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

August 11, 2021


The track winner receives a mentor experience and $5,000 to support an education- and mentorship-focused initiative within their community

BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Jake Truong-Jones of Sacramento was announced as the second winner of the Craft Meets Community Initiative (CMCI) $5,000 award to support a community-based project aimed at education and mentorship. Truong-Jones will also receive one-on-one mentoring sessions with track leaders Joaquín Simó, founder of Pouring Ribbons in New York, and a partner in Alchemy Consulting and Jeffrey Morgenthaler, award-winning bartender and author.

Truong-Jones, whose hospitality career began in 2013, submitted a proposal presenting an expansion of the nonprofit he founded in 2019, All My Friends Get Fed. The beginning stages of his service provided meal assistance to service industry workers and their families. In an effort to address worker shortages, the nonprofit launched the Sacramento Industry Job Database in 2020, allowing small businesses to post job listings for free. Truong-Jones’ CMCI project will extend his nonprofit to now create All My Friends Get Fed – Job Placement, Training and Mentorship Program. This initiative will be a job training and mentorship system that draws upon the collective experience of service industry workers to train and prepare individuals from the unhoused community and connect them to bar, restaurant, and kitchen jobs. After a successful pilot program in partnership with Saint John’s Program for Real Change, Truong-Jones recognized the opportunity to expand the job training program opportunities in his community.

“This program addresses the needs of two specific communities: the unhoused community in Sacramento, who are ready and able to begin their path back to a self-sustainable life. And second, the bar and restaurant community in Sacramento, who are currently faced with massive worker shortages, and need to hire highly motivated individuals who are both passionate and well prepared to provide top notch product and services,” said Truong-Jones. “We strongly believe that through this program we can help Sacramento heal from the pandemic shutdowns, while at the same time pass along knowledge, service skills and business acumen to elevate the hospitality landscape in our community.”

First announced in May 2021, CMCI is an extension of Heaven Hill and Liquor.com’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 second track in the series, Education and Mentorship, focused on knowledge and skills that serve and uplift individuals and communities through training and discussion around opportunities for growth and development for all bar professionals. Simó and  Morganethaler led a seminar entitled “The More You Know: Sharing Knowledge in the Bar Community,” which detailed their experiences as industry leaders on how to effectively grow a team through communication by exploring how to listen, learn, and distill information. Sponsored by Elijah Craig Bourbon and Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, Truong-Jones also crafted a cocktail inspired by the first cocktail recipe he learned how to build, a Mint Julep. His take on this classic was inspired by nights of discovery and practice, as well as the simple pleasure of a great cocktail after a hard day’s work (see recipe at end of release).

“Jake identified two different communities with urgent needs that are both reeling from the ongoing effects of the pandemic. With incredibly elegant simplicity, Jake’s proposal addresses two different critical gaps (a lack of housing and a lack of trained workforce) with a clear-eyed solution,” said Simó. “This project seems both scalable and replicable, and I hope we can help Jake grow this program to benefit Sacramento and beyond.”

More than 130 hospitality community members registered to participate in the education and mentorship track. Truong-Jones was ultimately identified as the award recipient for this track based on his success thus far with the program and clear vision forward for its growth. Truong-Jones will now be supported by the CMCI award money and one-on-one mentorship opportunities with Simó and Morgenthaler to grow his initiative. To get more involved with All My Friends Get Fed, 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 http://www.bartenderoftheyear.liquor.com for complete program details.

The Homeward Cocktail


2 oz Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
0.25 oz Amaro Montenegro
0.5 oz Vietnamese Pho Spice Syrup
3 dashes of Scrappy’s Bitters – Black Lemon Bitters
Generous Mint Sprig
Basil Leaves
Cinnamon Stick
Star Anise Pod


Combine first four ingredients in a copper or metal mug. Add 1 leaf of basil and very gently bruise with muddler. Top with crushed or pebble ice halfway. Swizzle cocktail for dilution then top fully with more crushed or pebble ice. Garnish with a generous mint sprig, basil sprig, one stick of cinnamon, and one pod of star anise.

Vietnamese Pho Spice Syrup Recipe: Place large empty saucepan on low-medium heat. Add 5 pods of star anise, 4 sticks of cinnamon, 6 pods of black cardamom, 20 cloves, and 1.5 Tbsp of Fennel Seeds. Lightly toast spices until you can smell aromas, then reduce heat. Add 3 Cups of water to saucepan, slowly add 1lbs of Organic Cane Sugar gently stirring to dissolve. Bring syrup to a simmer then turn off stove and return to room temperature. Add 4 tsp of Citric acid. Put syrup and spices into a blender and blend on high. Let sit overnight. Strain through fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.

ABOUT HEAVEN HILL BRANDS: Founded in 1935, Bardstown, KY -based Heaven Hill Brands (www.heavenhill.com) 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