Meet Marnie Ward, creator of the Tree Line and winner of the Colorado Cocktail Contest
What does Colorado taste like? Sunshine and cherries and whiskey, according to Marnie Ward, who created "Tree Line," the winner of the inaugural Colorado Cocktail Contest. "I love to go to the farmers' markets through the summer and find great fresh produce, grab something and make cocktails with it," says Ward, the bar manager at the Avenue Grill, where you can taste her creations.
Mark Manger Marnie Ward mixes her winning drinki at the Colorado Cocktail Contest.
Like everyone else who comes to Colorado, as Ward did eleven years ago, she also loves the weather. And all the outdoor activities you can enjoy year-round. And the people, especially those you run into all over town. Denver, she proclaims, "is the perfect little big town."
The perfect little big town that likes its cocktails, particularly Tree Line.
Mark Manger Marnie Ward adds some sunshine to her Tree Line.
Ward was one of ten finalists in the Colorado Cocktail Contest, chosen from dozens of bartenders who had submitted cocktails to the project. "I felt like this was a really great crossover drink," she says of her entry.
So did the judges, who proclaimed it the official Colorado Cocktail at Monday night's contest at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver on Monday night. The winning recipe:
2 Bing cherries
2 oz. Leopold's Small Batch Whiskey
.5 oz Leopold's Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur
.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Muddle cherries, lemon juice and simple syrup; add whiskey and Three Pins; add ice and shake. Serve up. Garnish with round slice of lemon peel (to replicate the Colorado sun). Drink and enjoy!
Randy Layman of Steuben's took second place with his "100 Years Cocktail"; Evan Faber of Salt Bistro placed third with "The Diamondback," and Britt Henze of Mateo won the People's Choice with her "Bear Paw Palmer."
The Colorado Cocktail Project was sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Colorado Distillers Guild, the Colorado Bartenders Guild, Whole Foods and Westword. See photos of the contest in our slide show here; keep reading for Marnie Ward's Q&A with bartender Sean Kenyon: