The case of a $2000 cocktail in Aspen

Aspen has a reputation for fame, celebrity and excess. Miss Snow It All gets caught up in the mix.

In Aspen one must act as though fame is an every day occurrence. Don’t appear fazed, act natural and for god’s sake don’t pull out your phone for a photo.

It is not uncommon in this town to find oneself on the chairlift with Paris or Tiger or other one named individuals or locked out of a club because Goldie and her crew got in before you. Antonio Banderas and David Geffen both have Aspen homes and the likes of Chad Smith, Blake Lively, Jack Nicholson and Mariah Carey are all Aspen regulars.


This is the ski town where Charlie Sheen was arrested on felony charges for domestic violence, where Brooke Mueller was arrested for assault and cocaine possession and where Michael Kennedy of American royalty died while trying to play football on skis with other members of the famous clan. As you do.

Let’s just say the top ten luxury homes in Aspen range from $22 million to $40 + million so you’d better make sure you have packed your fur, pulled your facial skin tight and topped up your credit card before hitting the Aspen tarmac in a private jet.


I must have left my jet at home the weekend I arrived for my second sojourn to Aspen. Choosing to fly cargo on commercial with the real people I was soon upgraded to celebrity in my mind status when shuttled to The Little Nell by a private driver (before you ask I wasn’t paying).

The Little Nell is where those who don’t have Aspen homes stay when they have the money to buy Aspen homes but choose not to. Did I mention I wasn’t paying?

My faux celebrity status must have gone to my head for I clearly thought myself capable of going out on my first night in town straight after twenty four hours of international travel. A rookie mistake for those that know the lethal combination of jetlag, altitude and alcohol.

‘Just the one’ I insisted to Scotty Gibsone at L’Hosteria, the drinking hole of choice for those in the Aspen know.

A little background on Mr G. He is a Kiwi.

My friend I was travelling with was also a Kiwi. They knew the same people, I knew some of those people, we got over excited as you do when connecting through a love of mutual friends far from home.

Scotty poured us one of his famous martinis and I drank it.  Though I probably inhaled it in the excitement.

By recollection it cost $10 or maybe that’s what I tipped. I wasn’t paying for accommodation so I shouted my friend’s one too. I’m generous like that.

My friend and I left early, keen to get up early to ski our first day.

An hour later and I was hyperventilating barefoot in the lobby of The Little Nell begging concierge to help me. A chauffeur drove me to Aspen hospital where I was diagnosed with ‘vertigo’ caused by altitude (clearly a new name for a martini) and put on a saline drip and given some oxygen.

Five hours later they presented me with a bill for $2000.  I laughed and said they had it wrong. They agreed and came back with an amended bill for $1980.

They had overcharged me. Clearly.

The bill outlined a four point examination by a doctor for $750. I was certain if a doctor had examined my four points I would have known about it.

The bag of saline cost hundreds as did the oxygen. It costs a lot of money to breathe in this town.

I paid the bill lest I end up next to Mr Sheen at Pitkin County Jail and my chauffeur drove me back to my abode at The Little Nell where I found my shoes and went to sleep.

It would seem I had stumbled, unknowingly, upon the most expensive cocktail in Aspen. $2000 a martini.

I want, no I need, one of these t-shirts
I want, no I need, one of these t-shirts. Amanda Brown, Trent Jones and Alan Jones celebrating their L’Hostariad status

No one could say I wasn’t embracing the celebriski status of Aspen.

With a hospitalisation in my first twenty four hours in town and a chauffeur for an ambulance I had at least come up a rung from the last time I was there when my ski instructor ditched me for Elle Macpherson.

But that’s another story.

Do you have an Aspen story? Have you ever peaked too early on your first night in a ski town?

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Disclaimer: Rachael Oakes-Ash was a guest of The Little Nell


Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.


  1. There are those that can and there are those that cannot, it is after all just a ski resort where the most common Question “Don’t you know who I am?” …the seasoned answer for those that can…’If you have to ask then please introduce yourself because no.” If you have to look at or pay the bill you should not be there. Great piece loved it.

  2. Great article!!
    Sadly no aspen story…. Yet but your article reminded me of the time we got way to excited on our first night with a blow up pool, crowd surfing in it at the Schuss bar in Thredbo. To this day I cannot recall ever getting back to crackenback ridge!.I can only wonder what other shenanigans we got up to.


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