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Denver's Best Bartenders Uncovered: The Women

These ladies mean business when it comes to booze

Jennifer Olson

Times have changed and if you take a peek behind the bar at some of the trendiest, tastiest, intoxicatingly cool bars and restaurants in the Mile High City and you may spot one of these spirited females creatively concocting your cocktail. Taking Denver by storm, these are the seven ladies have entered the spotlight and won the Best Of title for the year. If you missed the men we featured, find them here and the whole group here.

Name: Alexis Osborne

Where are you from: Toledo, Ohio

Where are you bartending: Acorn and Avanti

First bar job: Suede in NYC

Favorite cocktail: A mezcal Last Word

Last cocktail before you die: Probably a shot with all my favorite people.

Favorite smell: Puppies

How many rings before you answer the phone: Depends on who is calling!

Worst feeling in the world: Disappointing someone.

If you could have any job you wanted: I feel like I have it right now!

What's on your computer screensaver: My dog.

Is your glass half empty or half full: Half full ... but I'm about to drink the rest!

Guests would never guess that you: I am actually pretty sensitive.

Rising bartender Denver should look out for: Gotta pull a homer and say Miles Mazey from Acorn and our puppy in training Paula Breig. They are gonna do amazing things!

Your guilty pleasure: Anything on Bravo.

Restaurant/bar you frequent the most: Occidental, they have it all!

Name: Heather J Haas

Where are you from: I was born in Seoul, but I grew up in various parts of the country.

Where are you bartending: RiNo Yacht Club

First bar job: The Bubble Lounge, in San Fransisco

Favorite cocktail: I'm pretty simple, long neck bottle of Miller Lite and a bourbon.

Last cocktail before you die: If I'm gonna go out, it's gotta be a Pina Colada, and of course a shot of bourbon. Sorry in advance to the bartender who serves me on my last day on earth. We're breaking the blender.

Favorite smell: I love the smell of clean laundry, specifically, Tide Detergent and Downy sheet.

How many rings before you answer the phone: At least three.

Worst feeling in the world: Feeling helpless.

What's on your computer screensaver: Calvin and Hobbes – Stars and Infinity comic strip.

Is your glass half empty or half full: It's definitely half full, or as my dad says there's just too much glass.

Guests would never guess that you: That I'm not as sociable as I am behind the sticks. I prefer headphones and the gym, or pretty much headphones and anything by myself.

Rising bartender Denver should look out for: The bar industry in Denver has been having some phenomenal years and there are a lot of key contributors to putting us on the map. I think you'll find hidden talent all over this city. Hard to name just one rising bartender. So get out and explore.

Your guilty pleasure: Dr. Pepper and a bag of Oreos. The whole bag...

Restaurant/bar you frequent the most: I love some good Korean food, so you'll probably find me at Dae Gee on S. Broadway.

Name: Valerie Alvarado

Where are you from: Denver, Colorado

Where are you bartending: Fireside at Grand Hyatt.

First bar job: Started by bartending out in the suburbs at Champs Americana. Pop rocks on the rim all day.

Favorite cocktail: At the moment, I'd have to say a Ti Punch. I can't get enough agricole.

Last cocktail before you die: I think some Smith and Cross might help ease the situation a bit. And it's just tasty. That always helps.

Favorite smell: Cigar Box or Iris.

How many rings before you answer the phone Do people still call each other these days? How do I know what they're feeling without emoji faces.

Worst feeling in the world: Waking up in the middle of the night realizing you never got Table 47 their extra lemons for their tea. And they still tipped you 20 percent. The worst.

If you could have any job you wanted: World Ambassador for Chartreuse VEP.

What's on your computer screensaver: See below. (Credit: Tommy Flus from La Moule in Portland.)

Is your glass half empty or half full: Hopefully half full of something tasty.

Guests would never guess that you: Have never known the recipe for a vodka soda. I make it up ever time.

Rising bartender Denver should look out for Denver should look out for Josh Tallent.

Your guilty pleasure: Dancing to Kendrick Lamar with my cat, Jigger.

Restaurant/bar you frequent the most: Meadowlark on jazz night is always a good time. But an industry burger and one of Jason Patz's sherry cobbler at Williams and Graham will always make me weak in the knees.

Name: Rachel McQueeney

Where are you from: Exeter, NH.

Where are you bartending: Living Room on Broadway St.

First bar job: Daily Planet in Burlington, VT: a fun, eclectic restaurant and bar serving craft cocktails and a funky, local menu.

Favorite cocktail: I must admit I am a dirty martini kind of girl but I do love me a Clover Club Cocktail when I'm feeling sassy.

Last cocktail before you die: A Perfect Manhattan with Blanton's Bourbon.

Favorite smell: Homemade chicken soup, mom's recipe. The soup makes the whole house smell like heaven.

How many rings before you answer the phone: Two.

Worst feeling in the world: Anxiety.

If you could have any job you wanted: Doctor. I have always wanted to be in the medical field and help save lives.

What's on your computer screensaver: Photographs of my beautiful pup, Remy.

Is your glass half empty or half full: Always half full.

Guests would never guess that you: Can rap ... for real.

Rising bartender Denver should look out for: Stop by the Living Room and hang out with Danielle; a hard worker and a damn good bartender. Her smile is infectious and her guests always have a great experience.

Your guilty pleasure: Spaghetti O's.

Restaurant/bar you frequent the most: Sushi Sasa is a consistently amazing night out. The kobe beef truffle foie gras is one of the best dishes I have ever had the pleasure of eating. For the casual bar vibe to kick it at casually, I frequent Occidental.

Name: Holly Johnson

Where are you from: Nashville, TN. Born and raised. Moved to Denver from Chicago, IL in 2015 where I resided for five years.

Where are you bartending: Retrograde.

First bar job: Whiskey Kitchen in Nashville, TN.

Favorite cocktail: Hmm, most likely a Black Manhattan.

Last cocktail before you die: That's a tough decision ... I'd probably just grab a bottle of Montenegro and down the whole thing.

Favorite smell: Le Labo Santal 33. I stop in my tracks every time I smell it.

How many rings before you answer the phone: I have a bad habit of keeping my phone on silent, which really sucks because I constantly lose it.

Worst feeling in the world: Stubbing your toe or disappointing someone, it's a close tie.

If you could have any job you wanted: I would love to be an international yoga teacher. Yoga keeps me sane and traveling is what I love to do in my spare time. It would be the best of both world.s

What's on your computer screensaver: I currently do not own a working computer.

Is your glass half empty or half full: As a firm believer in perception, the glass isn't that important. What's important is if you have a water pitcher to fill the glass up with.

Guests would never guess that you: That I'm from the south. No accent, but I do call everyone sir or ma'am.

Rising bartender Denver should look out for: Keely Sutherland.

Your guilty pleasure: Cat videos on Youtube.

Restaurant/bar you frequent the most: Black Eye/White Lies.

Name: Daniella Elise Solano

Where are you from: Detroit, Michigan

Where are you bartending: Hudson Hill

First bar job: A dive bar outside of Detroit

Favorite cocktail: Black manhattan.

Last cocktail before you die: hmm that's a heavy one. I would say a pour of
Sierra Del Tigre from La Venenosa Raiclla.

Favorite smell: Fresh brewed coffee in the morning.

How many rings before you answer the telephone: Three

Worst feeling in the world: Being late.

If you could have any job you wanted, what would it be:  I would be a seismologist and study how fracking affects the shifting plates.

What's on your computer screensaver: A picture of the haystacks on the Oregon coast.

Is the glass half empty or half full: Always half full.

Guests would never guess that you: That I've ran two half marathons in the last year and knit regularly.

Rising bartender Denver should look out for: Ty York at Rino Yacht Club

Name:  Brittany Wangsness

Where are you from: Golden, CO

Where are you Bartending: B&GC

First bar job: California Pizza Kitchen, Cherry Creek (shout out to Carly Raemer and Nate Maston from the 2014 list. That's where we all started, together)

Favorite cocktail: I'm definitely drawn to stirred, spirit forward cocktails. It pushes me to check in with why I reach for or call on the products that I do. There are so many ways to approach a drink, and multiple external factors that play into why we're enjoying a drink in a particular moment and it's all completely subjective. That's important to remember as both the creator, and as the consumer. My favorite cocktails though, are ones that showcase the flavor profiles of the spirits themselves and how we can use them to accentuate each other's natural nuances of flavor.

Last cocktail before you die: A Bacardi Rum and Coke- my papa's favorite drink-surrounded by the people I love, in celebration of the time we had together.

Favorite smell: Campfire. Even when it comes home with you and gets all over your things. Actually, ESPECIALLY when it comes home with you and gets all over your things, because it's so annoying that it's now everywhere, but it's also so great to still have that connection with such a pure, simple, and natural experience as you're being pulled back into the more industrious daily grind.

How many rings before you answer the telephone: Am I being called out out right now....hahaha

Worst feeling in the world: The prickly, shooting pain when your leg falls asleep after sitting for too long that stops you in your tracks, because you also can't physically move it at that point. You're forced to just stand there and wait it out. It feels like what watching black and white static looks like on an old tv-you realize that at some point, the system missed a connection and you have to just sit and wait it out. It's as much mental as it is physical.

If you could have any job you wanted, what would it be: A social anthropologist. I'm fascinated by the human narrative and our relationships with ritual, customs, and with each other. Nancy Scheper-Hughes said, in response to a question about the courage of the researcher, "Well, I think, perhaps anthropologists are a self-selected people who are uncomfortable in their own lives and in their own cultures, their own societies. So perhaps what you're calling, "courage," I would call a kind of a desperate search for community life somewhere that makes sense, or some parts of it that make sense to you to bring back to your life. I see us as-I've used a term that Seamus Heaney has used-as hunters and gatherers of human values. I think we're terribly concerned with notions of the good and how to find those and understand those."

I think a lot of this statement rings true for many people that have found themselves working in the food and beverage Industry, and I think this is also why I've made this industry my career. I get to study the human condition everyday-the people that I work with, my guests, and myself within all of it. Every interaction we have is an opportunity to connect, and this industry places us directly into situations which we are forced to connect with people from all walks of life on a regular basis. Often times, it pushes our boundaries-social, physical, and emotional-and there is a lot to take away from and learn from in those experiences. I definitely believe that being a bartender, and holding space for people within one of the deepest rooted rituals of all, which is coming together over food and drink, is a way of being a 'hunter and gatherer' of values. We take what we gather, and use it to expand the experience of those around us. How lovely it is to be apart of, and at times, even a driving force of so many people's relationship with that experience...maybe I am lucky enough to actually have found the job I wanted.

What's on your computer screensaver: A black and white illustration of an octopus. I see their movement through the water as a metaphor for the way in which we grow and evolve. It's beautiful to watch them retract back in order to propel forward through the water.

Is the glass half empty or half full: Always full. At first glance it's easy to only focus on what you can physically see-the liquid inside the glass-but the glass also contains air, which is composed of molecules and gases, and is a vital part of sustaining life. There's more to life than meets the eye....

Guests would never guess that you: I'm actually extremely introverted. While I love to create and hold space for people, it's something that I mindfully have to work at every day, especially as I get older and continue to grow in an industry that pushes me to connect with people every day.

Rising bartender Denver should look out for: Brandon Meyer. One of the funniest, and best guys that we all love. Being the bar manager of a beer-centric neighborhood bar, he continues to blow me away with his creativity and palate when it comes to conceptualizing cocktails. I also think he's a great example of what it is to be a true bartender who encompasses all aspects of this job. His knowledge and passion are apparent through the continued growth and evolution of Star Bar, but he also just knows how to get the job done-this guy, and the entire team at Star Bar, know exactly what it's like to stand in the fire and kill it. He is one of the hardest working people I know and he leads a great crew. More than that, he is also one of the most humble, welcoming people I have ever met. There is always a seat for you at his bar.

Your guilty pleasure: Noodles. All the noodles. I like how they feel in my mouth.

Restaurant/bar you frequent the most: Avanti. It's a second home for me. I had the pleasure of working with this team for most of 2016. It's another example of a great crew of people, making great cocktails in a beercentric, high volume concept. I have so much respect for the daily grind of this group of people, and what it takes to manage such a beast of a concept. Also, the space is phenomenal. I love that I can go in, sit and work for hours in the afternoon, and watch the space completely transform into a lively, beautiful social scene, completely organically. It really does have something to offer to everyone.

afa

RiNo Yacht Club

3350 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO

Meadowlark Kitchen

2705 Larimer Street, , CO 80205 (303) 953-1815 Visit Website

The Living Room

2636 Crenshaw Boulevard, , CA 90016 (323) 735-8748

The Occidental

1475 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, , DC 20004 (202) 783-1475 Visit Website

Black Eye Coffee

800 Sherman st, Denver, CO 80203 (303) 955-1205

Williams & Graham

3160 Tejon Street, , CO 80211 (303) 997-8886 Visit Website

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