Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crafting the Colorado cocktail — recipes included

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 7:53 PM

What did I tell you yesterday?

That's right. I told you, I'm a slideshow freak.

So, no surprise, I built another quickie here to share some images from Monday's Colorado cocktail dinner at the Summit at The Broadmoor.

No explanation needed.

Chef Bertrand Bouquin and house mixologists Kirsten Schopen, Dennis Schuler and Robert Leavey designed five lovely courses built around Colorado spirits and one local beer.

I've got full cocktail recipes posted throughout the text below, so I won't go too deep into the drink descriptions as I briefly discuss the food pairings. As usual, and expected at a $99-per-seat meal prepared by a five-star chef, everything was up to The Broadmoor's high standards.

But Bouquin always gets the spotlight, and this night was really about the spirits, thanks to the talented bartenders. Really, this is a tremendously creative staff, executing some super-sophisticated drinks.

Broadmoor wine director Timothy Baldwin started us off with a brief talk about how the micro distillery trend is in full force, and how we'll soon see local spirits blow up just as microbrewed beer has. Bouquin followed with a quick note about how he and the bartenders built the food and drink around one another — the plates we sampled are all off of the new spring menu that just launched.

Paired with a couple finger foods (bacon-wrapped shrimp and phyllo-wrapped Ibérico ham and asparagus), we started with the Monkey Business drink, a light, lovely, slightly dry strawberry-flavored cocktail made most interesting by an Infinite Monkey Theorem Sauvignon Blanc component.

Monkey Business:

1 oz Dry Sack sherry
1 oz Lillet
½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 strawberry, quartered and muddled
dash of Li Hing powder

Shake and strain into port glass. Top with Infinite Monkey Theorem Sauvignon Blanc. Stir.

Our second course was a lovely ahi tuna tartar with tabouleh and mint chimichurri. Matching the freshness and lightness and bright herb notes, The Westside brought gin's crispness in focus with sweet citric components as well as more herbs. Looking at the drink's ingredients, they totally make sense as things you'd put with the fish, just like squeezing lemon over it.

The Westside:

1 oz Jackelope gin (from Palisade's Peach Street Distillers)
2 oz limoncello
¼ oz lemon juice
4-6 basil leaves
3-4 small mint leaves
2 dashes white balsamic vinegar

Shake and strain into martini glass. Garnish with large basil leaf and limoncello twist.
(Created by Kirsten Schopen.)

The Papas Peak.

Next up were halibut cheeks (such a wonderful and sexy cut of meat) with a meyer lemon risotto and zucchini in a chicken jus. Notice Bouquin was staying pretty light with his sauces and accoutrements. Bartender Dennis Schuler explained that his Papa's Peak pairing was sort of his version of a daiquiri, and that he thought about coconut cream to match the smoothness and richness of the halibut. I particularly loved the allspice accent.

Papa's Peak:

1 ½ oz Oro dark rum (from Silverton's Montanya Rum)
½ oz Lustau dry fino sherry
½ oz cream of coconut
¼ oz lime juice
¼ oz allspice liqueur

Shake and strain, serve on the rocks with an orange twist and cherry.
(Created by Dennis Schuler.)

Last in the savory courses, and finally getting into a heavy realm, we were served a braised veal shoulder with fennel, quinoa and a gremolata (chopped herb) topping next to a roasted orange segment. Bartender Robert Leavey proportionately went big with an all-alcohol reinterpretation of the New Orleans classic, the Sazerac. The plate's orange-segment flavor paired with the whiskey-dominant drink, of course, makes one think of the orange-slice garnish on an Old Fashioned. The Pernod foam was the most badass touch; I know foam on contemporary food plates gets a bad rap sometimes for being frou-frou, but it was cool here.

The Wild West Sazerac:

2 oz Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey
½ oz Amaretto Di Saronno
½ oz Grand Marnier
¼ oz Benedictine

Serve in a martini glass topped with a Pernod foam (made with gelatin, egg white, lemon juice and simple syrup).
(Created by Robert Leavey.)

Beer meets sweet dairy goodness.

And for dessert (sorry, I don't have a recipe for this one, but you can probably figure it out), Bouquin made us a Bristol Brewing Company Winter Warlock oatmeal stout float with chocolate sorbet, coffee whipped cream and a small hit of raisin-ginger sauce. I've seen plenty of places lazily plop a scoop of vanilla in any old dark beer and call it a float, and this wasn't that. This was the best beer-based dessert float I've yet tried, with the coffee and chocolate flavor really highlighting the stout's character. This was velvety bliss.

I've been to a million wine-paired dinners now and a handful of beer-paired ones, but this was my first cocktail-paired meal, and we were clearly in good hands with this crew. There's no doubt spirits can be paired beautifully with food, just as wine and beer.

Surprisingly, attendance was low compared to the outfit's wine dinners, which can see up to 100 or so heads. Here, only about 20 showed. I'm not sure if folks were scared off by the concept or the ticket price (we were comped), but this was really a special meal.

Cheers to the Summit for pulling it off so well.

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