One of my favorite places to take guests on their first night in town is for a cocktail and the panoramic views at Amangani’s Zinc Bar. The location is quiet, feels a bit secluded, and the views over the Snake River Valley with the snow-capped peaks in the distance can’t be beat.
There, head bartender Chad Taylor is crafting a seasonal cocktail list as unique and interesting as the property. “It’s all inspired by being up here,” he said. “It’s very cozy, and these are the types of drinks I like when I am done skiing.” This isn’t your regular Jack and Coke. Think light, but deeply flavored, cocktails that are meant to be sipped. “They have a lot of unique flavors going on, so you can sit back, relax by the fire and play chess,” he said.
He gave Dishing and photographer Carrie Patterson a taste of his winter cocktail menu last week. Make sure to head up the butte this month to try them out before Amangani closes for the off season (and yes, they are open to the public!). But don’t worry, when they reopen for summer you’ll find another seasonal list sure to be just as creative.
Style and Grace — Vodka with muddled blueberries, Amaro Nonino and Veuve Clicquot
What was originally a poolside cocktail has been given a cold-weather twist. In the summer, find this refreshing drink topped with a splash of soda water. In winter, Champagne adds a bit more heartiness for the cold temps, all while remaining a light after-skiing, pre-dinner drink that won’t fill you up before the meal.
22 Blvd — Wyoming Whiskey, Boulard calvados, honey sage tea
The winner of the Wyoming Whiskey cocktail contest in 2015, this sipping drink combines the state spirit with apple brandy and a honey sage tea. Taylor makes the cocktail and then ages it in a Wyoming Whiskey barrel for a month. The drink is served directly from the barrel and topped with a sage leaf. “It’s a smooth whiskey drink, with heavy oak notes because of being re-aged,” he said. The idea was to create a cognac-style cocktail that could be served room temperature by the fire. “It’s sipping cocktail, something you can enjoy for a long time,” he said. If you’re like me, you will find it’s so smooth that it goes down fast.
Smoky Sunset — Single malt scotch, Tuaca, amaro, Aztec chocolate bitters
Created after watching the smoky sunsets last summer, this cocktail shows just how thoughtful Taylor is about his menu. The drink actually has very little scotch. Instead, Laphroaig (scotch) is used to rim the glass and add a smoky scent to the combination of Tuaca (brandy), amaro and chocolate bitters. What you taste is a slightly sweet, mellow drink with a hit of smokiness on the nose.
Classic Cocktails — Great Grey Negroni, High Water Martini, Colter’s Run Old Fashioned
Wanting to use only local spirits for these traditional cocktails, Taylor turned to Jackson Hole Stillworks (negroni, martini) and Grand Teton Distillery (Old Fashioned) for these classic cocktails. But he added his own twist to each. The Great Grey negroni (Stillworks) utilizes Punt e Mes, an Italian vermouth, instead of regular sweet vermouth.”It’s a little earthier, a little rootier, than some of the other sweet vermouths,” Taylor said. “The Great Grey is really good. It has a little more flavor, more botanicals. It’s made really well” The martini is a play on a Vesper Martini, using Lillet for a touch of sweetness instead dry vermouth and adding a couple dashes of orange bitters.
Speakeasy Traditional — Sidecar, Bijou 1890s and Dark and Stormy
Many times, a prohibition-era style cocktail can blow out your palate. “They did things during Prohibition to cover up bad spirits,” Tayloer said. “They added sugar, muddled fruits.” His speakeasy cocktails are an easier way to get into some of these older styles of brings. The Bijou is gin-based, with green chartreuse and sweet vermouth. The Sidecar mixes cognac, lemon juice and Cointreau. And of course, there is the Dark and Stormy (below), with rum, ginger and lime.
King Russian — Vodka, Tia Maria, hazlenut house whipped cream, coffee sprinkles
Fans of Taylor’s creations might remember this drink from The Rose, which he created for a friend looking for a White Russian. Up at Amangani, he uses house-made whipped cream for this dessert-style drink. “It’s not quite has heave as a White Russian, but it’s a nice, light, nutty, desert flavor,” he said.