Cole Younger bartender

Heaven Hill Brands Bartender of the Year Program Selects First Winner for Craft Meets Community Award Program

August 4, 2021


The track winner receives a mentor experience and $5,000 to support a sustainability & environmental initiative within their community

BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Cole Youngner of Atlanta was announced as the first winner of the Craft Meets Community Initiative (CMCI) $5,000 award to support a community-based project aimed at sustainability & the environment. Youngner will also receive one-on-one mentoring sessions with track leader Claire Sprouse, bartender-owner of Brooklyn’s Hunky Dory and a leading voice on decreasing waste within the industry.

Youngner, whose career spans both hospitality and public health, submitted a proposal focused on amplifying the voices and communities who are doing drinks and hospitality differently. Through creating a digital storytelling platform, his community ‘zine’ publication would identify leaders, projects, stories and ideas that would connect people within hospitality focused on creating a more equitable, ethical and sustainable industry.

“In reflecting on sustainability, it has to include the human element as well, not just reducing waste, but how can we make this worthwhile and lasting for people and their surrounding environment and community,” said Youngner. “Bringing more people together in my community will be the key first step in being able to better learn from each other so we can start making more progress as an industry in Atlanta and beyond.”

First announced in May 2021, CMCI is an extension of Heaven Hill and’s Bartender of the Year program, developed to provide greater access industry-wide to education, mentorship, and leadership engagement opportunities. CMCI replaces the typical competition structure for 2021, creating a platform for virtual education and conversation structured through four tracks led by industry experts and open to all hospitality professionals. The program is also designed to encourage hospitality professionals to take action within their community and participants are also invited to apply for the optional CMCI Award Program. Four individuals, one from each respective educational track, will receive one-on-one mentoring from an industry expert and $5,000 to fund their community-based project within their focus area.

The first track in the series, Sustainability and Environment, focused on ways that environmental degradation is a threat to individuals and communities, and how to make choices that are beneficial to our world. Sprouse’s seminar entitled “Sustainability from Cocktail to Community” laid down a foundation for understanding the pillars of environmental action: from food waste to water conservation to reducing carbon footprint. Sponsored by Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey and Christian Brothers Sacred Bond Brandy, Youngner also crafted a cocktail inspired by what drinks may have been popular in his home state of Georgia a century ago. He also notes the historical traces of this drink, a mashup of the Cobbler and Mint Julep, remind us where we came from, and of our history, which is crucial to forming identity and community, crucial in driving sustainability forward (see recipe at end of release).

“I really appreciated how Cole’s project shows how interconnected our personal sustainability is to the sustainability of others and the community as a whole,” said Sprouse. “I can see it being a replicable model for other people and places to build and strengthen similar connections as well.”

More than 120 hospitality community members registered to participate in the sustainability and environment track. Youngner was ultimately identified as the award recipient for this track for their particular attention to incorporating community and uplifting other voices within sustainability. Youngner will now be supported by the CMCI award money and one-on-one mentorship opportunities with Sprouse to grow their initiative. To get more involved in the zine, please contact [email protected].

Heaven Hill Brands’ Bartender of the Year program has supported the growth, education and awareness of the hospitality community since 2016. The Class of 2020 Finalists received a combined $40,000 to be split between each after the competition pivoted midway through the reginal semifinals tour to a virtual format. All eight joined the ranks of esteemed past winters: Justin Ware in 2019, Harrison Ginsberg in 2018, Nathan O’Neill in 2017, and Abigail Gullo who won the inaugural competition in 2016. Visit the official Bartender of the Year website at for complete program details.

Not Your Grandma’s Peach Cobbler

Cocktail glass with garnish
Cocktail glass with garnish

12 mint leaves (foraged locally or from your local garden preferably!)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

.25 oz peach scraps syrup (house-made recipe included below)

2 lemon wheels

4 peach slices (Georgia peaches if possible!)

2 oz. Sacred Bond Bottled-in-Bond Brandy

.5 oz Rum


Combine all ingredients except rum and cognac into a cocktail shaker tin. Muddle fruit and mint gently to incorporate. Add rum, Sacred Bond, and two ice cubes to the same shaker tin. Shake hard until ice has completely melted, and fine strain into a tall glass. Fill glass with crushed ice making a snow cone shape on top. Express lemon peel on top, add straw, mint sprigs in a bouquet, peach slices in a fan shape for garnish. Generously dash Angostura bitters on mint, peaches, and ice.

Peach Scraps Syrup Recipe: Add two cups of leftover peach scraps (fresh, skin, pieces, pits) into a pot. Add enough filtered water to cover. Bring pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 45 minutes to make a peach tisane. Strain pot using a chinois, fine mesh sieve, or cheesecloth into a heat safe mixing bowl. Compost the leftover solids. Measure the tisane liquid and add to a blender. Add twice as much cane sugar as tisane, by volume, to the blender. Blend until sugar fully dissolves. Store in non-reactive container in refrigerator for up to a month, up to 3 months if you add a shot of neutral spirit such as vodka.

ABOUT HEAVEN HILL BRANDS: 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, Elijah Craig, Larceny, and Henry McKenna Bourbons; Rittenhouse Rye Whisky; Deep Eddy and Burnett’s Vodkas; Admiral Nelson’s and Blackheart Rums; Black Velvet Canadian Whisky; Lunazul Tequila; The Christian Brothers Brandies; HPNOTIQ Liqueur; Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur.

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


Lauren Cherry
Heaven Hill Brands
[email protected]

Enjoy Like a True Kentuckian: Responsibly