GSN Alert: Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge is back

The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge is back with its fifth edition. ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto invites bartenders across the globe to create an original aperitivo cocktail inspired by any form of art. This year, 2023, will see applicants encouraged to incorporate heightened sustainability into their creations, with the global winner being crowned ‘the ITALICUS bar artist of the year’ and receiving the opportunity to experience a mentorship program with no.1 bar in the world, Paradiso Barcelona and Giacomo Giannotti. During the experience, the winner will be accompanied by Shoshin Art Club, the international bartender’s educational platform created by Valentino Longo, to document the full experience in an video episode which will be featured amongst the courses available on the website.

The Art of ITALICUS aperitivo challenge is built on the belief that bartenders are artists and the program is designed to incentivise them to be as creative as possible by bringing the industry together to create art-inspired cocktails which best represent an elevated aperitivo experience, whilst showcasing the ITALICUS spirit through creative liquid expressions.

The competition will be opened in 11 countries: Italy, Spain, USA, UK, Croatia and Slovenia region, France, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland. All other bartenders not resident in these countries will be able to apply through a Wild Card entry, having the opportunity to win a spot to the global final, in Rome at the end of May.

US Bartenders only apply here

GSN Alert: Nikka Perfect Serve Is Back In 2022










“One moment, one encounter.” The Japanese Ichi-go Ichi-e philosophy is the guiding principle behind the Nikka Perfect Serve bartending competition. Every encounter is unique and can never be repeated, and so we must give our very best at all times. 

The Nikka Perfect Serve encourages bartenders to place the guest at the heart of the bar experience. Bartenders must be attentive and aware of their guest’s presence, state of mind, and palate in order to offer the most suitable service and cocktail at that specific moment. The process is as important as the cocktail itself.

As in previous years, the contest will continue to focus on omakase: “I leave it to you.” Judges playing the roles of indecisive customers will act as different characters and ask the bartender to improvise a bespoke Nikka cocktail. Experienced bartenders will have a large repertoire of cocktail recipes in mind at all times, and will be able to choose, twist and adapt them to serve the most appropriate Nikka Whisky cocktail for each situation played out by the judges.

After the prolonged period of isolation and restrictions, there will be moments when you are shaken by new discoveries and new encounters.

This year, we ask you to apply your creativity in a form of a signature Nikka cocktail which will provide a guest with an eye-opening experience to find something new or inspiring. Please choose your preferable Nikka expression from the designated line-up and imagine the exciting communication with the guest in front of you.

Who can participate:

Professional bartenders of any nationality currently employed in the country where the contest is held.

Are not eligible:

-Employees of Nikka Whisky or Nikka Whisky’s distributors.

-All those who have already participated in the Nikka Whisky Japan trip in the past.

Save The Date!

Please note that the winners of the regional contests will represent their country in the Global Finals on November 28th & 29th in Genova, Italy. You must be available from November 26th (arrival) to the 30th (departure). 

The winners of the regional contests will represent their country in Italy on November 28th and 29th.


The winner and runner-up of the global finals will be invited on a trip to Japan to experience the Japanese bar scene and visit Nikka’s distilleries: Yoichi and Miyagikyo!


Craft Beer Marketing Awards Celebrates Growth as it Expands for 2022 Award Season

(New York, NY) – The Craft Beer Marketing Awards (CBMAS) has announced that its 2022 Awards Program is now open and accepting beer–related marketing and design entries from around the globe (including hard seltzer, cider, and mead).

Entries are being accepted from October 30, 2021 and will be accepted through January 14, 2022.

Founded in 2019, the CBMAS is the only awards competition in the world to celebrate the very best of craft beer marketing and design. The CBMAS has developed to accepting entries from around the globe, presenting a marketing trends seminar at this years’ Craft Brewers Conference, recognizing influential beer industry insiders with CBMAS “People of the Year” Award and started a podcast, Marketing on Tap, sponsored by EGC Group, available on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts and iHeartRadio. 

The CBMAS honors the individuals and teams involved in building these amazing beverage brands. Breweries, their agencies, artists, and marketing partners are all invited to enter their best work.  

“The CBMAS has grown significantly as a unique platform celebrating the beer industry’s incredible marketing and design that wasn’t being recognized until now.” said Jim McCune, Co-Founder of the CBMAS. “We’ll continue to award the very best work in the industry, and showcase that work, and the folks that created it to the world.”

Notable multi-award winners from the 2021 competition include: Brooklyn Brewery and the New York State Brewers Association in New York, Arrowhead Ales Brewing in Illinois, EBBING Branding and Design in North Carolina, Founders Brewing Company in Michigan, Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, New Realm Brewing Co. in Georgia, Veza Sur Brewing Co. in Florida, and White Labs Brewing Co. in San Diego. International winners include Balter Brewing Co. and Dollar Bill Brewing in Australia, Brewpoint and Cold Town Beer in the United Kingdom, Hey Joe Brewing Company in South Africa, and Smugglers Trail in Canada, among many others.

For a full list of 2021 winners, click here for the 2021 CBMAS winner’s Gallery.

New Categories

“We had such incredible feedback over the past two award seasons, and great suggestions for some new categories,” said Jackie DiBella, Co-Founder of the CBMAS. “We know breweries and their partners are passionate about what they do. We wanted to make sure our categories matched the depth and breadth of their work.”

The 2022 CBMAS consist of 38 categories that cover all aspects of brew marketing—from labels to logos, and tap handles, to taprooms. This year, 11 new categories have been added by popular suggestion:

  • Best Can Design – Painted Cans or Sleeves
  • Best Can Design – Best Beer Series
  • Best Can Design – Collaboration
  • Best Can Design – Non-Alcoholic Craft Beverage
  • Best Brand Identity – Sell Sheets
  • Best Brand Identity – Beer Release Calendars
  • Best Brand Identity – Best All-Around Marketing Story
  • Best Use of Social Media Video – IG Reels, IGTV, or TikTok
  • Beer Marketing Wild Cards – Best Guerrilla Marketing Campaign
  • Beer Marketing Wild Cards – Best Live Entertainment Stage or Setting
  • Beer Marketing Wild Cards – Collaboration Marketing Assets

The CBMAS judging process is a robust, credible, and transparent digital scoring system ranked by an influential and respected, worldwide panel of more than 300 beer, marketing, and design experts. 

To see the full list of categories, click here.

Expanding Industry Associations

CBMAS presenting sponsor three years in a row is Hillebrand, the world’s leading global beverage logistics company.

“The CBMAS is an amazing way to recognize the great marketing that craft beverage makers and marketers do!” said Prabh Hans, VP, Domestic Services of Hillebrand North America. “The work by the CBMAS team is led by their passion for the industry and it shows. Looking forward to supporting this amazing awards platform as it continues to showcase all of the great work!”

New 2022 CBMAS Gold Sponsor is Arryved, based in Boulder Colorado, which specializes in point-of-service for craft breweries, restaurants, and other craft destinations.

“Craft beer is one of the most creative industries in the world,” said Alex Ostler, Head of Marketing for Arryved. “We’re excited to sponsor the Craft Beer Marketing Awards to recognize what you, the creators, are doing to showcase your brew.” 

The CBMAS has also formed memberships with well-known industry organizations like The Brewers Association (BA), New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA), and many of its judges are affiliated with various beverage and beer industry associations located around the world.

CBMAS Worldwide Entry Regions

Entries are divided up into 5 regions across the globe: 

  • The Americas
  • United Kingdom
  • Europe
  • APAC – Asia and Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand)
  • MENA – Middle East and North Africa  

Winners in each category are awarded a CBMAS Crushie Award. Winners can upgrade their win with a Crushie Trophy designed by the same Manhattan-based awards company that creates the Emmy, Golden Globes and the MTV Moonman. 

Platinum and Gold Crushies will be awarded to winners in each region. Global Crushies will be awarded to winners who opt-in to be judged at a global level in addition to their regional entry. 

 Entry Timeline

• Entry Period: October 30, 2021 – January 14, 2022 

• Judging: February 7 – March 25, 2022  

• Winners Announced: Week of May 2, 2022 @ CBC event (TBD) and live stream

The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place in person with a virtual feed during the week of the 2022 Craft Brewers Conference in May in Minneapolis, MN. Entries are now open to anyone involved in marketing within the brewing industry—including cider and hard seltzer—across the world. For additional information, visit


The Craft Beer Marketing Awards was established in 2019 to give recognition to the best of the best in the marketing realm of the brewing industry. With categories that range from the “Best Can Design” to “Coolest Taproom” and “Best Website Design” to “Best Use of Social Media,” there’s an opportunity to showcase the best work in every area of marketing in the brewing industry across the world. For more information, and to listen to the Marketing On Tap Podcast, visit


GSN Alert: The Kraken Rum Rewards Those Who Are Willing to Step Into the Dark This Black Friday

Black Friday may still be the biggest retail day of the year, but the thrill of the hunt has become rather ho-hum. While everyone else is battling bots and bargain hunters, fans of The Kraken® Black Spiced Rum will be tuning into the darkest event yet. On Friday November 26, The Kraken will take Black Friday even darker at, where The Kraken demands a dark sacrifice to score some of the most unique items never to grace the usual Black Friday catalog.

At the top of each hour starting at 12:00 pm EST, one of eight mysterious chests will open to reveal a prize, along with the sacrifice required for a chance to win. Whether that’s inking a tattoo of the mythical sea beast on your body for a chance to train for a submarine captain’s license in Curacao ($23,000 ARV) or donating blood to earn a shot at a VIP hockey experience with the NHL’s Seattle Kraken ($5,000 ARV). The greater the sacrifice, the more generous the reward.

Those willing to #StepIntoTheDark are invited to enter on November 26. is part of The Kraken Rum’s latest marketing campaign, Step Into the Dark, which encourages people with a maverick spirit to look beyond the expected and find great reward in the unknown.

Wherever you hunt this Black Friday, you can find The Kraken Rum in local wine and spirits stores or online at  To make a signature Cephalopunch, simply mix one part Kraken Rum, one part pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake briefly, pour contents into a glass, top with more crushed ice and enjoy.

No purchase necessary.  Must be documented resident of (50) U.S. or D.C., age 21+.  Registration ends 11/26/21.  See official rules at  Void wherever prohibited. 



GSN Alert: All-New Spirits Tasting Competition Targets Fledgling Distilleries

With the latest program offered by Distillery University, small distilleries now have a way to get noticed in an industry dominated by big brands.

Visit for more details

Distillery University, the long-time provider of online and hands-on education for craft distillers, announced today they would be offering a new Tasting Competition for the industry with a unique twist. Unlike other similar competitions, entrants would be limited to those licensed distilleries that have been in business for five years or less (international entries are also permitted). Registrations are opening soon for a variety of competitive categories, with the Competition taking place in May 2021 in Spokane, WA.

“Our goal is to create a platform for new distillers to get the insight, promotion and exposure they might not otherwise have access to.” – Rockwell Rutter, CEO, Distillery University

With other competitions, the winner’s circle is often dominated by big brands and deep pockets; they’ve had years with which to perfect their recipes and can afford top-quality ingredients. This can make it difficult for the startups and new operations to compete at the same level. Distillery University plans to level the playing field by offering the truly talented small distilleries a chance to show off their best products and get some well-deserved promotion. At the same time, this is a great opportunity for those same distilleries to get an unbiased critique and analysis of their spirits from a group of experts.

Providing that analysis will be a blind panel of approximately 15 judges, all hand-picked by DU as leaders in their respective fields. For example, the judging panel will include sommeliers, brewers, chefs, journalists, bartenders and more. Over the course of several days in May 2021, these judges will critically sample each spirit submission and provide not only a rating score, but also tasting notes that will be released to the distillery. Distilleries will be awarded medals based on their resulting scores, while select winners will be offered a product placement meeting with a large spirits retailer.

“We believe the Next Great Distillery has yet to be found, and this is how we plan to do it.” – Rockwell Rutter, CEO, Distillery University

Distillery University is the premier provider of online and hands-on education for craft distillers. Since 2012 they have offered a fully comprehensive curriculum for those wishing to enter the industry, or those with a desire to broaden their existing skillset. Distillery University’s nearly 1500 students enjoy a wide

range of course topics, covering everything from product development to business management. Students can choose to learn online through self-paced video courses, livestreaming webinars, or in-person at a multi-day Hands-on Workshop. Distillery University’s main goal is to make it as easy as possible for true craft distillers to realize their dream of making phenomenal spirits in a successful business.

GSN Review: Spirits Lab Vodka & Bull’s Head Bourbon

Nestled in Newburgh, New York’s historic district, Spirits Lab is the latest addition in an area rich with history and lore. The distillery produces and imports small batch and bespoke spirits and bottled cocktails that can be enjoyed at home or in their tasting room.

Started by three spirits industry and marketing veterans, Spirits Lab is the culmination of over four decades of combined experience in the production and marketing of craft spirits.  Spirits Lab uses New York grown grains and botanicals to produce a line of small batch craft spirits including a gluten free vodka, gin, bourbon and rye. In addition to their core portfolio, they also produce special limited edition releases of seasonal products including fruit brandies and ready to drink cocktails in small 100ml bottles.
Spirits Lab Vodka (80 proof)
Gluten free made in small batches from corn. 7x distilled & triple filtered through local Herkimer Diamonds.
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Bright, crisp, slightly peppery and vegetal.
Taste: Creamy, smooth and with a soft swirl of vanilla. A bit of green pepper, and wheat bread creep in as well.
Finish: Medium long, with a smooth descent.
Overall: A very nice vodka that has just enough character and terroir that it will stand up in a vodka forward cocktail.
GSN Rating: A-

Bull’s Head Bourbon (90 proof)
Small Batch Bourbon made in New York from corn, wheat & malted barley. Aged 4 years.
Visual: Light brown.
Nose: Slightly smokey, with a fresh saddle leather body. Brown bread and baking spice essences.
Taste: Light oak with a touch of heat. Smooth and round, but with little pops of peppery spice. Some burnt sugar and toffee flavors come out near the end.
Finish: Medium long, slightly sweet and with a tinge of tannins at the end.
Overall: A young bourbon that still hits the mark. An easy going, very mixable whiskey great for your next cocktail.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: The Spirits Lab

GSN Presents: Kentucky Derby Drinks by Mark Addison

Tradition goes a long way in the South and recipes are no laughing matter. Passed down from generation to generation, the sanctity of some recipes is often more carefully maintained than antebellum architecture and more heavily guarded than Fort Knox. So, you might think no recipe would be more revered and remain more rigidly unchanged than the official drink of the Kentucky Derby: The Mint Julep. But hold on to your fascinators! The bourbon-based iconic cocktail of “the most famous two minutes in sports” isn’t as sacred as you might think. As a matter of fact, from 2006 through 2015 the Mint Julep served at Louisville’s majestic Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May wasn’t even made with bourbon: it was made with Early Times Kentucky whiskey. Oh, the scandal!

As a horse-owner and lover, the Derby is especially thrilling for me. Each year I look forward to the race and have friends and family over for a proper viewing-party. I love a traditional Mint Julep but this year I’m serving my own frosted interpretation of the classic and surprising my guests with two new Julep-inspired drinks to keep them happy and hydrated as we kick-off the summer season in style. While my friends have to wait until Saturday, I’m giving you a head start — recipes included — so you can plan a Derby party of your own that is guaranteed to land you in the winner’s circle!

Frosted Julep­

Mint Juleps at the Derby are enjoyed over crushed ice, which is not easy to come by. This recipe creates a similar icy consistence without the hassle.  The mint syrup imparts a strong mint flavor the classic can sometimes lack.  The addition of brandy is a nod to President Teddy Roosevelt, who enjoyed Mint Juleps on the White House lawn served in these distinctive glass cups that resemble the pewter mugs of Churchill Downs tradition. 

Mark Addison Frosted Julep recipe


Barrel-aged bourbon is the pride of Kentucky, the residents of which often claim its invention. This riff on the Manhattan uses a semi-dry white vermouth, a slightly sweet herbal liqueur, in place of the traditional red vermouth and the dashes of mint bitters are a hat tip to the classic julep.  If the Mint Julep and the Manhattan had a lovechild, it would be the Louisville…

Mark Addison Louisville recipe

Southern Sangria

To some Southerners, the julep is sacred as is, but in this recipe, I’ve switched it up and infused it with another point of Southern pride: peaches. Topped-off with Champagne, the delicious result is a sparkling cocktail that transcends its inspiration and is sure to become a new classic in the years to come.

About Mark Addison

Mark Addison’s entertaining expertise, along with his dynamic personal style, has made him a sought-after authority on cocktails and cutting-edge entertaining. His book, Cocktail Chameleon, features 144 signature re-interpretations of classic cocktails and was recently named “Best in the U.S.A. – Cocktail Book” by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. He has shared his ideas on, mixing signature cocktails and cooking for guests in more than 100 television appearances on national and regional TV shows as well as a being a regular contributor to print and on-line publications.

For the next three months we will be sharing recipes and ideas from Mr. Addison and we will be giving away a copy of his book (a $50 value) at the end of it.

To enter send an email to: with your contact information.

GSN Alert: Launches National “15 & Me Selfie Search”

One of the top U.S. online gifting companies is celebrating its first 15 years of business in a fun, unique way, shining the spotlight on the countless customers who have contributed to this major milestone.’s 15 & Me Selfie Search has just launched, offering more than $2,000 in prizes.
The $22 million e-commerce company, which provides hundreds of upscale gourmet gifting options, will turn 15 on November 15th. The selfie search invites everyone to join the countdown to this big birthday by posting selfies with the number 15 in them on the company’s Facebook or Instagram pages. All posts must be family-friendly and should contain the hashtag #GGBTurns15.
The “15” can appear on nearly anything — a cake, sign, house, T-shirt, or even printed on paper. Contestants can post as many different shots as they’d like, as well, since all posts count. All entrants will vie for one of 17 exciting prizes.
The contestant with the most creative entry will win first prize – a whopping $1,500 worth of upscale goodies! These could include elaborate gourmet baskets (one is shown above, which the GSN offices received and enjoyed), towers, cookie cakes, and many more WOW-inspiring gifts.
The entrant with the highest number of posts will win second prize — a three-month membership in the Monthly Cheesecake Club, receiving a different cheesecake flavor each month.
Finally, 15 third-place winners will be chosen randomly to receive one-gallon tins of handcrafted gourmet popcorn, since offers nearly 100 popcorn flavors from sweet to savory.
The search runs until 11:15 p.m. (ET) on November 15th. Soon afterward, winners will be announced and prizes will be distributed. To enter, go to the special contest page, or follow instructions on the Facebook or Instagram pages. Updates will be available on the contest page and social media channels as the selfie search gains national momentum.

GSN Alert: Aperol’s “Brunch For A Living” Job Search

Aperol, Italy’s Popular Spirit, Is Searching for Four Plugged-In Social Butterflies To “Brunch For A Living” All Summer Long.  Apply Now For the Best Job in the World

Loghi-Aperol-Spritz_CS3_Logo_01SAN FRANCISCO (APRIL 23, 2014) – Love brunch?  Have we got a job for you.   Live for brunch, drink an Aperol Spritz®, look great, and collect a paycheck — it’s a hard job but, hey, someone’s got to do it.  Italy’s popular spirit, Aperol®, is declaring its signature cocktail, the Aperol Spritz, the official drink of brunch this summer and is looking for brunch aficionados to spread the word.  With its bright orange color, refreshing taste and bubbly, fun essence the Aperol Spritz will inspire a new spin on brunch and encourage consumers to toss out those old, tired mimosas and enjoy the warm summer weather with a side of an Aperol Spritz!

Brunch isn’t just a meal – it’s a lifestyle and its best enjoyed with an Aperol Spritz. Because of this, Aperol created the Aperol Brunch Society.  Every society needs its leaders, so Aperol is hiring four Chief Brunch Officers (CBO’s) to “Brunch for a Living.” As the head of each of their local chapters in New York, San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles, the Chief Brunch Officers will enjoy amazing brunches with their friends at the hottest spots in their cities all summer long and share the happiness by spreading the word of their signature cocktail, the Aperol Spritz, with an ever-increasing group of interesting people. “Brunch for a Living,” what on earth could be better?

“Brunch is America’s weekend darling and the Aperol Spritz is the perfect drink for this treasured pastime with its low alcohol content and crisp, zesty orange taste.  It’s stunning to behold, delicious to drink and as easy to prepare as 3-2-1,” says Kathleen Schuart, Senior Marketing Director, White Spirits, Campari America.  “As the Aperol Spritz trend grows quickly in the U.S., we need people we can trust to make sure the Aperol Spritz is being made and enjoyed properly, so we’ve launched the ‘Brunch For A Living’ job search to find the ideal candidates to spread the word about the next great summer cocktail.  I think the boring mimosa’s days are numbered.”

The job search runs through May 31.  To apply for the position, applicants must submit a 15-second video on Instagram explaining why they should be named their city’s Chief Brunch Officer using @AperolUSA along with #BrunchForALiving tags.  Job qualifications include:

  • Insider knowledge of candidate city’s hottest brunch spots
  • Almost painfully prolific social media user
  • Live in one of Aperol Spritz designated metro areas
  • Exceptional standards of style and culture
  • A killer sense of humor
  • 21 and up

The more “likes” an applicant has, the more visible the video becomes and the greater the chances of getting the job. Consumers can visit www.aperolbrunchsociety. com to learn more and check out their competition as they submit their videos.

Once a brunch lover lands the coveted Chief Brunch Officer position, their responsibilities kick in and will include:

  • Drink the Aperol Spritz and enjoy brunches at different locations every weekend between June and August – but remember to always enjoy Aperol responsibly.
  • Fill your table with old and new friends each week.
  • Promote your chapter of the Brunch Society and introduce as many new members to the Brunch Society as you can.
  • Constantly post and spread the word online about the Aperol Spritz at brunch, curating photos, videos and stories of how much your chapter is winning at life during your brunches.  Share the happiness with consistent weekly social posts using #BrunchSociety and tagging @AperolUSA.

The Aperol Spritz can be found in the hottest bars and brunch spots.  With its bright orange color, refreshing taste and bubbly effervescence, the Aperol Spritz is summer’s perfect cocktail as it tastes like the season feels – light, crisp and fun – with 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda water, over ice and garnished with orange.

GSN Alert: Bartender Appreciation Day

bronxDecember 6th marks Bartender Appreciation Day, a celebration to honor the guys and girls who spend time all year long listening to our woes, giving us advise and of course, a great pour. Sailor Jerry Rum started the holiday to pay homage to the great service of bartenders around the country and they have released this special toast for Bartender Appreciation Day, below.

“Here’s to the men and women who give up their late nights out, so we can have ours. Who make our drinks, pour our shots, and give us our nightly meal of nuts and pretzels. We honor their hard work and their unwavering patience. Without them, we would be out on the street or even worse, stuck at home. On December 6th, we raise our glass in solidarity.”
To celebrate BAD, Sailor Jerry and ran a contest to search for the most appreciated bartender in the country, and the winner has just been named. Justin Adame from Austin’s very own Thirsty Nickel beat out thousands of bartenders from around the country and this Friday night, he will be awarded a massive Sailor Jerry fueled party at his bar, featuring the brands iconic 92-proof spiced rum and a live performance by internationally-renowned punk rock band The Bronx.
The doors open at 8pm and the event is free for folks over 21. They’re calling it The Bronx Party because L.A.’s famous punk-rock band, The Bronx, will be on hand to rock the house while the bar serves up plenty of Sailor Jerry drink specials. The party is free, but don’t forget to RSVP so Sailor Jerry and Justin know you’re coming.

Justin Adame

Justin Adame

GSN Alert: PAMA Announces Finalists of “Are You Indispensable?” Cocktail Competition

PAMA POMEGRANATE LIQUEUR COCKTAIL COMPETITIONNEW YORK, Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, the original, all-natural pomegranate liqueur, today announces the six finalists of the first-ever “Are You Indispensable?” Cocktail Competition.  The competition attracted 242 cocktail recipes from professional bartenders and mixologists from more than 30 states that were submitted via, a leading online community for bartenders.  The recipes showcase PAMA as the indispensable modifier that provides a delicately balanced sweet-tart flavor, silky texture and a vibrant ruby-red color to cocktails ranging from aperitifs to nightcaps using both clear and aged spirits.  The competition is hosted by Hanna Lee Communications, Inc., an award-winning agency specialized in spirits, food, wine, and lifestyle PR and social media marketing.

The six finalists, in first-name alphabetical order, are as follows: Brian Means (Fifth Floor Restaurant & Lounge, San Francisco), Christopher James (Ryland Inn, Whitehouse Station, N.J.), Frank Caiafa, (Peacock Alley Restaurant at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York), Julia Momose (The Aviary, Chicago), Ryan Gannon (Cure, New Orleans) and Theo Lieberman (Milk & Honey, New York).

The final competition will be held on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.  Prizes include a Grand Prize of $5,000, a Second Place Prize of $2,000 and a Third Place Prize of $1,000.

It will be judged by leading lights of the spirits and mixology world:

  • Paul Pacult – Noted spirits critic and publisher/editor of The Spirit Journal
  • Steve Olson – Founder of aka wine geek and renowned spirits, wine and cocktail expert
  • Julie Reiner – Doyenne of cocktails and owner of Flatiron Lounge and Clover Club
  • Eben Freeman – Director of Bar Operations and Innovation at the Alta Marea Group
  • Kate Shapira Latts – Vice President of Marketing and a member of the third generation of the family behind Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the parent company of PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur

The 242 recipes submitted by bartenders across the U.S. showcased the incredible range of base spirits that were modified by PAMA.  Aged spirits included Bourbon, rye, Scotch, rum, Cognac and brandy.  Clear spirits spanned gin, vodka, tequila, soju, pisco, cachaca and absinthe.  Wine/beer cocktails utilized Prosecco, cava, Malbec, Moscato and Sauternes wines, Sherry and lager beer.

“We are delighted by the number of first-rate recipes that were submitted, especially since this is the competition’s first year.  The response demonstrates the high level of enthusiasm for PAMA in the bartending community nationwide,” says Lynn House, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur National Brand Ambassador, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.  “The finalists really took things to the next level.  They showed a sophisticated understanding of using PAMA as the indispensable modifier that makes ordinary cocktails extraordinary.  We wish them all the best of luck at the finals.”

“Competitions are a great platform for brand building.  During the six months of the recipe entry period, we created tremendous buzz for PAMA among bartenders and the media,” says Hanna Lee, President and Founder, Hanna Lee Communications.  “This exemplifies how a cocktail competition can be effectively planned and executed as part of an overall integrated marketing campaign while contributing to the bartending community and spotlighting its talent.”

GSN Alert: Auchentoshan Switch 2013 Winners Announced

image006Auchentoshan® Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky REVEALS WINNERS OF AUCHENTOSHAN SWITCH, A Trans-Continental Bartender Swap


Glasgow, Scotland (November 19, 2013) Auchentoshan® Three Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky is happy to announce the winners of the 2nd Auchentoshan Switch global bartender competition that literally has the winners ‘switching’ continents for two weeks to work in acclaimed bars in New York City and London. The Auchentoshan Switch North American winner is Michael Webster from Bar Isabel in Toronto, Canada and the European winner is Aidan Bowie from The Blysthswood Square Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland. The winners will be ‘switching’ continents sometime in early 2014, with Canadian Webster working at the acclaimed NightJar Bar in London and Glaswegian Bowie heading to the prestigious Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York City.

The Auchentoshan Switch was open to all bartenders in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Sweden in 2013. Regional heats took place in each of these countries this past summer to determine the group of semi-finalists (12 from each continent) to compete in the Finals. The Auchentoshan Switch Finals were held in London on Oct 1 and in New York City on Oct 27.

The North American final was held at the Dead Rabbit in New York City, where bartenders had to demonstrate their skill and creativity in front of judges and guests in three knockout rounds.  In the final round, Michael Webster was pitted against the Dead Rabbit’s own Pam Wiznitzer for the win:

  • Round 1/Creativity and Presentation – 12 finalists present their Three Wood drink from the heats
  • Round 2/Your Spin – Six finalists create a spin on a Classic Three Wood cocktail chosen at random
  • Round 3/Working Under Pressure – TWO FINALISTS create a drink from a basic pantry of ingredients plus all three ingredients from a ‘mystery bag’

“I was honored to be here to compete with these people,” said Michael Webster after his win. “Everyone was super-pro, totally dialed in. I am stoked to go to NightJar, it’s an incredible dream come true and I’m really excited. I want to send my respects to everyone involved in creating this competition.”

Says Auchentoshan Brand Manager Jennifer Meenan, “The bartender talent on both sides of the pond was incredible and made the competition so intense! We congratulate Michael and Aidan on their win and wish them the best of luck in the actual switch. The creative and delicious cocktails proved to us that Auchentoshan Three Wood is truly a darling of the cocktail community. The Auchentoshan Switch is a unique bartender competition that allows the winners to learn about cocktail culture in other parts of the world and they can share their own tricks of the trade with the host bar.”

Michael Webster’s winning cocktail: The Mixed Bag
1.5 oz Auchentoshan Three Wood
.5 oz French Muscatel
.25 oz. Amer Picon
1 heaping barspoon apricot preserve
1 egg white
7 drops Burlesque Bitters
3 drops Orinoco Bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Judges for the North American Final were:

  • Iain McCallum – Master of Malts at Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd
  • Charles Joly – Head Bartender at the Aviary, Chicago and 2011 winner of The Auchentoshan Switch
  • Allan Katz – Owner of the New York Distilling co. and Master Mixologist for Southern Wine and Spirits
  • Sean Muldoon – Owner of The Dead Rabbit, where the European winner will be based
  • Jack McGarry – Bar Manager/Owner, The Dead Rabbit

Judges for the European Final were:

  • Rachel Barrie – Auchentoshan Master Blender
  • Edmund Weil – Co-owner, Nightjar
  • Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan) – Cocktail genius

For more information about Auchentoshan Switch, please go to

Michael Webster

Michael Webster

GSN Autumn PAMA Contest

Autumn is a perfect time to transition into more fall-like flavored cocktails.  In honor of the season, Good Spirits News is giving away a bottle of Pama Liqueur to a random reader.  All you need to do is answer the following question, which can be found somewhere on the PAMA website.

What two spirits are blended with pomegranate juice to create PAMA?

Post your answer below in the comments section, and we’ll pick one random winner to receive a free bottle of PAMA!  Good luck!

Diageo’s World Class 2012 Winner Announced

Tim Philips from Hemmesphere, Australia has won Diageo’s World Class bartender competition. Philips was one of 50  finalists from around the world who competed during a week of events and challenges in Rio, Brazil.

Philips won over judges with his signature serve: Hot Toddy Australia made with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve blended scotch whisky, honey, cinnamon quill, ginger “and innovative technique”.

Following in the footsteps of mixology giants Manabu Ohtake, Erik Lorincz and Aristotelis Papadopoulos, he is said to have “displayed exceptional style and technique, truly showing the artisanship of his craft and a talent beyond his years”.

Over the past year, contenders from bars around the world have competed in local and regional heats, each aspiring to attain a place at the Diageo Reserve World Class global final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 50 from over 15,000 hopefuls were selected to showcase their creations in front of a judging panel made up of – Salvatore Calabrese, Dale de Groff, Peter Dorelli, Gary Regan, Daniel Estremadoyro, Hidetsugu Ueno, Arturo Savage, Steve Olson and Aristotelis Papadopoulos.

Philips said: “Throughout my career, I have nurtured a strong passion for cocktails and creating a superior experience for the customer. I have been inspired this week by the high standards and limitless talent at Diageo Reserve World Class and look forward to the year ahead, travelling the world, meeting my peers and continuing to create experiences through my creations that immerse customers in another world.”