By Sally Francklyn
Copper Uncorked is a wing challenge, and I wanted to check it out—it was a different event at a ski resort, because it was not focused on skiing or riding. I was a little thrown off because I’ve watched wing challenges before, and they’re focused on who can eat the greatest amount of spicy wings in the shortest amount of time. But when I found out this Copper event was driven by wings made by the resorts’ chefs, I was fascinated.
On Saturday, March 17th, Copper Uncorked is a lively outdoor event at the base of American Eagle. I spoke with some of the other attendees, and many of them have been coming year after year—a couple came who has the Epic pass and they don’t ski at Copper, but this event always serves delicious food, and they keep coming back.
At the tent for wings made by C.B. Grille, front House Manager Sarah Rossell told me the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day influenced the meal. The chef Adam Jess has been at Copper Mountain for 15 years, and been with C.B. Grille since it opened 12 years ago. A Guinness glazed wing with a Jameson cherry walnut chutney was accompanied by an Irish cheddar potato pancake, and paired with Ruffino Prosecco, to bring out the almost undetectable sweet notes of the wing glaze.
At JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern, you were served an East Village Fried Chicken wing, topped with “bangpow” sauce. I asked Jeff McLaughlin, chef at JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern, what went into the bangpow sauce. He told me it was Frank's Red Hot, mayonnaise, sour cream, chili sauce, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, and yellow mustard. Paired with those wings was the Velvet Devil Merlot, a compliment to the spicy, smoky undertones in that bangpow sauce.
During the sunny, blue-sky day at Copper, Pine Beetles played. This Breckenridge bluegrass band graced the outdoor stage at Copper with their string pickin’ talents. That music was the perfect sound for Uncorked because it didn’t interfere with your tasting.
The wing I tried at JJ’s was definitely my favorite. Maybe it was the bangpow sauce; possibly it was the way the chicken was cooked, or perhaps the wine to go with it. When asked what inspired the bangpow sauce, McLaughlin said “You have to try something new every year, you can’t make the same thing.” I’ll definitely drink to that.