This Month's Bourbon Zeppelin Feature Article:
United States Bartender’s Guild 2019 World Class Finals
by Wes Hardin
A Showdown at Bulleit's New Distillery on 6/9/19
Have you ever been to a bartending event?
Me either, but all of that changed on Monday night, deep in the heart of Bourbon Country. I was able to attend the United States Bartender’s Guild 2019 World Class Finals, sponsored by Diageo and held in the shadow of the brand new Visitor’s Experience Center at Bulleit Distillery Co in Shelbyville, Kentucky. I was excited the event was being held here as I had not previously seen the new distillery grounds, including where it was located. Upon arrival, I met up with ABVNetwork superstar Phil Kollin as he was covering the event for his blog. We quickly introduced ourselves to Mike Morra who was in charge of media for the event. After a quick intro, we hit the bourbon wagon. Yes, Bulleit had a bourbon wagon at the entrance of the event tent. The offering of the day was a good Old Fashioned, made with Bulleit bourbon. As you would expect at a bartending competition, each Old Fashioned was carefully crafted and not assembly line produced.
Inside the tent, we immediately notice the band as well as the various consumer stands around the periphery. There was a cocktail stand where you could choose between various designer cocktails. Diageo brands were at the forefront of each stand’s offerings. To help keep everyone upright for the evening, there was a finger food table that included snacks, sliders, cookies, and brownies. If you wanted to be very responsible, or did not feel the need to drink, they offered a water station as well.
After enjoying the complimentary refreshments, including a few Old Fashionends, and listening to the 80’s and 90’ live music from Tony and the Tan Lines, it was time for the introduction of the finalist for the competition. Two large bars were brought on stage as well as the bartender supplies. ndrew Mentzer from USBG introduced the crown to the event and began explaining the path that the finalist completed to get to this point. Bartenders from around the country have been competing locally and regionally over the past few months and weeks in an attempt to make the finals. There were thirteen finalist that competed over the weekend in Lexington and now they were down to the final four.