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.”

Ultimate Cocktail Challenge® 2012 Announces Winners for Classic and Signature Cocktail Challenges

Ultimate Beverage Challenge® (UBC), is proud to announce the results of the annual Ultimate Cocktail Challenge® (UCC) held at Astor Center in New York City, June 4 – 8, 2012. Ultimate Cocktail Challenge encompasses two distinct competitions – Classic Cocktail Challenge and Signature Cocktail Challenge.

Hundreds of cocktails were tasted and rated over the course of the week to determine which brands would be awarded the coveted Chairman’s Trophy for the top-performing spirits. Led by F. Paul Pacult (Judging Chairman and UBC founder) and Sean Ludford (Co-Judging Chairman), the Ultimate Cocktail Challenge 2012 panel of judges included mixology superstars Eric Alperin, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Tad Carducci, Curtis Cheney, Dale DeGroff, Don Lee, Lynnette Marrero, Jim Meehan, Steve Olson, Julie Reiner, Willy Shine and David Wondrich.

UBC’s Classic Cocktail Challenge assessed how spirits performed as the base of classic cocktails, naming for example the best gin to make a dry gin Martini, the finest tequila for a classic Margarita, etc. Entered brands were tasted in all cocktail recipes for their category. For instance, all gins were tasted in a Martini, Aviation and Negroni.

Many consumers have a favorite go-to classic cocktail that they shake up at home, but few have the time or resources to experiment with dozens of different brands to determine which is the best spirit for their favorite classic recipe. Ultimate Cocktail Challenge results, which are provided by the foremost cocktail authorities, give reliable recommendations for purchasing decisions.

“We believe that UCC ratings provide consumers with the necessary information for the best spirit to use in simple cocktails that they can make at home,” says Paul Pacult. “For our judges, Sean and I carefully selected some of the best cocktail palates in the industry who collectively have tasted tens of thousands of cocktails. We can’t imagine a better panel of judges to taste, rate and vote on the best spirit for a particular classic cocktail. Ultimate Cocktail Challenge is unique in this respect as there is no other competition that looks at spirits in cocktails in this way.”

Signature Cocktail Challenge assessed the quality of proprietary cocktail recipes entered by individual brands. This year more than 50 proprietary recipes were submitted, and five were awarded the Chairman’s Trophy, the highest Ultimate Cocktail Challenge honor.

Says Pacult, “The reason that classic cocktail recipes remain so popular is because they possess a ratio of ingredients that produces a harmonious taste. This year we were surprised that many of the Signature Cocktail entries did not show off their featured spirit to its best advantage or produce a great-tasting and balanced cocktail. And because UBC has strict but fair rating standards as well as a strong belief that awards should not be handed out to brands merely because they have entered, it was found that only five Signature Cocktail recipes produced a delicious and award-worthy cocktail. These five were awarded the Chairman’s Trophy.”

For the complete list of results for both Classic and Signature Challenges, including classic and signature cocktail recipes, go to For a selection of downloadable images go to



Spirits in Classic Challenge were judged on the 100-point rating system. The highest scoring spirit in each classic cocktail was awarded the Ultimate Cocktail Challenge Chairman’s Trophy.

BEST GIN in a…

  •     Aviation — Broker’s London Dry Gin
  •     Extra Dry Martini — Broker’s London Dry Gin
  •     Negroni — Tanqueray London Dry Gin


  •     Vodka Martini — Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka


  •     El Diablo — Tres Agaves Reposado Tequila
  •     Fresa Verde — Tres Agaves Anejo Tequila
  •     Margarita — Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila


  •     Daiquiri — Banks 5 Island Rum
  •     Mai Tai — Banks 5 Island Rum
  •     Mojito — Banks 5 Island Rum


  •     Aged Rum Sidecar — Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum
  •     El Presidente — Don Q Anejo Rum


  •     Brandy Crusta — Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
  •     May Daisy — Remy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac
  •     Sidecar — Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
  •     Vieux Carré — D’USSÉ VSOP Cognac


  •     Blood & Sand — Glen Garioch 12 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  •     Rob Roy — Amrut Fusion Single Malt Indian Whisky
  •     Rusty Nail — Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky


  •     Manhattan    — Russell’s Reserve 10 Years Old Bourbon
  •     Old-Fashioned — Russell’s Reserve 10 Years Old Bourbon
  •     Whiskey Sour — Russell’s Reserve 10 Years Old Bourbon


  •     Tipperary Cocktail — Michael Collins 10 Years Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey



Cocktails in Signature Challenge were judged on the 100-point scale. In recognition of the individuality of each recipe, all Signature cocktails that scored 90 points and higher were awarded the Ultimate Cocktail Challenge Chairman’s Trophy. Below find the Chairman’s Trophy winners and the name of the Signature cocktail recipe:

  •     Aperol Aperitif – “Aperol Spritz”
  •     Cointreau Liqueur – “Cointreau-Sherry Cobbler”
  •     Mandarine Napoleon Citrus Liqueur – “The Napoleon Complex”
  •     Pernod Absinthe – “Pernod’s Garden”
  •     St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur – “The St-Germain Cocktail”


Ultimate Beverage Challenge (UBC) was founded by F. Paul Pacult, Sue Woodley and David Talbot and provides expert evaluation of spirits, wines and cocktails for producers, importers and marketers through its three innovative annual competitions – Ultimate Spirits Challenge, Ultimate Wine Challenge and Ultimate Cocktail Challenge.

Ultimate Beverage Challenge inquiries: info(at)ultimate-beverage(dot)com or 1-347-878-6551.

Bombay Sapphire Gin Reveals the World’s First Most Imaginative Bartender

David Wolowidnyk of Canada is crowned the World’s Most Imaginative Bartender with New BOMBAY SAPPHIRE cocktail named Beldi.

The winner of the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® World’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition was announced at an event held in Morocco for professional bartenders, hosted by Bombay Sapphire, the world’s number one premium gin by value for a third consecutive year[1].

The winner, David Wolowidnyk of Canada was selected from thousands of contestants overall and eight finalists from Canada, Global Travel Retail, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The bartenders took part in a four-day experience, visiting the Moroccan home of one of the Bombay Sapphire botanicals – coriander – and exploring the world of the historic gin.

The competition itself took place on the last evening of the experience at one of the most beautiful villas in the world, Dar Sabra in Marrakech, Morocco. Each bartender was tasked with creating their most imaginative cocktail – combining their individual influences with the cultural experiences they had experienced throughout the trip.

Bombay Sapphire Global Brand Ambassador Raj Nagra hosted the competition and commented: “By hand-selecting the most creative talent from behind the bar, the Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition not only challenges them, but also aims to support them on their journey to becoming the most imaginative bartenders in the world. Just as the unique taste of Bombay Sapphire is inspired by the infusion of its 10 exotic botanicals, we look to inspire bartenders all over the world.”

David was a worthy winner, adding his own unique flair and style to his cocktail, the Beldi. In addition to receiving the “Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender” title, David also earned a place in the Bombay Sapphire Cocktail Hall of Fame, partaking in various duties, including attending the 2013 opening of the new Bombay Sapphire distillery at Laverstoke Mill in England and becoming part of the Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender judging panel for next year’s competition.

Beldi – David Wolowidnyk Winning Cocktail Recipe
45ml Bombay Sapphire infused with Moroccan Saffron and Ginseng
20ml Martini Bianco cold steeped with 1 tsp Moroccan Mint Tea and 6-8 fresh mint leaves
15ml Cinnamon/Cassia Syrup
2 dashes Lem-Marrakech Bitters – exclusively produced beforehand by “Kale & Nori”

Toasted Moroccan coriander tincture.

To garnish
Lemon zest, with the star from Moroccan flag cut into it.

Combine Bombay Sapphire, Martini Bianco, Cinnamon/Cassia Syrup and Bitters.
Stir with ice in a mixing glass.
Mist the Toasted coriander tincture into the chilled glass.
Strain into a chilled glass, garnish with a lemon zest and mist tincture again over the surface.

Marie Brizard USA Cocktail Challenge NYC Semifinal Winner

The winner of the Marie Brizard USA Cocktail Challenge NYC Semifinal is… James Menite of Crown Restaurant, with his winning cocktail, “Made!” James received a complimentary trip to the 10th Annual Tales of the Cocktail this July in New Orleans where he will be competing against top mixologists and bartenders from across the country who will all be preparing their original Marie Brizard cocktail to be sampled and judged by an expert panel for a chance to participate at the annual Marie Brizard International Bartender Seminar and Competition in Bordeaux, France.

The Runner-Up was Aaron Butler of Experimental Cocktail Club LES with his cocktail, “Letter of Marque.” Third place went to Gabriel Zahriyeh of The Empire Hotel with her cocktail, “Rug Bum.”

FIRST PLACE: The “Made” cocktail (James Menite)

Quantity in Oz.


Brand Name

 1  Marie Brizard Anisette  Marie Brizard
 .5  Cynar
 .5  Luxardo maraschino liqueur
 .5  great Italian espresso
.5  egg white infused with coffee beans

Star anise garnish with drop of Italian honey topped with shaved meyer lemon

Glass: Standard Coupe

Garnish: Star anise, Italian honey, Shaved Meyer lemon.

Directions: Dry shake all ingredients. Then add kold draft ice. Shake vigorously . Strain into chilled coupe. Add garnish of star anise, droplet of Italian honey on center of anise, then shaved meyer lemon zest on top of the drink. Enjoy

RUNNER-UP: “Letter of Marque” (Aaron Butler)

Quantity in Oz.


Brand Name

 .75  Apricot  Marie Brizard
 1.25  Gin  Plymouth
 .75  Amaro  Meletti
 .25  Fresh Lemon Juice
 1 oz Float  East India Pale Ale  Brooklyn
 2 dashes  Bitters  Peychauds
Glassware  Double Rocks
Description of Garnish  Lemon peel
Preparation (Circle one) Shaker

THIRD PLACE: “Rug Bum” (Gabriel Zahriyeh)

Quantity in Oz.


Brand Name

 2  Chocolate Chai tea infused Vanilla Vodka Sobieski
.5  Marie Brizard Orange Marie Brizard
 2  Pomegranate Juice  Meletti

Glassware: Rocks Glass

Description of Garnish: Pomegranates and Anise Star, and Ferraro Rocher

Preparation:  (Shaker)      Mixing Glass      “Built in Glass”

Finalists of the 2012 Essay and Cocktail Competition

Congratulations to the 2012 Finalists
Amongst the dozens of entries, five have been chosen to compete in the live finals to be held May 15th in New York City during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.  Benjamin Augustine from Sepia Restaurant in Chicago, Brian Matthys from Le Bernardin in New York City, Joshua Pearson from Sepia Restaurant in Chicago, and Ezra Star from Drink in Boston will compete in a live cocktail competition for a chance to win a trip to Cognac, France to become a certified Cognac Connoisseur or a coveted scholarship to the BAR 5-Day Advanced Program held once a year in New York City.  Clint Rogers from The Gage and Henri in Chicago was also chosen as a finalist, but will be unable to compete in New York.

Presentation, Competition and Celebration
The live cocktail competition is part of a full day of Cognac immersion during the exclusive Industry Invitational at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic!  Learn more about Cognac through presentation, competition and celebration!  It all starts with a seminar geared to understanding the influences of terroir, regionality, and the magic of oak aging, through blind tasting and cocktails; followed by The Essay and Cocktail Competition National Finals; and ending in a celebration of 200 years of Cognac Cocktails, 1812-2012, featuring our favorite Cognac cocktail recipes through history, crafted by the partners of BAR, with special guest appearances by the BAR family of superstar bartender graduates!

Experience Cognac Platform
One of the most comprehensive bartender training programs in the U.S., Experience Cognac is a fun, qualitative tool for U.S. bartenders and mixologists to learn about Cognac, from the vineyards to the shaker.  Designed by six of the world’s leading spirits and cocktails authorities—Steve Olson, Andy Seymour, David Wondrich, F. Paul Pacult, Doug Frost, and Dale DeGroff—Experience Cognac leads bartenders on an exploration of Cognac and also offers tips, cocktail recipes and food pairing suggestions.

Visitors to can learn about Cognac’s history and production from F. Paul Pacult and Doug Frost, discover Cognac’s role in American cocktail history with David Wondrich, or explore Cognac’s role in modern day mixology with Dale DeGroff and Andy Seymour.  This is a unique opportunity to learn through the eyes of some of America’s greatest spirits experts!

Stay Tuned
Follow the Cognac Maniacs Facebook page ( to learn more about exciting upcoming events, including Discovering Le Cognac seminars held in cities across the country.