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Ask the bartender: Time to pour out your Colorado Cocktail Project entries

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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.

Last year Danny Valdez, a nationally known mixologist, and I were sitting at lunch at the Buckhorn Exchange when he asked, "What is the quintessential Colorado cocktail?" I remember not having a good answer. New Orleans has the Sazerac, New York has the Manhattan...but what does Colorado have? Nada.

Not now, at least.

Valdez issued a challenge: Until the time I could come up with the quintessential Colorado cocktail, he would assume it was the Colorado Bulldog (vodka, coffee liqueur, cream and cola). The Bulldog is a disgusting creation born in the dark years of mixology -- the '80s -- and I couldn't allow our great state and its talented bartenders to be represented by that.

So I teamed up with the Colorado Distillers Guild, Westword and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and together we created the Colorado Cocktail Project, with the purpose of creating the ultimate Colorado cocktail. Phase one is complete: We held a showcase at the MCA on February 7, where members of the Colorado Bartenders League met with distillers.

Now,we launch phase two: creating the cocktails. Any bartender who's a member of the guild is welcome to enter a cocktail in the contest; the submission deadline is March 25. In April, Westword will publish a guide to where everyone can sample these cocktails; at the same time, our esteemed panel of lushes...ahem, judges... will also make the rounds and taste every cocktail entered in the contest. Judging will be based on creativity, taste, appearance and, most important, relevance to the nature of the contest. (We're looking for a Colorado cocktail, so we're looking for Colorado ingredients.)

As Cafe Society readers and our judges cast their votes, we'll narrow the field down to ten, and the creators of those cocktails will compete mano-a-mano at the inaugural Colorado Cocktail Project event at the MCA in late June. (We'll also have a non-professional division; details on that will be poured out later.)

Are you a professional bartender who wants to enter? Here are the rules:

* The base spirit (at least half of the spirit in the cocktail) must be a Colorado spirit -- one produced by a Colorado distiller. * There's a seven-ingredient maximum, including garnish * All ingredients must be commercially available (your homemade JuJu Double Mocha Bitters, for example, would be difficult to reproduce in someone's home or in another bar) * So that the judges (and the public) can sample all entries, the cocktails must be available at the bartender's establishment, preferably on a menu, from April 1 through June 10. * Submission deadline is March 25.

To enter, cut and paste the form below into the body of an e-mail and send it to Bartender@westword.com.

Your name: The establishment where you work: Your drink's name (if it doesn't have one, we'll help name it!): Your drink's ingredients: Your drink's preparation: Price of your drink at the bar: In fifty words (or less) tell us how your cocktail captures Colorado:

Contact e-mail or phone number:

Cheers!

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