Mixology came to the Tetons last spring when The Rose, Jackson Hole’s only classic-inspired cocktail lounge, opened its doors. The Rose was developed in partnership with David Kaplan and Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, a hospitality-focused design company, with Maura McGuigan, formerly of Chicago’s Violet Hour and New York’s Flatiron Lounge, developed the cocktail menu in collaboration with Proprietors. It's a big move for McGuigan from two of the major cocktail centers - how has it gone so far?
Mix: Your experience includes time at some of NYC's best-known cocktail destinations - is there much difference in how cocktails are received or appreciated in Jackson Hole as opposed to a big city?
Maura McGuigan: Whenever you’re the first person to do anything in any city there is always a learning curve for the customer. We are really happy that people in Jackson have been open to trying new things. At The Rose we generally serve a younger clientele than I was used to in Chicago or New York. It’s exciting to me to be able to serve a 21 year old kid their first Old Fashioned made with Old Weller Antique, hand carved ice and housemade bitters. Also, being attached to a music venue (The Pink Garter Theatre) people going to a show can have anything on our menu served in a plastic cup at the show.
Mix: The Rose is also a ski resort town bar - how did that play into the construction of the drink
McGuigan: We knew from the beginning that value is really important in a small town. Most of our business comes from locals, and many people work in restaurants or at the mountain. We wanted to keep the prices low enough that we were not excluding anyone from having awesome cocktails.
Mix: Your menu is broken into three sections: original, classic and punch/seasonal - has one part of the menu proven to be more popular than another, and if so, why do you think?
McGuigan: The Original section seems to be the most popular with guests. I think a main reason is that they are all really interesting drinks, utilizing cool and unusual ingredients. The one exception is our Old Fashioned. It is far and away the top selling cocktail at The Rose.
Mix: Punches seem to be the perfect ski town large group pleaser - did that inform your menu
choices, and how?
McGuigan: We were conscientious about having both familiar and unfamiliar options. A lot of cocktail bars are doing punch service, or have been doing it for a while, and we wanted to introduce that style of drinking to Jackson. We started with two punches, and they were so popular we added one more on the summer menu. We also offer large format cocktail service (carafes) for several of the drinks on our menu.
Mix: Any regional differences, in terms of drinking styles or trends that you need to be on top of to keep the menu fresh? Or do Rocky Mountain skiers and tourists drink just like everyone else?
McGuigan: This is definitely a drinking town. People go out more frequently here, and we have a large group of repeat customers. As a result we were able to get a good beat on what people were and weren’t responding to which helped inform the way we designed the summer menu. I have also noticed a regional difference in the types of spirits consumed, most notably the preference for Irish and Canadian whiskey as opposed to the general trend in larger cities for American and craft whiskey.
Mix: What sorts of drinks do you have up your sleeve or you are excited about trying out as the
Rose becomes more established?
McHuigan: The cool thing about teaching bartenders in a small town is that they start to really step up and develop their own style and ideas. The other bartenders at The Rose are starting to help form and create the cocktail culture in Jackson. I am excited to see how things will move forward over the next couple of years and to see what a Jackson cocktail bar truly looks like.
Mix: What's your favorite drink right now?
McGuigan: My favorite drink right now is an original called Brass Cannon. It is a super bright and refreshing mixture of Cognac, reposado tequila, white rum, oleo saccharum and sparkling wine topped with freshly grated nutmeg. Not only is it my favorite but also has become a favorite of staff and regulars. It’s easy to drink and packs a punch.