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| Booze |

Ask the bartender: Meet Todd Leopold of Leopold Bros.

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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 here most weeks, where he'll answer your questions. But right now, he wants to introduce you to one of the distillers that will be featured at the Colorado Cocktail Contest.

We've already profiled many of the bartenders competing in the Colorado Cocktail Project with its mission to create the official Colorado Cocktail. Now we're profiling the Colorado distillers whose spirits will be featured at the Colorado Cocktail Contest, the culminating event of the June 26-27 Colorado Cocktail Project at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Meet Todd Leopold, one of the brothers behind the Leopold Bros:

Todd Leopold

Leopold Bros.

Distilling since: 2002

How and when did you get into distilling?

I'd say that my entry in the world of distilling started while I was in brewing school in Munich in 1996. I visited a few farm distilleries, sampled the famous Black Forest kirschwasser (cherry brandy), and got the bug. Several years later, in 2001, I attended distilling school in Kentucky, and headed back to Europe to work at a few shops in Austria and Germany, focusing on eaux-de-vie distillation.

What products do you currently offer?

Silver Tree Vodka, Leopold's Gin, Michigan Cherry Liqueur, Rocky Mountain Blackberry Liqueur, American Orange Liqueur, Maryland-Style Rye Whiskey, American Small Batch Whiskey, Apple Whiskey, Peach Whiskey, Blackberry Whiskey, Maraschino Liqueur, Peach Liqueur, Absinthe, Three Pins Amaro, French Press Coffee Liqueur, Sour Apple Liqueur and Rocky Mountain Peach Liqueur.

What is your favorite spirit to make? Why?

My favorite spirit is whatever I'm making on that specific day.

Any exciting things you are working on for the future?

Our Maraschino Liqueur will arrive in Colorado spirit shops, restaurants and bars in a matter of days. It's made with a blend of fermented and distilled Marasca Cherries (Little Marascas= Marasc-hino) and Michigan Montmorency Cherries.

Since moving to Colorado from Michigan, how have things been?

Wonderful. Our sales have risen dramatically each of the last three years. We are adding mash tuns and fermenters to keep up with demand.

What's the biggest difference you have seen in the different bar scenes?

Colorado's restaurant and bar scene has a unique sense of community that we didn't expect. Everyone seems to be pulling in the same direction, trying to make residents proud of our work and putting in the hours to make visitors and residents alike welcome.

What makes your product distinctly Colorado?

Scott and I are Columbine boys, and work very hard to represent our state with our works here in Denver, across the U.S. and even internationally.

For more iinformation, e-mail bartender@westword.com.

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