EAGLE COUNTY — Close to home, the boozy well of inspiration feeding local bar chefs creativity never seems to run dry.
At the Four Seasons in Vail, lead mixologist Steven Teaver is aging tequila, rum and other spirits in Missouri oak barrels to impart unexpected flavors into his “barrel-aged” cocktails.
“We have experimented with the usual Manhattan and Negroni, to a tequila sour, and some interesting beer and wine-based cocktails that we then re-carbonate here in house,” Teaver said.
For the tequila sour, Teaver ages silver tequila for 19 to 22 days, “depending on the weather.”
“The barometric pressure affects how much oak-ey nuance gets into the tequila,” Teaver said.
He adds a few dashes of bitters, Chartreuse (a French liqueur aged with 130 herbal extracts) and two parts lime juice to one part lemon juice.
“It’s almost a margarita, but people have pre-conceived notions about what a margarita should be and this is a whole different experience, so I call it a sour,” Teaver said.
His goal is to have a regular rotation of barrel-aged cocktails on the menu. Right now, along with the aforementioned tequila sour, Flame and the Fireside Lounge offer a “Peat-Smoked Angry Ginger,” which is a bourbon-based drink; or try the summer rum punch made with fresh fruit juices including lemon and lime, along with Aperol, an Italian aperitif similar to Campari, and the in-house aged rum. Teaver has even made a savory version of the drink using beet juice, he said.
As for the “Cop Shop Cocktail” on the menu, “think doughnuts and coffee, but alcoholic,” Teaver said.
All about the red
Over in Edwards, at The Rose — the cozy new addition in Riverwalk’s restaurant scene — bartender Mark Summers is using unexpected ingredients, including vegetables, to flavor his tasty beverages.
Take The Redness, a bright fuschia-colored cocktail that gets its pretty jewel tone from beets, which Summers soaks in vodka or gin. The colorful orbs lend a slightly sweet and subtle earthy flavor to the drink.
Or try The Red Harvest, which, according to restaurant owner Jessica Havlik, is the most popular drink on the lengthy cocktail menu. It’s made with gin, chili syrup, lime juice and muddled mint and red peppers.
“The red peppers are so juicy that they provide the main base of the whole drink,” Havlik said.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.