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Meet David Smithey: The Denver Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic 2017 Champion

Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Denver Winner

"I love being in an environment where I can help people to feel comfortable with themselves."

David, congrats on being named the Denver Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel?
I honestly could not be more honored or ecstatic. It was a great crew to be competing against and I'm proud to be able to represent Denver on the national level.

You were able to get an edge up on the rest of your Denver competitors with a super creative cocktail, "Peachy Keen Martini". Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?
I'm a huge dessert person so I wanted to create something that spoke to that aspect, however I didn't want to create a cocktail that was overly sweet. I settled on the peach and vanilla variations of stoli based on their distinctive flavor profiles and strong personalities but ability to blend nicely. After that a little cinnamon, sugar, some crushed graham cracker and a fresh peach puree with a little citrus to balance everything and, voilla, a drinkable peach cobbler!

The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic honors the unique legacy of gay bars as original safe spaces and community centers and the role our bartenders have played as hosts and caretakers throughout history. Tell us about what your role as a nightlife professional means to you.
Being a nightlife professional puts you in a unique position to positively effect every person that steps foot into your establishment. You never know what kind of day someone is having and your 2 minutes of interaction can change a persons outlook. I love being in an environment where I can help people to feel comfortable with themselves and their surroundings and just relax and let loose a little. Getting to whip up cute drinks and dress up are added bonuses.

As you know, part of your prize for winning the Denver competition is an all-expense-paid trip to Key West, FL this June. Have you ever been to Key West before?
I have never been and I'm so stoked to get to see what all the buzz is about! That and I'm a sucker for anything beachy and warm.

And if you take home the title, you'll be included as the Grand Marshall of the Key West Pride Parade. Have you ever been the Grand Marshall of a parade before?
I have not but it sounds like an exciting oppurtunity.

And in Key West, you'll be competing for a chance to win $2,500 to $7,500 for your hand-picked charity, The Trevor Project. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to that organization, or why you picked it to represent?
Growing up gay and finding myself was, at points, a difficult and isolating experience, even with a loving family and home atmosphere. I believe it is so important to supply a resource such as The Trevor Project where anyone, especially queer and questioning youth, have a safe space to talk and communicate and above all feel appreciated, respected, and heard. With the political climate of today and the current discussion of gay and transgender issues being in the forefront of a lot of debate, it is easy to feel disheartened. Couple that with the statistics regarding suicide rates among queer youth and I think it is more important that ever to fund programs that give queer and questioning youth a 24 hour safe space to talk in their darkest moments.

Any advice (or trash talk!) for your competitors as you head into the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Finale - June 7th - 12th in Key West, FL?
Can't wait to meet y'all! Bring your A game and lets have fun.

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