Colorado Cocktail Project gears up for Monday’s competition

The Old Fashioned

[Note: We’re live tweeting this event right now!]

Ten finalists were chosen yesterday for this weekend’s Colorado Cocktail Project. These top 10 contestants were picked from a pool of 30 elite bartenders to represent their interpretation on what our great state tastes like in a glass.  The list of 10 is still subject to change, but its members include:

  • Kevin Burke, Colt & Gray
  • Evan Faber, Salt
  • Tyler French, Row 14
  • Allie Geppert, Encore on Colfax
  • Britt Henze, Mateo
  • Amy Kempster, Jonesey’s
  • Randy Layman, Steuben’s
  • Robert Leavey, The Broadmoor
  • Alex Parks, Green Russell
  • Marnie Ward, Avenue Grill
  1. Mike Henderson, Root Down
  2. Adam Dunbar, Encore
  3. Anthony Rodgers, FreshCraft
  4. Caroline Johnson, West End Tavern

Denver Westword, Colorado Bartenders Guild, Colorado Distillers Guild, and startender Sean Kenyon have teamed up this year for the Official Westword Colorado Cocktail Contest.  Their goal is to find Colorado’s cocktail, much like Louisiana’s (or, rather New Orleans) Sazerac, New York’s Manhattan, and Kentucky’s Mint Julep.  Sure, we all know that Colorado is considered the Napa Valley of the beer world, but what is our cocktail equivalent?  Kenyon and company set out to find just this.


Earlier this year, many Colorado products showcased their spirit at MCA Denver for bartenders and guests to sample.  Bartenders were invited to submit their quintessential Colorado cocktails with the following requirements:

  1. The base spirit (at least 1.5 oz.) must be produced in Colorado
  2. The drink has a maximum of 7 ingredients (includes garnish)
  3. All ingredients must be readily available. No homemade ingredients
  4. Anyone submitting a nominee must be a bartender working in a Colorado restaurant and the cocktails must be available at the bartender’s establishment, preferably on a menu, from April 1 through June 10

After all the submissions were entered on March 25, the public was invited to vote for each contestant’s cocktail:

  • Quenton Attwool: “Rocky Mountini” (Restaurant Kevin Taylor)
  • Johnny Ballen: “The Drinkable Molly Brown” (The Squeaky Bean)
  • Kevin Burke: “Colorado Daschund” (Colt & Gray)
  • Adam Dunbar: “The Centennial” (Encore on Colfax)
  • Sinjin Eberle: “The Centennial Spirit” and “Sagey Peach Fizz” (Ash Street Speakeasy)
  • Evan Faber: “The Diamondback” (Salt Bistro)
  • Tyler French: “Brothers Brew” (Row 14)
  • Alexandra (Allie) Geppert: “Pins and Needles” (Encore on Colfax)
  • Britt Henze: “Bear Paw’s Palmer” (Mateo)
  • Mike Henderson: “Palisade Peach Smash” (Root Down)
  • Karen Hoskin: “The Animas Martini” (Montanya Distillers)
  • Raffi Jergerian: “Bramblin’ on about Nothin” (Elliot’s Martini Bar — Fort Collins)
  • Caroline Johnson: “The Western Slope” (The West End Tavern)
  • Bradley Kaplan: “The Colo’rita” (TGI Friday’s — Thornton)
  • Billie Keithley: “Miner 59er” (Cecilia’s — Breckenridge)
  • Amy Kempster: “The Green Heart” (Jonesy’s EatBar)
  • Ken Kodys: “Ranchero Verde” (Root Down)
  • Justin Lavenue: “The Rocky Mountain Wildfire” (Bombay Bistro)
  • Randy Layman: “The 100 Years Cocktail” (Steuben’s Food Service)
  • Robert Leavey: “Pikes Peak Swizzle” (Summit at The Broadmoor)
  • Molly Morris: “The White Room” (Montanya Distillers)
  • Alexandra (Alex) Parks: “Green Larimer Bees Knees” (Green Russell)
  • Joel Rheaume: “Fleur de Rye” (Terra Bistro at the Vail Mountain Lodge)
  • Anthony Rodgers: “The Leopold Lowdown” (FreshCraft)
  • Kirsten Schopen: “Fresh Fourteener” (Summit at The Broadmoor)
  • Joshua Smith: “300” (TAG)
  • Marnie Ward: “Tree Line” (Avenue Grill)
  • Kyle West: “The Colorado Fruition” (El Camino Community Tavern)
  • Nate Windham: “Colorado Julep” (The Blue Star — Colorado Springs)
  • Elijah Wolfe Nugent: “Chai Manhattan” (Henry’s Pub — Loveland)

Some of the featured spirits include:

The finalists will be slinging around 250 drinks for the event for judges and guests on Monday night at MCA Denver (1485 Delgany St) .  Tickets can be purchased through MCA Denver’s site ($40 for each day or $70 for a two-day pass) or specific Whole Foods Market locations (Cherry Creek, Colorado Boulevard, Capitol Hill, Washington Park, Tamarac, Belmar, Southglenn, and Pearl, Ideal Market, and Baseline in Boulder, Colorado).

The event details are as follows:

Sunday, June 26, 2011
12-6 p.m.: Drop-In, Colorado Spirits Sampling & Lecture Marathon Series (Food & Drinks Included)

Monday, June 27, 2011

5 p.m.: Tasting & Dialogue with Bartenders Begins
6 p.m.: Judging Begins
8:30 p.m.: Judging & Popular Vote Submitted
9 p.m.: Winner of the Colorado Cocktail Project Announced (Food & Drinks Included)

Join and take part in sharing fabulous Colorado spirits, amazing talent within the cocktail community, and exploring what Colorado tastes like.



About Jess Hunter

Jess is a lady and a scholar. If she's not mulling over the various names of famous mustaches and their respective bitter cocktails, she's nibbling on American Craft Singles and Cantillon. Connect with her by email at