San Francisco has one of the most electric cocktail scenes in the country. But some of the best bartenders at the Heaven Hill 2017 Bartender of the Year regionals came from outside of the city—the winner works in Livermore. But all of the eight regional finalists gathered at Forgery, a San Francisco hot spot with a chic but friendly atmosphere.
The first round made it clear that every bartender had talent, and it would take a special cocktail to stand out. But Jesse Patterson managed to separate from the competition with the Dr. Pepper, her innovative, boozy spin on the classic soft drink. Her performance was whimsical, fun and incredibly skilled.
The last challenge was “Dealer’s Choice,” where bartenders had to make drinks based on suggestions from the judges. The judges panel included spirit luminaries such as Jeffrey Morgenthaler (the bar manager of Clyde Common and Pépé Le Moko), Lynn House (the Heaven Hill national brand educator) and Brian Means (the corporate lead bartender and mixologist for Mina Group).
It wasn’t an easy group to impress, but Patterson met the judge’s requests in surprising, delightful ways. Elliot Clark also showed great skill and ingenuity at every level of the competition, but it wasn’t enough to beat Patterson.
There was no debate by the judges. Jesse Patterson was the unanimous winner. Next, she’ll be traveling to Puerto Rico to compete against the other regional champions.
Will she prevail and earn the $15,000 grand prize and title of 2017 Bartender of the Year? Stay tuned to find out.