Two Chicago Finalists Chosen for Heaven Hill Brands, 2016 “Bartender of the Year”

March 30, 2016

Eight Contestants to Compete in the Finals in Puerto Rico

FOR RELEASE: For Immediate Release

HH Bartender Contestants 2BARDSTOWN, KY – Heaven Hill Brands and announced the two finalists of the Chicago regional semifinal competing for the 2016 Bartender of the Year competition. Julia Momose of GreenRiver in Chicago won first place and $1,000; Will Lee of Selden Standard in Detroit won second place and $500.

Eight semifinalists competed regionally Monday, March 28 at Bordel in Chicago. Semifinal bartenders competed in two rounds, first mixing one of their original cocktail entries. Four contestants moved on to the second round, creating three cocktails of the dealers’ choice, using Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, or Rittenhouse Rye Whisky in each cocktail.

National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands Lynn House, Director of Mixology & Spirits Education for Southern Wine & Spirits of New York Allen Katz, and Master Mixologist for Southern Wine & Spirits Natalia Cardenas judged the semifinalists’ cocktails and chose two finalists based on highest scores. Cocktails were scored on name, appearance and presentation, inspiration, balance of flavors, aroma and character, while contestants were also scored on creativity, presentation style and product knowledge.

More than 600 original cocktail recipes were submitted online nationwide beginning August 1, 2015. Preliminary entries required two original cocktail recipes, one classic and one innovative, along with a short description of what hospitality means to the contestant. The top two contestants from each regional semifinal will vie for the title of Bartender of the Year and $15,000 at the St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico in June 2016. Finalists will be challenged on their full range of skills as hospitality professionals. Judges will be 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 2016 Bartender of the Year Regional Semifinalists who competed in Chicago are as follows, in no specific order:

Name City Regional City
Will Lee Detroit Chicago
Egor Polonskiy Chicago Chicago
James Downs Detroit Chicago
Robert Ryan Buchanan Denver Chicago
Julia Momose Chicago Chicago
Jess Keene Chicago Chicago
Matty Eggleston Chicago Chicago
Allison Widdecombe Denver Chicago

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.


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

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