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The Peach Fuzz

Drink by Connie Leaf


2 ounces Palisade Peach/Cinnamon Shrub

2 ounces Breckenridge Bourbon

1/4 ounce Overproof Rum of
your choice (I used Plantation Dark)


Give ingredients a shake and pour out into a tulip-shaped beer glass. Garnish with a peach wedge. 

That’s all you need for a light and bright, thirst-quenching cocktail using seasonal ingredients close to home. 

You don’t even need to squeeze a half a lemon or lime, as the vinegar in the shrub is tart enough to balance out the sweetness of the fruit and sugar without the help of citrus. This cocktail works well with just about any spirit.

(I wouldn’t recommend gin, though. That sounds rough.)

A Vintage Approach
to Modern Cocktail Creation

As a bartender at one of the busiest restaurants in a world-class ski resort, I have an intimate first look at the needs and interests of imbibers from all over. What I’ve noticed probably won’t surprise anyone. Just like the food revolution, people are moving toward drinks with wholesome ingredients they can pronounce. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, real sweeteners, and quality base spirits and modifiers are on the rise.

This awareness and desire for conscious consumption affects the supply and demand sides of the beverage industry. If less is more for the consumer, the producer must look to the past, when cocktail building prospered through simplicity. Interestingly, the modern movement toward wholesome ingredients in drink composition sends us straight back to early 20th century America – way before the rise of sweet and sour mix, frozen drink machines and GMOs. The rebirth of the classic cocktail is upon us. All hail the mint julep!

“Can you make that margarita skinny, please?” is a question I hear at least once a week. Little does the average consumer know, all of our drinks would be considered skinny because at our bar, we only use fresh ingredients, and adhere to the classic preparation of such vintage cocktails as the margarita, old fashioned and julep. We don’t carry sweet and sour mix or chemically-sweetened liqueurs. If we feature a “flavored” rum, vodka, gin or whiskey, it’s an infusion using fresh fruit we batch in-house.

Just like the hyper-seasonal, localized food revolution, the insurgency of complex, richly flavored cocktails relies on the freshest, highest quality ingredients one can find. In the drink world, this translates to fresh preparations and craft spirits.

Vintage spirits, recipes and techniques are making a huge comeback. Bartenders are paying homage to the contributions of the past. As a result, diners and imbibers are experiencing mainstream cocktails like the gimlet and the daiquiri the way they were originally intended to be enjoyed – as fresh and minimalistic as possible while still maintaining the perfect balance of flavors.

Furthermore, drink builders are experimenting with modifiers that were once considered esoteric archives of the past. Back bars across Colorado are plush with varieties of amaro, sherry, fruit brandies and aperitifs, adding complexity to cocktails without increasing size and sweetness. The liquor industry has seen a departure from global consolidation and a rise of the hand-crafted small batch.

Less is more, and succinct, decipherable ingredients are the way to go when it comes to the food and beverage industry. It’s the healthful alternative and what a growing number of consumers seek out. But it also is what drives the passionate members of the beverage industry to continue their unique, inspired craftsmanship.

The good news is that the garden-to-bar concept actually makes it easier to compose a delicious cocktail. Whether you’re simply a natural-born host that wants to impress her friends at next week’s dinner party with a dangerously delicious pitcher of rum punch, or the full-time working bartender who has access to a variety of spirits, modifiers and tools at any given time, each cocktail creation should be sparked by a desire for something well-balanced that satisfies each taste bud and is delicious enough to drink again and again.

Connie Leaf bartends in Vail at Sweet Basil Restaurant. She has an unwavering passion for hospitality through food and beverage, hiking mountains, and skiing fresh powder.