Vail cocktails come with a crunch
VAIL, Colorado As the Group of 20 summit wound down in London this week, an entirely different collection of experts were converging in Vail, Colorado.Their mission?Cocktails.The Grand Marnier and NAVAN Mixology Summit at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa brought together mixologists from across the country. Mixologists are people who understand that making drinks is an art.Although the event was for industry insiders, the trends that emerged there could creep into Vails cocktail culture. In fact, some already have.Next time you crack open a cocktail menu, see if you can spot these three trends.Classic cocktailsVintage isnt just for cars. Bartenders have been looking to the past for inspiration on drink recipes, taking cues especially from the cocktail heyday between the 1830s and the beginning of Prohibition in 1919, said Steve Olson, the speaker at Mondays mixology seminar and owner of AKA Wine Geek, a beverage consulting company in New York.Bartending itself has taken on this feel of going back to the roots, before Prohibition, he said. During prohibition, the bartenders left or went out of work or died and the craft died with them. Its taken all this time to bring it back. Were in our infancy. Were on our way back, but were only 20 years into it.With bartenders dusting off old cocktail books, the drinks of yore are making a comeback. While some bartenders are recreating obscure cocktails from the past, others are adding modern twists on old recipes, Olson said.The concoction below hails from the Stork Club in New York City, one of the few bars that kept martini-making alive in the decades just after Prohibition.Stork Club3/4 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice1 1/2 ounces gin (such as Tanqueray)1/2 ounce Grand Marnier Cordon RougeSplash of bittersPour ingredients into a shaker. Shake with ice. Pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.BittersBitters are hitting a sweet spot. Once thought to be good for digestion, bitters have been appearing in drinks for at least 300 years, Olson said. While bitters have always been a key ingredient in cocktails, the past two generations basically forgot about them, said Don Lee, beverage director for PDT in New York. Until now, that is.In recent years, orange-flavored bitters have made a big come back, Lee said. Plus, some unusual flavors are creeping into bitters. A company named Bitter Truth in Germany has been making celery bitters that add a savory note to drinks like Bloody Marys, Lee said. Then theres a company called Fee Brothers in Rochester, N.Y. that makes rhubarb bitters perfect for sour drinks, he said.Culinary cocktailsKitchen. Bar. The line between them has been blurred. When it comes to crafting drink menus at restaurants, Olson urged bartenders to do some detective work in the kitchen. What ingredients are chefs using? Basing cocktails on those ingredients can help bartenders invent drinks that pair well with the restaurants food, Olson said.While crafting the drink menu for Summit at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Olson noticed the pastry chef was using poached pears in a dessert. He borrowed the syrup used to poach the pears, reduced it and whoila: He had a basis for a champagne cocktail.One drink expert at the mixology summit took culinary cocktails a step further. Anthony Alba, the master mixologist for the Liquidity Global LLC beverage consulting company in Las Vegas, made a Sidecar that contains wait for it no liquid. The deconstructed Sidecar looked like an appetizer. The five-layer edible drink started off with a square of dehydrated orange. Next came a powder made from Grand Marnier that had been simmered, cooked in a mold and crushed. A square of Grand Marnier gelee fit on top, followed by a ring of Grand Marnier meringue. Finally, a grape that had been soaked in soda until it was carbonated perched on top. The result? Lets just say this edible cocktail makes your standard Rum & Coke seem like a relic.High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or email@example.com.