I often wonder how my political science major and Spanish minor have played into my career. But Alexandra Parks, a bartender who's now splitting her time between Lala's Wine Bar and Frank Bonanno's Green Russell, has no such concerns about her biochemistry degree. Although Parks looks more like head cheerleader than a science geek, she's using her big brain and experience researching monomers and polymers to elevate the bartending biz in this town. For Westword's Dish event in September, she hauled out liquid nitrogen to create her Cherry Limeade Fizz, which also included homemade lime-cello, fresh lime juice, egg whites and housemade cherry foam. That drink took top honors in the bartender contest, and at Lala's, Parks has come up with another winning idea: the Urban Bourbon Slushie ($14). This icy happiness in a glass consists of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Caravella Limoncello, fresh citrus and a splash of lemon-ginseng Sport tea, all cooled with liquid nitrogen — a fantastic and visually compelling way to assure that a cocktail is frozen but not watered down, like a drink made in a blender with tons of ice would be. I loved both the process and the taste. But if you're in a hurry for a cocktail, you might want to order a simpler drink to tide you over. Because liquid nitrogen isn't a common bar tool, it's kept in the basement at Lala's — which meant that twenty minutes elapsed between the time I ordered my Slushie and the time I received it. But my patience was rewarded with a great cocktail. Ordering the right drink may not be rocket science — but making it can be.
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