Foxes’ cocktails, wine list brings ‘transportational’ experience to downtown Steamboat

Owners Alec Norton, John Fransella and Gretchen Fleck opened Foxes, a cocktail and wine bar, in downtown Steamboat Springs July 7, 2023. The lounge features one-of-kind cocktails, an extensive wine list, caviar and a unique presence that has a speakeasy feel.
Foxes/Courtesy photo

With a blend of unique cocktails, fine wines and caviar, the owners of the new Foxes are hoping to offer a unique lounge experience in the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs.

“We are a cocktail and wine lounge,” co-owner John Fransella said. “I think our cocktails would fall into the category of craft cocktail artistry — some people say mixology — I like to refrain from that a little bit. We have also an extensive wine list, and we do special events and try to create kind of an experiential, unique environment for every guest that walks in through our doors.”

Customers who walk through the entrance, which is hidden and the owners want people to discover on their own, will find a lounge inspired by the Prohibition Era. From the outside it appears to be subdued, but inside guest will find a place full of lively conversation with a setting that aims to inspire, educate and delight.

“I like to call it a speakeasy-style lounge,” Fransella said. “We certainly reference the past and those Prohibition days. However, we’re trying to do something uniquely different here, so it’s speakeasy in terms of it’s a little off the beaten path and we’re not really marketing hard or putting our address out there — it’s all word of mouth so far.”

The lounge is owned and operated by Fransella and partners Gretchen Fleck, who is the director of operations, wine and special events, and Alec Norton, who is the director of cocktails.

“You enter through our alley entrance, and you will be greeted by one of us,” Fransella said. “We’re all partners in the business, we’re all on the floor and I think that’s something very unique about our model, this kind of employee-owned model, that I think provides a unique and arguably different and more personal experience.”

Fleck said she is excited about the venue and the opportunity to share her passion of wine with the community.

The Foxes lounge has a unique feel that invites guest to come inside and have a conversation along with one-of-a-kind cocktails and an extensive selection of wines.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“I have a background in hospitality, and when I got here, I started running the Standard Art Gallery and Wine Bar, and it really expanded my knowledge and passion for wine stemming from that background in hospitality,” Fleck said. “It’s going to be great to be in here and be face-to-face with customers, interacting with them, teaching them about wine, getting them excited about different things that are going on in the industry.”

She has created an extensive wine list that includes some of her favorites such as a Moschofilero, an aromatic grape variety grown mainly on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula, and a Gamay, a red wine from the Beaujolais region of France.

“John has given me the creativity to really like build up a phenomenal wine list,” Fleck said. “It’s not wines you’re going to see anywhere else in town. A lot of people have the traditional lines — their California Cabernet, they’ve got Chardonnays from Burgundy, France, they’ve got stuff from Australia. I just think there’s so many undervalued and underrepresented grapes and regions, and this just felt like a great opportunity to educate people and get people excited and passionate about things they’ve never tried before.”

Foxes owner Alec Norton used a sous vide development method where the alcohol is infused in a vacuum-sealed bag, so any liquid that would usually evaporate is trapped inside the bag, creating tasty one-of-a-kind cocktails such as the spruce tip Negroni Bianco.
Foxes/Courtesy photo

Norton said his position at Foxes allows him to follow his artistic passion for creating unique cocktails that can’t be found anywhere else.

“What Foxes offers that other bars didn’t, is it gets my wheels turning,” Norton said. “They’re supportive, they give me all the ingredients I want, and they let me just kind of go crazy back there.”

Norton has been bartending since he was 21 and said Foxes is the first place that offers him this level of creativity. He uses a sous vide development method where the alcohol is infused in a vacuum-sealed bag, so any liquid that would usually evaporate is trapped inside the bag, creating tasty seasonal cocktails like the Spruce Tip Negroni Bianco, or he uses a fat-washing technic to create Vieux Carré au Chocolat, the watermelon and Tamari based Smoke on the Water or the Cloud 9, which has a fine silky smooth foam on top garnished with chocolate for aromatics.

Owner Alec Norton said the liquor found behind the bar is top quality and the drinks that are served can only be found at Foxes.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“It has honestly revitalized my view, and Foxes has given me that creative outlet that I’ve been yearning for and pushing my limits to create unique stuff,” Norton said.

In addition to a unique cocktail and wine selection, guests at Foxes will also be offered appetizing items from a growing list of rotating snacks.

“We have the is most extensive caviar service in town,” Fransalle said. “We have everything from the more affordable paddlefish to the higher end esoteric caviar.”

Foxes opens at 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. It is also available for all kinds of special events and offers consulting services for businesses in the same sector and industry though Foxes Hospitality Group. The owners can be reached at or by emailing

“We all wanted to create a place that’s transportational, so when you walk in through the doors you feel like you’ve gone somewhere else. We put a lot of effort into the decor and really had a strong perspective on what we’re doing and what we would like this place to look like and the feelings we want it to elicit,” Norton said. “At the same time, we are also aiming to maintain that Steamboat culture where everyone knows each other.”

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