Bartenders throw down in Vail Village |

Bartenders throw down in Vail Village

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
EDL bar mix off KA 4-13-07

VAIL, Colorado ” They’ll bring their game faces and special concoctions.

Bartenders like Cody J. Kennedy from ZaccaZa! in Avon, inventor of the “Dragon Eye,” will make the best drinks they can at Friday’s Bar Chef’s Mix Off in Vail.

Kennedy whipped up the “Dragon Eye” two years ago for Sylvester Stallone’s 60th birthday party in Las Vegas.

The secret ingredient?

A sorbet made from sake and lychee, a sweet nut.

The “Dragon Eye” is among six drinks the public and a panel of judges will vote on Friday at the Taste of Vail event.

Sponsored by “Wine Spectator,” the contest challenges local bartenders to make drinks from designated spirits. This year’s beverages are Belvedere Vodka, Grand Marnier and Nivan Cognac. Bartenders include Kennedy, Chris Carpenter from Restaurant Kelly Liken, Erik Gruenwald from The Bully Ranch, Michelle Vivian from Centre V, Chris David from Vin 48 and Joel Vaughan from Cucina Rustica.

Two winners emerge each year. Members of the public choose the recipient of the people’s choice award, while a panel of judges selects its favorite drink. Winning bartenders get a trophy ” and bragging rights for a year ” according to Chris Assad from Dish Restaurant in Edwards. He wooed judges last year with his “Freak-a-rita,” a watermelon margarita.

Expect some creative recipes this year. David from Vin 48 will debut the “Vin-tini,” a mix of Belvedere vodka, New Zealand sauvignon blanc and elderflower liquor, garnished with a lily.

“We’re doing a cocktail that has wine in it because Vin 48 is so heavily wine influenced,” David explained.

Inspired by the onset of spring, Vivian from Centre V will enter a mix of pureed raspberries and strawberries with Belvedere Vodka, Grand Marnier and champagne.

“The sweetness of the pureed strawberries and raspberries really sets off the straightness of the Belvedere, so it’s very well-rounded,” she said.

From the Kelly Liken camp, expect an orange creation. Carpenter said he and restaurant owner Kelly Liken invented a carrot, orange and ginger juice to mix with Belvedere vodka and Grand Marnier.

“I would speculate to say ours will be the most unusual, most interesting, something along those lines, most eclectic,” Carpenter said.

Roughly 100 people usually attend the contest. Event organizer Cary Hogan said the event showcases the valley’s behind-the-bar talent.

“We always wanted to show off the bar chefs and their important part of apres ski and their role in the Vail lifestyle,” she said.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or

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