Summertime is here, and so is Stoneyard Distillery’s bottled Horchalada Cocktail
Frank Frost grinds black pepper into a shot glass. He pours in some secret sauce – his cucumber-lemon-lime-garlic-horseradish-infusion alcohol – and tops it off with V8 tomato juice. This is a one-ish oz. version of his back-to-basics Bloody Mary. Max Vogelman and Joe Moore heckle him and each other behind the bar while telling guests about Stoneyard Distillery and its beet sugar spirits.
Stoneyard, located in Dotsero, has recently released a ready-to-drink bottled version of its crowd-favorite cocktail, the Horchalada Cocktail. Made with their house Lucky-Oh horchata-spiced spirit and fresh pineapple juice, the drink is like a Rocky Mountain version of a pina colada.
It’s available in bottles and on the menu at the taproom, but is also for sale in Gypsum and Edwards. Vogelman, master distiller and owner at Stoneyard, is working on canning the drink in 4-pack, 12 oz. cases, at which point Moore, whose official title is “booze peddler,” will distribute it more widely.
“We’re trying real hard to get this done for summertime, because it’s here,” Vogelman said.
As canned cocktails become more popular, the Horchalada continues to further Stoneyard’s mission to make and serve high-quality alcohol. Frost, assistant distiller, head barman, and master of infusions, first learned mixology at age 17 because of this reason. He found a bartender’s guide with more than 3,500 drink recipes inside.
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“Do we need this many ways to drink alcohol? Apparently, the answer is yes,” Frost said, tossing a lime into the trash bin. “The people liked the notion of being drunk, but hated the alcohol they were drinking so much that they had to change it, and not only that they had to change it, but that they had to think of so many different ways to make bad things taste good so they could get drunk.”
“Just make good booze. Then you don’t gotta mix it.”
The Horchalada might be new in bottles, but the bar has been serving it for a while. Stoneyard likes to create inventive cocktails to showcase their spirits, which are all made from locally-sourced Colorado beet sugar. The project started when customers couldn’t get enough of the drink. Vogelman started throwing it in their slushie machine and bringing it to events.
“Anytime we did it, we couldn’t keep things full,” Vogelman said.
It took six months to get the retail drink approved by the federal government and ready to sell. Stoneyard originally wanted to call it “Horchata Colada,” but because it doesn’t contain rum, they couldn’t use the direct reference to the pineapple-coconut beach drink. So, they decided on a new name, and got approval just last month after submitting the Horchalada in December of last year.
“It was quite the ordeal. The fact that we can actually sell this in stores is amazing to me. There were a few times where we were like, ‘this is just not going to happen,’” Vogelman said.
In addition to their standard Colorado Silver and its’ barrel-aged brother, they also make the Lucky-Oh, the cinnamon-flavored Cin.Fire and the 176 Proof, which Frost uses to make infusions – the 88% alcohol poured in mason jars over things like habanero peppers, cucumbers, and an orange-ginger blend to create flavor-potent spirits. Lucky-Oh, which is used to make the Horchalada, is the Colorado Spirit spiced with cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla, and coconut, and, according to the Stoneyard website, “tastes like Christmas.”
Ultimately, Stoneyard just wants to serve a drink that people will enjoy.
“Cocktails, I think, kinda scare people away because they don’t quite know how to mix things or what proportions to do, and so this kind of takes the guess work out of it,” Vogelman said of the Horchalada. “When we tell them it’s going in cans, they say, ‘why can’t we buy this now?’