum 30 hours per week behind bars and know the best things to offer. No menu can portray that kind of information.”
Bonus: The Sun Also Rises
This whiskey-based cocktail was the recipe that won Jacob the title of “Bartender Shootout Champion” in 2017. For this recipe, Jacob was inspired by a small town in Spain named Ronda.
“There’s a particular cafe that overlooks the Puente Nuevo and was the spot that inspired Hemingway to write the book “The Sun Also Rises.” The cocktail utilizes ingredients commonly used in Spanish culture, but it’s meant to appeal to an American palate. Strong and finesse, I wanted to create something that could withstand the test of time and be available both at home and a professional setting,” says Jacob.
Here’s the recipe for those willing to recreate it at home.
- 2 oz Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon
- .5 oz Sierra Maestro Oloroso Sherry (15 Year)
- 1 teaspoon Bols Crème de Cacao White
- 1 teaspoon Pernod Absinthe Supérieure
- Pinch of Salt
- Rosemary Ice Ball
For the best après-ski cocktails, stop into one of The Nell’s fine dining restaurants or bars: element 47 bar, Ajax Tavern, and Chair 9. Each offers a menu of unique and traditional recipes made by bar masters.
After a long day on the slopes, there’s nothing better.