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Ask the Bartender: Meet Allie Geppert, Colorado Cocktail contestant

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Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with almost 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can find him behind the bar at Squeaky Bean -- and here every week, where he'll answer your questions. But right now, he wants to introduce you to our ninth Colorado Cocktail Contest contestant.

The Colorado Cocktail Project, with its mission to create the official Colorado Cocktail, has begun. Over the next few weeks, we will profile each of the bartenders and all of the Colorado distillers involved in the process -- and not only can you read about them here, but you can sample the contestants for yourself at any of the participating bars and restaurants, then vote for your favorites. We'll decide the ten finalists by June 15, and they'll pour out their hearts -- and drinks -- in a head-to-head competition on June 27 at the culmination of the Colorado Cocktail Project at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Encore's Allie Geppert is a woman whose bartending career started with her ability to make a Jager bomb. Fast forward to the present, where her love of kittens and videos of kittens is the fuel of her existence...

Allie Geppert Encore When and how did you start bartending? I started bartending at college in Boulder, when the bartender was "sick" and I knew how to make a jager bomb.

What sparked your interest in mixology? Cocktologist Anika Zappe. Tell us about your bar.

Colfax Country Club. Pretty sure that covers it.

Tell us about yourself. I get my inspiration from Kittens Inspired By Kittens on YouTube. I currently have 46 items checked out from the library. My favorite color is orange. I get major anxiety around anything that has the potential or capacity to pop. I love anything spicy and/or sour. My soul is rechargeable through live music and TED talks. I hate floppy bread. Estate sales, why can't I quit you?! My cats are already gearing up for walks around Wash Park. I want to move back to Amsterdam.

What do you love about bartending? Being creative and hosting the retreat from the everyday.

What is your least favorite thing about bartending? The word mixologist. Cocktologist or cocktailian are where it's at! Favorite cocktail. No matter what time of day, climate or what condition I am in... Old-Fashioned. If it's the opposite time of day, climate and personal condition... Michelada.

Favorite spirit.

Genever -- those Dutchies won me over with their courage and maybe a couple other things, too.

Describe your cocktail and why it should be THE Colorado Cocktail. Pins and Needles is the quintessential Colorado Cocktail because the toddy-style drink soothes your soul in the morning and warms your loins after a long cold Rocky Mountain day. It's perfect for a nightcap after shenanigans at Red Rocks and as an elixir for your untimely ailments. The Leopold's whiskey brings a doughy rich flavor, and the Three Pins Alpine Liqueur's natural spice melds into the exact flavor I think of if I were to drink Colorado. That John Denver is not full of shit!

I dedicate this cocktail to my cousin Marty, who until this winter when he visited me from SoCal thought that "hot toddy" was just a funny thing to order at a bar. Now I guarantee that SoCal knows what Colorado drinks.

Pins and Needles 1 3/4 oz. Leopold's Whiskey 3/4 oz. Leopold's Three Pins Alpine Liqueur .5 oz. Earl Grey honey syrup .25 oz. lemon juice hot water, orange peel

Earl Grey syrup: put 1/2 cup Colorado clover honey,on high heat burner until you see large bubbles, add 4 cups water, take off heat and add 4 bags Earl Grey tea and the one large orange peel, steep for 5 minutes.

In hot-drink appropriate glassware, put .25 oz. fresh lemon juice, .5 oz. Earl Grey syrup, 3/4 oz. Three Pins, 1 3/4 oz. whiskey. Fill with hot water, use flamed orange peel as a garnish.

Have a question about the Colorado Cocktail Contest? E-mail bartender@westword.com.

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