Regional Semifinalists Chosen for Heaven Hill Brands, 2020 “Bartender of the Year”

— December 18, 2019

BARDSTOWN, KY – Heaven Hill Brands and announced today the 48 regional semifinalists competing in the 2020 Bartender of the Year competition. Semifinalists will compete in Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, New York City, Miami, Portland, Phoenix, and Atlanta from January 2020 through April 2020.

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. 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.

“We’re excited to welcome this talented field of semifinalists to the Heaven Hill family as they raise the bar on thoughtful, innovative cocktails,” said Kate S. Latts, Heaven Hill Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Marketing. “Whether returning or new entrants to the competition, the fifth year of Bartender of the Year is shaping up to be one of the most competitive yet.”

The initial field of competitors was evaluated by three esteemed judges and award-winning bartenders who have been instrumental for revitalizing cocktail culture. The national judges include Heaven Hill Brands National Spirits Specialist and Portfolio Mixologist Lynn House, Author and Bar Manager of Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and Owner/Bartender of Pouring Ribbons Joaquín Simó. The six semifinalists for each region were chosen based on highest rankings combining scores on name, appearance and presentation, balance of flavors, aroma and character, inspiration explanation, creativity, and product knowledge.

Regional semifinalists, listed below, 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. The top contestant from each region will go on to vie for the title of Bartender of the Year and $15,000 at Half Mile Farm in Highlands, North Carolina in June 2020.

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 and with a goal of supporting growth, education and awareness in the bartending community. Justin Ware from Houston joined the ranks of esteemed past winners: Harrison Ginsberg from Crown Shy in New York City was named Bartender of the Year in 2018, Nathan O’Neill from the Nomad Bar was named Bartender of the Year in 2017, and Abigail Gullo of Ben Paris in Seattle won the inaugural competition in 2016. Visit the official competition website at for complete competition details.

Austin, January 20
First Last Account
Andrew Campbell Townsend
David Jennings Hide / Royal38
Michelle Salgado El Velvet Elvis at the Pershing Inn
Patrick-David Walker INTL
Cruz Gutierrez Jetsetter
Zachary Barnhill Jetsetter

Miami, January 27

Ky Belk El Five
Tyler Kitzman Mama Tried
Justin Levaughn The Courtesy
Tatiana Rotari Pescado
Mike Madison Libby’s
Juan Montes Antiguo 26

Los Angeles, February 3

Meghan Koll Jeune et Jolie
Adam Fournier NoMad LA
Sam Penton Death and Company
Lindsay Shelton The Stanton DTLA
Vay Su Republique
Thi Nguyen The Saap Avenue

Phoenix, February 17

Michael Buonocore Death & Co Denver
Austin Carson Cafe Marmotte
Chris Dunsmoor Jovanina’s Broken Italian
Jesse Torres American Elm
TJ Vong Mizu Izakaya
Cory Mendonca SAHARA Las Vegas

Atlanta, March 2

Sherra Kurtz Columbia Room
Peter Hannah Rose and Crown
Arthur Boothe Bitters & Brass
Cole Youngner Aziza
Jake Smith Tazza Kitchen
Don Pirone Brezza Cucina

Chicago, March 23

Lance Bowman Monnie Burke’s
David Mor Bad Hunter
Jessi Pollak Spoon and Stable
Nathaniel Smith Travail
Adam Chase Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room
Garry White DENMARK

Portland, April 6

Anna McDermott Ella
Nora Furst True Laurel
Caleb Kimbley The Beehive
Anton Nguyen Esters Fair Prospect
Lauren Davis Teardrop Lounge
Jesse Cyr L’Oursin

New York City, April 27

Fabio Steven Gonzalez The Living Room at Park Hyatt NY
Christopher Lemperle Crown Shy
Jessica Manchenton Lost Hours
Thomas Spaeth Raines Law Room
Tyler Chambers Notch Modern Bar and Kitchen
Stephen Wood The Pressroom

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