Bartender of the Year San Diego Finalist Finds Balance in Rejuvenating, Comforting Ingredients

— February 20, 2018

Heaven Hill Brands, announce third of eight finalists for 2018 “Bartender of the Year” 

Julien Calella’s cocktail inspiration has a deep foundation in family, growing up with a father who was a vegetarian chef and mother who was a doctor of traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda. Announced today as the Heaven Hill Brands and San Diego finalist for the 2018 Bartender of the Year Competition, Calella won first place, $1,000 and a trip to the finals at The Lodge on Sea Island, Ga.

“When I started my path as a cocktail bartender, a large part of my inspiration was trying to create a healthy balance in my drinks, by using fresh, rejuvenating ingredients in play with the spirits. The Golden Dowry was inspired by a tea that my mother would always make for me when I had a cold,” said Calella, Bartender at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice, Calif. “The unconditional love and care that my mother has provided throughout my life, represented by the Ayurvedic teas and formulas she has so carefully prepared for us, cemented what family truly means to me.”

Adam George Fournier of Los Angeles, a 2017 Bartender of the Year finalist, won second place and $500. Six semifinalists competed regionally in San Diego on Sunday, February 18 at Polite Provisions. Bartenders competed in two rounds, first mixing the family-inspired cocktail from their preliminary submission, then creating an original cocktail fit for the menu of the host bar using at least 1.5 ounces of total of Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, or Rittenhouse Rye Whisky. Contestants and judges were then invited to a family dinner at Juniper & Ivy where Don Lee, designer and educator at Cocktail Kingdom, led a discussion on the relationship between sugars and acids and how to create well-balanced cocktails before the winner was announced.

National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands Lynn House, Bar Manager of Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and Owner of Half Step Chris Bostick judged the semifinalists’ cocktails and chose one finalist based on highest scores. Contestant skills and cocktails were scored on flavor, appearance, presentation, technical skills, use of sponsor brands, and adherence to judges’ guidelines.

More than 1,000 original cocktail recipes were submitted online nationwide beginning September 15, 2017. Preliminary entries required two original cocktail recipes, one rendition of a classic recipe, and one relating to family along with a short description of how the cocktail was inspired by their interpretation of family. The top contestant from each region will go on to vie for the title of Bartender of the Year and $15,000 at The Lodge on Sea Island, Ga. in June 2018. Finalists 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.

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.

Golden Dowry Inspired by the concept of family
Crafted by Julien Calella


  • Elijah Craig (1.0 ounce(s))
  • Domaine de Canton (1.0 ounce(s))
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice (1.0 ounce(s))
  • Turmeric Infused Honey (0.25 ounce(s))
  • Club Soda (2.0 ounce(s))

Add all ingredients, except soda, into cheater tin. Add 1 Kold Draft ice cube to mixture in cheater tin, close with shaker tin, and short shake (5 seconds). Using hawthorne strainer, strain mixture from shaker tin, into the collins. Top the shaken mixture with the 2 ounces of club soda, and then place 4 Kold Draft ice cubes into the completed cocktail in the collins glass. Place two long sip/stir straws in the completed cocktail, garnish with two lime wheels and serve. (Dashes of cayenne pepper tincture are from Japanese dasher bottle).

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.



Lauren Cherry
Heaven Hill Brands

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