Tag Archives: Little Nell

New Years Eve fireworks at Aspen Snowmass

For Aspen-Snowmass, 2014 was a year bookended by huge snow storms (such as more than two feet in the last two weeks), with some incredible stashes and a gorgeous summer in between.

You’d think we might have a hard time saying goodbye to a year that was so good to us, but that’s not our style. We’re as optimistic as ever for 2015, and — as if to show it — the whole community is upping its game for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Whether you’re in town already, or looking to make last-minute plans, here are seven area events to enjoy an indelible New Year’s Eve in Aspen and Snowmass.

1. Bottomless Cristal at the Little Nell

You read that right: not bottomless Bud Light, or bottomless margaritas … bottomless Cristal. That’s just how they roll over at the Little Nell, where this year’s Winter Wonderland New Year’s Eve party includes two stages of live music (jazz musician Steve Peer on one, electronica-violinist virtuoso Katerina Visnevska) and all the fine Champagne you could ever want beneath the Aspen Mountain fireworks.

2. Dinner at the Lynn Britt Cabin

Already one of the most memorable vacation experiences you can have at Aspen-Snowmass, the snowcat dinner on New Year’s Eve at Lynn Britt Cabin will be even more magical than usual. Ring in the New Year with extraordinary gourmet cuisine at this cozy restaurant midway up the mountain.

3. Party and View Fireworks at the Limelight Lounge

Consistently one of Aspen’s best apres ski spots, the Limelight Lounge at the Limelight Hotel will be hosting a New Year’s Eve party complete with a DJ, gala buffet and a Veuve Clicquot Champagne toast at midnight. An added bonus: the excellent views of the Aspen Mountain fireworks display.

4. Huey Lewis & the News at Belly Up

Aspen’s acclaimed live music club will be hosting Huey Lewis & the News to its stage on New Year’s Eve. Now in their 36th year together, the rock legends are best known for “I Want a New Drug,” “The Power of Love” and “Workin’ For a Livin’.” Will they play their Back to the Future hit “Back in Time” at some point, given the occasion? We’ll find out.

5. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Wheeler Opera House

Get down to the sounds of New Orleans with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Wheeler Opera House. Tickets include the performance, an open bar and delicious noshes. You’ll be grooving to the band’s infectious rhythms long after the show ends.

6. Multi-Course Tasting Menus Around Town

Aspen’s nationally acclaimed restaurants have plenty of opportunity to flaunt their culinary creativity (see also the Food & Wine Classic in June) but New Year’s Eve is tailor-made for multi-course tasting menus. Some reservations can still be snagged, but they’re going fast.

7. Plenty of Parties Around Town

Aspen’s nightlife cranks it up every night, but particularly on New Year’s Eve. From the Vintage Hollywood Soiree at The Sky Hotel to the swanky to-the-nines party at the St. Regis Aspen, options abound. The Aspen Resort Chamber has a complete roundup.

Aspen Food + Wine festival

Carlton McCoyExecutive Chef Jim ButchartThe Food & Wine Classic is coming up, June 20-22, and it is easily the most prestigious annual event for foodies and wine connoisseurs in the United States.

More importantly, it’s the most fun.

We talked to two insiders — Carlton McCoy (Master Sommelier at The Little Nell) and Jim Butchart (Executive Chef at Aspen Skiing Company)  — to find out the best way to experience this world-class event.

 

It’s safe to say this is one of the biggest annual events in the restaurant industry, pretty much anywhere in the country. How did that come to be?

Jim square thumbnailJim Butchart: Well, for one, Aspen has always been a food town. I know, personally — when I was considering moving to a ski town — there were only so many that took food and beverage seriously, and Aspen is still king of the crop.

The Classic has such a long rich history, and again, because of these high-profile chefs who come, they want to be a part of it. I mean, who doesn’t want to come to Aspen? The town just turns it on: there’s a buzz in the air about 10 or 12 days out when the tents get put up in Wagner Park, and you feel it coming. All the local chefs start talking about it, because, after all, we’re hosting the out-of-town chefs at our restaurants. They need space to work out of. There’s just a great buzz around town and it really kicks off our summer.

 

From your unique perspectives, as a chef and a master sommelier, what do you look forward to about the event?

Carlton square thumbnailCarlton McCoy: We have a very forward-thinking and vibrant wine program at the Little Nell, and while that is something we like to champion every day, the Food & Wine Classic gives us the chance to showcase it on the national level. Given where Aspen is located, its not every day that sommeliers come to us … we normally go to them. During the Classic, we get to do what we do for our everyday guest — only now for the who’s-who of the food and beverage industry, and that’s exciting.

Jim square thumbnailJim Butchart: A lot of it is networking. At this stage of my career, I’m most excited about hosting a great chef and helping our young cooks by having them cook for them. I remember when I was at Ajax Tavern, having someone like Mario Batali or Thomas Keller sitting outside for lunch and calling the guys on the line and being like “do you know who you are cooking for right now?” It pumps them up. They’re going to call their mom. They’re going to post it to Facebook. “I just cooked for so-and-so…” or “I just got to watch Daniel Boulud dice up an onion.” That kind of thing is enough to carry these young chefs for a year.

 

It’s always a heavy-hitting roster of chefs who come to town. Carlton, are there certain “rock stars” of the wine world that you look forward to seeing every year?

Carlton square thumbnailCarlton McCoy: Yes, and they’ll all be at the Little Nell. Every night we have guest sommeliers on the floor, people who are friends and that I look up to — mentors who I truly enjoy learning from during that weekend. People like the Jay Fletcher, Bobby Stuckey, Richard Betts, Rajat Parr, Michael Madrigale … These are all people I look up to in the industry, and all of them will be on the floor, so it is a very exciting event for me personally.

Aspen Food & Wine Classic

How would you recommend a visitor approach the event?

Jim square thumbnailJim Butchart: Well, No 1: it’s a marathon, not a race. There are so many people who come into Aspen and hit the ground running Thursday, and they’re spent come Friday night. So remember: slow down, pace yourself, because it’s a long weekend.

I would say, get your calendar out and decide what’s really important to you, and plan around that. Get a little exercise in every day. I think it is important to get some oxygen in your lungs, and drink lots of water. Other than that, you have to hit the Cochon at the Hotel Jerome to get your pork fix. The Sunday Grand Tasting is something that I really look forward to every year. And over the last three years, we have hosted the industry party on Monday — “Mary Had a Little Lamb” — in which we do a pop-up, roast a couple of whole lambs, usually at a local park in town. It is kind of an invite only, but we usually tell people to bring friends and we end up with a couple hundred people.

Carlton square thumbnailCarlton McCoy: The first thing I would do is come find me and beg me for an invite to the opening party at The Little Nell (laughs). And you’ve got to dine at element 47 during the event, at least once or twice.

Obviously, you’ll want to hit the tent everyday. It’s a big tent, so if you hit all of it in a single day, you’ve been too aggressive! (laughs). Take one corner, or one side of it, and take your time. Sit outside, have a margarita, relax, and then you will definitely want to come to the Nell for the late-night parties. From 10pm to 2am, there is really no better place to be during the event. The Living Room area is so much fun. This year, we are going to continue our tradition of our champagne cart which will have its own sommelier.

And yes, definitely pace yourself. It’s a long weekend.