If you are not an avid skier, snowboarder, or all around winter enthusiast then the best time to visit Vail is undoubtedly the fall. A combination of summer staples like mountain biking and hiking combined with the milder weather and changing leaves make autumn trips west of the tunnel a perfect weekend getaway. This year Vail took full advantage of the remaining days of above-freezing temperatures by hosting their 2nd Annual Restaurant Week. As a relatively new event, restaurant week, which ran from September 26th to October 5th, is experimenting with events, and this year an all Colorado, all cocktail event kicked off the week of festivities.
Top Shelf Harvest Vail celebrated its first year in Lionshead Village with a prohibition themed cocktail party complete with flapper dresses, mason jars filled with white whiskey, a mixology competition and even Charleston lessons taught by a Vail Valley Theater Company practicing for their upcoming performance of Chicago. The highlight of the event was the nine Colorado distilleries that were invited to showcase a signature cocktail made from their spirits. To help complete the restaurant week launch, nine Vail restaurants teamed up with the distilleries to show their ability to find the perfect pairing between cocktail and dish.
The list of attending distilleries included young and old companies from all over the state. Denver staple Strannahan’s and Breckenridge Distillery seemed almost like the elder statesmen in a group filled with eager upstarts like KJ Wood, Golden Moon, 10th Mountain, Woody Creek, Overland, 808, and Woods High Mountain Distillery.
Some favorite highlights from the cocktail selections featured drinks using local ingredients and made with a wide variety of spirits.
KJ Wood Distillers – Raspberry infused gin and mint.
Strannahan’s – Sage peach old fashioned
Breckenridge Distillery – Bourbon and cider with caramel pecan rim.
Woody Creek Distillers – Lemon infused vodka and lemon Pellegrino with a sprig of thyme.
In addition to the mixologist competition, fan favorite cocktail awards were also being given out to the distilleries:
1st – 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirit Company
2nd – Breckenridge Distillery
3rd – Strannahan’s
Top Shelf Harvest Vail demonstrates the town’s commitment to local distilleries and offers one of the best opportunities to explore all that Vail has to offer. At $25 per six-taste General Admission ticket or $75 for a 10-taste VIP ticket, this may just be one of the most accessible, most original, mountain festivals and is sure to grow in coming years.