The biggest and most celebrated U.S. bartender competition of the year has identified the country’s most talented mixologist. This year, 15 of the nation’s top bartenders competed for the title of champion in New York City while six internationally recognized Cocktail Luminaries assembled to select one contender as champion.
After proving his skills during five challenges and two days of competition on June 16 and 17, the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) and World Class U.S. are proud to announce Charles Joly from Chicago as the 2014 U.S. Bartender of the Year.
Charles Joly will represent the U.S. at the world’s largest international cocktail competition this July in Great Britain, the origin of the Global competition. World Class remains the largest international cocktail education program and fosters a community of bartending talent that continues to elevate the art of the cocktail across the world.
“I am honored to participate in this phenomenal program and to represent the U.S. in the Global Finale,” said Charles Joly. “The World Class program is a completely unique experience that pushes mixology to new levels. I feel honored that the esteemed judges chose me to represent the United States in the global competition and privileged to have competed alongside the talented finalists.”
Charles Joly’s journey began in the fall of 2013, as the USBG and World Class program entered its third year in the Unites States. The program invited top bartending and mixology talent to prove their skills by completing two educational modules, submitting an original cocktail recipe and answering two essay questions. Hundreds of hopefuls completed the application, which was judged by 2013 World Class U.S. Winner Jeff Bell and World Class Ambassador Ricky Gomez. There were 75 regional finalists and in the end 15 finalists were selected to prove their skills in one of the major urban epicenters of American cocktail culture- New York City.
The 15 competitors put their talent to the test on June 16-17, 2014. Each participant demonstrated their expertise, knowledge and technique by creating cocktails featuring one of the Diageo Reserve Brands, which include Bulleit® Bourbon, CIROC® Vodka, Johnnie Walker® Blended Scotch Whiskey, Ketel One® Vodka, Tanqueray No. Ten®, Tequila Don Julio® and Zacapa® Rum.
This year Cocktails Against the Clock, an intense timed challenge that tested the finalists’ poise, accuracy and craftsmanship under pressure, returned as part of the competition. Additionally, four new and exciting challenges were introduced:
- The Tasting Menu and Market Challenge: Inspired by a five-course tasting dinner, each bartender selected two of the five courses for a cocktail pairing.
- Dealer’s Choice: A stock list challenge that required the making of two different cocktails dictated by three decks of cards. The first deck identified the style of cocktail, the second listed the required spirit and the third included flavor descriptions.
- A Spirit Through the Ages: The bartenders prepared a series of cocktails representing different time periods using a single spirit.
- The Guest of Honor: By introducing theater and ritual to the serving of a product, contestants created something unique and inspirational with an emphasis on the sensory experience. Each bartender created one signature cocktail serve and a bottle serve directed to the Guest(s) of Honor at a special occasion of their choosing.
Throughout the two-day competition, internationally acclaimed cocktail luminaries including Ambassador of Tequila to the United States Julio Bermejo and master mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout; beverage expert Steve Olson; award-winning bartender Jim Meehan; James Beard Nominee Julie Reiner; and National President of the USBG Dave Nepove carefully critiqued and scored each drink to determine the competitor deserving of the USBG and World Class U.S. Winner title.
“We are so thrilled to be in our third year of this program that has expanded again and brought superior talent, a mix of returning and new, to the finals in New York,” said Mark Schulte, SVP, Customer Marketing, Diageo North America. “Charles Joly will have the opportunity to showcase his expertise and mixology talents to the world when they represent the U.S. at the global competition in Great Britain. Charles Joly will bring the American cocktail culture to life in the best way through his creations when competing against a worldwide assembly of bartenders and celebrating with World Class responsibly.”
Charles Joly will travel to Great Britain to participate in the competition with 50 total worldwide bartenders fromJuly 28 to August 1, 2014. As a dual-location event the Global Finals will highlight Scotland’s art of blending andLondon’s contemporary global cocktail culture. While abroad, Charles Joly will be judged by renowned international cocktail luminaries, while vying for the chance to win the title of “Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year.”
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