2020 BARTENDER OF THE YEAR RULES AND REGULATIONS
Sponsored by Liquor.com and Heaven Hill
This is a search for the 2020 Bartender of the Year. This person will display total breadth and aptitude in their abilities as a professional bartender. Over the course of the three stages of the competition and across multiple varying challenges, these bartenders will display (for example):
There are three stages of the Bartender of the Year competition.
Regional Semifinals Prizes:
Liquor.com, Heaven Hill Brands and our three national judges will select six qualifying bartenders from the online submissions to be invited to compete at each of the eight regional competitions.
The winners from each of the eight regional competitions will move forward to compete at the finals. There, one bartender will be chosen as the overall winner of the 2020 Bartender of the Year Competition. The winner will receive:
Phase 1—Online Entries:
For the purposes of determining the regional finalists, entries will be assigned to the closest applicable market, as determined by the sponsor. All complete entries submitted to bartenderoftheyear.liquor.com within the entry time frame will be judged against the below criteria based on the perceived qualities of the written recipes and essay entry.
Judges will not take into consideration current employer, time spent bartending or any other personal information in the selection of regional finalists.
Sponsor brands include:
Innovative (What Inspires You):
Classic Cocktail (50 points):
Innovative Cocktail (What Inspires You) (50 points):
Judges’ scores will not be available to contestants at any stage of the competition. Participants will be contacted via email regarding whether they will be moving on or not at least two weeks prior to the first regional event.
For the purposes of selecting semifinalists, regional events will be judged by local panels, as determined by the sponsor, with the assistance of Liquor.com. The regional competition rules and judging criteria will be created by Liquor.com and will be shared with all regional participants prior to the regional competitions.
Regional competitions will be held in January through April of 2020 in eight markets:
Bartenders chosen to participate at a regional semifinal competition are responsible for their travel expenses to the regional events (if applicable).
Bartenders will be chosen by a blind panel based on their recipe submissions. Qualifying bartenders will be invited to compete at one of the eight regional competitions. At each regional:
A total of eight finalists will be selected from the regional event winners and will compete at the finale event June 15–18 at Half-Mile Farm in Highlands, N.C. For the purposes of selecting the winner of 2020 Bartender of the Year, a panel of well-respected industry experts selected by Heaven Hill Brands, Liquor.com and Bon Vivants will judge the competition. Rules and judging criteria will be created by Heaven Hill Brands, Liquor.com and Bon Vivants and shared with all finalists a minimum of two weeks prior to the final competition.
Any entries attempted through the use of agencies or robotic, repetitive, automatic, programmed or similar methods will be void. Any attempt by a person to use multiple email accounts or identities to gain more entries than permitted by these official rules shall result in disqualification at the sole discretion of the sponsor. In the event of a dispute regarding the identity of the person submitting an entry, the entry will be deemed to be submitted by the "authorized account holder" associated with the email address at the time of entry, which must comply with these official rules. The authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who’s assigned an email address by the service provider or other organization that’s responsible for assigning email addresses. Potential winners may be required to provide evidence (to the sponsor's satisfaction) that they’re the authorized account holder of the email address associated with a winning entry. In the event a dispute regarding the identity of the person who actually submitted an entry cannot be resolved to the sponsor's satisfaction, the affected entry will be deemed ineligible. Entries and other submitted material become the property of sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. Refer to the additional requirements below for more details regarding the rules for your entry.
The 2020 Bartender of the Year must be available the day after the finals for internal interviews and with reasonable accommodations make time to be available in the following week for media interviews. Travel accommodations will be made for all finalists to accommodate this requirement.
The Winner of the 2020 Bartender of the Year competition will participate in at least three Heaven Hill Brands promotions and/or events as the 2020 Heaven Hill Brands Bartender of the Year.
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ENTRY
Entries must be in English. Entries must not allude to the overconsumption or irresponsible consumption of beverage alcohol. Entries that do not include all required information and do not adhere to the foregoing and following requirements will be considered void and not be considered in the judging of this contest. Entries that are deemed by the sponsor in its sole discretion to be illegal, obscene, profane or not in keeping with the sponsor's image will be disqualified.
By submitting an entry, you warrant that:
Employees of Heaven Hill Brands, Liquor.com, their affiliates, liquor wholesale licensees, advertising/promotion agencies and their immediate family members and household members of each, and retail license holders are not eligible. This promotion is void wherever prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. In the event that the contest is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, the sponsor or administrator reserves the right to discontinue or modify the contest or disqualify participants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the sponsor and administrator shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. You must be a resident of the United States or Puerto Rico and at least 21 years of age to be eligible. Contest void wherever prohibited or restricted by law.
By accepting a prize, any winner (a) releases Heaven Hill Brands, Liquor.com and their affiliated companies and licensed alcohol wholesalers and retailers from any and all liability claims, action or proceedings arising out of or for injuries or damages sustained while involved in any promotion activity or connection with the use of the prizes and (b) consents to the use by Heaven Hill Brands and Liquor.com for promotional purposes in connection with this promotion of their name and/or likeness and/or voice without further compensation where permitted.
The sponsor and participating promotional companies are not in any way liable for damages, loss or injury resulting from computer malfunctions, misdirected or incomplete entries or acceptance and use of the prize. Heaven Hill Brands and Liquor.com reserve the right in its sole discretion to cancel or suspend this contest should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond the control of the sponsor corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the contest. The sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel terminate or suspend the contest. The sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communication line failure, theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. CAUTION: Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operation of the game is a violation of criminal and civil laws, and should such an attempt be made, the sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such attempt.
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Partner at Alchemy Consulting and Owner/Bartender at Pouring Ribbons
Joaquín Simó has traveled a long way from his native Ecuador in his search for the perfect daiquiri. Raised amongst Cuban family in Miami, he grew up eating fruits and vegetables fresh from his grandfather's farm and helping his father at his French bakery. His epicurean roots firmly established, he sought out new seasons in New England, graduating from Boston University with a degree in English and religion. He began tending bar in crowded college dives, raucous rock n' roll bars, neighborhood restaurants and trendy hot spots, all the while furthering his education on food, spirits, flavor combinations and balance.
National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands
Bar Manager of Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko
Jeffrey is an award-winning bartender and author of the first book devoted entirely to cocktail technique, The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique" He currently manages the James Beard Award-nominated bar program at Clyde Common, and the celebrated Pepe Le Moko; both are located in Portland, Oregon.
Enter for a Chance to Win the title of
2020 Bartender of the Year
and a $15,000 Cash Prize
New York City
El Velvet Elvis at the Pershing Inn
Winning Innovative Cocktail: Madre Jessu
Recipe: Made with Dubonnet Rouge Grand apéritif, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, Lustau Los Arcos amontillado sherry and Cheongsam jade oolong liqueur, garnished with grapefruit peel.
My strong, loving and caring mother was diagnosed with lupus when I was in second grade. This cocktail is an ode to her, using PAMA liqueur (she loves pomegranate) and Dubonnet to make a low-ABV cocktail since she can’t drink. I also added jade oolong liqueur because tea is her favorite beverage.
Winning Classic Cocktail: La Paloma Exaltada
Recipe: Made with Lunazul blanco tequila, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, lime juice and housemade grapefruit soda, garnished with a pomelo or grapefruit peel.
Instead of using an overly sweet store-bought grapefruit soda, I made my own to highlight the bright and bitter elements of the citrus and add some bite to the foundation. The result is an elevated (or exaltada) Paloma.
Winning Innovative Cocktail: Dawn Patrol
Recipe: Made with Rittenhouse Rye whiskey, Sacred Bond brandy, Cuban coffee coconut cordial, Averna and absinthe, garnished with a lemon peel.
I surf alone early in the mornings as a way to reset. I deeply appreciate these moments of solitude and take in every second of it. This cocktail captures the feeling of my morning walk along the beach with coffee in hand, searching for the place to escape for the day.
Winning Classic Cocktail: Komodo Dragon
Recipe: Made with Lunazul blanco tequila, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, pandan syrup, lime juice, coconut milk and Angostura bitters, garnished with a pandan leaf.
Most tropical cocktails represent the Caribbean or Polynesian regions, leaving tequila in the shadow of cane spirits. This cocktail showcases the versatility of tequila in tropical cocktails and brings to life aspects of a less-represented tropical paradise: Bali.
Winning Innovative Cocktail: Chinese Cocktail Bun
Recipe: Made with Rittenhouse Rye whiskey, Lunazul tequila reposado, Lunazul reposado barley tea, coconut water and fat-washed walnut bitters, garnished with a Chinese coconut cocktail bun.
This cocktail draws inspiration from a traditional Chinese coconut bun, usually served at dim sum. It was one of my favorite dishes when I was a kid, and I recently found a place that makes an amazing one. The texture is airy and soft, the coconut filling isn’t super sweet and it’s spread evenly throughout the pastry. And the nice toasted color on top is a work of art.
Winning Classic Cocktail: Hong Kong Tea
Recipe: Made with Elijah Craig small-batch bourbon, Dubonnet Rouge Grand apéritif, hot Hong Kong tea, Dubonnet adzuki red bean syrup, coconut cream and adzuki aquafaba, garnished with grated nutmeg.
This is a Hong Kong twist on the Irish Coffee, inspired by the Sunday breakfasts I had with my parents at Hong Kong cafes and dim sum restaurants. Usually, black tea with a side of cream or condensed milk was automatically served with our meal. Instead of using heavy cream here, I whipped up coconut cream with adzuki aquafaba to float on top.
Death & Co.
Winning Innovative Cocktail: Collegiate Peaks
Recipe: Made with Rittenhouse Rye whiskey, Sacred Bond brandy, Dubonnet Rouge Grand apéritif, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Earl Grey-infused maple syrup and Angostura bitters, garnished with a lemon peel
Collegiate Peaks is an exercise in balance, and reminds me how important a well-balanced life can be when behind the bar or out in the world chasing new goals, like my attempt to climb 14ers in Colorado. It doesn’t matter if you fail—like I did in my first ascent up Mt. Sneffels—as long as you learn from the experience
Winning Classic Cocktail: Shadowboxer
Recipe: Made with Lunazul tequila reposado, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, ruby red grapefruit juice, simple syrup, lemon quarters and mint leaves, garnished with a dehydrated lemon wheel and mint bouquet.
My goal was to create a riff on the Smash focused on the lovely interplay between Lunazul and PAMA that could easily be made behind any bar. I wanted to capitalize on the unique aromatics, textured mouthfeel and overall flavor arc that happens when mixing tequila and pomegranate liqueur with mint and lemon oils.
Bitters & Brass
Winning Innovative Cocktail: Las Banditas
Recipe: Made with Lunazul Blanco tequila, Lunazul Reposado tequila, Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, grenadine and cucumber, garnished with a mint sprig and cucumber slice.
Las Banditas is driven by the idea that cocktails should be fun and expressive. At its heart, this cocktail is the rebellious offspring of a wild encounter between a Pimm’s Cup and a Margarita.
Winning Classic Cocktail: Queen’s Ruin Collins
Recipe: Made with Dubonnet Rouge Grand apéritif, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, Topo Chico soda water and absinthe, garnished with an orange peel and fresh rosemary sprigs.
This Collins-style cocktail was inspired by Queen Elizabeth and her mother’s love of Dubonnet. The Queen has her Dubonnet with gin before lunch, but the Queen’s Ruin Collins is a low-ABV drink that is very sessionable and refreshing while also being herbal and complex.
Formerly of Bad Hunter
Winning Innovative Cocktail: Butch Queen
Recipe: Made with Rittenhouse Rye whiskey, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Lustau oloroso sherry, taro root juice, cinnamon syrup, meyer lemon juice and roasted banana-steeped coconut milk, garnished with mint crowns, cinnamon sticks and manicured ginger.
Butch Queen accomplishes any great drag queen's ultimate goal. It makes you curious for what's next, magnetizing you with its appearance. It provides you with moments of approachability and comfort, easing one into the experience. It is complex and bold, enticing all to want more!
Winning Classic Cocktail: Jacques Rose
Recipe: Made with Sacred Bond brandy, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, acidulated golden delicious apple juice and cane syrup, garnished with expressed lemon.
I wanted to recreate the Jack Rose for a modern guest with high quality ingredients. Sacred Bond Bottled-in-Bond brandy has the power and playfulness to keep this classic vibrant. I acidulated apple juice to mimic the bright lemon juice in the classic Jack Rose. PAMA, in the place of grenadine, provides sweetness and tanginess. Finally, a touch of cane syrup gives the drink its balance.
Esters Fair Prospect
Winning Innovative Cocktail: In the Time of Siam
Recipe: Made with Lunazul tequila blanco, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, lime juice, sweetened celery juice and cherry bark vanilla bitters, garnished with a lemon sprig and ginger coin.
The inspiration for this cocktail stems from the vibrant and herbaceous flavors that are prominent in Southeast Asian cuisine. From salads to garnishes, the herbaceous and aromatic ingredients are a major component of all these dishes. I wanted this cocktail to sing these fresh notes on the palate.
Winning Classic Cocktail: The Fall of Jack Rose
Recipe: Made with Sacred Bond brandy, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, apple-cinnamon-cardamom syrup, lemon juice, apple juice and egg white, dusted with pulverized cinnamon and cardamom.
Citrus, pomegranate and apples are the main flavors of the original Jack Rose. I wanted to add another spice and texture dimension to the classic. I incorporated cardamom to pair with the tangy and sweet Pama, creating a modern take on a beloved classic.
New York City
Winning Innovative Cocktail: A Kernel of Truth
Recipe: Made with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Lunazul reposado tequila, fresh lime juice, roasted corn-tea cane syrup, saline solution and gochugaru tincture, garnished with a trimmed corn husk.
One of my earliest food memories was getting fresh corn from the farm stand just down the road from our house. Fast-forward to now, I've made the move to New York City with my best friend, Kim. Being a first-generation Korean, she has introduced me to a wide variety of flavors and ingredients that I had never heard of before. With A Kernel of Truth, I wanted to share one of my first flavor memories with one of my most recent.
Winning Classic Cocktail: Improved Dubonnet Fizz
Recipe: Made with PAMA pomegranate liqueur, Dubonnet rouge grand aperitif, fresh lemon juice, light brown sugar syrup, orange juice and soda water, garnished with an orange and brandied cherry flag with three sprigs of fresh mint tops.
This recipe is an update on a not-too-common classic cocktail, the Dubonnet Fizz, that the modern drinker can enjoy at a leisurely pace. You can sip the frothy head directly from the glass, or consume the drink with a straw, providing a variety of different flavors and textures.
Demonstrate the following traits to become a member of the Heaven Hill family:
Your entries will be judged by these three cocktail
and spirits luminaries from across the country.
at Pouring Ribbons
National Brand Educator
for Heaven Hill Brands
Bar Manager of
and Pépé Le Moko
Winning Inspiration Cocktail
The entry deadline has passed.
See official rules and regulations