In Las Vegas, bars and restaurants have become as big a draw as the tables. And considering the talent at the Heaven Hill 2017 Bartender of the Year regional finals, it’s easy to see even more reasons why Vegas has become a cocktail capital.
Eight bartenders gathered at Southern Glazer’s Wines & Spirits. A free trip to Puerto Rico and a chance at a $15,000 prize were up for grabs, so the upscale atmosphere didn’t stifle the sense of competition.
The diverse group included bartenders from major restaurant groups and independents. Each did something to impress judges Jeffrey Morgenthaler (the bar manager of Clyde Common and Pépé Le Moko), Lynn House (the Heaven Hill national brand educator) and Francesco LaFranconi (the director of the Academy of Spirits & Fine Service at Southern Wine & Spirits). It was a strong group, but only a few could hit the mark in all the major categories: flavor, presentation and crowd interaction.
Tim Baer from Mr Chow in Las Vegas delivered the whole package. His unique and well-executed drink impressed the judges and would have secured him a ticket to the finals in Puerto Rico if it weren’t for the eventual winner, Adam Fournier.
Fournier made a couple of special drinks, but what separated him from the competition was his charisma. He connected with the audience, and each cocktail felt like an extension of his personality. His performance earned the respect of the judges, as well his fellow bartenders, and put him in the mix for the title of 2017 Bartender of the Year.
He better ready himself. Fournier will have some stiff competition.