Timeless Traditions

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Shadow Mountain Lounge serves up seasonal cocktails and cuisine with the St. Regis’ impeccable service.

By Vicki Hogue-Davies  |  Photos by Chris Council

Following an invigorating hike on Aspen Mountain, a sporting round of golf or a day of bespoke shopping in town, visitors can find refreshment and relaxation at Shadow Mountain Lounge at The St. Regis Aspen Resort. This comfortable hub offers cooling cocktails and seasonal cuisine amid contemporary mountain decor and dramatic views of the Rockies.

A favorite gathering spot of both guests and locals alike, the lounge is an ideal place to linger for an afternoon or an evening over drinks and light fare and to enjoy live entertainment and timeless St. Regis traditions.

“It is really the central location for our guests,” says Michelle Gonzales, director of restaurants and bars at the St. Regis. “The lounge is beautifully centered in the lobby, with great dramatic windows and cozy seating. It provides personality for the hotel because St. Regis culture is infused there. The lounge is where we perform the signature rituals, like the Champagne sabering and afternoon tea.”

The lounge’s distinctive setting beckons to visitors as they step into the resort. “You can see it as soon as you walk in the front doors,” says David Viviano, executive chef at the St. Regis. “In summer, it is especially appealing. It opens to the courtyard, so you can get outside into the sunshine and enjoy the great Colorado summer. It is a memorable experience for our guests.”

 

Savoring the Season

Helping to make the lounge memorable for visitors, Viviano and his culinary team craft standout seasonal dishes. The lounge, which serves lunch and dinner fare, is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. As Viviano says, “[We’re open] starting at the lunchtime hour through the wee hours of adult libation.”

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“The menu concept for Shadow Mountain Lounge is all about food items that can easily be shared,” he says. “We can speak to a lot of different clientele this way. The lounge is perfect for an intimate evening with a loved one. It also fosters a lively atmosphere for a large group that encourages sharing food and beverage. It also caters to families. We have two fire pits in the courtyard where we feature s’mores and families can enjoy toasting marshmallows together.”

On the menu this summer are sandwiches, salads and other light meals that incorporate some of Colorado’s finest seasonal ingredients. “Whenever possible, we feature produce that is harvested seasonally and locally,” Viviano says. “We’ve recently begun working with [distributor] Grower’s Organic to help find the best local fruits and vegetables.

“Early in the summer, asparagus, carrots, peas, beets and assorted baby vegetables are at the peak of the season,” he continues. “As summer progresses, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and squash will become plentiful. We are highlighting these items through our bruschetta, sandwiches and salad offerings.

In addition, the summer harvest brings with it many delicious fruits. We showcase strawberries, cherries and other stone fruit such as apricots, peaches and plums in our shared desserts and house-made gelatos.” In addition to produce, Viviano sources cheeses, meats and other items from local purveyors whenever possible. A featured goat cheese comes from Avalanche Cheese Co. in Basalt, approximately 20 miles from Aspen. Chicken comes from Colorado’s Boulder Valley Poultry, where the birds are free range and antibiotic free. Aspen baker Louis Swiss provides the resort with sandwich breads and pretzels for fondue.

When items aren’t available locally, Viviano looks for organic and sustainable foods from other areas. “If I can’t get a great item locally, at least I want to find an item that’s sustainable,” he says. “I especially look for proteins that are sustainably raised or, if I am highlighting fish, I make sure it is eco-friendly or a fish that the Monterey Bay Aquarium embraces [on its Seafood Watch list].”

 

Summer Sippers

Complementing the seasonal menu at Shadow Mountain Lounge, a wide range of cocktails and wines pair perfectly with summer dishes.

“One thing I think we do really well is have a lot of cohesion between our food and beverage programs,” Viviano says, noting that the bar also uses fresh, seasonal ingredients in its cocktails. Some of the special drinks being served this summer that highlight the season’s best flavors include a peach jalapeno margarita and a cucumber sangria.

“The peach jalapeno margarita is a refreshing tribute to summer with a little sweetness and a hint of spice,” says Kyle McElwain, assistant manager of restaurants and bars. “It includes our very own house barreled/aged tequila. We use Patron Silver and age it in a Manhattan barrel, which gives a little bit of a twist on silver tequila that is traditionally aged in regular whiskey barrels.

“For our large-batch cucumber sangria, we use fresh, bright flavors, which include—in addition to cucumbers—lemons, limes, mint and basil,” he continues.

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The lounge’s signature cocktail, the Downhill Snapper, which is a local homage to the St. Regis brand’s iconic bloody mary—developed in the 1930s at The St. Regis New York, is also a popular summer drink. “Every St. Regis around the world provides their version of the original Red Snapper,” Gonzales says. “And people come to St. Regis to try different versions. Ours is a fresh take on the original that uses dill and basil to lighten it up. Our vodka comes from Woody Creek Distillers, a local distillery that makes its vodka with potatoes grown in the Roaring Fork Valley.”

In addition to cocktails, the lounge serves beer as well as wines by the bottle and glass. The carefully considered wine list, created by sommelier Paul Alexander, who came to the resort early this year from Oxford University where he managed the wine program, includes wines specifically tailored to the St. Regis clientele.

“There are many places in Aspen that offer wines by the glass,” he says. “But we have a special kind of environment at the St. Regis and the lounge. When I walk into the lounge, people are literally melting into the couches relaxing. They’ve been out being active or they’ve been to the spa. They are relaxed and that is what a lounge should offer.”

Adding to that comfortable atmosphere, the lounge features a vintage and variety for every type of wine drinker, Alexander adds.

“In my opinion, there are three types of people who like to sip wine,” he says. “There are the connoisseurs who really know about wine and expect a certain kind of very good and very classic wine on the list, like a super Tuscan or a great cabernet from Napa. You have people who like to explore. They want to try unique or special wines. For them, we have wines such as a German riesling and a very interesting and rare sauvignon blanc from Napa made by a famous French winemaker. The last is the comfort seeker. They look for something reliable and something they know.

140529_co_aspen_stregis_109“The idea is to have a list where every wine on it has a story, something that makes it special,” he continues. In the lounge, those stories come pouring out by the bottle, or the glass—seven reds, seven whites, several sparkling wines and roses are available for single servings.

 

“You can’t have summer without rose,” Alexander notes. Two that are being poured by the glass this summer include a crisp, delicate sparkling wine from Domaine Chandon, one of Napa’s leaders in this category, and a Ken Forrester petit rose, a perfect complement to summer fruit or charcuterie, Alexander recommends.

“The Ken Forrester grenache-based rose has lively, bright, wild cherry fruit with hints of redcurrant, which is always an indicator of great winemaking,” Alexander says. “It is ideally paired with friends, the sun-splashed patio or the comfort of the lounge.”

 

Traditionally Entertaining

In keeping with the St. Regis tradition of featuring murals above the bar, “Strong Wind: The Myth of the Aspen Trees” by contemporary artist Bo Bartlett, was recently unveiled in the Shadow Mountain Lounge. This striking focal point, done in bold golds, pinks and yellows, depicts a Native American tale involving nature and the importance of speaking the truth in order to find one’s destiny.

140529_co_aspen_stregis_152Other St. Regis traditions, such as the afternoon tea and the evening Champagne sabering take place against the mural’s backdrop. Adopted by St. Regis and stretching back to the early 19th century is the afternoon tea ritual. The story goes that afternoon tea began with Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. She enjoyed light foods and a pot of tea to ward off mid-afternoon hunger. She took such pleasure in the rejuvenating meal that she began inviting friends over to enjoy it with her, and a tradition was born. At the Shadow Mountain Lounge, the traditional afternoon tea includes finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and mini desserts. It currently requires 24-hour notice, but plans are in the works for a menu that can be executed quickly and still uphold the integrity of a classic tea offering, Viviano says.

Another longstanding tradition—Champagne sabering—dates back to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Gonzales says. At The St. Regis Aspen Resort, the sommelier performs the sabering and toast with an Italian prosecco in the courtyard. Alexander says they like to keep the ritual fun and light, especially in the warm weather months. The ritual marks the transition from day to night, he notes.

No matter the time of day or night, there is always something happening in the lounge. On summer evenings, guests can hear live music Thursday through Saturday from 7-11 p.m. From longtime house band Boo Coo to the sultry, classic lounge sound of Arizona’s Jo Watson and the Birdman, to an act featuring Americana music, summer visitors will find a range of music to enjoy.

“Boo Coo attracts locals and resort guests and has couples and entire families dancing to the music, while Jo Watson fills the entire lounge with her strong vocals,” Gonzales says. “Like our food menu and our cocktail and wine lists, we want to provide entertainment that speaks to a variety of people.” At Shadow Mountain Lounge, it is this perfect pairing of signature cuisine and drinks with welcoming ambience, entertainment and St. Regis traditions that keeps people gathering in this special place to create memorable moments of their own.