Three Recipes to up Your Cocktail Game
Looking for liquid independence from the liquor store six pack, we asked Brandon Bigalke, beverage director at Vail Village culinary staples White Bison and Pendulum, for DIY alternatives for BYOB-ing at our next cookout, and he provided these step-by-step recipes for some of Pendulum's signature "patio pounder" cocktail favorites. Be warned — once friends and family sample the fruits of your labor, you'll probably be put in charge of drinks for all BBQs thereafter, but if you need a break from all that shaking and stirring, you can always leave it to the pros and head to Pendulum's happy hour, or kick back with a tiki cocktail on White Bison's deck.
Think of this concoction as an alcoholic sweet tea, only lighter, and without the pounds of sugar. While Bigalke uses a Japanese whiskey for the version served at Pendulum, you can substitute your favorite local whiskey (look no further than across the street for 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company's locally made spirit).
- 2 ounces Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky
- 1/4 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
- Black iced tea
- Crushed Ice
- Fresh mint
Take fresh mint leaves and muddle them lightly in the bottom of a tumbler glass. Don't twist or crush the leaves (and avoid stems and stalks), as Bigalke cautions that brings out more bitter flavors than minty ones. Pour the whiskey and ginger liqueur into the glass, and add in the crushed ice before topping with black iced tea. Stir well with a swizzle stick (although, according to Bigalke, any stirring mechanism will do the trick), garnish with a fresh sprig of mint, and serve with a straw.
When it comes to cocktails, few things are as crowd pleasing as Pendulum's craft strawberry margarita, which Bigalke says is typically one of the most ordered on the list. While it only takes a few minutes to shake up Bigalke's mix, the strawberry shrub should be prepared a day or two in advance (although we're fans of local Lost Identity's craft shrubs, which you can buy at the Vail Farmers' Market on Sundays).
- 1 1/2 ounce Olmeca Altos Reposado tequila
- 3/4 ounce Combier orange liquer
- 3/4 ounce strawberry shrub
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
If you have a preferred tequila, you can substitute Bigalke's pick for your own preference. The Combier liqueur is a dryer version of triple sec, which Bigalke prefers to sweeter options. Mix all ingredients in a shaker, and shake well before pouring into a glass (Bigalke uses a goblet for Pendulum's preparation) on the rocks, or blend with ice for a frozen twist. Garnish with a lemon and fresh mint leaf, and serve with a straw.
The Clock Tower
If a beer in hand whilst at the grill is a must, try changing things up with a beer cocktail (yes, that's a thing) instead. Bigalke's recipe features a hard to find aperitif called Kina L'Aero D'Or Aperitif Du Quinquina ("I think I'm one of the only people in Colorado who orders it," he says), but any aperitif wine works well in its place. If you're looking for a local beer to replace Elevation's kölsch (although the brewery is right down the road in Poncha Springs), we're fans of Vail Brewing Company's "Hot Mess Blonde."
- 1 1/2 ounce aperitif
- 3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Elevation Beer Company's "8 Second Kölsch"
Bigalke uses a hurricane glass for this mix, although a pint glass should do the trick, as well. Combine the aperitif, lemon juice, and simple syrup in the glass before stirring the ingredients with a bar spoon. Add ice, and top things off with a light beer of your choice. Serve with a straw, and garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel for a bit of flair.