Bartender of the Year Portland Serves Nod to Southeast Asian Roots

— November 13, 2020

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

Anton Nguyen, Bartender at Esters Fair Project, was announced as the Heaven Hill Brands and Portland 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 Portland 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.

Nguyen crafted the “In the Time of Sian” inspired by his family roots in Southeast Asia. Nguyen showcased this fresh, herbaceous cocktail using Lunazul Tequila Blanco and Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur (see recipe at end of release).

“I chose the name Siam both in part because of the rich history in its kingdom, but more so because its deep-rooted connection with the land that is South East Asia,” said Nguyen. “Many different groups inhabited this lush, tropical paradise throughout the century. The zesty notes of my serve harps the fresh crisp flavors that surround these regions. This drink is a nod to all the farmers throughout these lands and their ancestors before them. How profound is it that agriculture and food play hand in hand to develop some of the most unique foods.”

Lauren Davis, bartender at Teardrop Lounge in Portland, won second place and $500. Nguyen and Davis were joined by four other semifinalists as they competed virtually Thursday, Oct. 29. 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.

In the Time of Siam
Crafted by Anton Nguyen


  • Lunazul Tequila Blanco (1.5 ounces)
  • Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur (1 ounce)
  • Lime (.75 ounces)
  • Sweetened Celery Juice (3 ounces)
  • Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters (1 dash)
  • Sprig of Lemon Balm
  • Coin of Ginger

Shake and strain to serve in a Collins glass over ice. Wrap one big Lemon Balm leave around the ice.

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