303 Vodka Presents Boulder’s Best Mixologist

Boulder is a notable town for imbibing… sipping, knocking back, or, er… consuming cocktails. But, who makes the best cocktail? Boulder’s local 303 Vodka Distillery holds an annual Boulder’s Best Mixologist competition to judge just who is out there each year creating the best tail, and we got to sip (or put away) a number of great vodka cocktails at this sold out competition.

Competing this year was-

Each bartender brought someone else from their restaurant to help shake up cocktails en masse for the hundreds of people who converged upon the 303 Vodka Distillery for craft cocktails, food, and a great time.

I asked each bartender the following seven questions to get to know them a bit better, and hope this post inspires you to go sit at each of their bars-

1- How long have you been bar tending?

2- What do you enjoy most about being a bar tender?

3- Where do you go when you’re out for a drink?

4- How would you describe 303 Vodka?

5- What’s the name of your cocktail for the Boulder’s Best Mixologist competition?

6- What was the inspiration for your cocktail?

7- How would you describe the Boulder cocktail scene?

And here’s what they said:


Adrian Sutevski Task- 2012 winner

Adrian Task, The Corner Bar











1- 6 years, 3 years in my home town Las Vegas and the last 3 years here in Boulder.

2- The opportunity of providing the patrons with an experience perfected to each individual’s desire, including a person ordering a Pepsi no ice!

3- A comfortable, inviting, fun, and quality driven place.

4- Boulder’s own potato vodka that provides so many benefits to the community and beverage scene.

5- Abrigado

6- Books, guests, Chef Shawn, Chef Rethe, Chef Alex, crafting a cocktail that utilized components I had never used before and my former mentor Evan Faber.

7- Forever evolving, exciting, and damn glad I moved here and became part of it.


Tyler Anderson-

Tyler Anderson, The Kitchen Upstairs











1-I have been tending bar for 8 years.

2- I love to mix and create. In other words, it’s my kitchen.

3- Ha ha! The Pub. But seriously, if I can, I go to any speakeasy I can find.

4- Creamy, a little peppery, definitely a taste of potato.

5- The Black Dragon

6- I don’t really have inspiration for most my cocktails, they just come to me.

7- It’s on its way, I still think it needs some work, but it’s just a little behind places like Chicago, or New York.


Conor McDermott- 2013 winner!

Conor McDermott, SALT the Bistro











1- I have been bar tending for about 2 1/2 years now.

2- What I enjoy most about being a bar tender is watching a guest that sat at my bar a day/week/month/year ago, return through the doors of Salt and ask me to make them a cocktail.

3- Uniquely textured.

4- It all depends on what kind of night I’m having. If I am just looking to sit down, relax, and enjoy a great cocktail it’s between The Kitchen Upstairs, and The Bitter Bar. If I’m looking to let loose, I’m going to the Walrus.

5- The name of my cocktail is “Until Next Time”

6- My inspiration came from a classic cocktail. I took a silver fizz, and put a spin on it (with a little help from another Salt bar tender Seth Caparelli.)

7- I would describe the Boulder cocktail scene as filled with talent.


Mike Depaolo-

Mike Depaolo, Aji










1- 8 years

2- Entertaining & meeting new people

3- Aji, of course… I used to work at Tahona & I love tequila so I end up back there a lot!

4- Best Vodka in Colorado! It’s smooth & crisp and mixes well in drinks. Plus gluten-free is really important in Colorado these days!

5- The Ex-Pat, because I’d almost always rather be drinking on the beach in the Caribbean than whatever it is I’m doing.

6- Ernest Hemingway – that’s all we’re saying.

7- Evolving


Samantha Gutierrez-

San Gutierrez, Q's









1- I have been behind the bar for 3 years now, the last 2 years have been at the Q bar.

2- I love when a guest comes in with only a flavor or concept in mind and lets me get busy! It is so rewarding to craft a cocktail that is not only pleasing to their palate, but surpasses their expectations. Nothing makes me happier than knowing the guests are leaving satisfied and excited for the next drink I pour them.

3- I still love going to the tiny hole in the wall dive bars. I like going out and getting away from the craziness of mixology, sometimes simplicity is the answer to relaxing. I still have not found THE bar for a drink when I need something special, so there are some pretty big shoes that a bartender needs to fill in my life!

4- A pleasure to work with! I love the significance they have on the community.

5- “The Cats Meow”

6- I’m a lover of classic whiskey cocktails, so “The Cats Meow” was inspired by the traditional Old Fashion, hence the name.

7- Thriving and growing! I can’t wait to see the amazing things that will continue to evolve out of our already amazing abilities!


Justin Caldwell –

Justin Caldwell, Pizzeria Basta











1- Total of 8 years

2- The freedom to build and experiment with mixology. It plays to my artistic side.

3- The Kitchen Upstairs

4- Simplistic and to the point.

5- IBA – Imperial Basta Avenue

6- What goes great w pizza ? Beer. So, why not make a beer cocktail?

7- Impressive, competitive, and growing rapidly.


Jason Etheredge-

Jason Etheredge, Riffs









1- Just over seven years.

2- Being able to take care of people in a genuine way is very important to me. Hospitality is hard to come by in our world and I love the fact that I am able to make people happy all day long. It’s a very rewarding profession. I love every day of it.

3- Depends. If I’m with a date then it’s Kitchen Upstairs; incredibly sexy environment, beautiful people all around you and a truly great bar program accompanied by delicious food (their hand soap in the bathrooms is reason enough in and of itself). If I’m out with fellow industry people or close friends then we always go to Bitter Bar. I’ve gotten to know the staff there really well and I always feel welcomed and taken care of (Justin is the most passionate bar tender I’ve met outside of Atlanta). When it comes to a crazy night out on the town we head to the Downer. They have the entire range of Pappy bourbon and it’s DIRT cheap (it can get a bit stinky and crowded but it’s a classic dive bar experience).

4- Versatile, distinct, and mellow. Most vodkas fall flat in the taste department since it’s a neutral spirit. 303 uses potatoes as opposed to grain or wheat so the final product carries a very prevalent earthy, oily, deep flavor that we all love about potatoes. It makes a great dirty Martini, works really well in Bloody Marys, and was a lot of fun to work with for my competition recipe. It’s certainly more challenging from a mixing standpoint because of the imparted flavor but it’s a welcome challenge and truly a nice base for many great cocktail interpretations.

5- I haven’t nailed one down yet, actually. It may end up being a last minute decision. Some qualifiers are ‘hot n happy’, ‘grena-dream’, ‘pomtato’

6- I like spicy cocktails and originally wanted to do a simple black pepper infusion but I decided to dig a bit deeper and see what sort of trouble I could get myself into. I played with shrubs, different syrups, spices, barks, juices, etc and this is what came out of all of that. I love the sweet and savory elements of the final product and that little kick on the end is the happy finish.

7- Eclectic, vibrant, bountiful, and extensive. There are so many great places to go, something for every taste, style, or occasion.

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