(Originally published in LOCAL Magazine - Condensed for brevity)
Spent: $98 Town: Aspen Who: Jacqueline Reynolds
We walk into Campo de Fiori on a Friday night in November. I order the tricolore salad and a half portion of the penne vodka—my go-to at Campo. We get bread—which I didn’t realize costs an extra $4—and I order a Ketel One martini, up with a lemon twist. Belly Up has a $10 concert—$12 with tax—and we’d pre-purchased tickets online. The band is Steely Dead, a musical hybrid tribute group combining the Grateful Dead and Steely Dan. After dropping off the to-go boxes at my place on the east side of town, we get to Belly Up shortly after the 9:30 p.m. showtime and get our IDs checked outside. There are typically long lines for this in the busy months and I’ve learned to either arrive very early or very late to a big show. Tonight, there is no line. But first, we leave and walk over to Silver City, the underground saloon-like bar where I used to go sing karaoke and meet people on Monday nights when I first moved to town. A Zac Brown Band song is blaring as we descend the stairs and I feel somewhat nostalgic. I order an IPA from the bartender—it’s 8 bucks, I think, and I tip her the rest of my budget.
Spent: $81 Town: Carbondale Who: Megan Tackett
We decided to kick off our night of discount romance at Marble Distillery, on the far east side of Main Street. Carey and Connie—Carey Shanks is the front-of-house face of the business he co-owns with his wife and master vodka and whiskey distiller Connie Baker. The cocktails he served up were equally festive: a JJ Curley (Marble’s take on an old fashion, $11) for me, and The Dude (Marble’s Moonlight EXpresso liqueur, a bit of heavy cream, topped with chocolate shavings, $8), for my date. We then ventured catty-corner across the street, to Izakaya. For Aspenites who haven’t made it to Brent Reed’s—of Kenichi fame—Carbondale venture, you’re missing out. Our trusted bartender Zach immediately opened and poured a Moon Phase for me. Until Zach expanded my horizons, I never would’ve thought I’d drink sake out of a glorified Mason jar, but at $11 for 7 ounces of better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be cold sake, consider me a convert. Honoring the Japanese theme of the dinner venue and the budget-mindfulness required for the evening, Sean opted for a $6 Sapporo. We didn’t have the funds to spring for two separate entrees so we split a bowl of miso veggie ramen ($19) and a maki tuna roll ($9). Trust me, it was plenty of food for the both of us. We left feeling fat and happy.
Spent: $82. Town: Glenwood Springs Who: Megan Webber
Glenwood has been voted the “Most Fun Town in America” by Rand McNally and USA Today ranks it as one of the top ski towns in the world. Obviously, those accolades are geared toward families looking for a mountain escape, but it can be easy for us locals to take them for granted. On a cold, snowy Thursday in early November, the Brewpub is the quietest I’ve seen it in a long time. The tourists must either be at home or already in the pool. One of the things I like about this place is that even though it’s a go-to spot for visitors, it’s just as popular with the locals. The Brewpub, true to its name, offers a full menu of 12 house-brewed, Glenwood-themed beers on tap, including year-round beers, seasonal crafts, a guest sour and a guest cider. My recent favorite is the Grizzly Creek Raspberry Wheat, a sweet, light wheat beer, and I don’t even have to look at the menu before ordering it. Richard gets the Mexican-style Hanging Lake Light Lager. Both cost between $6-$8. (As a kid, my go-to beverage was the Brewpub’s house-made root beer. For $5, it’s sweet and refreshing, even in the winter. For those of us who like to indulge a bit, however, the Brewpub also serves a Naughty Root Beer with a splash of vodka.) Tonight, we go for the buffalo wings with a side of ranch for Richard and bleu cheese for me. For $14, we get six wings with the two dips and a side of carrots and celery. For our entrees, I order the pub tacos with blackened cod for $17, and Richard gets his usual—chicken enchiladas for $18. While we wait, if each other’s company isn’t entertaining enough, TVs surround the sports bar that show whatever game is on that night. Tonight, it’s the World Series and a regular season contest between the Eagles and the Texans. Around 6:45 p.m., the restaurant starts to fill up and we ask for the check, having successfully beat the crowd. After tax and a 20% tip, our bill comes to $82.46.