Bartender of the Year New York City Finalist Pays Homage to Family and Friends

— November 20, 2020

Heaven Hill Brands, announce eighth finalist for 2020 “Bartender of the Year”

Christopher Lemperle, Bartender at Crown Shy, was announced as the Heaven Hill Brands and New York City finalist for the 2020 Bartender of the Year Competition, winning $1,000.

The 2020 Bartender of the Year semifinal competitions continued in its virtual format with the New York regional last week. Competitors presented their drinks via live video stream and engaged in a Q&A period with the judges. The new format ensured competitors were still judged on the full breadth of hospitality expertise while also engaging directly with the judges. The virtual competition also ensured participants had the opportunity to learn from and interact with top industry experts while utilizing their craft during this difficult time.

Lemperle crafted “A Kernel of Truth” inspired by his family and friends that inspired a passion for hospitality and mixology. Lemperle showcased this fresh, herbaceous cocktail using Lunazul Tequila Reposado and Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur (see recipe at end of release).

“With A Kernel of Truth, I wanted to share one of my first flavor memories with one of my most recent. With these memories I also want to highlight my family and friends, the people that truly inspire me to continue to pursue my passion as a bartender. When I began my bar journey in Rhode Island, I quickly learned that Lunazul Tequila was Providence’s bartenders’ handshake,” said Lemperle. “The truth is, I was meant to be a bartender. Making people happy and providing a space of comfort for others is my true calling. This drink is a summary of my journey, memories, and the support system that have been there along the way.”

Thomas Spaeth, bartender at Raines Law Room in New York City, won second place and $500. Lemperle and Spaeth were joined by four other semifinalists as they competed virtually Thursday, Nov. 12. The three national Bartender of the Year judges completed the panel: Lynn House, National Spirits Specialist and Portfolio Mixologist for Heaven Hill Brands, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Author and Bar Manager of Clyde Tavern, and Joaquín Simó, Owner/Bartender of Pouring Ribbons. Contestants’ skills and cocktails were scored on flavor, appearance, presentation, technical skills, use of sponsor brands, and adherence to judges’ guidelines.

More than 1,150 original cocktail recipes were submitted online nationwide beginning Sept. 15, 2019. 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 top contestant from each region will go on to vie for the title of Bartender of the Year.

Grounded in the original Bartender of the Year Competition hosted by Domaine de Canton starting in 2009, Heaven Hill Brands resurrected the competition in 2016 due to strong demand from bartenders worldwide and with a goal of supporting growth, education and awareness in the bartending community. Justin Ware of Night Shift in Houston was the 2019 Bartender of the Year and joined the ranks of esteemed past winners: Harrison Ginsberg was named Bartender of the Year in 2018, Nathan O’Neill was named Bartender of the Year in 2017, and Abigail Gullo won the inaugural competition in 2016. Visit the official competition website at for complete competition details.

A Kernel of Truth

Crafted by Christopher Lemperle


  • Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur (.5 ounces)
  • Lunazul Tequila Reposado (1.5 ounces)
  • Fresh, Fine Strained Lime Juice  (.75 ounces)
  • 2:1 Roasted Corn-Tea Cane Syrup (.5 ounces)
  • Saline Solution (1 dash)
  • Gochugaru Tincture  (5 dashes)

Shake and strain to serve in frozen 14oz Rocks Glass, pulled directly from the freezer. Garnish with fresh, green corn husk trimmed to wrap around inside of glass.

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