Heaven Hill Brands and Liquor.com have announced the 48 regional semifinalists competing in the 2019 Bartender of the Year competition. Semifinalists will compete in San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles, Austin, New York City and Miami from January 2019 through April 2019.
More than 1,100 original cocktail recipes were entered using Heaven Hill’s Domaine de Canton French ginger liqueur, Elijah Craig small batch bourbon, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, and Rittenhouse rye whisky, as well as new competition brands Dubonnet Rouge aperitif, Sacred Bond brandy and Lunazul tequila. Contestants began submitting entries online nationwide as of Sept. 15, 2018. Preliminary entries required two original cocktail recipes, one rendition of a classic recipe, and one relating to an inspiration, along with a short description of how the cocktail represents a deep inspiration to their life.
The initial field of competitors was evaluated by Heaven Hill Brands national brand educator Lynn House; Jeffrey Morgenthaler, bar manager of Clyde Common and Pépé Le Moko in Portland, OR; and Joaquín Simó, owner/bartender of Pouring Ribbons in New York. The six semifinalists for each region were chosen based on highest rankings combining scores on name, appearance and presentation, balance of flavors, aroma and character, inspiration explanation, creativity, and product knowledge.
Regional semifinalists, listed below, will be challenged on their full range of skills as hospitality professionals. Judges will be looking for the ultimate bartender who displays the total breadth and aptitude all bartenders aspire to embody. The top contestant from each region will go on to vie for the title of Bartender of the Year and $15,000 at Half Mile Farm in Highlands, NC, from June 17-20, 2019.
Los Angeles semifinalists: Adam George Fournier, NoMad LA; Robin Wolf, The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar; Raul Pool, Mi Corazón; Vay Su, Republique; Brock Woolsey, Playground; and Mink Dang, The Chestnut Club.
Miami semifinalists: Arthur Boothe, Bitters & Brass; Peter Hannah, Rose & Crown; Daniel Messina, Robinson Cocktail Room; Claire Catotti, Alley Twenty Six; Kabir Akbani, Zuma; and Shawn Newman, Prato.
Nashville semifinalists: Kevin King, Husk Savannah; Trip Sandifer, The Painted Duck; Matt Scott, The White Bull; Hunter Douglas, Hank’s Cocktail Bar; Hunter Johnson, Lucky; and Alexandra Anderson, The Lawrence.
Austin semifinalists: David Jennings, B&B Butcher’s and Steakhouse;Justin Ware, Johnny’s Gold Brick;Cesar Perez II, Murray’s; Cory Newsom, Tipsy Umbrella;Michelle Salgado, Murray’s; and Alexis Mijares, Fairmont Austin.
Chicago semifinalists: Rachel Sandra Johnson, Raised; Katie Renshaw, Etta; Sarah Syman, The Drifter; Daniel Reinisch, Grey Ghost Detroit; Jacob Feitler, The Sugar House; and Roger James Fruin, The Peterboro.
Denver semifinalists: Alex Jump, Death & Co. Denver; Adam Chase, Corvino Supper Club and Tasting; Mark Stanford, Truffle Pig Restaurant/Carl’s Tavern; Chris Burmeister, Citizen Rail; Keifer Gilbert, Bitter & Twisted; and Brock Schulte, The Monarch Bar.
New York semifinalists: Will Benedetto, The Wilson; Andon Whitehorn, The Arcadian; Michael Parish, Broken Shaker; Christina Mercado, Grace Vanderbilt; C. Parker Luthman, The Eddy; and Faith Alice Sleeper, The Passenger.
San Francisco semifinalists: Jason Seele, Nick’s Next Door; Thi Nguyen, The Saap Avenue; Alicia Walton, The Sea Star; Alison Kwan, True Laurel; Gwendolen Whiting, Manifest; and Katharine Frazier, The Gerald.