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crested butte: montanya distillers tasting room

January 11th, 2017

I can’t tell you how many times I have walked past Montanya Distillers Tasting Room on Elk Avenue and dismissed eating there because I thought all they had was rum. It’s true that they have rum, really good rum and lots of it! But they also serve great food, the kind of bites you crave a few days later after a hike, bike, or ski. We went in for the first time last summer and keep returning for the noshes as much as the sips.


in the heart of downtown crested butte



Inside there are several tables, booths, and a bar on the first floor. Upstairs you will find some tables, a cubby hole play area, and the distillery, where you can request a tour. During summer months, Montanya expands to two dog-friendly outdoor patios. Open daily, the tasting room offers free tastings of their three craft distilled rums: Montanya Platino, Montanya Oro, and Montanya Exclusiva. There is also the extensive cocktail menu which you shouldn’t and probably can’t pass up. This is coming from me, someone who prefers to eat rather than drink her calories.

the distillery



The cocktails come in all manner of creative flavors and combinations that incorporate Montanya’s rums (obviously) and rum infusions like Thai spices, cucumber, vanilla, or jalapeño. Their martinis include the likes of White Room (Montanya Oro Rum, vanilla infused Montanya Platino Rum, orgeat, fresh cream, and crushed almond) and Smoke Show (Montanya Oro Rum, cold brew coffee, chai spices, smoked clove, cardamom). Maybe you want a cocktail on the rocks? Try Fiery Passion (habanero and pineapple infused Montanya Platino Rum, passionfruit, fresh lime, mint, agave, seltzer) or Strawberry Jive (Montanya Platino Rum, fresh strawberry, agave, fresh orange and lemon, local basil, mint). But it’s not all fancy, fruity, totally awesome concoctions – they’ve got you covered with the classic Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Daiquiri, and Mojito to name a few. On those especially snowy après ski days, consider warming up with hot cocktails such as Hottanya (Montanya Oro Rum, local Third Bowl ice cream, butter, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream) or Wassail (Montanya Oro Rum, mulled cider, cranberry, spices, citrus bitters, orange twist).

And don’t fret if you’re a teetotaler! You will not be relegated to water or iced tea. Montanya’s mocktails are every bit as enticing and delicious as their cocktails… without the booze, of course. The Green Hornet combines fresh lime, cilantro, jalapeño, agave, and seltzer. I recently ordered the Bluebird – a delightfully refreshing combination of fresh blueberries, ginger, honey, lemon, and seltzer. Montanya’s drinks are all so fun and exciting, and there is something for everyone.


left: dark and snowy (montanya oro rum, fresh lime, housemade ginger beer, fresh mint, seltzer) and right: beach bum mocktail (pineapple, cream of coconut, orange, pomegranate)

maharaja (montanya oro rum, north indian spices, fresh pressed ginger, fresh lime, cardamom)

boat shoes (cinnamon infused montanya oro rum, agave, passionfruit, pineapple, mint, coconut, cardamom)

left: creamsicle mocktail (orange juice, sweetened cream, whipped cream) and right: kokomo (montanya platino rum, fresh lemon, fresh lime, cream of coconut, housemade ginger beer, fresh mint)

hanoi sunrise mocktail (blood orange, fresh lime, simple syrup, thai bitters, seltzer)



**Jump for more butter**

all that frozen white stuff

January 8th, 2017

Recipe: coconut sorbet

We just wrapped up a very snowy and then very frigid week here in Crested Butte. Four feet of snow kissed this beautiful land and turned the town into a snow globe. Once the storm moved out, the skies cleared and what little heat was hanging around radiated into space. We went into a bit of a deep freeze and had to wait until midday before it was tolerable enough for a skate ski or to walk Neva. She would, of course, be willing to run about in -20°F temperatures – but this is why Neva needs humans to make some (most) decisions for her.


skis like fluffy puffy fluff

wind-sculpted features on a 2°f skate ski

we got as low as -29°f, but waited until noon to get above zero

neva wants to know when she can go out to play in the snow



Because it’s so easy to feel warm and comfortable all bundled up inside when it’s cold outside, we make a concerted effort to get out and be active. It’s simply good for the body, the mind, and the dog. Back on the Front Range in Nederland, the winds can get pretty strong. They had 100 mph gusts on Christmas Day in town and we wondered if our home had blown away (it had not). When you endure days like that, it makes any excuse to not get outside in Crested Butte – where winter is so much nicer – pretty weak. Sometimes you have to understand how bad things can get to appreciate how good they are, right?

it warmed up to 4 degrees!

the crested butte sled dogs truck drove past us in town

a morning uphill ski before the big storm arrives

snow is starting to pile up (jeremy and neva for scale)



I know some of my friends on the Eastern Seaboard are crying foul over the recent presence of frozen water in their yards, their roads, their hair… Believe it or not, there are people in Colorado who freak out over snowfall, too. Most of those individuals live in the eastern half of the state and you have to wonder if they understand that they live IN COLORADO. But I am aware that winter is not a popular season among people in general. I’m actually cool with that, because it means fewer people tracking up the freshies. I hereby offer something else that is white and frozen and guaranteed to be far more pleasant than shoveling snow off your driveway. Ever tried coconut sorbet?

coconut milk, coconut water, sugar, salt, lime, shredded coconut

measured out and ready to begin



Making this frozen treat is really simple. Super simple! Zap the ingredients in a blender, then churn it in your ice cream maker, and pop it into the freezer. That’s pretty much it! If you start with chilled coconut milk and coconut water, the mixture can go straight from the blender to the ice cream maker. If you didn’t read that part of the recipe (we’ve all done that), then pop the mixture into the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours before churning it.

pour everything into the blender

churn the mixture in your ice cream maker



**Jump for more butter**

we got the beet

January 1st, 2017

Recipe: pickled beets

Happy New Year! It’s January first and I already feel as if we’ve accomplished something wonderful over here in our snowy little corner of the world. As many of you know, Neva is on a leash outside of the house 99% of the time unless she is fetching her orange tennis ball. Most of the dogs we meet are roaming free because the dogs are reliable on voice command or because their owners are irresponsible jerks (this is the truth). Off-leash dogs get lots of exercise because they can run and explore and cover so much more distance than their people do. But our sweet Neva has a nose that overrides all brain functionality and she will bolt after the first thing she smells – which is pretty much anything – and follow it until she is lost, hit by a car or snow mobile, or trampled by a moose. We keep her on leash for her safety, because we love her. And because we love her, we want her to get outside for the exercise she needs and enjoys.

In summer, Jeremy will trail run with Neva in addition to the fetch sessions, swim sessions, and long hikes. In winter, we would take her on short walks, ski tour, or backcountry ski with her. All of those are sloooow for a little rocket like Neva (except when we ski downhill). I mean, she’s all legs! But last week, Jeremy and I gave her a trial run on a skate ski. Skate skiing is fast. It’s like the trail running of winter. Here in Crested Butte, we have groomed Nordic trails right out of our neighborhood that are dog-friendly. Some of the trails in the Crested Butte Nordic trail system are also designated as dog-friendly, allowing ski pups access to miles of running with their ski person, as long as the pup has a Nordic pass. It costs $40 for the season for each dog, but it’s incredibly nice of CB Nordic to accommodate dog owners as our other Nordic center prohibits dogs, period. The reason we test drove Neva on our neighborhood trails was to determine if we wanted to spring for a dog pass. Why waste $40 if she’s a nightmare and can’t have fun?


neva on her first skate ski



First, Neva LOVED it. Second, Jeremy wasn’t dragged to his death. Third, Jeremy worked out a system with her leash, harness, and no poles. Neva can run even faster than on summer trails because Jeremy skate skis faster than he runs. And while she’s full speed ahead for the first few miles, she gets into a nice groove and eventually gallops along happily. We decided to pull the trigger and get her a pass, taking her out to our favorite stretch of trail – Mike’s Mile, up the Slate River Valley – which is simply beautiful and serene and fast!

neva sports her doggy nordic pass



We do try to mix things up for us and for Neva. On New Year’s Eve morning, we took her on an uphill ski on the mountain (yes, we’re trying to train her to do that, too). She basically pulled, cried, and whined at every skier, snow mobile, ski patrol, lift chair, or leaf blowing by. But she had a blast on the way down because Neva likes to run FAST.

at the top of our uphill ski – neva promptly destroyed the headband after this photo

new year’s eve fireworks and torchlight parade on the mountain (neva safely at home)



This morning we lay in bed debating what to do – ski uphill, telemark on the mountain, or skate ski? With snow in the forecast all week, this was probably our last opportunity to skate for several days, so we roped up the little doggy and headed for the Nordic trails. We never thought it would be possible to skate with Neva on leash, but she’s good about not crossing the skis and she isn’t trying to run away from them either (she is scared of our fat skis on the mountain). The other nice thing about skate skiing with Neva is that these skis don’t have metal edges, so there’s far less danger of cutting her. The things we do for our pup… but she’s so worth it.

happy 2017!



New year, fresh starts. I wasn’t going to post some crazy butter-rich dish the first day of the new year. No, I’m sharing something easy, healthy, and delicious because everyone needs to eat their vegetables. Beets are one of those vegetables that I can never get enough of – they taste like corn with the texture of carrots and they are good for you. Save the greens for a nice sauté! Turn your fingers bright pink for days! Pickle the beetroot for a most delightful snack or the starring role in a salad. Yes, please!

beautiful beets

cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, dry mustard, beets

roast the beets in foil



**Jump for more butter**