Craft beers are not Colorado's only liquid assets. This state's craft-spirit industry is booming, too. Two years ago, when the Colorado Bartenders Guild, the Colorado Distillers Guild, Westword and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver banded together on the Colorado Cocktail Project, the Distillers Guild had fewer than twenty members. "We now have 41 licensed distillers in the state," says Rob Masters, the driving force behind the guild. "It's been pretty insane. People all over the place, from all different walks of life, are building all types of different distilleries." See also: - Marnie Ward of Avenue Grill wins the Colorado Cocktail contest - Rob's Mountain Gin -- and Rob Masters -- acquired by Spring44 distilling - Photos: Colorado Cocktail Project at MCA
Masters is the man behind Rob's Mountain Gin; that brand, and Masters himself, were acquired last year by Spring44, a Colorado company featured in a 2011 Westword cover story that makes vodka at its distillery in Loveland. "I have fun for a living," Masters says. "I love everything I do."
Although craft spirits are booming across the country, the move is particularly strong in Colorado, partly because of this state's favorable laws and customers who already embrace local products, Masters says, and partly because of the culture created by Colorado's nearly 200 craft brewers. "In a state that can have that many brewers and sustain them, there's no reason you can't have fifty different distilleries," he adds.
And you'll be able to get a taste of more than forty distilleries at DStill's American Craft Spirit & Cocktail Showcase, which will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the McNichols Building. "We've been talking as a guild about putting on a consumer event for some time," Masters says, and the time was finally right when the American Distilling Institute decided to bring its tenth annual conference to Denver in early April. "I had a feeling the ADI would bring a conference here, and once that happened, it just fell like dominoes," he notes.
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The Colorado Distillers Guild is again working with the Colorado Bartenders Guild as well as Eat Denver on the event, which will feature "inspired bites" and entertainment along with specialty cocktails featuring Colorado spirits. "What a great trifecta of people," Masters says. "It's one big circle that really makes things special." Tickets are $40, but they're going fast; go to www.dstill.co/ for more information. A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly e-mail newsletter devoted to Denver's drinking and dining scene; subscribe to Cafe Bites here.