Ben Carrington Wins the Popular Vote at the Most Imaginative Bartender competition

Categories: Booze

Kevin Galaba
La Biblioteca bartender Ben Carrington serves up The Recluse.
Is Ben Carrington Denver's most creative bartender? The people have voted -- over 500 of them, who all jammed onto an outdoor patio at the Four Seasons hotel and selected Carrington's cocktail as the winner at Monday's Most Imaginative Bartender competition. The annual event, sponsored by Bombay Sapphire and GQ magazine, pitted ten Colorado bartenders against each other in a display of inspired mixology. The enthusiastic crowd mingled by the pool and jostled their way through an array of bars to sip, savor...and vote.

See also: Top Taco Margarita Throw Down at Sculpture Park

Kevin Galaba
Over 500 people mingled, danced, drank and voted at Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender competition at the Four Seasons.
It's been a good year for Carrington. After recently relocating to Colorado from Ohio, he landed a job at La Biblioteca, a sibling restaurant next to Richard Sandoval's Zengo and started entering cocktail competitions. At Top Taco, a margarita mix-off held at Denver Sculpture Park in June, Carrington won the people's choice award with the RDA (or Recommended Daily Allowance) containing Dulce Vida tequila, chile-spiced syrup and avocado puree, and garnished with blueberry-infused tapioca pearls.

For the Most Imaginative Bartender competition, Carrington created a drink called The Recluse, which contained Bombay Sapphire gin, smoked hibiscus syrup and sparkling pear cider. All those ingredients were shaken over ice, and poured into a large cocktail glass that was rimmed with fennel pollen and lime salt. Accenting the pear cider, Carrington garnished the drink with one thin pear slice.

Ten bartenders competed in two rounds, and were also judged by a panel of three tasting judges and three "blind" judges, who were individual portions of each of the ten cocktails without knowing who created the drink. The blind panel consisted of Mike Henderson (Root Down, Linger), Allison Widdecombe (Williams & Graham) and sommelier William Davis.

While Carrington won the popular vote, the judges came to their own conclusions:

First Place: Tacy Rowland from BOL (Vail).
Second Place: Glenn Pollak from Oak at Fourteenth
Third Place: Ken Kodys from Breckenridge Brewery Group.

Rowland's winning cocktail, which she called The Gemaicha Cocktail, contained Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, a few dashes of rice vinegar, a green tea she brewed with anise, caraway and white pepper, and a syrup she infused with Basmati rice and Thai basil. The Gemaicha Cocktail was shaken over ice, poured into a coupe glass, and garnished with a star anise flower.

"I was inspired by the tradition and longevity of Bombay Sapphire," Rowland says. "When I started thinking of other traditions, tea time came to mind, but the botanicals are so far-reaching and exotic that I had to think of tea times in places other than England, which brought me to Japan and incorporating green tea and rice with specific botanicals to showcase the Bombay Sapphire."

Kevin Galaba
Tacy Rowland, a bartender at BOL in Vail, shaking up her winning drink for judges.
Being named Most Imaginative Bartender by the judging panel earned Rowland an all-inclusive trip to Las Vegas to compete in the national competition on September 8. "As far as winning the Colorado competition, I am hugely honored," Rowland continues. "It took me by surprise, as I have so much respect for both the bartenders I was competing against as well as the judges, and I am very excited to represent this amazing community in Vegas."

Twenty-nine cities are participating in Bombay's annual competition this year; Denver is the spirit's biggest market. All cocktail recipes are required to contain Bombay Sapphire, with a maximum of six ingredients. Bartenders were encouraged to create a cocktail that enhanced or accentuated one or more of the ten botanicals in Bombay Sapphire: almond, lemon peel, licorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb and grains of paradise.

Keep reading for more photos, and a complete list of all ten cocktails...

Location Info

Four Seasons Hotel Denver

1111 14th St., Denver, CO

Category: General


141 E. Meadow Dr., Vail, CO

Category: Music

Oak at Fourteenth

1400 Pearl St., Boulder, CO

Category: Restaurant

Breckenridge Brewery and BBQ

471 Kalamath St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

La Biblioteca

1610 Little Raven Street, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Root Down

1600 W. 33rd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


2030 W. 30th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Williams & Graham

3160 Tejon St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Argyll Whisky Beer

1035 E. 17th Ave, Denver, CO

Category: Music


1441 Larimer St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Second Home Kitchen and Bar

150 Clayton Lane, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Robb Pierce
Robb Pierce

Hey Ben, congrats ! Also, The Bengals suck!

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