Behind the Bar: A more approachable Negroni from Hearthstone in Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

Behind the Bar: A more approachable Negroni from Hearthstone in Breckenridge

The Hearthstone Restaurant has been a staple in the Breckenridge restaurant scene for decades and the building it is housed in has been around for even longer. It was built in the 1880s as a home for Christ Kaiser, an immigrant from Germany who ran a market and butcher shop on Lincoln Street. Photographs of the old building and the Kaiser family line the walls of the upstairs lounge, amplifying the building's historic charm, along with the Victorian-period décor.

After a number of renovations throughout the years, and after housing several other restaurants including Andrea's Pleasure Palace, a risque restaurant with all female servers, the building opened as the Hearthstone in 1989.

Committed to serving naturally-raised beef and game, sustainable seafood and local products whenever possible, executive chef Michael Halpin's menu features everything from charred octopus or crispy lobster on the appetizer menu, to Colorado lamb, blackberry elk or ginger sea scallops for entrees.

The elegant food is accompanied by knowledgeable servers, many who have been on staff for 15 years, said Joel Diner, general manager for the restaurant.

The Hearthstone bar is also stocked with local products, including vodka and bourbon from Breckenridge Distillery. Colorado wines and microbrews are featured on the menu, with around 10 Colorado brews on the list and an even more extensive wine list. Diner said the wine list changes quarterly, with more than 215 wines featured, and 20 different wines by the glass.

"We are really passionate about the wine program," he said.

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The restaurant's happy hour every day from 4–6 p.m. is in the lounge or outside on the deck and offers $5 small plates including items like sesame crusted Alaskan halibut, crispy Colorado goat cheese and flatbread pizza. For drinks, enjoy $3.50 Colorado microbrews or $2.50 domestic brews, or featured wines by the glass for $6 or $8. For even more options, there is also $7 house-crafted cocktails or $9 house-crafted martinis.

"We try to be as fresh as possible," said Alicia Bergmann, bar manager for the restaurant. "Our juices are fresh — fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice — so I hand-squeeze all that. We hand-stuff our blue cheese olives for our Dirty Blue martini. When I'm in the kitchen cooking, or if I'm bartending, I always focus on freshness more than anything."

Bergmann is a mixologist who has worked at the Breckenridge restaurant for the last year, although she has worked in the restaurant industry for much longer. After growing up in Arvada, she spent some time in Daytona Beach, Florida, before the mountains called her back, moving to Summit County five years ago.

"You're going to find everything here is elevated — elevated service, the quality of the food, the freshness — you are never going to be disappointed with food or behind the bar," Bergmann said.

The drink that she offers here is a twist on the Negroni. She said bartenders enjoy getting creative with seasonal cocktails, and also like to play around with the classics, giving them a more unique spin. For this one, Bergmann adds a splash of Grand Marnier to cut the bitterness of a traditional Negroni.

"I think people who like Negronis will like it, but I also think people who don't like Negronis will like it," she said. "It's a really fun twist on a classic that has maybe been previously unapproachable, and now everyone can enjoy it. It's really refreshing. I think the Campari plays perfectly with the orange. It's one of my favorite drinks now, and I never really liked Negronis."

The Grand Negroni

1 ½ ounces Bombay Gin

1 ounce Campari

Splash of Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth

Splash of Grand Marnier

Garnished with an orange twist

IF YOU GO

What: Hearthstone Restaurant

Where: 130 S. Ridge St., Breckenridge

Hours: 4–9:30 p.m.; happy hour daily 4–6 p.m.

Contact: (970) 453-1148 or hearthstonebreck.com