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Ask the Bartender: Meet Alexandra Parks, Colorado Cocktail contestant

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Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with almost 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can find him behind the bar at Squeaky Bean -- and here every week, where he'll answer your questions. But right now, he wants to introduce you to our seventh Colorado Cocktail Contest contestant.

The Colorado Cocktail Project, with its mission to create the official Colorado Cocktail, has begun. Over the next few weeks, we will profile each of the bartenders and all of the Colorado distillers involved in the process -- and not only can you read about them here, but you can sample the contestants for yourself at any of the participating bars and restaurants, then vote for your favorites. We'll decide the ten finalists by June 15, and they'll pour out their hearts -- and drinks -- in a head-to-head competition on June 27 at the culmination of the Colorado Cocktail Project at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

In this interview, Denver native Alexandra Parks of Green Russell waxes on about getting hammered on rum and cokes, and gastronautical exploration...

Alexandra Parks Green Russell

When and how did you start bartending?

Honestly, I started bartending because I didn't want to wait tables. I kept bartending because I could make more money, and it was more engaging. I am a bartender now because I became addicted.

What sparked your interest in mixology? I worked at Vinyl for a couple years, and got fired. I figured out that I loathed pouring rum and cokes for people who just wanted to get hammered. Then I starting looking for more...

Tell us about your bar. Green Russell is a cocktail bar located on historic Larimer Street, and named after an important Denver historical figure. Every night is a combination of intense learning and great fun. I am honored to be a part of the staff.

Tell us about yourself. My father's side of the family homesteaded in LaPorte, Colorado. I left for college and still came back. I love it here. As a Denver native, I've watched this town grow in ways I never imagined. I keep thinking, if I'd moved to a mountain town I would have possibly missed the opportunity to participate in this wave of creativity. I'll keep driving to the mountains to ski, and keep my residence in the city.

What do you love about bartending? Every night it's a different story. You never know what's going to happen, who you are going to meet, how you will be inspired and, as a result, what you will create. I get to entertain, educate and enjoy people. As Joe would say, make some memories.

What is your least favorite thing about bartending? How pissed some people get. You're out to eat and drink. You go to a restaurant to experience something new. If you want to eat and drink with no exploration, then go places you know will serve you that way. Please don't come into a new place and expect us to go buy you Coke because that's all you drink.

Favorite cocktail. I'm pretty sure that's an unfair question.

Favorite spirit.

That's a little easier: whiskey.

Describe your cocktail and why it should be THE Colorado Cocktail. Stranahan's Colorado "Rocky Mountain Straight Whiskey," Colette Saisson, lemon juice, an egg white, and some bitters means hearty, robust and delicious. To me that sounds just like Colorado: simple, rugged and raw. The whiskey, a four-barley mash, lends an easy-going heather and honey to the situation. The Saisson, brewed by Great Divide, lends some citrus notes and a barnyard funk. And finally, some deeper layers of clove and a touch of bitter from the Angostura bitters. The Larimer Bee

2 oz. Stranahan's 1 oz. Collette Saison from Great Divide 1/2 oz. lemon juice 1/2 oz. Colorado honey 3 dashes Angostura bitters One white of an egg

Dry shake liquor, egg, bitters and juice. Add honey and ice, shake and double strain into a chilled beer glass.Top with beer, garnish with angostura.

Price of your drink at the bar: $12

In fifty words (or less) tell us how your cocktail captures Colorado: Whiskey, egg for stamina, beer by our local brewery, and a touch of sweet honey.

Have a question about the Colorado Cocktail Contest? E-mail bartender@westword.com.

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