An après-ski drink has, over the years, evolved to be its own kind of loose category of cocktails. While there are no firm rules for what designates a drink an après-ski (other than the obvious factor of being served after a ski trip, normally in a lodge or cabin of some sort) they’re often served hot—like the consummate Hot Toddy. Others include heavily botanical spirits like alpine liqueurs while others still are strong, spirit-forward concoctions that warm you from the inside-out despite being served cold. Such is the Yard Sale, from Stephen Gill, the bar manager at Horn & Cantle Saloon at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana.
In ski jargon, a “yard sale” is when you wipe out on the mountain and your equipment (poles, skis, goggles) flies everywhere across the snow like items spread across a lawn at a yard sale. After such a tumble, with cold hands and wet hair, an après-ski is more necessary than ever, especially something strong. “What I want after skiing all day is something that goes straight to the face,” Gill says. “The whole premise of the drink is that it’ll give you the confidence to get back up after you yard-sale.” To make his high-octane concoction more Montana, Gill barrel-ages the finished cocktail for about three weeks. It’s served at the resort saloon but, he says, “it’s like a secret-menu kind of deal.”
Gill doesn’t hold back with the spirits, using equal parts of three different base liquors: bourbon, rye whiskey and calvados (a French apple brandy)‚ as well as an equal part of sweet vermouth. While the recipe isn’t particular about the brand of liquors, the vermouth called for is Carpano Antica Formula, a pricey but widely respected Italian sweet vermouth. Others, like Punt e Mes or Dolin Rouge, are acceptable substitutes that won’t alter the flavor profile too much.
Of course, most people don’t have empty barrels hanging around the house for a three-month aging stint. However, if you’re really serious about replicating the exact flavors of Gill’s boozy concoction, the best way to go about aging cocktails is to start with a liter-barrel.
- 3/4 ounce bourbon
- 3/4 ounce rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce calvados
- 3/4 ounce Carpano Antica Formula vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1/4 ounce simple syrup
- Garnish: lemon twist
- Garnish: Luxardo maraschino cherry
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir.
Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube.
Garnish with a skewered lemon twist and Luxardo maraschino cherry.
Optional: barrel-age the entire completed cocktail for 3 weeks.