Chilled 100 Ambassador and Former Bar Manager of The Squeaky Bean Farm + Table restaurant in Lower Downtown Denver, Jack Bethel has received many accolades from media and customers alike for his creative and innovative cocktails.
Under his management, The Squeaky Bean was named “Best Cocktail Program,” and “Best Late-Afternoon Happy Hour” in Denver’s well-respected newspaper Westword’s “Best of 2016” list.
His passion for spirits has now taken things a step further. With the vast selection of vegetables, fruits, herbs and roots at Squeaky Bean’s farm, Acres, Bethel knew that he had the perfect opportunity to create something distinctive. “I started working with vegetables and veggie-based syrups,” explained Bethel.
“Eventually, I asked myself, “what can I take from the farm to showcase these particular ingredients, so perfectly at their peak? After some brainstorming and experimenting, I decided that a house Alpine Amaro would be the perfect fit to showcase our Colorado terroir.”
Using nineteen different herbs, vegetables, fruits, flowers and roots in addition to white wine, verjuice and vodka, Bethel created an elaborate process involving chopping, macerating, straining, nitrogen cavitation, more straining, vacuum sealing and infusing to produce the House Alpine Amaro.
“The drink is sweet and contains hints of citrus and a touch of bitter. The bitter flavor is offset by the fresh and vibrant flavors of the citrus and mint. I’ve had a great time working with all of the different ingredients, and hope to change the recipe every season. Each Amaro will represent the current produce and herbs we have to work with on the farm at that time.”
– Jack Bethel
As it is with all Amaro recipes, the entire process is a secret. Luckily, Bethel gave Chilled insider information on his inspiration and ingredients:
The idea of the Alpine Amaro is to express a hyper-seasonal expression of time and place. I was inspired by the French tradition of each village producing unique amari based on what grows wild in their region. It’s a personality of a community, expressed through a distinct flavor.
As far as specific ingredients, it will vary slightly based on what is fresh from our farm each day but here are the basics:
- Sauvignon Blanc
- White Verjus
- Organic Vodka
- Lemon Basil
- Camphor Basil
- Thai Basil
- Lemon Balm
- Thyme Flowers
- Bulls Blood Beet Greens
- Nasturtium Flowers
- Lemon Peel
- Orange Peel
- Ginger Root
- Ramp Tops
- White Sugar
- Citric Acid (as a Preservative)
Alpine Amaro mixes phenomenally well, and stands strong on its own. Currently, I’m mixing it with gin, lemon, pear and saffron syrup, and brut rose. I’ve also made whiskey and sherry cocktails with it, and I am working on a tequila drink as well. It’s very bright and easy to work with.
Guest feed back has been strong. People love breaking down the nuances of flavor, and deciphering the ingredients. It’s almost like a Rorschach test for your pallet!
In the end, it’s all about people and interpersonal connections. Inviting a person in to our restaurant to taste and experience who we are through flavor.
Jack is the Front of House Manager at Hop Alley in Denver. At the core of his philosophy he believes that there is “a drink for every disposition”, and encourages the Teatro team to excellence in service and hospitality, and personality without pretense. A native to rural western Colorado, Jack got his start in bartending by breaking up fights, in an Iowa dive called C&D lounge at the tender age of 20. He has since worked in and managed cocktail bars, fine dining establishments, and everything in between. His custom cocktails have been served across the country at events including The James Beard House, Aspen Food & Wine, and with acknowledgements from Bon Appétit Magazine, 303 magazine, and earning Westword magazine’s 2016 Best Cocktail Program at The Squeaky Bean. When he’s not shaking drinks, Jack is often found dancing like an idiot, and brainstorming pun based band names such as his new klezmer-ska-punk concept, “Streetlight Manischewitz”. Jack is also one of Denver’s premier amateur ornithologists, earning him the nick name, “The Beast of Birdin””. Jack’s best advice for any new bartender is simple: Live your career. Eat, drink, breath, and sleep hospitality. Every shift learn something new. When you close up, become more efficient. When you go home, read a book. When you go out, be observant. Be passionate, be adventurous, and be weird. And wear insoles. Your feet are important. Follow Jack on Instagram and Facebook.
The Squeaky Bean Farm + Table planted its roots in Denver, Colorado in 2009. Located in the Saddlery Building in Lower Downtown Denver, the restaurant offers innovative, transFARMative cuisine, shining a spotlight on simple, humble ingredients grown at local farms by using them in unexpected ways. Partners Johnny Ballen and Josh Olsen also work in collaboration with Warren Tech High School to operate their own farm and greenhouse, Acres. The year-round operation is used to educate young farmers, culinary artists and students on the cultivation and journey of food from soil to plate. The restaurant continues to garner unprecedented praise and rave reviews from local and national media outlets as a pacesetter in the farm-to-table movement.