Champion Named in Heaven Hill Brands 2017 “Bartender of the Year”

— January 8, 2018

BARDSTOWN, KY – Heaven Hill Brands and announced today the champion of the 2017 Bartender of the Year competition. After a nationwide search to find the top bartenders across America, Nathan O’Neill from the Nomad Bar in New York City is the 2017 Bartender of the Year and the recipient of $15,000.

“I’m excited to be the 2017 Heaven Hill and Bartender of the Year. It was an incredible experience, set in such a beautiful location,” said O’Neill. “The standard of the competitors was absolutely fantastic and the atmosphere was perfect the whole time”

Eight finalists competed beachside at the St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico on June 5. Final bartenders competed in a “beverage program” challenge creating an original cocktail utilizing ingredients native to Puerto Rico that was presented as if being considered for the St. Regis beverage program. The challenge was broken down into several sections, including selection of ingredients, concepting, ingredient preparation, recipe development, and presentation. Contestants were also asked to create two classic cocktails, one shaken and one stirred. Judging was based on the quality of the cocktails, the adherence to the guidelines, the technical performance, and the overall presentation.

Over 844 original cocktail recipes using Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky were submitted online nationwide beginning August 1, 2016. 32 semifinalists then competed in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Nashville, Denver, Chicago and New York throughout February and March. The top contestant from each regional semifinal vied for the title of Bartender of the Year and $15,000 at the St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico.

“Our bartender of the year competition continues to raise the bar for innovation and professionalism in the hospitality industry,” said Kate Latts, Vice President Marketing for Heaven Hill Brands. “Congratulations to Nathan O’Neill, and to each of the contestants for their commitment to excellence and creativity.”

National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands Lynn House, Bar Manager of Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and Owner/Bartender of Pouring Ribbons Joaquín Simó, and 2016 Bartender of the Year Abigail Gullo judged the final eight bartenders. Finalists were challenged on their full range of skills as hospitality professionals. Judges were looking for the ultimate bartender who displays the total breadth and aptitude all bartenders aspire to embody.

Grounded in the original Bartender of the Year Competition hosted by Domaine de Canton starting in 2009, Heaven Hill Brands resurrected the competition due to strong demand from bartenders worldwide. Nathan O’Neill from the Nomad Bar in New York City was named Bartender of the Year in 2017, and Abigail Gullo of Compere Lapin in New Orleans won the inaugural competition in 2016. Visit the official competition website at for complete competition details.

About Heaven Hill Brands: Founded in 1935, Bardstown, KY-based Heaven Hill Brands ( is the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer and the world’s second-largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. Heaven Hill’s diversified portfolio of brands includes Evan Williams Bourbon; Larceny, Elijah Craig and Henry McKenna Bourbons; Rittenhouse Rye Whisky; Burnett’s Vodkas and Gin; Admiral Nelson’s and Blackheart Rums; HPNOTIQ Liqueur; The Christian Brothers Brandies; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur; Lunazul Tequila and Carolan’s Irish Cream Liqueur.

San Francisco, January 21
First Last City
Jason Seele Mountain View, CA
Collin Nicholas San Francisco, CA
Tyler Richardson Sacramento, CA
Ian Lyke Pleasanton, CA
Watson Barry Oakland, CA
Jorge Vargas-Baquedano Los Gatos, CA
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