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.

Ruby Red Grapefruit in Mint Simple Syrup

Citrus season is upon us, and lucky for me, a local Boulder chef wanted to preserve some ripe ruby red grapefruit in a mint simple syrup right here in my house. I got to watch, take some photos, and will eventually get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Not such a bad deal for me…

Grapefruit and Mint







Chef Sean Smith plays with fire at Boulder’s esteemed OAK at Fourteenth. Recently, we decided to collaborate on a few food projects, and preserving grapefruit in mint simple syrup is one of the first recipes in a series that will be featured here and on A Bolder Table.

You’ll need:

  • 10 pounds of ripe ruby red grapefruit
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint
  • 1 cup sugar- not the refined crap. I prefer Vegan Cane Sugar
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 quart or 4 pint jars for canning

Sean started by preparing the jars for canning. This is a boiling process to kill anything that might cause spoilage, and I’m not a canner, so please don’t just trust me when I say to boil the jars for 15 minutes or so. To avoid botulism, check out these canning tips.

While the jars are boiling, bring the quart of water to a boil in a non-reactive pot. When it’s rolling, add the sugar, lower the temp a bit, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add most of the mint to the sugar water, reserving a few sprigs for later, take it off the heat, and let it steep for 20 minutes.

Mint Simple Syrup







Then it’s time to supreme the fruit, or remove the skin, pith, membrane, seeds, and segment it. This takes a little time, and gets juicy, so be prepared to capture that grapefruit juice in a bowl.

Fill each jar slightly more than halfway with the grapefruit, layering with the reserved mint. Remove the mint sprigs from the simple syrup and pour evenly into the jars.

Process each jar as you properly should, and allow them to cool at room temperature. Enjoy at some unknown date in the future.

Grapefruit in Mint Simple Syrup







Also, you’re likely going to have extra grapefruit juice that will not fit in your jars, so I recommend making a Greyhound or a Tequila Grapefruit Collins.

The Fifth Annual Redstone Meadery and 4580 Dinner

The esteemed Marty Thalman invited me to the Fifth Annual Redstone Meadery and 4580 Dinner, and having been to a number of wine or beer dinners, I was quite intrigued what a mead dinner would entail… or, taste like, I suppose.

I write this post now as a total convert to Redstone Mead as a beverage to be enjoyed (responsibly) quite often. Last month, however, I was nary familiar with the locally brewed honey wine. I accepted the dinner invitation, finished a cocktail tour, and caught a bus up Broadway to Restaurant 4580. Disclaimer: I had been on a cocktail tour just moments before attending this dinner… for what it’s worth.

We started with a Black Rascal, a beverage of Avery White Rascal and Redstone Black Raspberry. I’m a big fan of beer cocktails, and actually make a Honey Pepper Vodka White Rascal cocktail myself, so from the first sip that evening I was open minded and excited to explore the different tastes of Redstone Mead.

Then, I caught a glimpse of the menu- it turns out they were not just pairing dishes with mead, they were incorporating mead into some of the food, too. Very cool.

Our first course was Winter Spiced Vanilla Bean and Cinnamon Mead and Butternut Squash Soup with Golden Raisins and Toasted Walnuts. What a mouthful… The  flavors of Vanilla Beans and Cinnamon Sticks Mountain Honey Wine go really well with butternut squash.

This was paired with Redstone’s Sunshine Nectar, which is made with apricots for a crisp, tart, more traditional-tasting mead, but by no means is it an overly fruity beverage. 

Our second course was Seared Hawaiian Ono, Ginger Sesame Cous Cous with Cure Farms Kale, and a Mango Mead Reduction. This was served with Redstone’s Mango Nectar, and, I must say, it was really cool to have the brewer, Marty Thalman, pouring my glass of mead. Really cool.











Our third course was Salmon Creek Farms Pork Sausage, Apple and Fennel Cake, Munson Farm Spiced Acorn Squash Purée and Nectar of the Hops Demi Glaze, paired with Redstone Nectar of the Hops- a dry hopped version of their Nectar, and one of my favorite meads.











Course number four was Prosciutto and feta roasted stuffed whole quail with cippolini onion, orzo, and braised cabbage with a Stranahan’s Barrel Aged Honey Mead Broth paired with Redstone’s Barrel Aged Traditional (a mead released in the fall of 2012 that was bottled in 2006).

Dessert, our fifth course, was an Apple and Plum Mead Tart Tatin served with Boulder’s Glacier Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a Juniper Berry Mead Sauce. We sipped some Redstone Vanilla Beans & Cinnamon Sticks Mountain Honey Wine with this. This particular mead is Redstone’s annual “winter solstice” release, which is a holiday favorite for Redstone mead fans.

After a nice ‘thanks for coming’ speech by Redstone Owner David Meyers and Restaurant 4580 owner Martin Hammer, we were served a few sips of a very special treat- Redstone’s 2005 Black Raspberry Reserve. This is almost like a Ruby Port wine with its gorgeous ruby red color, and it was a real privilege to taste such a limited release.

4580 did a great job on the food, and Redstone Meadery clearly produces some fantastic beverages. So, I left the meal not only quite satiated, but with the need to go on one of the free tours and tastings at Redstone Meadery. Time to get to know the nectar of the gods a little better.

Battle of the Pans v Superstorm Sandy- an evening with some of Denver and Boulder’s best chefs.

Superstorm Sandy smashed into the east coast, including my home state of New Jersey, and destroyed many things in her path. Having spent so many summer days on the boardwalks at the Jersey Shore, I felt a huge feeling of disappointment seeing the images online. If you know me, or have even met me just once, you know I make an interesting face and have a certain tone of voice when I tell you I’m originally from NJ. But, this superstorm destroyed so much- it made me feel sentimental for parts of Jersey, and my parents still live there, so I felt quite connected to the storm and its aftermath.

Chef Theo Adley, also from New Jersey, coordinated a benefit dinner at Mateo Restaurant Provencal in Boulder. Chef Adley assembled eight of the best chefs in Denver and Boulder, one of the craftiest creators of all things cocktail, and a uniquely Boulder baker, who, together, performed a nearly perfectly orchestrated culinary symphony. I attended this nine course feast and enjoyed it so much more than I had imagined.

This was a superstar line up: Kyle Mendenhall of The Kitchen Community, Hunter Pritchett of Luca d’Italia, Kelly Whitaker of Pizzeria Basta, Max MacKissock of The Squeaky Bean, Theo Adley, Jen Jasinski of RiojaBistro Vendome, and Euclid Hall, Jenna Johansen, Steve Redzikowski of OAK at Fourteenth, and Sean Kenyon of Williams & GrahamTee & Cakes provided a delectable cupcake to finish up the meal and make for one of the largest dinners I’ve had in quite a while.

I had the honor and privilege to dine with Z Cuisine chef/owner Patrick DuPays and his lovely wife Lynnde, which, besides offering great company, provided me an interesting perspective to dining. I really don’t dine out with chefs- I feature them on my tours. So, as each of the nine courses arrived, it was quite an experience for me to taste them with Patrick and Lynnde.

Each course at the Battle of the Pans was fantastic, so rather than offer a detailed critique or review, here are some photos of the evening. Please note- these were shot in low light (except Chef Redzikowski’s dish because I wandered into the kitchen for a few minutes), and I’m no professional… but, you’ll get the idea.

Thanks so much to all of the chefs for coming out (many on their day off) and providing a fantastic feast, and thanks to all of the guests who, through ticket sales and an auction, raised money for victims of Superstorm Sandy. It’s unfortunate that a major storm brought them all together in one kitchen, but we diners all felt very fortunate to taste a dish from so many acclaimed local chefs.

The Kitchen [UPSTAIRS] featuring Chef Theo Adley

I like to consider myself one of Chef Theo Adley’s biggest fans. He’s young, adventurous in the kitchen, and is an overall fantastic chef. Theo was known for his unique menu at his former restaurant, The Pinyon, and became quite well known for his signature dish, Fried Chicken. After months here in Boulder without The Pinyon, many Adley fans find themselves craving his food- especially that fried chicken.

On October 14, The Kitchen [UPSTAIRS] invited Theo to cook in their kitchen for a night. I had that date in my calendar for a couple weeks, actually.

What unfolded was a delicious reminder of why Adley is one of my all time favorites.

I started with a classic Adley dish, Roasted Brussel Sprouts. These aren’t just your standard roasted brussel sprouts. Adley tosses them with cornflakes for a slightly sweet corny crunch.

I also went for a charred octopus dish that had a fried egg, potatoes, and celery heart in it. I don’t know that I’ve ever had that combination in a dish, but it worked.

And then she came to the table… A bird so lovely she could only have been fried in Adley’s kitchen. Theo is a chef who really loves a perfectly fried chicken. He takes great care in bathing the bird in a spiced buttermilk blend for something like twenty hours, and potato flour makes his bird gluten free. It’s just one of the best bites in Boulder, period.

So, Thanks to The Kitchen [UPSTAIRS] for hosting such a cool culinary evening. I’m looking forward to more.


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