After the Moscow Mule and those shiny copper mugs ruled 2014 (prompting some bars to implement hefty anti-pilfering measures), this year’s reigning spirit reflects a more refined ski culture — one harking snifters, dinner jackets and cigar rooms.
This is the year of whiskey.
From twists on the hot toddy to “Mountain-hattans,” America’s après-ski bars have increasingly hit the barrel. Here are some of our favorite results:
The Town: Telluride | The Bar: SMAK | The Drink: The Spiral Stairs
With several new flights into Telluride, the fabled favorite ski town of Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey isn’t so hard to reach anymore, making the Spiral Stairs cocktail ever-easier to try.
Can’t jet to Colorado? Make it yourself: Start with Jameson and Domain de Canton ginger liqueur. Add honey, lemon juice, and hot water, then top with candied ginger and a lemon wedge.
The Town: Jackson | The Bar: Million Dollar Cowboy Bar | The Drink: Wyoming Manhattan
Yes, it’s the obvious choice for any après-ski roundup, but the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is ardently devoted to whiskey, dedicating an entire tab on its website to Jack Daniels — not that they’re limited to the Tennessean classic. One of the Cowboy’s best cocktails uses local Wyoming Whiskey, a bourbon, for a local take on the Manhattan.
How to make it: Add sweet and dry Vermouth to Wyoming Whiskey, throw in a touch of bitters and top with a cherry. Don’t live in the West? You can order up your whiskey here.
The Town: Stowe, Vermont | The Bar: Roost | The Drink: Mr. Figgy
Vermonters get some things overwhelmingly right: tree houses, cheese, maple syrup, slip-on footwear….The local fig-and-maple-infused bourbon cocktail at the Top Notch Resort’s Roost Tavern (delightfully named Mr. Figgy) adds mixed drinks to this list, then tops it with a slice of bacon. Count on Stowe to launch artisanal apres-ski. For other Green Mountain specialties, the Boston Globe has kindly done reconnaissance of the best East Coast hot spots.
Make your own Figgy cocktail (not the real Mr. Figgy): Add 1 oz. fig-infused maple syrup and 1 oz. lemon juice to 2 oz. bourbon and 6 oz. hot water.
The Town: Aspen | The Bar: 39 Degrees | The Drink: Aspen Slush
To call 39 Degrees a “bar” is something of a misnomer. A popular Playboy hot spot (yes, as in the magazine), this pool-side lounge is the kind of place where Stefano Gabanna’s 2010 Winter Collection makes perfect sense. It therefore also makes perfect sense that the menu would feature a whiskey cocktail as fitting to a femme fatale in furry boots as one of the town’s 50 resident billionaires. Aspen Slush is just that cocktail, featuring a hint of fruity complements and a touch of Grand Marnier.
How to make it: Start with Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey, add Grand Marnier 100th Anniversary Liqueur (darling), apricot puree, lemon juice and Regan’s orange bitters.
The Town: Park City | The Bar: High West Distillery | The Drink: Superfly
What’s better than skiing right to a distillery that makes its own whiskey? Sitting down and enjoying said whiskey while channeling one’s inner “Superfly.” This gingery cocktail mimics a Moscow Mule, and if you ask nicely, the nice staff at High West might even give you the copper mug.
How to make it: Combine 1 oz. High West Silver Whiskey – OMG Pure Rye to three-quarters oz. Green Chartreuse and an equal amount of fresh lime juice. Shake together with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Add 2 oz. of ginger beer and dress it up with lime. High West is nice enough to give you all their cocktail-making secrets online.