On Thursday evening of the 2013 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Danny Bowien squeezed, one by one, into the dimly lit coat closet of Jimmy’s An American Restaurant. Inside, three imbibers were already perched on a loveseat as World Class US Bartender Competition champion Jeff Bell rattled a cocktail shaker with theatrical flourish. Jim Meehan, mastermind behind Manhattan’s secret drinkery PDT, slipped inside, too, followed by Jimmy Yeager himself, who sealed the heavy wooden door from the bustling restaurant outside. The stars had aligned to a brilliant constellation inside Mini Jimmy’s, which, at forty-five square feet, may be the smallest speakeasy this town has ever seen.
Cozy it is, with a cascade of metallic tulle, a mirrored mosaic, and a tiny tin lantern echoing the ambience of a sultry Moroccan casbah. And so it will remain until autumn, when diners start arriving at Jimmy’s in winter jackets again. Generally speaking, a C-note reserves the surreptitious space (970-925-6020; the $100 counts against drinks ordered), which comfortably seats five, for one hour. While the bar might be miniature, the libations, not to mention intimacy, aren’t. Wedged among these hotshot chefs, this writer felt quenched by a novel refreshment: initiation into Aspen’s coolest, cryptic club.
“This is zee smallest bar on zee planet!” Boulud exclaimed, as the door opened again. “We just broke the record,” Jimmy replied. “Eleven people!”