Colorado is a state known for many things. Amazing mountains. World-class winter sports. Legal Marijuana. More microbreweries than the rest of the planet. We’ve even gotten major recognition for our arts- museums, galleries, music venues and theatre productions. It seems that we as a state are bringing together the best that nature and the creative mind can conjure. Now, we can add spirits to that list.
We aren’t talking ghosts and goblins; we are talking vodka, whiskey, rum, gin and more. Local and regional distillers came out in droves this past week in Denver. Thirty Colorado distillers joined nineteen out-of-staters, one from as far away as Vermont, culminating at The Showcase Thursday evening.
The entire conference took place in downtown Denver from April 14-17 with The Showcase event happening Thursday night at the McNichols Civic Center building. The Showcase is a place where 49 distillers came together, offering tastings, cocktails and food pairings.
CRAVE Magazine was on hand to test the waters see if we could make it out of the building standing up. We sampled mostly cocktails throughout the evening, but an occasional tasting came into play as we sought out our favorite libations.
Colorado spirits were en masse as we had representatives from all over the state. The Mellow Mule from Colorado High Vodka out of Cedaredge, CO was a delectable favorite. Featuring Hemp Vodka the going down was smooth with the ginger beer giving it just the right kick. The big winner of the night was a sweet yet savory concoction from Montanya Distillers from Crested Butte. Their high altitude rum makes some of the finest drinks on either side of the Mississippi.
There were also food pairings to be had. The Foie Gras and Onion from Old Major, out of the Denver Highlands was an easy food favorite. Soft and tender with just the right amount of caramelization on the onions. Finger foods and appetizers can be hard to do well at a large event, but Old Major definitely got it right.
Of the few tastings we did- our favorite was without a doubt the Fleur de Sureau Elderflower Liqueur from Woods High Mountain Distillery in Salida. The folks of Chaffee County made full use of their environment with this liqueur. They started with a base of Colorado Gewurztraminer wine and infused it with local elderflowers and then sweetened the mix with local honey. At only 220 bottles the liqueur is nothing but liquid gold!
It was also great to see a chocolate company present and Dead Dog Chocolate did not disappoint. They offered several samples of some of their best chocolates, the Cranberry Ginger and Espresso Sea Salt being two of the favorites. They even offered a sample of their Mexican Drinking Chocolate. With just the right amount of Ceylon cinnamon added to the coarsely ground Dominican cacao, the taste was rich and full and an excellent companion to the flavor palette of the evening’s liquor.
The Showcase at the McNichols Building was an excellent opportunity to sample amazing spirits from not only Colorado but from around the country. It has been said that Colorado is a lifestyle state, and with the burgeoning liquor industry our mountain high lifestyle is all the more enhanced by adding a nip or two of finely crafted small-batch American spirits.