The United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) and World Class U.S. have crowned Chicago mixologist Charles Joly the U.S. Bartender of the Year for 2014. Joly beat out 15 of the nation’s top bartenders in five challenges and two days of competition on June 16 and 17 in New York.
Participants had to demonstrate their expertise, knowledge and technique by creating cocktails featuring one of the Diageo Reserve Brands, which include Bulleit Bourbon, Ciroc vodka, Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch whiskey, Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No. Ten, Tequila Don Julio and ZacapaRum. Competition judges included Ambassador of Tequila to the U.S. Julio Bermejo and master mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout; beverage expert Steve Olson; award-winning bartender Jim Meehan; James Beard Nominee Julie Reiner; and National President of the USBG Dave Nepove.
This year’s competition included the Cocktails Against the Clock challenge that tested the finalists’ poise, accuracy and craftsmanship under pressure, as well as four new challenges:
– The Tasting Menu and Market Challenge: Inspired by a five-course tasting dinner, each bartender had to select two of the five courses for a cocktail pairing.
– Dealer’s Choice: Bartenders had to make two different cocktails dictated by three decks of cards. The first deck identified the style of cocktail, the second listed the required spirit and the third included flavor descriptions.
– A Spirit Through the Ages: Contestants had to prepare a series of cocktails representing different time periods using a single spirit.
– The Guest of Honor: Bartenders had to create something unique and inspirational with an emphasis on the sensory experience. Each bartender created one signature cocktail serve and a bottle serve directed to the Guest (or Guests) of Honor at a special occasion of their choosing.
Joly will represent the U.S. at the world’s largest international cocktail competition this July in Great Britain, the origin of the Global competition, with 50 total worldwide bartenders from July 28 to Aug. 1, 2014. The Global Finals will highlight Scotland’s art of blending and London’s contemporary global cocktail culture. Competitors will be judged by renowned international cocktail luminaries, while vying for the chance to win the title of “Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year.”