We have been picking up the pace in covering all that is going on in our fantastically dynamic valley, and we threw ourselves into the Après Ski Cocktail Classic Experience for a day, and had a blast tasting high marque spirits and artisanal craft cocktails and running into all the locals who were working the event, in one form or another.
It all began after attending Hootie-Hoo’s second IFSA(International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association) Colorado Junior Freeride comp that took place on Silverqueen, a .38 mile double black run with an 827 vertical drop. I know this will change as they search for bigger cliffs and more difficult terrain but at the moment these Big Mountain comps are exhilarating and I find them easier on the mama nerves over Big Air Slopestyle Comps. Nevertheless, the fact that it preceded the Après Ski Cocktail Classic turned out to be perfect timing for me to blow all thoughts of a work out to the wind and join in the party beginning at the “Top of the World” Hendrick’s hot gin punch pop-up station as well as the Apres Cabin Patron station at a local’s favorite picnic spot at Buckhorn.
Always scoping out the locals, who usually stick out from the decked out crowd due to their “Aspen Local Style” I veered over to a scruffy good looking man (we like scruffy) with a beloved well-worn hat on. His name was Will and he had just sweated out a four mile ski on the ridge of Aspen Mountain on his “free heel” skis (the tele pro word for telemark skis). If you can find these locals, it is always worth your while to chat with them for a bit and hear their stories – they are a dying breed due to the shortage of employee housing. I was just beginning to draw out some infamous Will stories when I got whisked away by my photographer friend, Alex Irvin, who alerted me that it was time to move on to the next drinking station to capture more content.
Not prepared for this event (I procured my pass mid-classic) I did not take the bus into town and so had to temper my experience (you know I’m all about the experience) and am sad that I was unable to introduce myself to ALL the liquor brand ambassadors. I’m also sad that I missed most of what in 2013 Fodor voted as the “Best Cocktail Festival in America.” Next year will be different.
Some of what I missed included; Seminars by award-winning mixologists and brand ambassadors, fireside chats, spirit-paired dinners, special on-mountain events and The Great Après Ski Pub Crawl. I also missed The Hendrick’s Gin Curling on the Silver Circle Ice Rink, Micro-Seminars, Pillars of Hennessy Cognac, Private room “Micros”, Stranahan’s at Casa Tua, “Wine VS Cocktails: A Multi-Course Dinner Showdown” and a Nordic Night at the Pine Creek Cookhouse (maybe next year I will test my endurance and try to go to everything).
Between Big Air and Big Mountain comps and a sixteen year old who tests his luck on an hourly basis, what has been made clear is that I could use blending in a bit more with this cocktail subculture – but I will clearly need to build up my tolerance and not get so visibly giddy after a few absolutely delicious shots of 1942 Don Julio (at least there were no horses to be auctioned off…). And no, I did not know that there are 9.6 quadrillion variations of a classic martini cocktail.
** From the Brochure: Apres-Ski (French: after skiing) refers to going out, having drinks, dancing, and generally socializing after skiing. It is popular in the Alps, where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. The concept is similar to the nineteenth hole in golf. This can also happen anywhere int he world where there is snow. In the United States, the term is used more broadly to describe the atmosphere of ski resorts and ski culture, ski themed architecture and decor, and the ski oriented lifestyle in general.