At last night's Taste of the Nation event at Mile High Station, nine Colorado mixologists muddled, shook, stirred, poured, begged, stole and offered bribes to the throngs of charitable party-goers who voted with dollar bills and tokens to determine which mixologist had whipped up the top cocktail.
The contenders -- Amanda Olig (Vesta Dipping Grill); Bryan Dayton (Frasca Food & Wine); Anika Zappe (Root Down); Randy Layman (Avenue Grill); Nate Windham (Blondie's, Colorado Springs); Jared Boller (TAG); Robert Leavy (The Broadmoor Hotel); Rachel Hendrix (Jonesy's EatBar); and Krista Rayne Spencer (Beatrice and Woodsley) -- were spurred on by host Sean Kenyon, the bar manager and mixology wizard at Steuben's, 523 East 17th Avenue.
Which concoctions came out on top? The three winning cocktails and their recipes follow after the jump.
First place: Rosemary Margarita Mixologist: Krista Rayne Spencer Restaurant: Beatrice and Woodsley, 38 South Broadway
1 1/2 oz Herradura anejo 1/2 oz fresh lime juice Splash of fresh orange juice 1/2 oz rosemary simple syrup (equal parts sugar/water cooked with rosemary, then strained) Shake and serve on the rocks
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Second Place: Agua Santa Mixologist: Randy Layman Restaurant: Avenue Grill, 630 East 17th Avenue
2 oz. Herradura Reposado tequila 3/4 oz. fresh prickly pear juice 3/4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice 3/4 oz. ginger-infused agave nectar Shake and serve up with 1/2 oz. prosecco to finish Garnish with raw ginger root
Third Place: Honey Smoked Peach Mixologist: Jared Boller Restaurant: TAG, 1441 Larimer Street
1/2 applewood-smoked fresh Colorado peach 1/2 oz Clark's Wildberry Colorado honey 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice 2 oz Woodford Reserve bourbon 1/4 oz Leopold Bros Rocky Mountain Peach liqueur In a pint glass, muddle peach, honey and lemon juice. Add ice and alcohol. Shake three times and pour over fresh ice in rocks glass. Garnish with lemon twist.