SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — Now in its eighth year, the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) World Class, sponsored by Diageo, announced Katie Renshaw as the 2019 U.S. Bartender of the Year following a two-day, five-challenge competition that culminated at the brand new, immersive, soon-to-open Bulleit Distilling Co. Visitor Experience on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Based in Chicago, Renshaw’s flawless attention to detail and outside-the-box thinking immediately caught the eye of the judges’ table leading her to win the Bulleit Final Frontier Challenge as well as the national title. In addition to winning the title of 2019 U.S. bartender of the year, Renshaw will collaborate with the Bulleit Distilling Co. bar manager to create signature cocktails that provide visitors a premium and innovative experience at the new Bulleit Distilling Co. cocktail bar.
The competition brought together 15 of the nation’s top bartenders who are pushing craft mixology’s boundaries through innovative cocktails perfect for food pairings, flavor profile assessments and more with the ultimate goal of representing the U.S. at the global competition in Glasgow, Scotland this September.
This year’s USBG World Class U.S. applicant pool saw thousands of talented individuals from around the country compete in regional challenges that tested creativity and spirits knowledge, as well as speed, precision and presentation. In total, only 15 bartenders advanced to nationals that were hosted in Lexington, Ky., and culminated with finals at Bulleit Distilling, just 45 minutes from Louisville and Lexington.
“Winning United States Bartenders’ Guild World Class has been one of my biggest dreams since I started bartending, especially with getting a pass-off from Lauren Newman who I competed with last year, and who really inspired me to be myself in this competition,” said Renshaw.
Between June 9-10, competitors showcased their abilities to seamlessly merge art and science, and taste and technology, to create cocktails featuring a selection of Diageo Reserve brands including Bulleit Bourbon, Ciroc Vodka, Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky, Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Tequila Don Julio, Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Zacapa Rum.
This final round of competition was judged by a mix of six award-winning cocktail bar owners, and nationally and globally recognized beverage industry influencers, including 2018 U.S. winner Laura Newman, 2018 Global winner Orlando Marzo and acclaimed bartenders and educators such as Julie Reiner, Anu Elford, Jackson Cannon and Charles Joly.
The USBG’s mission is to unite the hospitality industry to advance professional bartending and elevate the craft. This is the eighth year for the U.S. and the 11th year globally. While the competition takes place in the spring and summer, education and events occur year-round.
Day one in Lexington drew upon Kentucky’s heritage, asking first for a complementary or contrasting cocktail to pair with a classic Southern dessert staple, followed by a second challenge to create a best-selling signature drink that fit within a fictitious restaurant’s theme and dinner menu.
Day two’s challenges at Bulleit Distilling were inspired by the whiskey brand’s frontier spirit and commitment to technology and culture. Each cocktail used a cutting-edge technique or unexpected technology that took skill, imagination and outside the box collaboration. Two speed rounds completed the competition featuring a challenge to mix, pour and garnish six classic cocktails and two wild card drinks highlighting a Diageo Reserve Brand that was assigned at random, all the while engaging with the judges in 10 minutes or less.
“Each year I think I’ve seen it all with the awesome level of skill and passion this competition inspires,” said Aaron Gregory Smith, executive director of the USBG. “But every year I am blown away. The talent pool is deep, but the best part is the continued opportunity for growth and success that exists within our tight-knit bartending community.”
Taylor Blades, director of On Premise for Diageo North America adds, “The creativity and commitment to the craft we saw from this year’s competitors is outstanding. Being able to partner with USBG on such an empowering program and hosting it at Bulleit Distilling Co.’s incredible new Visitor Experience that speaks to the power of partnership with bartenders around the country, is an honor. The last eight years have been incredible, and it’s just the beginning.”
USBG finalists also enjoyed a sneak peek behind the scenes at Bulleit Distilling that will open soon this summer. From a technologically advanced, sensory-rich bar experience, to eco-friendly and sustainable practices throughout the facility, the finalists were the first guests hosted – appropriate for a brand built by bartenders and named as the best-selling brand at the world’s best bars for multiple years by Drinks International.
FLEX YO HUSTLE
Created by 2019 U.S. Bartender of the Year Katie Renshaw
1 oz Bulleit 10
1 oz Bulleit Bourbon
1 oz coconut milk-oolong syrup
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz lime juice
1 oz cardamom-infused cream
1 egg white
1/4 cup coffee-bourbon caviar
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, shake, and pour into a collins glass over a collins spear ice cube. Garnish with Coconut ash, engraved lemon peel