Anyone who has visited Williams and Graham, Occidental or American Bonded knows the deal. Sean Kenyon — who owns all three — is one of Denver’s major players in the world of cocktail finery and has been for now over a decade. The man simply has the knack.
In the last year, he curated the bar program for the Limelight Lounge in the stylishly-refurbished Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen. Utilizing local spirits — Woody Creek Bourbon and Strongwater bitters to name a few — he and the on-site team have developed a succinct and evolving menu that neatly suits the flagship property.
Limelight is owned by the Aspen Skiing Company — a name that may ring a few bells as the folks behind The Little Nell. Purchased in 2008, the current incarnation made its debut in December 2021 after a substantial overhaul. There are two additional Limelights, one in Snowmass with more of a resort feel and another in Ketchum, Idaho. Each is unique, though there are plans to extend the beverage program across the concepts.
The halls connecting the 128 largely distinct rooms are littered with art; the space is perhaps as well-curated as the Aspen Art Museum that lies just a stone’s throw away. This is a luxurious stay, with plenty of the same kind of touches the Aspen Skiing Company presents at The Little Nell popping up amidst a slightly funkier package. In the winter the hotel offers Inside Tracks — a guided tour of the mountain with a local ski pro — as well as First Tracks, which gives guests a 45-minute headstart onto the slopes. Summer programming includes complimentary bikes and a paddle-boarding adventure put on in conjunction with Aspen Kayak and Stand Up Paddle Academy.
The current cocktail menu has five originals and four classics, though each is so first-rate one could hardly ask for more. The Highlands Buck ($16) — with Woody Creek vodka, pear liqueur, fresh lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters and ginger beer — is both rustic and refreshing. The Gonzo Sour ($16) — with Ford’s gin, jasmine green tea syrup, lemon and yuzu pearls — is as playful as it is polished, a perfect sipper for grown boba lovers.
Going forward, Kenyon will still be involved with each new iteration. “As the seasons change, he and his company Williams and Graham will continue to be the driving force behind menu changes but will take into strong consideration the feedback of the staff and community,” said Limelight Public Relations Senior Manager Meaghan De L’Arbre.
The food is handled by chef Luis Cuellar, who has worked in the Roaring Fork Valley since 2014, previously at the Hotel Jerome before leaving to attend culinary school. The fare flirts with lounge standards and lighter options, though all of it manages to stand up nicely to the superb drink list. The Prosciutto Crudo Pizza ($20) is a must, as is the Wagyu Bolognese ($28).
Limelight Hotel is decidedly chic. Though the liquid allure of Kenyon’s program really ties the room together.
Limelight Hotel is located at 355 South Monarch St, Aspen. The Limelight Lounge is open every day from 3 – 10 p.m., with happy hour from 3 – 5 p.m. and live music Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.