2018 Bartender of the Year Crowned

We are so excited to congratulate our 2018 Bartender of the Year, Harrison Ginsberg from The Dead Rabbit in NYC. His Rittenhouse Rye-based cocktail, named “Seed Saver,” featured Domaine de Canton, Scotch, Apricot, Toasted Rice Green Tea, Pineapple, and Lemon, and helped him beat out hundreds of the country’s best bartenders to take home this year’s top prize.

We also want to congratulate our second-place winner, Austin Carson from Mizuna in Denver. His cocktail, “Southern Belle,” was made with Rittenhouse Rye, Domaine de Canton, Mayhaw Jelly, Pecan-Infused Amontillado, Sherry, Lemon, and Egg White.

Bartenders of all backgrounds competed through multiple challenges to showcase their bartending knowledge, efficiency, presentation style, and genuine hospitality. After months of competitions, eight finalists were invited to St. Simons Island, GA to spend three days battling it out.

The finalists first participated in a workshop led by Don Lee, renowned mixologist who was the opening beverage director at PDT in New York’s East Village and recently opened Existing Conditions in New York’s Greenwich Village, that focused on how to make a balanced cocktail by making sure acids and sugars were well-balanced and properly mixed. There was a lot of math and mixing involved!

Check out some of the scenes at this year’s competition.

Finalists arrive in St. Simons Island, GA. Pictured in front row left to right: Madelyn Kay, Jorge Vargas-Baquedano, Harrison Ginsberg (winner), Mony Bunni. Back row left to right: Austin Carson, Arthur Boothe, Julien Callela, Adam Robinson.

Harrison Ginsberg of Dead Rabbit NYC in awe after being announced the 2018 Bartender of the Year winner.

Madelyn Kay of Vox Table in Austin, TX working on a cocktail for this year’s Bartender of the Year finals.

Heaven Hill National Brand Educator Lynn House embraces 2018 Bartender of the Year, Harrison Ginsberg, after he wins the title thanks to his Rittenhouse-Rye based drink called “Seed Saver.”

Then it was on to some group bonding with planned activities together.

Competition day was a full day of preparation and two stages of competitions. Stage 1 tested what contestants had learned in Don Lee’s seminars, as each contestant was asked to identify what was wrong with three cocktails and how they’d correct the problem. This could mean adding, subtracting, or completely removing a certain ingredient.

In Stage 2 of the competition, each contestant had to create an original cocktail for the resort property of Sea Island, GA. They had to use local ingredients and ensure the cost of those ingredients didn’t exceed 20% of a $15 retail cocktail. This tested not only their ability to create an original drink, but their ability to create something that could realistically be used in a bar program.

Submissions for the 2019 Bartender of the Year competition open September 15th and close on October 31st. You can submit applications at bartenderoftheyear.liquor.com, and as always, you can follow the action @bartenderoftheyear.


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