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Rehab: Wrapping Up the Apres Ski Cocktail Classic

Curbed Ski has had a day to recover, and now it's time for the official wrap-up of the second annual Après Ski Cocktail Classic. In between overconsumption of food and drink, a lot of learning went on, much of it academic. Mad Dog just can't compete with the history, sociology, and glory to be found in a bottle of, say, Amari (not that we're judging). From seminars on absinthe, Agricole and Demerara rhums; "The Gin Renaissance," hot toddies, Absinthe; "The Science and History of Liqueurs;" Raclette, Cheese Fondue, and Champagne Pairings," and Barrel-Aging cocktails at Home," we came away with a headache, sure, but also an ever-increasing respect for the craft and art that goes into making spirits and cocktails.

Cocktail Paired Dinner Series: The Aspen Sojourner Dinner at Snowmass Kitchen killed it with their boozy, specially-created pairings; extra props go to the Alce de Nieve (Excellia Reposado, Suze Herbal Liquer, Port, and orange bitters, served with smoked, pimentón-crusted elk loin). The ruby-hued libation was seriously sexy on every level. Rowrrrr.

The Pine Creek Cookhouse dinner (sponsored by William Grant & Sons and Saveur Drink) literally had attendees howling at the full moon (blame the mezcal). Before taking a horse-drawn sleigh or cross-country skiing to the fine-dining cabin in Ashcroft, Chefs Club bar director Anthony Bohlinger fortified everyone with hot toddies (Glenfiddich 12 year, lemon, honey syrup, and water). Nice.

Pop quiz, hotshot: Geeking out on the science and how-to's of bar ice, with Jimmy Yeager. All you need to remember is, "BFIC." Also, before spirits were consumed for pleasure (starting around the 14th century), they were used only for medicinal reasons, and made exclusively by alchemists/physicians and monks (the latter, of course, were exempt from taxes).

Liquor is quicker: The camaraderie amongst the mixologist/distiller/sommelier/brewer crowd is palpable, and their desire to share their knowledge- with everyone- is infectious. Thanks for being such great folks.

Just fondue it: While cheese fondue traditionally contains a splash of white wine or kirschwasser, the best possible pairing is Champagne, says Carlton McCoy, The Little Nell wine director and world's youngest MS. "It needs to have a heavier weight- Prosecco, for example, won't cut through the butterfat- but if you choose the right kind, it's the ideal palate cleanser." Try small-batch "grower Champagnes" like Aubrey or Pierre Péters, or, alternatively, an Alsatian Riesling or Grüner Veltliner. P.S. Cheese and spirits are also a love match, no fondue required.

History Class: Steve "Wine Geek" Olson and mixology consultant Tad Carducci demystified Amari (a "bitter," traditionally Italian digestif/aperitif that may be grain- or grape-based, and made with any number of botanicals) in a thoroughly entertaining session that included a tasting of 8 different types of Amari and two cocktails. Amari recipes are closely guarded secrets that have existed in producers' families for centuries, much like Nonna's pasta sauce. Said Carducci by way of explanation, "American bartenders have a need to know the history behind everything they pour. But when I've visited these distilleries, the Italians say, "Eh. Why you need to know?" Try Barolo Chinato Cocchi, made with fortified Barolo wine (think ripe berry fruit, clove, and a slightly bitter finish), and Amaro Alpino, a Lombardian specialty heady with notes of conifer, star anise, and bitter orange, it's sweetened with local wildflower honey, and aged for two years in Slovenian oak. Hello, artisanal production.

Fun swag: Eyedroppers from Drambuie (for DIY liqueur infusions; think spices, herbs, or fruit); Stoli's copper "Moscow Mule" mugs; and weighty stainless keychains resembling squat little Scotch bottles

Daily dose of decadence: The daily, slopeside Grand Tasting Village held on the Westin's Vue restaurant deck included free massages at the "Rejuvenation Station."

More decadence: A Private Reserve Room at Snowmass Kitchen turned into a place for VIP tastings of everything from vodka (with the attendant caviar), Scotch (with the attendant guys in kilts), and Tiki drinks.

Meaty bits: Is this Cochon555? Raise your hand if you knew that "fat-washing" was a thing, and that it pertains to "protein-infused" spirits. We're talking about you, bacon-flavored booze.

The eagerly anticipated Great Après Ski Pub Crawl officially kicked off at 2pm at Jimmy's Aspen; lushy types arrived at 11am, for the Perfect Irish Coffee Pop-up led by mixology consultant Charlotte Voisey. Made in the style created by San Francisco's legendary Buena Vista Café, Voisey explained why you never, ever, stir. "For the best experience, sip the cream floating on top with the coffee, and then get that warming whiskey note on the finish." Curbed Ski agrees with Voisey, after conducting quite a bit of research on-site.

The Pub Crawl was a marathon, three-hour tasting sesh held at seven popular Aspen watering holes, each of whom had to create a signature après ski cocktail: Jimmy's, Chefs Club, Justice Snow's, Chair 9, Ute City, J-Bar, and the Sky Hotel. There were casualties along the way, but the winners were Justice Snow's for Best Cocktail (Judge's Fave). Bartender Joshua Peter Smith whipped up "The Mooserwirt" (Trumer PIls, Dickel No. 8, oj, ginger, tamarind, some other stuff that got lost in translation, and Bitter Truth Creole Bitters, garnished with smoked Spanish paprika and a quail egg (the whole affair was an acquired taste, to say the least).

The unanimous Crowd Fave was "Smuggling Pears," (the name- intentionally, we're sure- was a bit too reminiscent of Speedo's we've seen on the French Riviera, but the delicious cocktail made up for it) by Chefs Club's Anthony Bohlinger, made with Bartlett pears, Aviation Gin, Benedictine, Maple Syrup, Dale DeGroff Pimento Bitters, lemon juice, and Barritts Ginger Beer. Sipped on a bluebird afternoon in the courtyard, before a fire pit...well, life just doesn't get much better, and clearly Crawlers agreed.

That's a wrap; see you next year, imbibers.

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Snowmass Celebrates Second Annual Apres Ski Cocktail Classic [Curbed Ski]
· Hangover Helper: The Best Ski Town Bloody Mary's [Curbed Ski]