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Pacifica’s Joseph Clary mixes a perfect cocktail.

Ajax Tavern’s Pimm’s cup is the obvious bocce ball accompaniment.

Try Justin McDuffie’s creative concoctions, including this Parisian Roofgarden, at the Viceroy Snowmass.

Jimmy’s Dylan Reagan keeps spirits high.

Kick back with a martini at the Viceroy Snowmass.

Patio Pairings

Beat the heat this summer with these cool cocktails.

Bartenders, like chefs, are inspired by the seasons. While most of us have been switching out our wardrobes from winter to summer, bartenders around town have been hard at work—researching, shaking, stirring and tinkering their concoctions in anticipation of the summer sipping season. We polled a few of our favorite barkeeps to see what’s shakin’.

Light and Refreshing
When settling in on a patio around town after a hike or a bike ride, you crave something low in alcohol, fresh, rejuvenating and somewhat sprightly. Traditional European aperitifs that gathered dust for several decades are making a resurgence and perfectly fit the bill for a light summertime drink. Most clock in around 20 percent alcohol, compared to 40 percent for most spirits.

Lillet and Pimm’s are the seersucker and open-toed shoes of spirits—only making their appearance in the warmer months. Aperol and Campari get the nod for best supporting spirits in three out of four seasons, but, in the summer, they take center stage as the quintessential headliners in afternoon cocktails and spritzes. Strolling through almost any town in Northern Italy between the hours of 3 and 5pm, you’re sure to see chalices radiating with the electric orange from the Aperol Spritz. But, you don’t have to leave the 81611 to experience these libations. Jimmy Yeager, owner and operator of Jimmy’s (jimmysaspen.com), highlights Lillet, the amortized wine from Bordeaux, in his Lillet Me Right, featuring Lillet rosé, Pimm’s, muddled strawberries, blood-orange liquor, sparkling lemonade and soda. Swing by Ajax Tavern (ajaxtavernaspen.com) where bocce ballers sip Pimm’s cups bedazzled with cucumber, strawberries, oranges and bouquets of mint, as if they were courtside at Wimbledon. 

The Tiki Bar is Back
I’m not talking about the punch bowl with a floating island of flammable gel, but the real-deal island-style renditions. After all, nothing says I’m enjoying life like a frosty, tropical-laced drink with an umbrella in it.

This winter, Joseph Clary at Pacifica (pacificaaspen.com) helped change the latitude of guests by introducing Tiki Tuesdays, featuring a different classic cocktail from the ’30s and ’40s each week, complemented by island-inspired pupus (Hawaiian-style appetizers). Rather than relying on high-fructose corn syrup, Clary and the team squeeze seasonal fruit daily and create housemade syrups from scratch. Chili and roasted-cumin syrups, housemade orgeats and falernum, spiced berries and citrus will all make their way into boat drinks this summer on Pacifica’s patio.

The growth and availability of artisanal rums from around the globe—perfect for sipping and swizzling—have sparked the interest of consumers and bartenders alike. The bar at The St. Regis Aspen Resort (stregisaspen.com) brings the sand to the mountains as well with its Colorado mai tai, finished with Leopold Bros. Rocky Mountain blackberry liqueur to give it some local flair.

Keeping it Local
Many visitors to Aspen don’t realize the bounty that Colorado has to offer with its fruits, vegetables and spirits. A walk through the farmers market is enough to send a bartender racing back to the lab to come up with a new recipe.

The Kentucky Derby may have kicked off the julep-drinking season, but it lives on at Jimmy’s, where Yeager finds local inspiration throughout the summer and infuses it into his seasonal juleps, laced with mezcal or aged gin. Local herbs are also great ingredients to lighten up and add freshness to cocktails. Bartender Justin McDuffie at the Viceroy Snowmass’ (viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) Eight K restaurant keeps it grounded in the 970 with his Parisian Roofgarden, which marries cognac, fresh grapefruit, local honey and muddled local basil.

Skiing may be behind us, but Aspen is a town that knows you don’t need snow to apres. So find a patio; put the world on hold; and treat yourself to a delightful summer sipper.