Heads flip when Craig Witthoeft builds a bloody mary at Ullrhof, the mid-mountain burger joint and bar around the Major Melt away raise on Snowmass. “As people are waiting, they are observing me embellish it,” he states one particular Friday afternoon, “putting in Sriracha, and horseradish, and cracked black pepper, and freshly squeezed lime…and below comes the bacon!” With theatrical prosper honed about 30 a long time doing the job driving bars and in dining places, Witthoeft lays two strips of glossy, crispy bacon horizontally atop the drink. He doesn’t have to explain to me that this transfer is to prevent the dreaded soggy strip, but he does issue out that the smoked bacon is dusted with brown sugar, crushed pink pepper, and cayenne pepper, then oven-roasted right until candied and effervescent.
To the celery salt-rimmed pint glass (basically a compostable obvious cup, utilised at all Aspen Snowboarding Co. homes since COVID-19 strike), Witthoeft has also included two dill pickle spears and a skewer holding a jumbo pimento-stuffed olive, cherry tomato, yellow bell pepper square, and mini pepperoni slices. Individuals can purchase the concoction with vodka or tequila, but it’s damn fantastic with no any booze at all.
Witthoeft’s spicy bacon bloody mary is a meal in itself.
“‘Over the top’ is what I’m hearing,” says the bartender and Ullrhof assistant manager. “When I get right here in the early morning, I (make), like, 50 of these skewers for the bloodys, for the reason that it gets fast paced swift.”
For the past 5 times, he says, the exact same four fellas have bellied up to his bar at 9:35 a.m. for a round of these signature cocktails. On Saturdays, one particular standard family members visits for lunch, sitting down at a favored table by the window “like clockwork,” Witthoeft claims. He understands their order by coronary heart: “Dad has (the) bacon bloody mary, Mom drinks Champagne. They get the triple cheeseburger Mom gets the soup. For dessert they often get a chocolate shake and a massive chocolate chip cookie. Every single weekend (we have been open up) this period. It’s really cool.”
Many thanks in massive portion to Witthoeft, listed here whole time Thursday through Monday until closing working day April 18, Ullrhof — pronounced óo-ler-hôf, according to the red uniform shirts worn by the grill and fry guys the title is a mash-up of Ullr, the Norse god related with winter season sports, and the German phrase for “courtyard” — has develop into a well-liked Snowmass desired destination in the previous five yrs. He cites a fantastic storm of variables: Ullrhof’s location at the convergence of numerous ski trails its rather modest dimension in contrast to much larger cafeterias, which makes it possible for for a restricted-knit crew, such as restaurant manager of 4 seasons Kendall Wood and even its retro-diner vibe with very low-slung, dark-wooden ceiling beams and Bauhaus-esque purple, blue and gray carpeting.
“As lovely as the remodels are, individuals like the outdated,” Witthoeft suggests, noting that several venues nearby — Gwyn’s and Sam’s, in distinct — have been renovated in the latest years. “We’re definitely fortunate listed here at the previous cafe on the hill.”
Spanning a vibrant margarita to variations on the hot toddy and mulled spiced wine, Ullrhof’s cold and warm cocktail menu is a large attract. (Famous hand-slash french fries, as well.) This early morning, Witthoeft organized a significant batch of “batter” for his scratch-made scorching buttered rum: “I sauté brown sugar, butter, powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and—one of my magic formula ingredients—a small little bit of melted vanilla ice cream.” After that cools and solidifies, Witthoeft scoops out a spoonful of batter to blend with a splash incredibly hot h2o, a hearty pour of dark rum, and a cinnamon adhere swizzle.
“People are so appreciative of a location to warm up, a very hot consume, and someone having to pay focus to them,” states Witthoeft, who tends to discuss in audio bites. “Customer service is king!” he reminds me, a lot more than the moment.
In advance of Ullrhof, Witthoeft manned the bar at Bumps Restaurant at the foundation of Buttermilk for 15 yrs. There he grew to become recognised among young ones as “the whipped product male,” who would add an additional puff of fluffy stuff to the tops of very hot candies. These days at Ullrhof, he provides a martini glass crammed with chunk-measurement chocolate sweet (mini peanut butter cups, Package Kats) to every single desk as a sweet finale.
“I’ve labored at the Sundeck, the Merry-Go-Spherical, Cloud Nine’s stop-of-period get together with the Champagne,” explains Witthoeft, an avid skier given that he moved to the valley 23 a long time ago by way of California, where he expended 20 decades following growing up in Chicago. “On-mountain restaurants as opposed with foundation-of-the-mountain eating places are a little little bit distinctive. I go to function (at Ullrhof) and it’s type of like I’m on holiday, too. The electricity is so superior!”
Amid COVID-19 protocols — tables are spaced significantly aside and all 16 barstools have been cleared from the bar, per potential restrictions—Ullrhof’s eating place resembles a risk-free oasis. The normal inflow of intercontinental vacationers is noticeably absent. The Ullrhof Game titles, which ordinarily incorporate beer pong, quarters, and a bicycle-powered margarita blender all through Aspen Snowmass Spring Jam, will probably be canceled for the second year in a row. Yet enterprise has been regular.
“The only motive I arrived in below the very first time was mainly because my boyfriend instructed me, ‘The bartender is the very best man. Go sit down and he’ll choose treatment of you!’” notes my buddy Ashley Grimmel, beaming at the memory. “He met (Craig) one particular time!”
We look at Witthoeft glide about the home, drinking water pitcher in hand to refill cups. As a self-proclaimed Snowmass ambassador, he normally asks, “How’s the snow out there?” On point out of a birthday, he’ll generate a cookie and ice cream sundae with candles inside times.
“We have a shotski behind the bar — ever finished a shotski?” he asks when I return on Sunday. Close by, a table of three fellas on a ski getaway from Jackson, Mississippi, perk up. “That shotski!” 1 of them exclaims, recounting a fearless journey to the foundation — yesterday afternoon.
Witthoeft beams with pride. A few years back he “quit” bartending, and turned a manager at Ullrhof instead. The hiatus was shorter-lived. “It’s been a extensive, awesome excursion at the Ullrhof. We’re lucky to be out in this article,” he muses, standing driving his long, narrow, 1-properly bar with million-greenback views to snowy trails outside of.
“I’m a Chicago child, born in the metropolis. I didn’t increase up in a ski city,” Witthoeft adds, “but I sense like I did now.”