Celebration libations: Experiential drinks to ring in the New Year | VailDaily.com
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Celebration libations: Experiential drinks to ring in the New Year

The Cosmonaut at Chasing Rabbits is a combination of Good Vodka, a vodka made from purely sustainable practices, persimmon liqueur, an orange sake and fresh lime juice, served in a 1910 engraved coupe on a moon rabbit statue with a berry flavor bubble dropped on top as a garnish.
Joni Schrantz/Courtesy photo

Drinks are meant to be experiential; after all, they cater to the sense of smell and taste and, of course, have an effect on the mind and body. But these days, bartenders are making cocktails even more experiential through changing visual effects. Here are several ways to ring in the new year with memorable drinks, whether you’re looking for a smokin’, a flaming, a colorful or a sweet New Year’s Eve.

Leonora at the Sebastian at Vail will help you party till the sun comes up with its color-changing cocktail, The Rising Sun. Turmeric and ginger gin along with Cocchi Americano, ginger liqueur, yuzu and toasted sesame and turmeric honey around the rim give this initially yellow drink with a blue ice cube a spicy and citrusy taste.

Leonora’s The Rising Sun cocktail is served initially as a yellow drink with a blue ice cube and turns green as the drink is enjoyed.
Kimberly Nicoletti/For the Vail Daily

Inspired by the Grateful Dead lyrics “the sky was yellow and the sun was blue,” bartender Sean Callagy said, the drink eventually turns green, ice cube and all.



“It should take you into an experience,” he said.

To make his cocktails even more experiential, Callagy is pairing the menu with a playlist through a QR code, so you’ll be able to rock out to the tunes that inspired St. Stephens Garden, Livin’ La Pina Loca, Blood Tea Well Right and much more.

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Gessner Restaurant and Bar’s S’mores Espressotini is a frothy-on-top espresso drink with a graham cracker and chocolate rim.
Kimberly Nicoletti/For the Vail Daily

Add a little fire to your night out with Gessner Restaurant and Bar’s S’mores Espressotini. Though it features Breckenridge espresso vodka, Frangelico and Kahlua, this frothy-on-top espresso drink with a graham cracker and chocolate rim drinks so smooth and rich with espresso, you might forget about its alcohol content.

Visually, the most fun part of the drink comes in the form of roasting the marshmallows (to order — you can have them burnt or lightly toasted at your table or at the bar). Gessner bartenders can also add oxygen drops, in the form of liquid oxygen, into any of your drinks. Liquid oxygen drops offer concentrated bioavailable oxygen, which is said to dissolve more oxygen in the stomach, energizing and hydrating the body, which may come in handy for the morning after New Year’s Eve.

If you’re looking for a light, refreshing, almost summer sipper, stop into Bully Ranch in Sonnenalp and order The Branding Iron. Made with Woody Creek summer gin, the drink starts out with blue on top, from lavender syrup, and pink on the bottom. The first sip without mixing is very gin-forward, but the drink becomes lighter and sweeter after you stir it into a pink cocktail.



The Branding Iron at Bully Ranch becomes lighter and sweeter after you stir it into a pink cocktail.
Kimberly Nicoletti/For the Vail Daily

Of course, the latest hot spot for Vail nightlife is Chasing Rabbits. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” it offers unexpected twists and turns within experiences meant to mimic organized chaos.

The experiential drink that stands out the most is the cosmonaut, an Asian-inspired play on a classic cocktail the Cosmo. The Cosmonaut is a combination of Good Vodka, a vodka made from purely sustainable practices, persimmon liqueur, an orange sake and fresh lime juice, served in a 1910 engraved coupe on a moon rabbit statue with a berry flavor bubble dropped on top as a garnish. It’s an experience that’s meant to be captured and shared from start to finish, as your eyes drift upward with the white smoke.

Chasing Rabbit’s Cheshire Szechuan is a Japanese old fashioned in its best form. Iwai 45 Japanese whisky, Szechuan peppercorn syrup and umami bitters are all served over a 2-inch square ice cube in a miso soup bowl. The cocktail is wood smoked and topped, only to be uncovered at your table to reveal the smokey spirit-forward wonders inside. 

Chasing Rabbit’s Cheshire Szechuan is wood smoked and topped, only to be uncovered at your table to reveal the smokey spirit-forward wonders inside.
Joni Schrantz/Courtesy photo

Finally, Three Sheets to the Wind ushers in a Caribbean vibe. Served in a glass ship in a bottle, this is a cocktail for two, with a perfect mix of Appleton Estates Rum, Smith and Cross Jamaican Rum, almond orgeat, Averna amaro and fresh lime juice. The amaro’s bitter contrast to the flavors of the rum and orgeat create a nice balance of molasses, dried fruits and citrus. 

And, if you’re looking for a nonalcoholic option for your celebrations — or the next day — head over to Häggen-Dazs Dessert Café in Lionshead and order an affogato, a rich espresso paired with any flavor of Häggen-Dazs ice cream, wedged on the side of the cup. Rather than pouring the espresso over the ice cream, the café serves it on the side, so you can spoon it into your espresso to sweeten as you desire.

“This year, it has shot off like a rocket,” said owner Ric Almas. “It’s so unique, especially with Häggen-Dazs ice cream. It’s the richest espresso with the best-tasting ice cream made. The experience is worth it.”

Lastly, Sweet Mustache in Eagle is the bomb when it comes to sweet, nonalcoholic experiential drinks. Its hot chocolate bombs feature a sphere filled with chocolate and marshmallows. Watch as the warm milk melts everything into an unforgettable treat.

Cheers to the New Year!


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