Punch Kings Final Round, and Some Pork Too.

(Photo: Breckenridge Distillery)

(Photo: Breckenridge Distillery)

Breckenridge Distillery teams up with Cochon 555 to present the grand finale of the second annual Punch Kings spirits competition. The event takes place this Sunday, June 29th from 4 – 8 p.m. at the Curtis Hotel (1405 Curtis St. Denver, CO).

The Denver competition is the culmination of events from across the country. Four top chefs will prepare, snout-to-tail, over 500 pounds of heritage pigs in a Cochon 555 format as well as 150 pounds of Creekstone Farms Bone Marrow. Alongside these chefs, the final round of ten bartenders – including Denver’s own Justin Lloyd (Star Bar) – will have thirty minutes to prepare their award-winning punch recipe that advanced them to the final level of the competition. All recipes are for one bowl of punch and must include an entire bottle of Breckenridge Bourbon alongside other chosen ingredients.

“There’s nothing better than a fine punch made with a whole bottle of bourbon to complement the philosophy of whole animal utilization and the flavor packed benefits of eating heritage pork,” states Cochon 555 founder, Brady Lowe.

The event is part exquisitely prepared pork whose purpose is to encourage conversation about heritage pigs, and part celebration of classic cocktail culture and talented recipe creators.

For the past seven years, Breckenridge Distillery has been a staple in the Colorado community and recently has been distinguished as Distillery of the Year at the 2013 New York International Spirits Competition. Breckenridge Bourbon has also won gold in the International Wine and Spirits Competition, Bourbon of the Year at the 2012 International Whisky Competition and was awarded 96 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in NYC.

In 2009, Taste Network’s Brady Lowe established the Cochon 555, as well as several other national events, in an effort to provide awareness for heritage pig breeds and education to support responsible family farming. Other events include Heritage BBQ, Heritage Fire, EPIC Cochon, All-Star Cochon and Cochon Island. Since its birth, Cochon 555 and associated programs have donated over $300,000 to charity and over $500,000 directly to farmers.

Heritage breed’s ancestry can be traced back to pre-industrial farming days when the livestock had a greater endurance for temperature variation, were fed free range and responsible for forging much of their own food. Unconfined, and with a little more patience for growth from the farmer, these pigs have a tastier and more marbled meat character. In addition to superior pork quality, humane practices and responsible farming are essential to breeding heritage pigs. Although many heritage breeds are waning, a handful of farmers strive to keep the breeds and conscientious practices alive.

Pigs and bourbon seemed like the perfect pair for Cochon 555’s Punch Kings spirits competition. “I’ve always wanted to host a national event that celebrates the barkeeps that keep the boom of the cocktail culture alive and vibrant,” stated Lowe.

Participating chefs include Rich Byers of The Corner Office, Jeff Bolton of Kachina Southwestern Grill, Jason Brumm of Second Home Kitchen + Bar and Jae Lee of The Curtis.

The ten competing bartenders are James Menite of Crown Restaurant (NYC), Joshua Holliday of Khong River House (MIA), Paul Sanguinetti of Patina Group (L.A.), Michael Jack Pazdonof Goose & Gander (NORCAL), Justin Lloyd of Star Bar (DEN), Erin Goodman of Roofers Union (WDC), Sean Woods of Ribelle (BOS), Jennifer Fink of Fat Rice (CHI), Andrew Meltzer of 15 Romolo (SF) and Maria Polise of Ela (PHL).

The winner of this competition walks away with a trophy and an opportunity to win a three-day trip to a Heritage BBQ festival in the city of their choice to feature the winning cocktail.

After the event, skip over to The Corner Office (1401 Curtis St, Denver, CO 80202) for the after party – this event is open to the public.