2012 Domaine de Canton Bartender of the Year
- Ticket to France
- 1¼ Domaine de Canton
- ¼ Yellow Chartreuse
- ¾ Lemon
- ½ Guavaberry Liquor
- Egg white
- Topped with Billecart Salmon Rose and sprayed with Hibiscus essence
- Garnished with a dried hibiscus flower and ground cinnamon
2012 Bartender of the Year Finalists
Domaine de Canton would like to introduce you to the 2012 Bartender of the Year, Finalists. Each contestant will be traveling to the French St. Martin June 10-13, 2012 to compete for a chance to win $10,000 and claim their name as the 2012 Domaine de Canton, Bartender of the Year.
A third generation Knoxville native with 11 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Jessica King brings a unique philosophy and unparalleled level of creativity as food and beverage director and bar manager for The Oliver Hotel and the Peter Kern Library. King was first introduced to the bar industry as a bartender at the well-known Blue Cats Music Venue in Knoxville where she honed her cocktail crafting skills. Over the past decade, King has accumulated invaluable experience managing both high and low volume bars and teaching numerous bartending classes.
"I strongly believe in taking the time, effort and attention to detail necessary to create a truly unique and special cocktail," said King. "Crafting the perfect libation should be a performance. I will always avoid taking the easy the way out with pre-purchased products and other shortcuts."
While her experience working in the bar industry was influential in aiding her career, her travels across the country have served as the main inspiration to explore the world of mixology. A visit to The Gin Joint in Charleston, S.C., awakened King’s passion for utilizing fresh, all-natural and innovative ingredients and local spirits while avoiding artificial flavors and synthetic products. The visionary behind the Peter Kern Library’s speakeasy concept, King applies this philosophy by creating complex and sophisticated libations with house-made ingredients, tinctures and juices. She is also committed to maintaining the lounge’s exclusive environment.
A devout lover of travel and music, King currently resides in downtown Knoxville, where she enjoys baking, cooking and restoring vintage cars.
My full name is Erick Blair Smith and I have lived in Massachusetts all my life. Though my work as a bartender started humbly at an Outback Steakhouse Chain location, I joined Niche Hospitality in Worcester, MA about five years ago. About a year in I started bartending and really started to learn the craft. I am currently the Bar Manager, which includes quite a hefty sum of hours bartending at Mezcal Cantina's Worcester location. I started entering bartending competitions in 2010. That year I took second place and the people's choice in the Angostura Bitter's regional competition. In 2011 I was one of the top four competitors for Cointreau and Saveur Magazine's cocktail competition which earned me a chance to compete at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans (I lost). I later received the people's choice award for Barenjager's regional competition as well. I have been certified by 'BarSmarts' and am currently a member of the Boston chapter of the USBG (United States Bartenders Guild).
A native Atlantan, James Wampler began working at Trois in his hometown directly after college. Under the leadership of Eric Simpkins, the nationally-recognized bartender, Wampler swiftly moved up the ranks from bar-back to bartender to bar manager. It was under Simpkins’ influence that Wampler developed a keen interest in cocktail culture – both from a historical point of view as well as from a contemporary craft approach.
After extensive study and experimentation, Wampler took it upon himself to introduce new-at-the-time liquor infusions, various tinctures, bitters, and classic cocktails to menus at Trois, then at subsequent bars in Atlanta under his purview, namely The Glenn Hotel and The Mansion on Peachtree.
In June 2011, Wampler relocated to Charleston, SC, with ambitions of joining the burgeoning food and drink culture the city has become known for. Consistent with his personal style, it’s only taken a few months for Wampler to make a name for himself as one of the city’s finest mixologists.
At The Gin Joint in Charleston, Wampler has wasted no time in becoming a fixture behind the bar, next to the owner, Joe Raya. Together, Wampler and Raya are constantly studying, concocting, tasting, and challenging each other to push the boundaries of classic cocktail parameters. The team’s relentless drive to learn and challenge themselves has certainly contributed to The Gin Joint’s recognition in such national publications as GQ, Food+Wine, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, AFAR, and VOGUE.
Not one to sit back and relax, Wampler continues to tweak new and old recipes at work and at home, creating drinks with balance and finesse, over power and heft. Yet despite the complexity of many of his cocktails he insists that the cornerstones of his approach to bartending remain "product itself, and customer engagement and satisfaction".
Dante Reesman has been working in the restaurant and beverage industry for over a decade. Coming from Detroit taught him a hard lesson in supporting your local economy. "Using local ingredients helps everyone, from the farm or distillery to the business to the customer it’s the best way to make a great tasting cocktail". Dante began perfecting his knowledge of all things alcoholic by managing Atwater Brewery in Detroit. There he learned more about beer and brewing than he had ever anticipated. After he joined the ranks of the Matt Prentice Restaurant group. Under the watchful eye of world-renowned Master Somellier Madeline Triffon, Dante began his first steps into the world of wine and cocktails. "Before Madeline I had no clue how amazing life can be when you understand flavors and how they work together in perfect harmony". Afterwards he became Beverage Trainer and Mixologist at Zazios in Birmingham Michigan where he spent his days training the staff on all things alcoholic while perfecting his art of crafting some of the best cocktails in Michigan. When he was offered the opportunity to move to Colorado and become Beverage Director of Amaro Drinkery Italia he couldn’t pack his bags fast enough. "While at Amaro I fell in love with Colorado and realized my skills and their taste buds just can’t get enough of each other". Early in the Summer of 2011 Dante came up with an idea to bring the world of mixology into people’s homes all over Colorado and it started Mobile Mixology LLC. He then accepted a job as Beverage Director at Ignite! in Denver it was a short romance but much needed to get his name out in the city. Almost a year after moving to Colorado he accepted his third job as Mixologist for Lala’s Wine Bar in Denvers historic Capitol Hill District. I accepted the job at Lala’s for a couple of simple reasons. "I’ve always loved a challenge, and with my knowledge of flavors, my history in wine, beer, and cocktails, I was sure I could come in and improve the beverage program. One of my favorite things is to see I have a full bar, at a wine bar, all drinking cocktails."
Reece has been working in bars since 2002, and has put in time behind the stick at some of Sydney’s award winning cocktail institutions. After taking the reigns of Emmilou Bar and Tapas, and having great success with introducing cocktail and food pairing degustation’s to Sydney he moved on to work at Bayswater Brasserie and The Victoria Room. In 2010 he took out the World Class Dark Spirits Round, and finished in the Top 10 Australian Bartender of the Year, and World Class. Reece has spent 2 of the last 4 years traveling, surfing and chasing the dream in Mexico whilst plying his skills in the land of agave. Now back in Sydney he has taken the helm at Low302 in Sydney’s Surry Hills, as well as being part of the Alchemy Bar Training team.
Alex Proudfoot first started bartending when he was 19 at a restaurant in Oxford. The managers at the time paid for him to go on a pourfection course led by Alex Turner (Formerly of IPB and currently the head of the Bacardi-Brownforman training team). The passion behind everything that Mr. Turner taught instilled a passion within Alex. For the next few years, Alex Proudfoot went on to become the head bartender at a large restaurant in Windsor. After this he moved to London and tried to get work in some of the more reputable bars, but no such luck. After London, Alex then moved back to his hometown in Oxford. He handed his CV to almost every bar in Oxford and still no luck of finding a job. This was a low point for Alex, but he eventually found a job in a pub that a friend of his recommended. He got the job straight away. The pub just so happened to be owned by the same owner’s of Raoul's in Oxford. After a few months his boss told him he had been ear marked for a job at Raoul's. So after waiting patiently for a year and a half a job eventually came up. Alex has now been working in Raoul's for 2 years and is now the Head Bartender. Since working at Raoul’s, he has found a passion and flair for competition bartending. After being shunned by bars all over the country, he is now the head bartender at one of the U.K's leading cocktail bars… in his hometown, of all places!
Bratislav started his career in Belgrade, Serbia where he earned a degree in Hospitality Management and began to feel the pulse of the European bar scene. However, he knew there was much more out there for him, so when he boarded the famous Queen Elizabeth II, he was able to refine his knowledge of the hospitality industry while traveling the world over. Bratislav has been a Principal Bartender at New York's West Village "Employees Only" for five years, where many of his creations have made their way onto the cocktail list. His contribution to the New York City Food & Wine Festival was followed by a featured article, and his innovative cocktails have attracted attention in the "Nation's Restaurant News".
I am called Miguel Angel Jiménez, am 24 years old. I was born in Madrid and nowadays it is the city where I reside. With 16 years I began to be employed at the world of the hotel and catering business and when it reaches the age of 18 began to be employed with alcoholic drinks at the world of the bars. Nowadays I am employed as Bar Manager at Belmondo cocktail bar at Madrid, Spain.
I am the founder of Bar Academy, a famous flair school in Paris. I also do cocktail zone Magazine. I am a Perrier Mixology International Ambassador as well. My company is Liquid Chef Paris, where I develop a lot of concept drinks. I also own my own bar in Paris, the Mojito Lab. I intend on developing another Mojito Lab soon.
I am currently the Head Bartender @The Dutch Miami located inside the W hotel in South Beach.
I started at a young age from washing dishes at my aunts restaurant at the Jersey Shore during the summer to being a bus boy and a waiter at a local bar and grill in my home town during high school to make some quick cash. I was intrigued by the bar, I would always be hanging by the bar during my shifts asking 100 questions. I made the jump to day time bartender after turning 18. It was mostly a beer and shot type of place but that didn't stop my creativity. I worked there for 7 years where I became Bar Manager. I got bored and I wanted to learn more, then I got a job at a high end French restaurant where I learned more about spirits and wine. I quickly became the Head Bartender, I stayed there for 4 years. After visiting Miami a couple times I fell in love with the warm weather all year long. I moved down and opened up STK Miami where i assisted in the beverage program. I worked there for 2 years when the opportunity to open up The Dutch and be in charge of the bar was something I couldn't turn down. The Miami cocktail culture is growing very fast and I/m happy to be a part of it and hope to have my own bar soon.
- School History:
- University of Colorado at Boulder – Class of 2011
- Major - Marketing and Entrepreneurship
- Leeds school of Business Valedictorian (fall 2011)
- Sterling Rice Group Most Outstanding Marketing student Award (spring 2012)
- Work History:
- 3½ years of bartending experience:
- Bombay Bistro (Boulder, CO) – Bar Manager (December 2009 – July 2011)
- Bitter Bar (Boulder, CO) – Bartender (July 2011 – Present)
- Dancing Pines Distillery (Loveland, CO) – Brand Ambassador (April 2012 – Present)
- 3½ years of bartending experience:
- Competition History:
- Bacardi Competition @ Centro Latin Kitchen (7/13/10) – 3rd Place
- Dancing Pines Distillery Competition @ Dancing Pines Distillery (2/20/12) – 1st Place
- Domaine de Canton West Coast Regionals @ The Alchemy Room in Wirtz Beverage Headquarters in Las Vegas, NV (5/29/12) – 1st Place
- Domaine de Canton Cocktail: AMBER WAVE
- 1.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
- .75 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
- .75 oz Amaro Montenegro
- .5 oz Fusion Verjus
- 4 dashes Damiana bitters
- 2 dashes Tahitian Vanilla Bean bitters
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, stir well to attain proper dilution and chill. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a Cucumber Rose (for a demonstration on how to make this garnish, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJwgfdcbrrE
- Making Damiana bitters:
- Infuse 6 tablespoons of dried Damiana leaves in 4 oz. of Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey for a minimum of two weeks. Shaking vigorously once a day will speed up the infusion process. After a minimum of two weeks, strain the Damiana leaves from the liquid. Then, add ½ oz Bitter tincture (To make this, infuse 1 tablespoon of Quassia bark and 1 tablespoon of Gentian root into 2 oz. of 100-Proof Vodka and let sit for 4 days). After that add 1 oz. of Demerara simple syrup (To make this, dissolve Demerara sugar in water on a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio). Stir well and bottle.
- Making Tahitian Vanilla Bean bitters:
- Take 3 Tahitian vanilla beans and cut them down the center, exposing the beans. Then chop into 1-inch slices. Infuse the chopped slices in 4 oz. of Roundhouse Imperial barrel-aged Gin for a minimum of two weeks. Again, shaking vigorously each day will shorten the infusion process. Next, add ½ oz. Bitter tincture (the same as used in the Damiana bitters) and 1 oz. Demerara simple syrup. Stir well and bottle.
Sepia Head Bartender Josh Pearson began his hospitality career as a teenager in his hometown of Queensland, Australia. After serving at several cafes, he took his first position as a bartender at the legal age of 18, which ignited a newfound interest that ultimately defined his career path.
Eager to explore the world of cocktails, Josh sought out books chronicling the history of mixology. One title in particular, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (a classic encyclopedia of the 20th century cocktail by David Embury), fascinated and continually informed him as he took on several bartending positions throughout Australia. He spent time at CBX in Sunshine Coast, as well as Family and UQ Club, both in Brisbane. Seeking a new adventure, Josh then moved to Canada, where he refined his skills as a bartender at Dominion on Queen in Toronto before moving on to Chow in Vancouver.
Josh then made his way to Chicago and accepted an opportunity to join the Sepia team in 2009, where he is responsible for the creation and constant evolution of Sepia’s highly respected cocktail program, which places emphasis on the classics, but with seasonal products and international flair in mind. While he takes his drinks seriously, Josh is guided by an overarching philosophy that drinking and being at a great bar should still be fun, a philosophy inherent in his clever flavor combinations and cocktail descriptions.
An active participant in Chicago’s growing mixology scene and a frequent winner of mixology competitions, Josh is a member of the Illinois Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. When not at Sepia, he can be found sipping his favorite cocktail (the Astoria or the Toronto) at The Drawing Room in Chicago, Prime Meats in Brooklyn, or Boneta in Vancouver. He believes that there is always an answer in gin or rye whiskey.
Carlo Splendorini is lead bartender for the Michelin-starred MICHAEL MINA San Francisco, where he is the force behind a cutting-edge and continually evolving cocktail program. Carlo has helped establish MICHAEL MINA San Francisco as a front-runner in San Francisco’s competitive cocktail scene with stunning classic cocktails that incorporate unique flavors and syrups, hand pressed juices and market fresh ingredients. His role as Corporate Bar Director ensures that the same level of cocktail will be experienced at Michael’s nineteen restaurants across the country.
Since opening the restaurant alongside Michael in October 2010, Carlo has been named a 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Bar Star and winner of the 2011 Regional Domaine Chandon Cocktail Competition (he will be competing in the World Final in St. Martin this June 2012). He also received 1st place prices in both the Original Moonshine Cocktail Competition 2011 and the 2011 Nolet Gin Cocktail Competition.
Born and raised in Italy, Carlo discovered his passion for hospitality at an early age, attending the Istituto Albergiero di Assisi at 13 and staging at Caffe di Perugia next to the Bacardi Classic champion, one of the greatest bartenders in Italy, at only 14 years old. Shortly thereafter, he made his way to Germany, where he experimented with German and European bitters and amaro. He then traveled on to London and developed his talents with Sardinian products and herbs at Canal Sardo while experimenting with Japanese influenced cocktails at Nobu Green Park. Carlo left Europe for San Francisco in 2007, where he honed his skills and came into his own creating Gitane’s bar program. It was at Gitane that Carlo was first recognized for his talents creating classic cocktails made with seasonal ingredients, paying particular attention to small distilleries and handcrafted spirits.
Cocktails created by Carlo Splendorini incorporate influences from his time traversing the globe. His particular fondness for Japanese techniques and flavors, first explored during Carlo’s time at Nobu Green Park, are a perfect complement to MICHAEL MINA San Francisco’s Japanese influenced cuisine. Carlo’s passion will next be on display at Michael’s upcoming endeavor, PABU at the Four Seasons Baltimore, where the acclaimed bartender is designing a cocktail program that focuses on Japanese whiskey, techniques and flavors.