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Crazy scenes from last night's Denver Espolon Cocktail Fights competition

According to Williams & Graham barman Sean Kenyon, who was also the emcee at last night's Espolón Tequila Cocktail Fights, Bryan Dayton, bar manager at Acorn, is "pretty." Very, very pretty. And, as Kenyon pointed out multiple times, Dayton was on the cover of GQ magazine. Kenyon was full of quips, complements, advice (drink more tequila!) and well-meaning insults at the Iron Chef-style showdown, which took place at the Beauty Bar and pitted eight local bartenders -- Allison Widdecombe (Williams & Graham); Jason Patz (Williams & Graham); Conor McDermott (Salt); Amanda Olig (Osteria Marco); Les Baker (Session Kitchen); Haylee Ortiz (Session Kitchen); Todd Mayville (Asti D'Italia) and Melissa Durant (Acorn) -- against one another in an old-fashioned cock...er...cocktail, fight.

The bartenders were thrown all sorts of curves, including having to create cocktails on the fly using another bartender's grab bag of ingredients (ghost chile salt or mango hot sauce, anyone?) and concocting a cocktail with Crooked Stave's Vieille Artisanal Saison, a beer with pronounced sour notes. Durant was ultimately crowned victorious by a then-drunk team of judges, including yours truly, Dayton and Jeremy Kittelson, chef of Root Down. As far as cocktail competitions go, this was one of the best battles of the year: refreshingly unpretentious, energetic and just a shit-ton of fun. Oh, and Durant's prize? A thick, black, silver-studded belt sporting an obnoxiously large buckle etched with her new title: The Official Denver Cocktail Fights Champion. Herewith, a shortened version of the highlights.

See also: First look: Richard Sandoval's La Biblioteca opens Saturday


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