How to Incorporate Liquid Arts into Meetings & Events
By Beth Buehler
Colorado has the fourth most breweries per capita in the U.S. with more than 400 within its borders. For those who prefer spirits, there are over 90 craft distilleries in the state, according to the Colorado Tourism Office. What does that mean for groups and planners? It’s a great place to incorporate liquid arts into meetings and events!
Breweries, distilleries and wineries often have great gathering spaces and options for tours and tastings. While Colorado’s Western Slope has its fair share of breweries and distilleries, the region also grows most of the grapes and is home to many of the 140 wine producers. However, there are more excellent wineries sprinkled around the state.
So, let’s get on with the show and consider some fun ideas for meetings and events.
If groups can’t make it to wineries for a visit, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board makes it easy to serve or gift the state’s best wines for the year. A panel of 15 industry experts judged 286 submissions from 48 producers of wine and mead to help create the 2023 Governor’s Cup Collection featuring 12 wines from Aurora, Boulder, Denver, Estes Park, Hotchkiss, Palisade and Paonia. You will find reds, whites and mead on the award-winning list.
If you want to stay, meet and celebrate surrounded by vines, Wine Country Inn in Palisade is a great option. An added bonus is that Grande River Vineyards, a sister business, is located next door.
Three distilleries with memorable activities groups can plug into for a taste of Colorado’s liquid arts are Marble Distilling Co. in Carbondale (with a second tasting room in Aspen), Breckenridge Distillery in Breckenridge, and 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company with locations in Vail Village and Gypsum.
Not only does Marble Distilling Co. make all sorts of spirits ranging from Gingercello and a coffee liqueur to whiskey and vodka, but there is also The Distillery Inn with five luxury guest rooms on the upper stories. Book a whiskey class or whiskey summit experience or take part in Cocktails & Canvas, Cocktails & Candle-Making and trivia nights
Breckenridge Distillery’s VIP tour is for up to 10 people, and there is a Whiskey Blending Lab that includes participants making and bottling their own creations. Virtual experiences are available or if you are on-site there are elevated high-end flights to choose from such as Cask-Finished and Chocolate & Spirits.
While meeting in Vail Valley, make time for a visit to the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company tasting room in Vail Village or the distillery and tasting room in Gypsum. Enjoy cocktails and flights at both locations, and tours are offered in Gypsum and feature a comprehensive guided tasting of seven of 10th Mountain’s core spirits. For groups who want to go in-depth, Fantasy Whiskey Camp is a full-day option to learn about the history of the 10th Mountain Army Division and the distillery and to experience distilling from start to finish, including tasting different types of whiskey and spirits. A cocktail or two at the end of the day and a catered lunch from a local restaurant are included. Groups also can book virtual tastings and tours, with a tasting kit featuring five spirits mailed to participants.
Food & Beverage Tours
There are a variety of liquid arts culinary tours around the state that involve biking, walking or some unique form of transportation, I’ll focus on two fun walking options offered by Rocky Mountain Food Tours in Colorado Springs. On the Downtown Brewery & Bites Tour, stop by three breweries for beer flights (for a total of 12 different beer tastings) served with hearty food pairings including dessert. Learn beer and history facts and glean information about the brewing process along the way.
Cocktails & Canapes is a luxe happy hour experience that includes four signature cocktails with appetizer pairings at four unique locations, including a speakeasy and one of celebrity chef Brother Luck’s restaurants. Also hear about stories of Prohibition in the Wild West from a knowledgeable tour leader.
Après Ski Bliss
When in a ski town for a meeting during winter, aprés ski is a must! In Aspen, The Little Nell’s Wine Bar and slopeside restaurant Ajax Tavern are great options or consider The Lounge at Limelight Hotel’s locations in Aspen and Snowmass to cheers, snack and enjoy live music.
Nest Bar & Grill at Viceroy Snowmass is unique in being both poolside and slopeside for aprés ski delights, while the Viewline Resort Snowmass’ Lobby Bar and Stark’s Alpine Grill with Moët on the Mountain gatherings on the deck are sure to impress.
If you are meeting in the Vail Valley, Four Seasons Vail Resort and Residences has Remedy Bar as well as Flame Terrace that is activated during ski season usually with a cool ice bar. For something brand new, check out The Gambit Bar at The Sebastian – Vail. The bar is focused on celebrating crafted classics with a modern interpretation, which is woven into the décor, drinks, food and music.
Cool City Bars
Keeping in step with the cocktail theme and liquid arts, here are two Denver bars among many that have caught my attention and are memorable options for any time of year. Since Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel unveiled its full renovation in 2021, Bezel Denver has been part of the 16th Street Mall action and resembles a chic chalet in the city. I like the ability to host cozy events there and incorporate the patio that is right off the active pedestrian mall.
Call Me Pearl, located on McGregor Square by The Rally Hotel, is one of downtown’s newest cocktail bars and lounges. The elegant décor includes a chandelier that looks like it is made from pearls, and the small plates range from classic dishes to menu items with a creative twist. Choose from handcrafted cocktails, wine and beer and consider booking the whole bar for a private event before or after a Colorado Rockies baseball game at neighboring Coors Field.
Don’t Forget the Gifts
Send attendees home with local wine, beer and spirits or have their favorites shipped so there is no lugging them around. Or include them in a welcome gift along with a baseball hat, beanie, T-shirt or sweatshirt from distilleries and breweries the group will be visiting. If you prefer to brand some items, small coolers, beer and wine, and nice corkscrews and bottle openers are always welcome options.
There are so many ways to incorporate liquid arts into meetings and events in Colorado. Use this list of ideas and ask local destination management companies and destination marketing organizations for their insights. Attendees are sure to cheers what ends up landing on the itinerary.
Top Photo: Credit Call Me Pearl
Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 19 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and is on the team that introduced Southwest Meetings + Events last summer. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.