The Patterson House was the first craft bar to open in Nashville. It was only fitting that this beautiful, intimate spot would host the regional finals for the Heaven Hill 2017 Bartender of the Year competition.
Bartenders arrived from Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Some were seasoned competitors, and others were participating in their first competition. But all of them had the same goal: win a free trip to the finals in Puerto Rico to compete for the $15,000 grand prize.
By the end of the first round, the judges knew they would be making a tough decision. The cocktails were delicious across the board, so it was the bartender’s poise and personality that would ultimately make the difference. Judges Lynn House, Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Matt Tocco, the beverage manager at The Patterson House, all noticed Alicia Orgel. The Kentucky bartender is passionate and thoughtful and made an immediate and lasting impression on the judges.
But one bartender, who had also stood out in the first round, sealed his victory in the second. The bartenders were tasked with making drinks with four separate brands. It was a test of each bartender’s ability to create a balanced cocktail, and no one earned a higher grade than Mario Salas. His delicious and impeccable cocktails, along with his buoyant personality, made him the unanimous winner.
Salas’ victory didn’t inspire any arguments or ill will. The regional finalists were impressed by his considerable talent, and all think he has a serious shot at taking home the $15,000 grand prize.
You can keep up with the rest of the competition here and get updates until the 2017 Bartender of the Year is announced in Puerto Rico.