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We all know by now that the mountains aren’t just for skiing. Now, a new program called Elevated Libations aims to further broaden the horizons of slope junkies and tourists alike by showcasing the unique experiences offered at mountain-town bars.
Elevated Libations, a program much like Denver Passport in the Mile High City, offers special two-for-one drink deals to holders at nine local breweries and distilleries in mountain towns located between Aspen and Vail. Designed as a fantastic way to experience how the locals drink, the Elevated Libations tour is available for the first time this year. Here’s how it works: The Gant and Manor Vail (two luxury condominium resorts in Aspen and Vail, respectively) offer the program as a special deal when you book online or call to make a reservation. The package includes three nights lodging at your choice of the two hotels, a “localized welcome amenity” like a logoed pint glass or growler (depending on the hotel), food and beverage credit to the property restaurant, and the Elevated Libations tour map which entitles the bearer to specials at each bar stop.
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The bars are located along I-70 and CO-82 within driving distance from Aspen and Vail (the resorts can also arrange shuttles for an extra fee). “Our local breweries and distilleries are really part of our community now,” said Jill Anderson, director of sales and marketing at Manor Vail. The hotels hope that by broadening the experience, guests will want to stay longer and perhaps become regulars.
The nine locations on the Elevated Libations map range from well-known names to truly undiscovered spots: Aspen Brewing Co. (Aspen); Woody Creek Distillers (Basalt); Roaring Fork Beer Company (Carbondale); Marble Distilling Company (Carbondale); Vail Brewing Company (Vail); 10th Mountain Whiskey (Vail); Crazy Mountain Brewery (Edwards); Bonfire Brewery (Eagle) and Stoneyard Distillery (Dotsero).
The benefits to the participating bars are obvious. While many of these locations have a solid contingent of regulars, the program could serve to broaden their customer base. Crazy Mountain Brewery, which is near Vail, hopes to introduce out-of-town guests to their bottle club, a subscription shipping service for the 12 new specialty beers the brewery introduces every quarter. The brewery also wants to spread the word about Ed Fest, its local beer and music festival that takes place in August and features over 60 local, state, and national breweries.
“One of my favorite things about the brewing industry is the camaraderie, almost brotherhood,“ said Oliver Ristow, the tasting room manager at Crazy Mountain. “It’s fun to get everyone together and get additional exposure we wouldn’t get otherwise through a program like this.” To sweeten the deal, Crazy Mountain Brewery is offering a free flight and free pint glass for Elevated Libation map-holders.
Carey Shanks, co-founder of Marble Distilling Company near Aspen, gets excited about introducing visitors to the local mountain community. “This program really ties the valley together with its rich heritage and opportunities,” he said. “People come to the mountains to enjoy the environment, and now people can check out these businesses that really work to preserve that while also doing fun things. Sharing that with people who come out here to visit is a really important message.”
Shanks is excited to showcase Marble’s new whiskey (currently aging in barrels), the bees it keeps on the roof for honey to use in spirits, and its hyper-local, environmentally-friendly initiatives. Marble will offer a two-for-one tasting deal (this one-year-old distillery is not bottling yet) and tours.
“There’s something so cool about our program. Not only do you get to taste various drinks, you also get the opportunity to learn what the process is like,” said Lou Eppelsheimer, director of sales and marketing at the Gant in Aspen.
If you’re looking to get the best bang out of your buck, choose one of the two hotels (rather than both) and go during the low season (spring or fall). The program officially kicks off May 21 and is available to book now on the hotel websites. Packages start at $495 during the low season.
The Gant, 610 S. West End, Aspen, 970-925-5000
Manor Vail, 595 E. Vail Valley Drive, Vail, 970-476-5000