Heaven Hill Brands and Liquor.com announced today the culmination of the 2020 Bartender of the Year program by awarding the full 2020 Class of Finalists with a prize totalling $40,000. The eight finalists were celebrated in a final virtual event Thursday, Nov. 17 where each was awarded $5,000. After a nationwide search to find the top bartenders across America, the competition pivoted midway through the regional semifinals tour to a virtual format.
In appreciation and support of hospitality partners and mixologists, the championship prize pool was increased to $40,000 to be split amongst each finalist. The final competition was originally structured as a trip to Half Mile Farm in Highlands, North Carolina in June 2020 where the eight contestants would vie for $15,000 and the Bartender of the Year title. Amidst the global pandemic, the remainder of the 2020 Bartender of the Year semifinal competitions transitioned to a virtual format beginning with the Chicago regional in October. The new format ensured participants had the opportunity to learn from and interact with top industry experts while utilizing their craft during this difficult time. Rather than name an official Bartender of the Year for 2020, each finalist was honored for their dedication and commitment as changes continue to impact the industry
“Family and perseverance have always been two guiding principles for Heaven Hill. As we welcomed this class of finalists into the Heaven Hill family, we recognized the gravity of challenges this year has placed on them and knew we had to shift our focus to genuine support rather than a competition,” said Hannah Venhoff, Group Product Director, Heaven Hill Brands. “We are inspired by the resilience of the hospitality industry and these bartenders who have continued to innovate and create, keeping their craft alive during this time and we are so encouraged by the lengths at which the industry is willing to go in support of one another.”
More than 1,150 original cocktail recipes were entered using Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Rittenhouse Rye Whisky, Dubonnet Rouge Grand Aperitif, Sacred Bond Brandy and Lunazul Tequila. Entries were submitted online nationwide beginning September 15, 2019. 48 semifinalists then competed across Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, New York City, Miami, Portland, Phoenix, and Atlanta from January 2020 through November 2020.
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. Across all of the competitions, judges were looking for the ultimate bartender who displays the total breadth and aptitude all bartenders aspire to embody. Each 2020 finalist will be eligible to apply for the 2021 Bartender of the Year program, which will place greater emphasis on advocacy and education throughout the hospitality community. The 2021 Bartender of the Year program will continue in this same spirit with renewed focus on elevating the craft of hospitality
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 in 2018, Nathan O’Neill in 2017, and Abigail Gullo won the inaugural competition in 2016. Visit the official competition website at http://www.bartenderoftheyear.liquor.com for complete competition details.
The following bartenders comprise the resilient Bartender of the Year Class of 2020 Finalists:
|Name||City||Regional Competition City|
|Michelle Salgado||El Paso, Texas||Austin|
|Vay Su||Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
|Arthur Boothe||Sanford, Fla.||Atlanta|
|Anton Nguyen||Wailuku, Hawaii||Portland|
|Christopher Lemperle||New York City||New York City|
ABOUT HEAVEN HILL BRANDS: Founded in 1935, Bardstown, KY -based Heaven Hill Brands (www.heavenhill.com) 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, Elijah Craig, Larceny, and Henry McKenna Bourbons; Rittenhouse Rye Whisky; Deep Eddy and Burnett’s Vodkas; Admiral Nelson’s and Blackheart Rums; Black Velvet Canadian Whisky; Lunazul Tequila; The Christian Brothers Brandies; HPNOTIQ Liqueur; Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur.
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