2018 Bartender of the Year Rules & Regulations

Sponsored by Liquor.com and Heaven Hill


This is a search for the 2018 '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) Creativity and innovation

  • Knowledge of classics
  • Product knowledge
  • Ability to think on their feet and read their guests needs
  • Speed and efficiency
  • Presentation style
  • Genuine Hospitality


There are three stages of the 'Bartender of the Year' competition.

  • Submit two recipes using Heaven Hill Brands.
  • The recipes will be blindly judged by our panel of experts and qualifying bartenders will move on to compete at one of eight regional semi-finals.
  • First place winners from each regional semi-final will move on to compete at a destination location (The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia) for the chance to be crowned 2018 ‘Bartender of the Year’ and win $15,000 in cash, star in a Liquor.com video shoot and be invited to judge in the 2019 ‘Bartender of the Year’ finals competition, location TBD. Second place winners will attend the finals should the first place winner not be able to attend for any reason.


Regional Semifinals Prizes

Liquor.com and Heaven Hill Brands will select six qualifying bartenders to be invited to compete at each of the eight regional competitions.

  • All participants will receive a $100 Visa gift card, provided by Liquor.com.
  • Judges will select a 1st and 2nd place winner.

    1st Place Prize:
    • $1,000 Visa gift card
    • A trip to destination The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia to compete at the National finals
    • A chance to be crowned the 2018 ‘Bartender of the Year’
    • The chance to win a grand prize of $15,000
    • The chance to star in Liquor.com video shoot
    • Airfare and lodging accommodation for (2) nights
    • Arrive Dates TBD
    • All prizing, airfare and accommodations provided by Liquor.com

2nd Place Prize:

    • $500 Visa gift card
    • The chance to attend the finals in at The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia should the first place winner not be able to attend.
    • All prizing, airfare and accommodations provided by Liquor.com


One bartender will be chosen as the overall winner of the 2018 ‘Bartender of the Year’ Competition. The winner will receive:

  • Cash prize of $15,000
  • Feature article on Liquor.com announcing the winner
  • 3 part Liquor.com video series, distributed across Liquor.com channels
  • Travel and 2 nights lodging in TBD (for video shoot)
  • Trophy/award (specifics of design TBD, To be provided by Liquor.com)
  • Taxes are the sole responsibility of prize winner. No substitution/transfer of prize permitted.
  • All prizing, airfare and accommodations provided by Liquor.com





  • September 15, 2017 12:00:01 a.m. – October 31, 2017 11:59:59 p.m. PST: Open for online recipe submissions
  • February – March 2018: Regional / Semi-final activations in Austin, Charleston, Chicago, Denver, New York City, Portland, San Diego, and San Francisco
  • June 17th to June 20th 2018: Final Event, The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia


  • Professional Bartender is defined as someone employed by a bar, restaurant or catering service of sorts sometime in the 6 months prior to the start of the competition.
  • All entrants must be professional working bartenders.
  • Competitors must be at least 21 years of age
  • Competitors must be legal residents of the United States or Puerto Rico


  • By entering this program, you are giving Liquor.com, Heaven Hill Brands, and its affiliates explicit rights to use your photo, an image of your drink, drink recipe name, and your drink recipe for publicity purposes, including but not limited to: press, social media, digital activation and promotional activation.


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 www.bartenderoftheyear.liquor.com within the entry timeframe 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.


Each competitor must enter two cocktail recipes:

  • 2 cocktails; 1 short essay/description
  • Cocktail #1 – Family:
    • This cocktail should be created around the theme of Family.  This can be somehow tied to your family, your bar/industry family, what you consider most meaningful about the concept of family, etc.
    • Must contain at least 1 of the sponsor brands, Elijah Craig; Rittenhouse Rye; Domaine de Canton; PAMA (no requirement of which) as a primary ingredient using a minimum of 1oz.
    • Must explain how this cocktail ties to the concept of family in 350 words or less


  • Cocktail #2 – Classic:
    • This cocktail must be a recognizable classic/version of a classic
    • The cocktail must retain the original name of the classic it is a representation of
    • Must incorporate at least 1 of the whiskies (Elijah Craig; Rittenhouse Rye) and at least 1 of the Liqueurs (Domaine de Canton; PAMA)
  • Recipes must contain on more than 2.5oz. (at 40% alc./vol.) total combined alcoholic ingredients and the total volume of the ingredients shall not exceed 6oz.
  • Recipes must not exceed 7 ingredients including drops, dashes (This does not include garnishes)
  • Ingredients must be expressed in fluid ounces (.5 oz., 1 oz., 2 oz., etc.), with dashes and drops being the smallest quantities.
  • Preparation and mixing instructions must be included with your recipe.
  • Limit one full entry per person.
  • A blind judging panel will review and score the entries. Initial scores will be based on the judge's' interpretation of the written description submitted. In some cases, judges may recreate the cocktails to settle closely ranked submissions.



Inspired by your idea of Family (50 points):

  • Cocktail Name (5 points)
  • Appearance and Presentation (perceived based on description) (5 points)
  • Balance of Flavors, Aroma & Character (20 points)
  • Written Inspiration & Explanation of the concept (10points)
  • Creativity (5 points)
  • Product Knowledge 5 points)

Classic Cocktail (50 points):

  • Cocktail Name (5 points)
  • Appearance and presentation (perceived based on description) (5 points)
  • Balance of Flavors, Aroma & Character (10 points)
  • Clear representation of the classic it is based on (or a direct version of)  (20points)
  • Ability to integrate all required ingredients in an intelligent way (10 points)

Judges scores will not be available to contestants at any stage of the competition.

Phase 2 – Regional / Semi-Final

For the purposes of selecting Semi-Finalists, 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 February and March of 2018 in eight markets:

  • Austin
  • Charleston
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • New York City
  • Portland
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco


Bartenders who reside outside of the participating regions and are chosen to participate are responsible for their travel expenses to the regional events (if applicable). This includes bartenders who reside in Puerto Rico. Contestants from Puerto Rico will be responsible for their travel to the US to one of the Regional locations to compete, if chosen as a finalist.

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:

  • 6 Bartenders will compete across 2 distinct challenges
  • All participants will receive a Visa gift card
  • Judges will select a 1st and 2nd place winner

Phase 3 – Final

A total of eight finalists will be selected from the regional event winners and will compete at the finale event at The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia. For the purposes of selecting the winner of the 2018 Bartender of the Year, a panel of well-respected industry experts selected by Liquor.com and will judge the competition. Rules and judging criteria will be created by Liquor.com and will be shared with all Finalists a minimum of 2 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 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 is assigned an e-mail address by the service provider or other organization that is responsible for assigning email addresses. Potential winners may be required to provide evidence (to Sponsor's satisfaction) that they are the authorized account holder of the e-mail 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 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 Additional rules below for more details regarding the requirements for your entry.



2018 ‘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. 


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 will not be considered in the judging of this contest. Entries that are deemed by Sponsor in its sole discretion to be illegal, obscene, profane or not in keeping with Sponsor's image will be disqualified.


By submitting an entry, you warrant that:

  • You are the creator of the entry
  • The entry is wholly original (with exception of the classic cocktail)
  • The entry does not infringe the intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights or any other legal or moral rights of any third party, including any current or former employer, and does not defame any person or identify any person by name other identifying information
  • The entry has not previously been entered in any other contest
  • The entry has not been previously published in any medium (with exception of the classic cocktail)
  • The entry does not violate any law or regulation
  • Sponsor's determination as to whether any entry potentially violates the rights of any third party is final.


Employees of Heaven Hill Brands, Liquor.com, their affiliates, liquor wholesale licensees, as well as 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, Sponsor or Administrator reserves the right to discontinue or modify the Contest, or to disqualify participants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, 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/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; as well as (b) consents to the use by Heaven Hill Brands/Liquor.com for promotional purposes in connection with this promotion, of his or her 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 damage, loss or injury resulting from computer malfunctions, misdirected or incomplete entries or acceptance and use of the prize. Heaven Hill Brands/Liquor.com reserves the right in its sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this contest should virus, bugs or other causes beyond the control of 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 or 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, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such attempt.

Entrants will be automatically opted-in to receive messages from Liquor.com. (Entrants may unsubscribe from list at any time.)

I acknowledge that I have read and understand the rules & regulations pertaining to 2018 Bartender of the Year Sponsored by Heaven Hill Brands.

Heaven Hill Brands is a registered trademark used with permission.



Privacy Policy

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Signature Cocktail Competition

  1. This is a spirit on spirit cocktail, with famous brand serving as the base spirit. No muddled fruit, juices and or syrups should be used in making a Signature. Fruits, herbs, essences and spices may be used in infusions however.
  2. Modifiers such as fortified wines, bitters, tinctures, infusions and citrus oils are acceptable variables in a Signature cocktail.
  3. The ratio of modifier(s) to base spirit (famous brand) should never exceed 50:50. The cocktail should be not exceed 3.5 oz.
  4. The Signatures' traditional garnishes are a citrus twist or olives. Cocktail onions are also an acceptable garnish. When thinking of new garnishes, let your imagination run wild.
  5. The cocktail can be served up or on the rocks. In addition, it may be stirred or shaken. Glassware and presentation are up to the contestants.

Judging Criteria

  1. Relevance to the Signature cocktail (20 points)
  2. Presentation and Appearance (20 points)
  3. Taste and Balance (30 points)
  4. elit Brand Awareness (20 points)
  5. Cocktail Name and Inspiration (10 points)

 Phase 2 - Semifinals

Regional competitions will be held in January through March of 2017 in eight markets:


  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Chicago
  • Las Vegas
  • Nashville
  • Miami
  • New York City
  • San Francisco


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:

  • 8 Bartenders will compete across 2 distinct challenges
  • All participants will receive a $100 Visa gift card
  • Judges will select a 1st place winner
  • 1st Place Prize:
    • $1,000 Visa gift card
    • A trip to Puerto Rico to compete at the National finals
      • Airfaire and accomodations provided by Liquor.com
    • The chance to win a grand prize of $15,000

** Be sure to check back for more details about the final, including information about the specific challenges these bartenders will face.

 Phase 3 - Finals

On June 4th, 2017, all 8 finalists will travel to Puerto Rico to compete in the National Finals for a chance to win $15,000 and the title of 2017 Bartender of the Year.

** Be sure to check back for more details about the final, including information about the specific challenges these bartenders will face.

Joaquín Simó

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.

Lynn M. House

National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands

Lynn is respected industry-wide as an advocate of education, mentorship and service. Lynn was named one of 2011's Top 20 Most Fabulous Bartenders in the World by Gary Regan and was inducted into the Dame Hall of Fame at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler

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.


Congratulations to Harrison Ginsberg, the 2018 Heaven Hill Bartender of the Year!

The search for the 2019 Bartender of the Year will be starting in September. Check back here for more details. And get ready to compete for the prestigious title and cash prize.


2018 Heaven Hill / Liquor.com
Bartender of the Year Finalists


The Judges

Your entries will be judged by these three
cocktail and spirits luminaries from across the country.

Joaquín Simó

Partner at
Alchemy Consulting
and Owner/Bartender
at Pouring Ribbons

Lynn M. House

National Brand Educator
for Heaven Hill Brands

Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Bar Manager of
Clyde Common
and Pépé Le Moko