When the Colorado Press Association was in town for its annual convention this past weekend, Visit Denver, the convention and visitors' bureau, took advantage of the concentration of journalists to host a cocktail party featuring Colorado beer, Colorado wine and Colorado spirits.
And while press folk have the reputation of being hard drinkers, they weren't used to drinking the hard stuff made in this state. In fact, few knew that Colorado had any distilleries -- much less well over a dozen. "That's what we're running into left and right with the Colorado Distillers Guild," says Rob Masters. "Unless there's a distillery in your own town, or you're a locavore, you don't know about it."
When Masters and a partner started Colorado Pure Distilling back in 2007, they focused on making vodka. But Masters wanted to make gin, so he moved on and started Epic Distilling, working with Boulder Distillery to create Rob's Mtn Gin. And the spirit -- created from Colorado water and juniper berries hand-picked in this state -- is a true Colorado brand.
Mixed with Evergreen Elderberry from Rocky Mountain Soda Company, which is owned by one of the partners in Peach Street Distilling out on the Western Slope, the combo was the hit drink of the CPA party -- dubbed "Treeline" for its fresh, fresh taste. "It's like that mouthful of snow you get when you fall while skiing through the trees," said one fan.
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The drink was also recently introduced in the Boulder Distillery tasting room, under the name "Rob's Licensed Berries."
For the record, Masters says, there are sixteen licensed distillers in Colorado right now, making everything from gin to peach brandy to bacon-flavored vodka. Eleven are paying members of the Colorado Distillers Guild, which, along with Westword, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Colorado Bartenders Guild, will be putting on the Colorado Cocktail Project, a two-day event at the MCA in June that will also mark the culmination of the Colorado Cocktail Contest, our effort to find a drink that tastes like this state.
Could it be Treeline? Perhaps; Masters says he might enter it. But no matter what, the Colorado Cocktail Project promises to be a very spirited affair.