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Two SF Barkeeps Will Compete for “Bartender of the Year”

Bartender Of The Year

Earlier this month, Heaven Hill Brands and Liquor.com hosted the regional semifinals for their “Bartender of the Year” award right here in San Francisco.  More than 600 original cocktail recipes were submitted from across the country, including one classic and one innovative recipe from each contestant.

Bartender of the Year Semifinals in San Francisco @ Woodbury in the South Beach

Bartender of the Year Semifinals in San Francisco @ Woodbury in the South Beach

On March 7, eight semifinalists from the Bay Area up to the far stretches of the Pacific Northwest gathered at Woodbury in the South Beach neighborhood and competed in two different rounds.  In the first round, each contestant mixed one of their original cocktails entries that they submitted for the competition.

In the second round, they each had to create three cocktails of dealer’s choice, using Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, or Rittenhouse Rye Whisky in each cocktail.

The Competition

A crowd of fellow booze industry folk cheered them on as they each took turns being timed and judged by a panel that included National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands Lynn House, Former Saloon Keeper of Comstock Saloon Jeff Hollinger, and Bar Manager of Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko Jeffrey Morgenthaler.  The competition was fierce and the cocktails were flowing as the judges decided who would win and make it to the finals competition.


Jorge Vargas of Jack Rose Libation House in Los Gatos

Jorge Vargas of Jack Rose Libation House in Los Gatos took 1st place

The results?  The Bay Area’s very own Jorge Vargas of Jack Rose Libation House in Los Gatos won first place and $1,000.  In second place was Dirty Habit’s Brian Means who walked away with $500 and will also be competing in the finals along with Jorge.

Both of them will join the other finalists in June at the St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico

to compete for “Bartender of the Year” and a $15,000 prize.

Good luck to our boys!


Who Competed

The semifinalists who competed:

  • Andrew Meltzer, 15 Romolo, San Francisco
  • Brian Means, Dirty Habit, San Francisco
  • Jorge Vargas-Baquedano, Jack Rose Libation House, Los Gatos, California
  • Seth Marquez, Coin-Op Game Room, Sacramento, California
  • Richard Beltzer, Ginger, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Jennifer Akin, Alchemy Restaurant & Bar, Ashland, Oregon
  • Ryan Lobe, Rumba, Seattle, Washington
  • Kaytie Keck, Red Feather Lounge, Boise, Idaho



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About The Author
Julie Albin
Julie Albin is a wine and spirits writer based in San Francisco and is currently the Editor-in-Chief for Drink Me Magazine. Her work has also been published in Whisky Advocate, Grape Collective, SOMA Magazine, Wine Geographic, Connoisseur Magazine, 2Paragraphs, etc. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine and has also completed her WSET Diploma. To further her expertise in the industry, Julie has spent much time in Europe meeting with winemakers and distillers to learn about their stories.

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