Champion Named in Heaven Hill Brands 2016 “Bartender of the Year”

June 9, 2016

For Immediate Release

HH ChampsBARDSTOWN, KY – Heaven Hill Brands and announced today the champion of the 2016 Bartender of the Year competition. After a nationwide search to find the top bartenders across America, Abigail Gullo of Compere Lapin in New Orleans, LA is the 2016 Bartender of the Year and the recipient of $15,000. Gullo will also be featured in three “how-to” cocktail videos on Brian Means of Dirty Habit in San Francisco, CA was runner up.

Eight finalists competed beachside at the St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico on June 7. Final bartenders competed in three rounds, first in the “market challenge” creating an original cocktail utilizing ingredients native to Puerto Rico. Four contestants moved on to the “in the weeds” challenge, creating and presenting as many cocktails as possible from a given list in the time provided. Two contestants moved on to the final “master class” challenge where they presented a 15-minute bartending class as though they were instructing the next generation of bartenders.

Over 600 original cocktail recipes using Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky were submitted online nationwide beginning August 1, 2015. 32 semifinalists then competed in New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, or Chicago throughout February and March. Eight semifinal bartenders in each region competed in two rounds, with the top two bartenders from each region moving on to Puerto Rico.

“Since its inception, this competition has been an avenue to support innovative bartenders whose professionalism are continually raising the bar for the future of the craft,” said Kate Latts, Vice President Marketing for Heaven Hill Brands. “Congratulations to Abigail and to each of the contestants for displaying exemplary skill and creativity. We look forward to continuing this competition in the future with our diverse portfolio of spirits leading the way for innovation in bartending.”

National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands Lynn House, Director of Mixology & Spirits Education for Southern Wine & Spirits of New York Allen Katz, and Bar Manager of Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko Jeffrey Morgenthaler judged the final eight bartenders. Finalists were challenged on their full range of skills as hospitality professionals. Judges were looking for the ultimate bartender who displays the total breadth and aptitude all bartenders aspire to embody.

Grounded in the original Bartender of the Year Competition hosted by Domaine de Canton starting in 2009, Heaven Hill Brands resurrected the competition due to strong demand from bartenders worldwide. Past winners of the competition include John Lermayer, Sean Kenyon and Dennis Gobis.

The following bartenders competed in the 2016 Bartender of the Year Finals:

Name City Regional City
Will Lee Detroit Chicago
Julia Momose Chicago Chicago
Abigail Gullo New Orleans New Orleans
Mike Henderson Denver New Orleans
Brian Means San Francisco San Francisco
Jorge Vargas-Baquedano Las Gatos, Calif. San Francisco
Pietro Collina New York New York
Naomi Levy Boston New York

Founded in 1935, Bardstown, KY-based Heaven Hill Brands ( is the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer and the world’s second-largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. Heaven Hill’s diversified portfolio of brands includes Evan Williams Bourbon; Larceny, Elijah Craig and Henry McKenna Bourbons; Deep Eddy Vodka; Burnett’s Vodkas and Gin; Admiral Nelson’s and Blackheart Rums; HPNOTIQ Liqueur; The Christian Brothers Brandies; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur; Lunazul Tequila; Cinerator Hot Cinnamon Flavored Whiskey and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky.

Heaven Hill reminds you to “Think Wisely.  Drink Wisely.”

Lauren Cherry
Communications Coordinator
Heaven Hill Brands
(502) 413-0217
[email protected]

Enjoy Like a True Kentuckian: Responsibly