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Colorado cool stuff: Benton book, custom carts, tablet stand, Rob's Mountain Gin



Spring44’s water is as "pure and clean as you can get," says Rob Masters, the distillery’s chief ethanol savant. This makes it ideal for distilling, he adds, especially in the case of Spring44 Vodka and Honey Vodka. (Vodkas are tasteless, so impurities stand out.) Masters started distilling professionally in 2004, and just recently brought his skill set and gin brand, Rob’s Mountain Gin, to Spring44, after a run with Boulder Distillery. The gin uses a number of nontraditional botanicals like basil, lime leaf and clove. Unlike juniper-heavy London dry gins, American-style gins like Masters’ utilize a wide range of flavorings. "The sky’s the limit," says Masters, who serves as president of the board of the Colorado Distillers Guild. "You can use anything you want." $25 to $30 a bottle retail.

Made by Spring44 Distilling Inc., Loveland, (970) 445-7109, www.spring44.com and www.mountaingin.com. Available at numerous liquor stores in Colorado.


Kevin Prometheus Trotsky and Nikki Braziel met at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada in 2009, fell in love, and did the natural thing: started a company together. Their Octa system gives users of iPads and other tablets a better way of carrying and displaying their gadget. Attach the Octa Vacuum Dock and Whale Tail, and the tablet "becomes a whole different animal," touts Trotsky. "You can adjust it to any angle. You can hang it off things." You simply pump the Vacuum Dock and it can grip a tablet for days. "When the button’s in, you’re 100 percent sure it’s not coming off." The company now has six employees working from offices in Denver’s River North neigborhood. "It’s going awesome," Trotsky says. "It’s really starting to pop." $49.95 retail.

Made by Octa LLC, Denver, ww.octa.com . Also available at Amazon.com.


Caddy Works owner/designer Tim Hall describes himself as "the kid who liked ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ – so much that he’s made a business out of offbeat vehicles as an adult. After fixing up a vintage Nash in 2000, Hall went pro with carts that resemble baseballs, golf balls and other spheres of the sporting world. "They are hand-built," Hall says of his carts. "They’re like custom motorcycles." Not only does Hall tout his craft, he says his carts are as eye-catching as vehicles can get. "They are a rolling marketing platform." $13,000 to $20,000 retail.

Made by Caddy Works LLC, Brighton, (303) 710-0886, www.caddyworks.com.


The recipient of a Colorado Book Award, "Thomas W. Benton: Artist/Activist," covers the career of the late Aspen artist. Benton, who died in 2007, is perhaps best known for the "Gonzo fist" used as a logo by writer Hunter S. Thompson. Benton was also a pioneering political artist whose body of work spans everything from posters for Gary Hart and George McGovern to pointed antiwar and pro-environment imagery. Daniel Joseph Watkins worked with longtime Benton patron George Stranahan to produce a beautiful hardcover book with 150 images rummaged from "old-time Aspen’s barns, basements, and attics," says Watkins, and reprints of rare Aspen Wallposters, collaborations between Benton and Thompson in the run-up to the latter’s failed quest for Pitkin County Sheriff in 1970. "They were a propaganda tool for the Freak Power movement," says Watkins. $40 retail.

Written by Daniel Joseph Watkins, Aspen, and published by People’s Press, Woody Creek, www.bentonbook.com.

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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