By: Doug Usher
The weather is ﬁnally turning colder, the snow is falling and the slopes are open. This is Colorado, and a ﬂurry of winter activities are literally at your doorstep. From sledding to snowshoeing to skiing, you’re bound to ﬁnd something you’ll enjoy. But I’m not here to talk about that. I’d prefer to focus on what comes at the end of the day. Known around the world as Après (French, meaning “after”), the social activities and various libations that follow a day on the slopes are quite possibly the best part of that day. While most people think of après as being the domain of bars and restaurants, there’s nothing stopping you from hosting your own après celebration at home.
First you’ll need some compelling cocktails. While there’s nothing wrong with your favorite bottle of wine or a local craft beer, there’s something especially warming about a strong drink after your long day. For your whisky drinking friends, try a Winter Old Fashioned. Follow the traditional whisky/bitters/sugar combo, but use a spiced simple syrup with cloves, cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg and ginger. Add an Amaretto ﬂoat to balance it out and top with a Bordeaux cherry and ﬂamed orange peel for a little ﬂare. If you like something a bit sweeter, put a pomegranate spin on a traditional Cosmo with this recipe:
2 oz. Premium Vodka
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Pomegranate juice
Squeeze of lime
Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail stem, and top with Prosecco and fresh pomegranate seeds.
If you’re chilled to the bone, a Calvados Hot Toddy will warm you up. Made with a French apple brandy, it makes for a slightly more mellow drink, with some seasonal ﬂare. In a heat proof mug, pour 1.5 oz of Calvados. Boil 4 oz water, stir in 1 tablespoon honey and squeeze half a lemon. Pour into the mug of Calvados, add a cinnamon stick, and a slice of apple. Sip and savor.
Of course, for a true après you’re going to need some snacks to ﬁll in those burned calories. I asked Amelia Mouton (chef/owner of Restaurant 415) to come over and help me put together a spread. Options abound here, but you want to start with something warm, ﬁlling, and shareable. And ideally something you’ve already pre-made and can quickly heat up. Think meatballs and potatoes gratin. Easy enough when you’ve got a pro who shows up with them ready to throw in the oven. Luckily my wife had whipped up a batch of her homemade ChexMix so we had something to munch on while they baked. Snacks will only get you so far when it comes to hungry bellies, so you’ll need something a bit bigger. It’s hard to get more authentic than Swiss Fondue. Quick, easy, and the ultimate shareable, when this hits the table, your guests will happily settle in for the night. Watch the snow fall, make some s’mores and hot chocolates and savor the fact that you’re warm inside and you only have to go back out tomorrow if you really want to….
For recipes check out my blog thisiswhywearefat.com.