Awards Drink Recipes Press Releases

Marie Brizard USA Cocktail Challenge Finals

Marie Brizard makes some of my favorite liqueurs, and their cocktail competition at the recent Tales of the Cocktail featured some really interesting drinks. Here is the winner:

And the winner of the Marie Brizard USA Cocktail Challenge Finals is… 

Miami’s Robert Montero of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, with his winning cocktail, “Sunny Crusta!” Robert received a cash prize of $1,000 and a complimentary trip to represent the U.S. this November in the annual Marie Brizard International Bartender Seminar and Competition in Bordeaux, France where he will be competing against top mixologists and bartenders from across the world who will all be preparing their original Marie Brizard cocktail to be sampled and judged by an expert panel.

The Runner-Up was James Menite of NYC’s Crown with, The “Made” Cocktail. James received a cash prize of $500.

The Marie Brizard USA Cocktail Challenge Finals consisted of 6 contestants judged on technique, appearance, aroma and taste battling for the coveted spot to represent the U.S. in the 30th annual Marie Brizard International Bartender Seminar and Competition this November in Bordeaux, France.


Sunny Crusta
Created by Robert Montero (Yardbird Southern Table & Bar)

1/2 oz. Marie Brizard Orange Curaçao
3/4 oz. Marie Brizard Blackberry
1 1/2 oz. Tequila Ocho Blanco
3/4 oz. Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz. Lime juice
1/4 oz. Agave Syrup

Shake ingredients together and strain into a sugar-rimmed wine glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel and 3 Filthy Black Cherries.

Congratulations to Robert!

Awards Spirits

The Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition Winners

LaiwscThe LAIWSC recently announced their winners, and the list includes some interesting choices.

Best of Show: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey 10 Year Old Reserve
William Grant & Sons, USA 
Whiskey/Whisky, Irish Blended $35
96 Pts.

Best of Rum: Bacardi 8
Rum (Cane Spirits) with indication of age (Unflavored) $22.99
91 Pts. 

Best of Gin: Oxley Gin
Bacardi USA Inc.
Gin (Unflavored, i.e., Botanicals added prior to or during distillation) $50
92 Pts.
Best of Tequila: Artá Añejo
Artá Tequila
100% Blue Agave Anejo $59.99
94 Pts.
Best of Brandy: Campo de Encanto Pisco
Haas Brothers
Brandy Pisco $34.99
90 Pts.
Best of Vodka: Skinny Girl Vodka Cucumber
Beam Inc.
Vodka (Flavored)
95 Pts.
Best of Liqueurs: Solerno
William Grant & Sons
Liqueurs Fruit $37
92 Pts.
Best of Whiskey/Whisky: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey 10 Year Old Reserve
William Grant & Sons, USA
Whiskey/Whisky Irish Blended $35
96 Pts.

You can explore the list of category winners, as well as the various medal winners here.

Awards Mixology Press Releases

Richard Gomez Named First Ever World Class U.S. Ambassador

Congrats to Ricky Gomez, a bartender at Portland's Teardrop Lounge, for being named the first-ever USBG & World Class U.S. Ambassador.

Twenty mixologists, five Cocktail Luminaries, four challenges – all to determine who will journey to Rio de Janeiro to represent the United States in the world's largest international cocktail program.  After months of scouring the country and searching for America's top talent behind the bar, the United States Bartenders' Guild has named Richard Gomez the first ever Diageo World Class U.S. Ambassador. Emerging from the nation's top cocktail talent, Ricky will travel toBrazil in July to compete at the World Class Global Final against 47 of his peers from around the globe.

"This is an unbelievable opportunity and I can't express how excited I am to be the first ever Diageo World Class U.S. Ambassador," said Gomez. "My fellow participants are an amazing illustration of American mixology talent and I am truly honored that my skills were chosen to represent the U.S. in the international finals this summer."

This announcement of the Diageo World Class U.S. winner concludes a two-month, nationwide search for the top mixologists and bartenders led by the USBG. BeginningApril 4, 2012, cocktail craftsmen from across the country applied online for the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of cocktail culture. Following the close of entries, 20 finalists were chosen to travel to one of the cocktail capitals of the United States, New York City, to prove their skills.

On June 19, 2012, the finalists competed in four challenges judged by top Cocktail Luminaries including Jim Meehan, Tony Abou-Ganim, Julie Reiner, Steve Olson and USBG National President David Nepove. After months of preparation, Gomez emerged victorious and was named the ultimate honoree during a celebration ceremony at New York's IAC Center.

"We are extremely excited to extend Ricky Gomez the opportunity to become the first ever Diageo World Class U.S. Ambassador," said Mark Schulte, Diageo's Senior Vice President of Customer Marketing. "We know that his supreme talent, cocktail knowledge and mixology skills will make the United States proud when representing our country at the international competition in Brazil. We are confident that he will personify American cocktail culture and enter the World Class league by celebrating with World Class responsibility."

The World Class Global Final is a landmark week in the spirits industry that sets the trends of mixology worldwide. While in Brazil, Gomez will spend five days participating in a series of challenges judged by some of the most renowned and respected in the industry and have the opportunity to earn the title of "Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year."

For additional information about the program and Ricky Gomez's journey to becoming the Diageo World Class U.S. Ambassador, visit Join the conversation by following @WorldClassUS on Twitter, use the hashtag #CocktailChallenge and visit


Awards Rum

Rum XP Awards – Best in Class

At the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami last week, 25 judges gathered to taste over 100 different rums. These people are, presumably, some serious rum drinkers, so I was excited to read their results. Medals were given out for Gold, Silver and Bronze — but here is the list of those rums that were named Best in Class.

1 Barrel
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
Plantation Guatemala Gran Añejo
Plantation Jamaica 2000
Plantation XO 20th Anniversary
Poesia Cachaça
Rhum J.M. White
Santa Teresa Araku
Siesta Key Spiced
Panama Red

Congratulations to all the winners!


Awards Spirits

San Francisco World Spirits Competition results

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the oldest and most prestigious spirits judging event in the United States. Some of the spirits world's best judges came together recently to taste 1215 different spirits from around the world. This is the granddaddy of American spirits competitions, and one of the most highly regarded in the world.

You can see a complete list of the results on their website, including all the spirits that won medals (Gold, Silver and Bronze). Worth paying special attention to are those spirits that won Double Gold, meaning that they were awarded a unanimous Gold medal from all of the judges.

Here is a list of those spirits that were judged Best in Class. I think we can assume that all of these are oustanding (even though I haven't personally tried many of them).

Overall Category Winners:

Best Aged White Spirit: Vizcaya Solera Rum VXOP Cask 21
Best Brandy: Boulard Calvados XO
Best Liqueur: Grand Marnier Quintessence
Best Unaged White Spirit: Avion Silver Tequila
Best Whisky: Isle of Jura Single Malt Scotch 1976

Individual Category Winners:

Best Apéritif: Aperol Apéritif
Best Aged Rum: Vizcaya Solera Rum VXOP Cask 21
Best Añejo Tequila: Don Celso Añejo Tequila
Best Aquavit: Krogstad Aquavit
Best Armagnac: Comte de Lauvia Armagnac VSOP Superior
Best Blended Scotch: Whyte & Mackay 30 Year Old Scotch Supreme
Best Bourbon: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2011
Best Cachaça: Leblon Maison Leblon Cachaça Reserve Especial
Best Calvados: Boulard Calvados XO
Best Canadian Whisky: Canadian Mist Black Diamond Canadian Whisky
Best Cognac: Hennessy Cognac Richard Hennessy
Best Cream Liqueur: Mozart Gold -  Chocolate Cream Liqueur
Best Flavored Vodka: EFFEN Cucumber Vodka
Best Fruit Liqueur: Grand Marnier Quintessence
Best Gin: Tanqueray London Dry Gin
Best Gold Rum: Cockspur Fine Rum
Best Irish Whiskey: Bushmills 21 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Best Mezcal: Real Matlatl Tobala Mezcal
Best Other Whisky: Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Best Pisco: Waqar Pisco
Best Reposado Tequila: Alquimia Organic Reposado Tequila
Best Rum Agricole: Rhum J.M. Rhum Agricole Millésimé 2001
Best Rye: Knob Creek Rye
Best Silver Tequila: Avion Silver Tequila
Best Single Malt Scotch: Isle of Jura Single Malt Scotch 1976
Best Ultra-Aged Añejo Tequila: El Tesoro Extra-Aged Añejo Tequila Paradiso
Best Vodka: Platinka Original Vodka
Best White Rum: Kinkylux White Rum

Congratulations to all the winners!


Awards Spirits

Winners of the 2012 Ultimate Spirits Challenge

UbcA distinguished line-up of experts, including such luminaries such as F. Paul Pacult, David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff and Jim Meehan, came together recently under the auspices of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in order to judge the finest spirits in the world.

A stunning 650 spirits were entered in more than 30 categories. All of the entrants that scored at least 80 points (on a 100-point scale) — basically those that are recommended — are included in the results.

There were also 31 Chairman's Trophies awarded, representing the "best of the best." I'm listing those below.

Vodka – Unflavored
"Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium

Vodka – Flavored
BAK’s Bison Grass Zubrowka


Bols Barrel Aged

Tequila – 100% Agave
Blanco: Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver
Reposado: Ambhar
Anejo: Siete Leguas
Extra Anejo: Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia

Del Maguey Vida Single Village

Appleton Estate Reserve

Rhum Agricole
Rhum J.M. White

INOX Original

Whisk(E)Y – North America
American Whiskey: Balcones “1” Texas Single Malt
Bourbon: Blanton’s Single Barrel
Rye: Masterson’s
Tennessee Whiskey: George Dickel Barrel Select

Whiskey – Ireland
Blended: Midleton Barry Crockett
Irish Pot Still Whiskey: Redbreast Cask Strength 12 Years Old
Single Malt: Bushmills 16 Years Old

Whisky – Scotland
Blended Malt: Johnnie Walker Green Label
Blended: Buchanan’s Special Reserve 18 Years Old
Single Malt: Caol Ila 12 Years Old

Whisky – Canada
Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

Whisky – World
Japan: Yamazaki Single Malt 18 Years Old

Armagnac: Delord 1978
Calvados: Calvados Drouin 25 Years Old
Cognac: Frapin Château Fontpinot XO
Grappa: Jacopo Poli Sarpa Barrique
Pisco: Pisco Porton

Green Chartreuse

Lise Baccara Troussepinete Red

Congratulations to all the winners!