Step through the doors of the historic Aspen Times building on Main Street, climb underground stairs, and you’ll find yourself transported to a sweatshop that feels like you’re from another time. Welcome to Bad Harriet.
Managed by the Hotel Jerome team, Bad Harriet opened in 2019, but the pandemic had the best of the small bar and it had been closed for about a year before reopening to the public on December 18 with a small update.
The newly reinvented concept stays true to art deco design – sleek geometric and metallic accents, symmetrical layout, bold patterns, and more. – but the cozy space somehow feels more welcoming and intimate, less formal than its first iteration.
This cozy vibe could be attributed to the fact that the lighting is warmer and you can actually see all the details of the space or it could also have something to do with the friendly and attentive staff, dressed new in gold and dark and horny serving nicely themed drinks and light bites.
The drinks menu has also been redesigned and is now divided into three parts: Class, a collection of classic cocktails such as a martini for two or a Sazerac; Power, cocktails inspired by strong women throughout history, for example the Khalo made from Madre Mezcal Espadin, apple cider, lemon, Lalo Blanco Tequila, lime and maple; and Sins, more fun spirits that allow bartenders to experiment and show off their prowess when it comes to mixing flavors.
While in Bad Harriet, my drinking buddy and I enjoyed a Vesper – a martini made with gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc – to start the evening, much like a mouth-watering drink. It was clean and crisp, poured at the table from a cocktail shaker into matching 1950s glasses, adding to the underground bar feel of the space.
No detail has been overlooked at Bad Harriet, including the glassware, which is drink-specific and comes from Patrick Davila, the Managing Director of Bad Harriet.
“Most of the service parts were purchased through auctions and antique houses,” Davila said. “I have spent the last 3 months looking for unique items dating back to 1881 (when the Aspen Times building opened) to complete the collection. It’s an ongoing process because we know that at the end of the day they are made of glass.
“One of my favorites is the Cougar Mixing Glass and the 1931 glasses. If you’re lucky, the Vesper can be served in this set,” he said.
One of the best pieces of glassware we received was a colorful ceramic pufferfish from Hawaii and filled to the brim with a classic tiki pain reliever.
Once the Vesper was drained, we ordered a Supreme – Monkey 47 Gin, Campari, Domaine de Canton, Carpano Antica and Bitter Oranges – from the Power range and the Ode to Maracovaldo – Green Chartreuses, Velvet Falernum, pineapple and lime – of the Sins section.
Then along came “Victor,” which is not a person but rather a treat cart that pops up all night and rolls to your seat with a rotating selection of the chef’s treats.
To accompany our libations we had bite-sized caviar cream puffs, herbed Marcona almonds with local aspen honey (my favorite) and mini macrons.
The prices of the treats vary from $ 15 to $ 55 and are available à la carte as well as included in the price of the evening.
The Evening is a $ 145 option at Bad Harriet which offers a “multi-course cocktail test menu where our guests leave themselves in the hands of our mixology team as they craft a progressive tasting menu of six to seven courses, ”Davila said.
From the little details to the curated cocktail menu, every element of the Bad Harriet experience is well thought out and designed to be a place where people can escape and immerse themselves in the space and its storytelling.