| Booze |

Mayor Hick drives the bung at Stranahan's

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey celebrated the corking of its 1,000th barrel on Wednesday, April 8 -- which means that the five-year-old micro-distillery has produced 52,800 gallons of whiskey at its facility in the Ballpark neighborhood.

And who was on hand to drive home the cork, or "bung," as it is apparently called, but Mayor John Hickenlooper -- a man who gets to do all the cool stuff around town.

As a founder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company, Hickenlooper is familiar with the pioneering of both run-down Denver neighborhoods and alcoholic beverage brewing. At the Stranahan's celebration, he spilled stories and talked business with Stranahan's head man and co-founder Jess Graber, as well as head distiller Jake Norris.

But the highlight of the afternoon was when Hick helped fill the commemorative barrel and then used a wooden mallet to drive home that bung.

Afterward, Hick signed the barrel, which will be aged for two years and then donated to a charity of the mayor's choice. Norris says bottles of Stranahan's have sold for eight times their value at charity auctions, so he and Graber and Hick hope to raise a lot more money with an entire barrel, which holds roughly 220-250 bottles.

Of course, they may have to wait a little longer than two years, as Hickenlooper joked, because in April 2011, he'll likely be running for re-election and he wouldn't want to be accused of exerting undue influence - straight up or on the rocks.

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