Six state-of-the-art cocktails worth sipping this summer
Whether you’re a wide-eyed visitor or a seasoned local, there’s just nothing more enjoyable when the sun’s high in the sky here in High Country than a cool, refreshing cocktail — and sipping something new, exciting and made to order outside, amid the splendor of summer from a shady deck or patio only adds to the experience.
Vail Lifestyle magazine, following weeks of exhaustive research this spring, reveals half a dozen fine, newly created, hand-crafted concoctions on cocktail menus here in the Vail Valley this summer that, at the hands of the bar chefs who designed them, will blow your sandals off.
• 1.5 oz. Stolichnaya Elit vodka
• 1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse
• 1/4 oz. Luxardo
• 1/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
• 1 dash each of Fee
Brothers’ Rhubarb Bitters
and Plum Bitters
Combine ingredients in a shaker and stir until cold; strain and serve up in an oversized martini glass; garnish with a flamed orange twist.
— The Remedy Bar
In Vail, the state of the art in cocktail design is alive and well at The Remedy Bar, in the Four Seasons Resort, where Bar Manager David Richardson and his staff have come up with a sure cure for just about anything — The Efflorescence.
Riding high upon “the velvety texture and richness” of Stolichnaya’s four-times-distilled Elit vodka, Richardson says, are “herbacious touches” of yellow Chartreuse; “floral notes” from Lillet, a white wine-based aperitif; and the “cherry aroma” of Luxardo Maraschino. Very light, indeed — it would disappear in the mouth completely if it weren’t for that subtle but lingering bouquet — this concoction is designed to be enjoyed from the plush-and-comfy, deep seating on The Remedy Bar’s south-facing, third-floor balcony, with its sweeping view across the hotel’s pool deck to the lofty mansions of Vail Village on Forest and Rockledge roads and the vast, plunging ski slopes of Vail Mountain.
With happy hour 4-7 p.m. daily, there’s a deejay on hand Fridays to liven things up; add a twist of live jazz on Sundays with the Vail Valley’s own “Tony G” Gulizia tickling the ivories, along with guest players from the Vail Jazz Foundation. The Four Seasons, meanwhile, offers complimentary valet parking to guests of The Remedy Bar.
The Blood Orangecello Martini
• 1.5 oz. Blood Orangecello
• 1 oz. KetalOne Oranje vodka
• 1/2 oz. Cointreau triple sec
• Squeeze fresh lemon juice
Combine ingredients; shake hard with ice cubes; strain into a martini glass with sugared rim; garnish with a twist of blood orange.
— Vista at Arrowhead
Heading west, summertime is a great time to stop in Vista at Arrowhead, where Bartender Sean Delaney is serving perhaps the most original summertime cocktail of the season — The Blood Orangecello Martini.
“It’s a play on our Limoncello Martini, which has been very popular on our cocktails menu for two years or so,” says Delaney, describing the distillation of blood orange rinds into a cool, sweet, otherworldly digestive as “a month-long process done completely in-house.”
Enjoyed straight, and cold, Vista’s vodka-oozing Orangecello is quite refreshing, sweet and complex — no wonder it’s on the dessert menu, too. Combined with orange-infused vodka, triple sec and fresh lime, however, the resulting, pinkish Orangecello Martini is very tasty, cool, thirst-quenching … and great for sipping on Vista’s wraparound deck looking out to Arrowhead’s Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and further north to Red and White Mountain.
The Mexican Garden
• 1 oz. Cimarron Blanco tequila
• 1/2 oz. Koval Rose Hip
• 1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse
• 2 dashes fennel bitters
• 3 small orange wedges
Muddle the bitters and orange wedges; add the booze and shake with ice; strain into a Marie Antoinette coupe glass; garnish with an orange twist.
— Grouse Mountain Grill
Over at Beaver Creek, meanwhile, Nate Page, bar manager at Grouse Mountain Grill, in the Pines Lodge, is mighty proud of The Mexican Garden, which he designed perfectly for sipping out on the hotel’s lofty, east-facing terrace overlooking Beaver Creek Village and much of the mountain resort.
“Super easy drinking and full of summer flavors,” Page says, the Mexican Garden is a simply delightful tequila drink dressed up to the nines with yellow Chartreuse and Koval’s Rose Hip Liqueur. Refreshing and “vegetive,” with a bit of citrus, it’s “very bright, gardeny and fresh,” he adds. The cocktail established roots when a sales rep from Koval left a bottle of the Rose Hip Liqueur behind for Page and his bar staff to try.
“We messed around with it for a few days and that’s what we came up with,” says Page. “I like it a lot.”
“Tony G” plays Grouse Mountain Grill six nights a week, as well, starting at 6:30 p.m.; and the Pines Lodge offers complimentary valet parking to customers of the Grouse Mountain Grill.
The Summertime Paloma
• 2 oz. Herradura Blanco
• 2 basil leaves
• 2 strawberries
• 4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
Muddle the basil and strawberries; add the booze and juice; shake with fresh ice and double strain into a Collins glass; garnish a with sprig of fresh basil and a strawberry.
— 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill
In Beaver Creek Village, Bartender Shanna Sweeney and the bar staff at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, in the Park Hyatt hotel, have come up with what they believe is the perfect cocktail to enjoy outside on the hotel’s sprawling, slope-side patio looking out over what long-time Beaver Creek guests call “the beach” and up the lower slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain. The Summertime Paloma — “paloma” is Spanish for “dove” — is a cool, tangy, fruity, tequila-based concoction that’ll have you cooing in no time, the sweetness of fresh strawberry further blessing the palate amid distinct basil overtones.
“It’s made with love,” Sweeney says.
With such a great summer cocktail taking flight, it’s no wonder “Shanna Banana,” as she’s known by her legion of return customers, is a Park Hyatt Employee of the Year.
“We have a lot of return guests here, year after year, and Shanna somehow remembers the name of every one of them; and she knows the trends for what people are drinking up here, too,” says the Park Hyatt’s food and beverage director, Garrett Kaneshiro. “Beyond that, you can see there’s passion; the staff here works hard to create delicious new concoctions for our guests. It’s a team effort, absolutely.”
The Watermelon Basil cocktail
• 1.5 oz. Peligroso silver
• 1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse
• 2 oz. fresh watermelon
• 3-4 basil leaves
• 1 squeeze fresh lime
In a heavy glass, muddle the basil leaves with lime juice until bruised; add other ingredients and shake; pour into a Collins glass and top with ice.
— Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequilería
Down in Avon, on the banks of the Eagle River, one would expect an establishment with “tequilería” in its name to offer one heck of a fresh summer cocktail — and the new Watermelon Basil concoction on offer at Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequilería, in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, does not disappoint.
“We already had the ‘Sandia-tini,’ with watermelon and tequila, but we wanted to mix it up,” says Bar Manager Courtney Hopkins. “With this one, the Chartreuse adds a little different flavor. It’s a different cocktail, for sure — and it just makes you want to be outside.”
The watermelon is pureed fresh daily, after all, and the basil leaves are grown just a few feet away in the chef’s riverside garden, making this tequila-based concoction just the right one with which to enjoy a lazy summer sunset from Maya’s expansive, south-facing patio looking straight up the Beaver Creek Valley and, to the west, all the way to Castle Peak.
With happy hour 3:30-5:30 p.m. every day, FAC on Fridays starting at 5 p.m. and live music outside starting in June, Maya is becoming quite the summertime local’s scene, as well.
“It’s a good crowd,” says Hopkins.
The Wolcott Mule
• 1.5 oz. Ginger Lime Mule Shrub by The Cost Identity Beverage Co.
• 1.5 oz. spirit of your choice (vodka, rum, tequila, or bourbon)
• 3-4 oz. soda water
Combine ingredients in a 12-ounce rocks glass; stir; garnish with a wedge of lime.
— Wolcott Yacht Club
Even further west, the Wolcott Yacht Club — long a favorite locals’ hangout — is known not only for its relaxed outdoor patio under massive cottonwood trees within earshot of the roaring Eagle River, but also for its cocktails program, now under the guidance of native cocktail “mixologist” extraordinaire, Ryan Souto.
This summer, expanding upon the success of the Wolcott Mule — a version of the well-known Moscow Mule, made with vodka, ginger beer and lime juice —Souto is using his own “shrub,” a premix of sorts made with fruit, vinegar and sugar he’s marketing now with partner Nate Michlitsch as a product of their newly-created The Cost Identity Beverage Co.
“I started making the shrub to make it easier for our bartenders,” Souto explains. “Tables will order 10 at a time, and that’s a lot of shrub.”
The shrub is so versatile, he says, this summer he’s expanding the horizons for simple mule cocktails at the Wolcott Yacht Club to include other options for liquor, as well: With vodka, it’s the Wolcott Mule; with rum, it’s the Stormy Mule; with tequila, it’s the Mexican Mule; and with bourbon, it’s the Kentucky Mule.
“The vodka mules still sell the best,” Souto says. “They’re really popular.”