On a busy winter weekend, Killington’s Grist Mill is swimming in its popular Goombay Smash cocktail, with bartenders churning up five gallons of mix at a time. This tasty drink was not invented in Vermont, however; it was discovered by a traveling bartender in the ’80s and brought to the Green Mountain State directly from the tiny Bahamian island of Green Turtle Cay. The late “Ms. Emilie” created the blend at her pub—a small blue wood box that still stands on the island where her granddaughter carries on the tradition.
Some of the most iconic cocktails we drink slopeside originated far from the mountains. Consider the venerable Caesar. A Canadian concoction, it adds a distinctive twist to the Bloody Mary—originally made popular by literary ex-pats in Paris in the early 19th century. In the 1960s, a Calgary bartender at an Italian restaurant infused tomato juice with clam broth, used it to make a Bloody Mary, and dubbed it the Caesar. Today, the drink is a highlight of any visit to the idyllic Vertebrae Lodge at Chatter Creek, a cat-skiing operation in Interior BC. After skiing 40,000 vertical feet, a Caesar garnished with chewy asparagus, olives, and chunky horseradish helps keep hunger at bay until the lamb chops are served.
Mountain town cocktails also define the areas where they are served and color our alpine experiences while connecting us to local history. Visit the Martini Tree bar at Taos Ski Valley and you’ll learn that the porron martini was first served by the Ski Valley’s founder, Ernie Blake. The Wet Woody, served overlooking Lake Tahoe at the Gar Woods Grill & Pier, takes its name from an engineer whose boats populated that body of water in the 1930s. The drinks carry a unique personality and in some cases trump our memory of the day’s conditions or the lines we skied. —Brian Irwin