For our first Nightlife Spotlight we at Messenger thought a shoutout to the new kid on the block “Hooch” was appropriate. At a year and a half since they opened their doors, Hooch may be one of the freshest faces on Aspen’s Nightlife tapestry, but this bar is so comfortable in its own skin that it feels as though they’ve been here for quite some time. Wendy Mitchell proprietor of Meat and Cheese,and Avalanche Cheese Company, stayed true to her form when opening Hooch, by giving Aspen a place that looks to satisfy the locals while also appealing to everyone who may come to visit our community. Craft cocktail bars are all the rage across the U.S, it only makes sense that Aspen should have one of its own but it has been a mission of the staff here to keep the pretension that may surround the Craft Cocktail world far from their own identity. The thing is, you can come on down and it does’t matter if you grab the fanciest of cocktails or a vodka soda, you will always be treated in the same friendly manner. That’s just another way this spot is holding true to Aspen’s heart. One of Hooch’s defining features is it’s flexibility. Here’s a place where it is just as fitting to go have a pre-dinner cocktail while sparking up a conversation about the spirit you are sipping on as it is to come to late night with a group of friends and get rowdy (now that’s pretty darn flexible). Hooch’s signature ambience sets it apart. As GM Lindze Letherman describes, “It’s like you walked into your hipster grandma’s basement.” That is, if your grandma was into decorating with refurbished barn wood, intriguing art work and tasteful chandeliers that always have the dimmer set just right. Much like the ambience the people that work here have vibrant flavor. When it comes to her current staff, Lindze says, “it’s like I won the bartender lottery.” These folks have all the right stuff they are passionate, personable, creative and their knowledge of all things spirit or cocktail related has no end and guess what, they’re not even pretentious about it (how’s that even possible?). It seems as though she truly did when the “bartender lottery”.
During our conversation it was made clear by Lindze that taking care of locals and local happenings is at the backbone of Hooch’s mission. Whether it’s looking out for our industry workers with a daily happy hour or facilitating local events such as “Aspen Words” and “Aspen Story Night”, Hooch is giving back by caring about Aspen. Their “Startender” series reflects this perfectly, in which different bartenders from other establishments in town come weekly to serve up drinks have fun and even get heckled if necessary. What a great air of inclusiveness Hooch has going on; for their community is not limited to those that walk through their doors but includes the Aspen bar scene as a whole – can someone say breaking down barriers? So there’s only one thing left to do, that’s to make your way down to this diverse little speakeasy and gain one more extension to your Aspen family, see you there.