The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2016

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72  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2016 DAY IN THE LIFE S ometimes life has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need when you need it, even when you don't know you need it. Montana was that surprise for me. It was never on my list of "places I would love to live," but, as it turns out, that is where I was destined to land, and I couldn't be happier. I am the Head Sommelier and Beverage Manager for the Yellowstone Club, the only private ski and golf com- munity in the world, located in Big Sky Montana. We cater to a very exclusive clientele via 13,600 acres of skiing, golfing, hiking, swimming, fishing, relaxing, playing, dining and, of course, delightful imbibing. If all of our dining venues were open at once [which they aren't, given the seasonal nature of some of the venues], we would have nine destinations. The restaurants are located throughout the Club, and some are only accessible via ski lift and snow cat during the winter. Three have full by-the-bottle lists, five have unique by-the-glass lists and four have distinctive cocktail menus. To manage all these operations, we are geared up with four liquor licenses, one beverage manager (me), three dedicated floor sommeliers, a food and beverage director, a team of floor managers and an army of floor staff. Each wine-by-the-glass list has around 19 selections; specialty cocktail and beer lists have a dozen or so. Beer lists focus on Northwest breweries, especially from Montana, such as Big Sky and Red Lodge Brewing. Cocktail menus utilize Montana spirits as much as possible, and with a great and grow- ing variety coming out of the state, there is quite a bit to choose from. One of my favorite cocktails this summer is the Montana Strawberry Moonshine Julep, where we use moonshine from a local distillery called Willies', in a classic Julep recipe with fresh strawberries. Each venue and beverage menu follows a theme. For instance, Rainbow Lodge offers up a Northwest-focused menu, so our wine list has a strong emphasis on wines of Oregon and Washington. Our Italian steakhouse, the Golf Course Clubhouse, has a large Italian reds focus. In our main lodge, The Warren Miller Dining Room represents a stronger California and international emphasis. Timberline Café is a pre-set menu with paired wines. The menu changes on a weekly basis, so the food—and hence the wines—are never the same. During the winter season, we have a winemaker dinner series with wineries such as Colgin, Harlan, Long Shadows, Gaja, Domaine Parent, Chateau Montelena, Gramercy Cellars, Leonetti and Doubleback, Schrader and Soter to name a few of the recent greats. These have been a treat not only for our members, but for the staff, as most of the visiting winery guests take time to do staff trainings. With so much going on, we rely on a strong staff to keep us successful. I surround myself with awesome and passionate people, inspired by our management team, which works to inspire our staff to improve personally and professionally. In the two years since I began my tenure at the Yellowstone Club, we have promoted three staff members to dedicated floor sommeliers. These som- meliers manage their restaurant's lists, inventories, staff training and cocktail programs. We close for a few months a year, giving the beverage team an opportunity to revisit and revamp the lists for the upcoming season. It is a constant creative process, and a challenge that keeps us on our toes. Last year, we had ten people take som- melier exams, and this year, we have an entirely new set of floor staff eager to jump in and start learning. The way I see it, educated and motivated staff equates to sales, satisfied members and happy bosses. Personally, I like the way that works out. BEVERAGE MANAGER JENNIFER COSSEY MEETS THE CHALLENGES IN BIG SKY COUNTRY I'm "Parked" at the Yellowstone Club

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