After regional competitions across the U.S., 16 bartender finalists were the first to compete and glamp on the grounds of the last true tequila-producing hacienda on the planet, Casa Herradura.
The competition kicked off en route to the Hacienda, with the first challenge happening aboard the Tequila Herradura Express train, traveling from Guadalajara to Amatitan, the birthplace of tequila. This challenge tested the bartenders’ speed and efficiency, tasking them with making three classic cocktails in just five minutes. New York’s Veronica Correa dazzled the judges with her seamless mix of quickness and quality.
The final round culminated with the Natural Fermentation challenge on distillery grounds, in which finalists were tasked with creating a truly original Tequila Herradura cocktail using local fruit grown at the Hacienda. These fruit trees create an environment sustainable for natural fermentation, a process that distinguishes Casa Herradura as an industry icon.
This challenge produced amazing cocktails and truly showcased the bartenders’ ingenuity. Nic Lazzareschi’s deft use of mango-jalapeño simple syrup in his El Medico de Jalisco cocktail was surprising and delightful. The Denver bartender earned second place overall.
Chicago’s Egor Polonskiy won the judges over with his añejo-based cocktail, the Mariposa Suerte, earning him first place overall in the first-ever Road to the Hacienda Challenge. Tequila luminaries Julio Bermejo, Ivy Mix and Tequila Herradura’s national brand ambassador, Kevin Vanegas, were fascinated by the skill, creativitay and passion that Polonskiy demonstrated behind the bar. The cocktail is an irresistible combination of pineapple and tangerine, with bergamot and fennel extract added for greater complexity. Next, Polonskiy will experience a four-day immersive tequila trip in San Francisco with mentorship from Bermejo. Polonskiy’s story will also be featured on Liquor.com.
Polonskiy walked away a winner, but other bartenders gave performances just as worthy of celebration. San Francisco’s Jorge Vargas-Baquedano impressed the judges with his passionate story of achieving the American dream, inspiring a cocktail that earned him the Most Inspirational Story Award.
Stay tuned to get a closer look at Polonskiy’s winning cocktail and discover how he came up with his masterpiece.