Judges

Anthony Dias Blue

Executive Director San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Executive Director San Francisco International Wine Competition
President, Blue Lifestyle
Host of national syndicated radio talk show Blue Lifestyle
Editor-in-Chief, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles


Tony Abou-Ganim

Director of Judging San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Master Mixologist, “The Modern Mixologist” beverage consultant and educator, Las Vegas


Erik Adkins

Beverage Director, Slanted Door Group, San Francisco

Erik Adkins

Beverage Director, Slanted Door Group, San Francisco

Erik Adkins has been with the Slanted Door Group since 2002 and has been a fixture in the San Francisco bar scene since 1993. Erik created the bar program at the Slanted Door and designed, opened, and manages the bars at Hard Water, The Coachman, and the Moss Room, all in San Francisco. Erik’s bar programs have an eye for detail and execution that defines the craft cocktail culture. His passion and respect for ingredients and responsible agriculture has made him one of the most recognized and creative talents in the nation’s resurgence of the American cocktail.


Bridget Albert

Director of Mixology, Southern Wines & Spirits

Bridget Albert

Director of Mixology, Southern Wines & Spirits

Famous for her innovative Mixology and an advocate for seasonal, fresh recipes with bold flavor, Bridget is the co-author of “Market Fresh Mixology”. She designs cocktails for top national accounts and has won numerous awards in U.S.B.G. and Bellagio classic cocktail competitions as well as other international competitions and was a featured Mixologist on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America Battle Mango. Bridget hosts charity cocktail clinics for a variety of companies and is the President of the National Charity Foundation of the United States Bartenders' Guild, the world's largest contributor to the cocktail culture. Currently she holds the position as Regional Director of Mixology at Southern Wine and Spirits of Illinois, Minnesota, and Kentucky. Bridget is the Founder of the Advanced Mixology Culinary Academy and the Academy of Spirits and Fine Service, respected programs for bartenders and trade.


Stephen Beal

Keeper of the Quaich, Senior Master of Whisky, Consultant & Educator, San Francisco

Stephen Beal

Keeper of the Quaich, Senior Master of Whisky, Consultant & Educator, San Francisco

Steve Beal, of San Francisco, is the senior brand educator for the whisky portfolio of Diageo North America. He has served for over 13 years as an international spirits judge, broadcast presenter, spirits journalist and Master Mixologist Masters Program examiner with the United States Bartenders Guild. In 2010 the Scotch Whisky industry inducted him as a life member of the Keepers of the Quaich. His title at DIAGEO is Senior Master of Whisky. He is also a chef and an ordained Anglican priest. www.Scotchrep.com Twitter: @SrWhiskymaster


Kent Bearden CSS

Craft Brand Specialist – Wirtz Beverage Nevada, Las Vegas

Kent Bearden CSS

Craft Brand Specialist – Wirtz Beverage Nevada, Las Vegas

Before Wirtz, Kent served as Master Mixologist and Assistant Director of Beverage for MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas where he developed the internal Spirits & Beverage Education Academy. He has been a featured mixologist and speaker at many prestigious spirits, food, and fashion events. Kent has also appeared on various TV shows, including ESPN’s morning show, “Cold Pizza, Absolut Vodka’s “Search for America’s Next Top Bartender”, Canada’s “Breakfast Television”, and most recently on M Life Television. His cocktail, spirits, and beverage industry insights have been featured in Beer Business Daily, Craft Business Daily, The Robb Report, Nightclub & Bar, VEGAS, M Magazine, Vegas Seven, Luxury Las Vegas, Las Vegas Weekly, UP! Magazine for WestJet, Atlantic Monthly, and The Tasting Panel magazine. Kent has served as a judge in many major spirits and mixology competitions. He is a Certified Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators and holds an introductory pin from the Court of Master Sommeliers. www.wirtzbeveragegroup.com


Julio Bermejo

Tequila Master / Spirits Buyer, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco

Julio Bermejo

Tequila Master / Spirits Buyer, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco

Julio Bermejo, beverage manager and owner of the renowned tequila bar,Tommy's Mexican Restaurant and co-owner of Tres Agaves in San Francisco, has been designated "Ambassador of Tequila to the U.S." by the state of Jalisco. He is regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on tequila. Julio started the Blue Agave Club in 1989 to encourage his customers to learn about tequila from his vast knowledge and extensive bar. His expertise is often called upon for restaurants and bar programs and he has been a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition since its inception in 2000. www.tommystequila.com


Brian Bowden

VP Spirits, Beer, Tobacco, Beverages, GMM New Markets, BevMo!, Concord

Brian Bowden

VP Spirits, Beer, Tobacco, Beverages, GMM New Markets, BevMo!, Concord

Brian Bowden started in the alcoholic beverage industry in 1981 at Liquor Barn in California. His primary role was part of the store management teams in Northern and Southern California until 1991. From 1991-1994 Brian worked in the wine industry representing small Sonoma County wineries with sales and distribution. From 1994 to present he has been working at BevMo! His hols his current title as VP Spirits, Beer, Tobacco, Beverages, GMM New Markets. He has received his CSS in spirits and is currently working towards a Cicerone certification.


Mark Bowery

Wine & Spirits Consultant, Mark Bowery Consulting, Mendocino

Mark Bowery

Wine & Spirits Consultant, Mark Bowery Consulting, Mendocino

In addition to designing and maintaining award-winning beverage programs for fine restaurants, Mark Bowery is a freelance writer, acquires rare spirits for collectors, appraises private cellars, and anchors a four-person panel that makes selections for three of the country's most respected wine clubs. Armed with 35 years of tasting experience, he is also a judge at several international wine and spirits competitions, and considered an authority on single malt whisky (but his true love is tequila). He served as wine & spirits editor for Millionaire Magazine and as a faculty member at the Brown-Forman Center for Global Wine Education. While stationed in California’s coastal village of Mendocino, Bowery works with clients in the San Francisco Bay Area each week and tirelessly travels the world in search of the finest alcoholic beverages.


Joseph Brooke

Mixologist, Director of Spirits,The Edison, Los Angeles

Joseph Brooke

Mixologist, Director of Spirits,The Edison, Los Angeles

Joseph Brooke is a Los Angeles-based bartender & consultant. He graduated from Southern Wine & Spirits’ mixology and fine service course and received his BAR-Ready certification from AKA Wine Geek in 2010. His bartending experience includes hotspots like the legendary Bar Marmont, The Edison, Copa d’Oro, Next Door Lounge, and most recently Mixology 101 at the Farmers Market with Salvatore Calabrese. Recent accomplishments include having taken the USBG LA’s prized “Bar Throwdown” trophy, 2012, being named Crowd Favorite in 2011’s “LA’s Best Bartender” competition, and winning season 2 of NBC/LXTV’s show “On the Rocks: The Search For America’s Top Bartender” in 2009. Brooke is a member of the USBG Los Angeles chapter. www.josephbrooke.net


Derek Brown

Co-owner / Mixologist, The Passenger and Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.

Derek Brown

Co-owner / Mixologist, The Passenger and Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.

Derek Brown travels around the world teaching about great cocktails and spirits, along with why drinking is such an integral part of our culture and values. While he’s made drinks at the White House, been featured in the Wall Street Journal and drank with Martha Stewart, he’ll tell you that the greatest press he’s ever received is when the New York Times published that he played a “face-melting solo on the kazoo” at Lambstock. You can read his articles, visit The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. or just join him on his quest for better drinking by enjoying his favorite dram, a good Bourbon. www.twitter.com/betterdrinking www.passengerdc.com/columbia


Sean Bucalo

Craft Spirits Specialist, Young's Market, San Francisco

Sean Bucalo

Craft Spirits Specialist, Young's Market, San Francisco


Jackson Cannon

Mixologist and Bar Director,The Hawthorne, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and Eastern Standard, Boston

Jackson Cannon

Mixologist and Bar Director,The Hawthorne, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and Eastern Standard, Boston

Jackson Cannon has single-handedly elevated the craft of bartending in Boston. Cannon help found the Jack Rose Society, dedicated to preserving the legacy of the art of the American cocktail. As opening Bar Manager at Eastern Standard his cocktail program was named one of the country’s Top 10 Hotel Bars by USA Today while Boston magazine awarded it “Best Restaurant Bar” in 2006 and Esquire magazine included it in its list of “Best Bars in America” in both 2008 and 2010. In 2009, Eastern Standard was awarded top honor of Spirits Hospitality Restaurant of the Year by Santé magazine. In 2010, Jackson created the bar program for Island Creek Oyster Bar, Eastern Standard’s sister and in 2011, Jackson further elevated the cocktail when he introduced The Hawthorne where he is co-owner and Bar Director. www.thehawthornebar.com/


Jerry Cooper

Proprietor, Swirl on Castro, San Francisco

Jerry Cooper

Proprietor, Swirl on Castro, San Francisco

Originally from Los Angeles, Jerry has worked the last 20 years in San Francisco as a mixologist, restaurant wine director, retail sales manager, and wine and spirits specialist. Jerry works as a consultant with the Kimpton Group, and several independent restaurants and bars around the Bay Area. As owner and operator of Swirl on Castro, one of San Francisco’s premier wine bars and wine and spirits destinations, he and his staff offer an up-to-date selection of artisan spirits, bitters, elixirs, and mixology accessories. He is a well-respected judge on many wine and spirits panels, and continues to find the time to indulge his photography obsession with his two instagram sites. Jerry as Swirl on Castro’s spirits buyer, ( $250,000 in spirits sales annually) he continues to search and offer craft/artisan as well as the tried and true in spirits from around the world. www.swirloncastro.com


Aidan Demarest

Mixologist, Owner Neat Bar, Los Angeles

Aidan Demarest

Mixologist, Owner Neat Bar, Los Angeles

Aidan Demarest has been one the key players in the exploding cocktail bar scene in Los Angeles. His passion for the handcrafted cocktail has been a major catalyst for change in LA nightlife. Aidan opened Seven Grand, worked at The Doheny, First & Hope, The Edison, Roosevelt Hotel’s The Spare Room, and the Raymond Hotel’s 1886. He is the owner of Neat, a revolutionary spirits bar in Glendale, a partner in Tello /Demarest-Liquid Assets, the brand ambassador for elit by Stoli, and a board member of The Sporting Life LA.
www.tellodemarestla.com / www.neatbarglendale.com


Tony Devencenzi

Director, Beverage Academy, Bourbon & Branch, Future Bars Inc., San Francisco

Tony Devencenzi

Director, Beverage Academy, Bourbon & Branch, Future Bars Inc., San Francisco

Tony Devencenzi is a bartender at Bourbon & Branch and the Educational Coordinator for Future Bars in San Francisco. Through them he runs the Beverage Academy program which provides cocktail and spirit focused seminars for the public and industry professionals. He has designed and taught their Cocktails 101 - 103 courses; and their Scotch, American Whiskey, Gin and Agave spirits seminars. As the Education Coordinator, he organizes training courses for staff at their multiple bars, and has created a knowledge database for their spirits education. In January of 2013, Tony became the chapter President of the Northern California Chapter of the USBG which currently has over 300 active members. He has professionally bartended in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 9 years and before coming to Bourbon and Branch you may have seen him behind the stick at Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe, Levende East, Jones or Michael Mina's Clockbar. More recently expect to see him featured in an upcoming episode of the TV show Bar Rescue. www.bourbonandbranch.com www.beverageacademy.com


H. Joseph Ehrmann

Proprietor, Elixir, San Francisco

H. Joseph Ehrmann

Proprietor, Elixir, San Francisco

H. has cooked, served, managed and bartended in over 20 bars and restaurants around the country over the last 27 years. Since 2003, he has owned and operated one of the oldest saloons in San Francisco, Elixir, which has won numerous accolades including multiple "Best Bars in America" listings in national media outlets. His personal accolades include 2009 Rising Star and 2010 Bartender of the Year Awards. H’s consultancy business, Cocktail Ambassadors, serves clients in product and brand development, event execution and both trade and consumer education. Some other roles include Brand Ambassador for Square One Organic Spirits, National Ambassador of The United States Bartenders Guild, and Co-Founder of San Francisco Cocktail Week, The Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts and The Bartender Relief Fund. www.ElixirSF.com / www.CocktailAmbassadors.com


Ziggy Eschliman

The Wine Gal and Countess of Cocktails, Wine Country Radio, Santa Rosa

Ziggy Eschliman

The Wine Gal and Countess of Cocktails, Wine Country Radio, Santa Rosa

Ziggy Eschliman is among America's most enthusiastic, authoritative and entertaining libation experts. For over 20 years, Ziggy has set and reported trends in all things to imbibe. Her award-winning radio shows are broadcast throughout wine country and stream live on the internet. She is a dynamic guest speaker and presenter and her credits include American Women in Radio and Television, Gourmet magazine “Gourmet Wine Cellar”, MusExpo, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, YWCA, Cinema Epicuria Film Festival, Santa Rosa Junior College. She also leads seminars on vodka, tequila, rum and a variety of spirits. As a wine and spirits educator, Ziggy has developed programs for a diverse range of organizations including Gourmet magazine, Benziger Family, Legrande Hospitality, Relish Culinary School, Beverage Builders, IBM, PepsiCo, KFC Inc., Meritage Alliance, So Co Farm Bureau, Showcase of Wine & Food, and Sinclair Communications. www.ziggythewinegal.com


Michael Feil CCM

GM / Beverage Director, Jupiter Island Club, Jupiter, Florida

Michael Feil CCM

GM / Beverage Director, Jupiter Island Club, Jupiter, Florida

Michael Feil is the GM/COO of the iconic Jupiter Island Club, noted as one of the finest private Clubs in America. Michael came to the Jupiter Island Club following a seasoned career in top Club and Hotel properties including the Westchester Country Club, Lake Merced Golf Club, St. Francis Yacht Club and the renowned Four Seasons Hotel Company. Michael is a Certified Chief Executive, a designation earned by less than 5% of those in his profession. He graduated from Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. He manages beverage operations with annual wholesale purchases over $2 million. Michael is also a nationally recognized expert in wine and spirits and has served for over 15 years as a judge in multiple, highly regarded industry related events such as the San Francisco International Wine Competition, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, New York Food and Wine Classic, Los Angeles County Fair and New York Wine and Spirits Competition.


David Grapshi

Tequila National Sales Manager, Sazerac / Gemini, Walnut Creek

David Grapshi

Tequila National Sales Manager, Sazerac / Gemini, Walnut Creek

David Grapshi has a true passion for tequila. His dedication to the beverage industry started 25 years ago in positions in both liquor supply and distribution. Since then, David has created a widespread network of contacts both stateside and abroad, especially pushing tequila to new heights. He remains a force in the production, distribution and importation of Mexico’s oldest and finest labels. Grapshi brought the brands of Herradura and El Jimador into the fold of nationally recognized household brand names. He and Gemini are about to unveil The Corazon Barrel Expression Project, a new concept in the barrel aging of exceptional blanco tequila using Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bourbon barrels.


Kim Haasarud

Founder, Liquid Architecture,TM, Phoenix

Kim Haasarud

Founder, Liquid Architecture,TM, Phoenix

Kim Haasarud is a nationally recognized mixologist and beverage consultant, working with hundreds of brands, restaurants and hotels across the country. She has been seen as a judge on Iron Chef America, a guest on The Today Show, CBS Early Morning Show, Martha Stewart Radio and has been featured in such publications as Wall Street Journal, NY Times, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Enthusiast, Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Kim is also a cocktail book author, having written six successful cocktails books and two more on the way and a columnist for REDBOOK magazine contributing cocktail recipes for the magazine and website. She is the current President of the USBG Phoenix chapter and a recent member of Les Dames d’Escoffier. www.liquid-architecture.com


Richard Carleton Hacker

Master of the Quaich, Spirits Journalist, Robb Report; The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles

Richard Carleton Hacker

Master of the Quaich, Spirits Journalist, Robb Report; The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles

RICHARD CARLETON HACKER is an international writer-photographer specializing in spirits, wines, cigars, and related luxury lifestyles. He has authored eleven books in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Russia. He is also a longtime contributing editor for numerous national lifestyle magazines, including Robb Report and The Tasting Panel. He was the first to pair cigars with spirits according to taste, and is a popular keynote speaker on whiskies and cigars for organizations including Ritz-Carlton, Brown-Forman, and Blancpain. A lifetime member of the Scotch whisky industry’s Keeper of the Quaich (where he holds the coveted title of Master of the Quaich) and the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, he has also been knighted in Germany. More of his writings and adventures can be found on
www.richardcarletonhacker.com .


Steven Izzo

Beverage Director, Waterbar, San Francisco

Steven Izzo

Beverage Director, Waterbar, San Francisco

Steven Izzo brings over 25 years of experience to his position as Beverage Director & Sommelier at Waterbar, San Francisco’s stunning, Pat Kuleto-designed bayside restaurant. Izzo oversees and maintains an extensive collection of both domestic and international wines, as well as the classically minded cocktail and spirits program. Steven started his career as a bartender near his hometown in 1986 at a small, high-volume seaside restaurant in Guilford, Connecticut and after years in the industry in various locations, finally settled in San Francisco. In addition to his wine and spirits duties at Waterbar, Steven has participated as a member of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Wine Tasting Panel and currently serves as a judge for both the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Izzo has passed The Court of Masters Sommelier’s Certification level exam and plans to sit for the Advanced Sommelier exam later this year. www.waterbarsf.com


Charles Joly

Mixologist, Beverage Director, Aviary, Chicago

Charles Joly

Mixologist, Beverage Director, Aviary, Chicago

Chicago-native Charles Joly is an award-winning, lifelong food and beverage professional. Recently, Charles Joly won the title of DIAGEO RESERVE WORLD CLASS™ 2014 BARTENDER OF THE YEAR. This is the first time in its history that a U.S. Winner has been crowned. Charles currently hold the title of Beverage Director at the Aviary in Chicago. Partnered with Chef Grant Achatz and his team, this venture is one of the most progressive programs in the world. Formerly Chief Mixologist and founder of the Drawing Room in Chicago’s Gold Coast and Executive General Manager for Three Headed Productions, Charles has opened and overseen seven venues in three different states and has developed one of the most respected beverage programs in the nation. An active USBG member (United States Bartenders Guild), Joly has competed in some of the most prestigious cocktail competitions both nationally and globally, earning multiple wins. www.theaviary.com


Francesco Lafranconi

Southern Wine & Spirits, National Director of Mixology and Spirits Education, Las Vegas

Francesco Lafranconi

Southern Wine & Spirits, National Director of Mixology and Spirits Education, Las Vegas

One of the world’s foremost mixologists, Francesco Lafranconi is the Executive Director of Mixology and Spirits Educator for Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada. Winner of many high-profile print awards including “Raising the Bar” award from Cheers Magazine, “Mixologist of the Year Award” from NCBS, “Spirit Professional of the Year” from Santé magazine and Tales Of The Cocktail’s “Golden Spirit Award”. His proudest achievement is founding the Academy of Spirits and Fine Service, a 12-week education program. Francesco is a Founding Member of the Master Accreditation Program and Education Committee for the USBG (United States Bartenders Guild). Most recently, he received the Professional Cognac Educator Gold Diploma from the BNIC in Cognac, France. After all, his motto is, “We’re not drinking, we’re learning!”


Drew Levinson

Director of Strategic Activation – Wirtz Beverage Nevada, Las Vegas

Drew Levinson

Director of Strategic Activation – Wirtz Beverage Nevada, Las Vegas

Drew oversees a team of highly skilled spirits, wine, beer and cocktail professionals who develop cutting edge programs for premier accounts throughout the Las Vegas market. With a degree in Business Administration, Drew helped open Jimmy’s Restaurant & Bar in Aspen. Later he worked with the beverage consulting company “aka winegeek” serving national clients including Borgata Resort in Atlantic City where he became their opening Beverage Manager. His success drew the attention of the AAA Five Diamond Bellagio Resort which he joined in 2004 as Master Mixologist and Beverage Manager. For the past 5 years, Drew has developed the Beverage Development Division for Wirtz Beverage and laid the groundwork for the newly launched Strategic Activation Team. Drew has won numerous accolades and awards including StarChefs’ “Rising Star.” Drew and his cocktails have been featured in publications including, People Magazine, Cheers, Santé, Men’s Fitness, America West Magazine, The LA Times, Food Arts, and Vegas Magazine. www.wirtzbeveragegroup.com


Jordan Mackay

Wine & Spirits Editor, 7x7 Magazine, San Francisco

Jordan Mackay

Wine & Spirits Editor, 7x7 Magazine, San Francisco

Jordan Mackay is the James-Beard-award winning wine and spirits writer for San Francisco 7 x 7 magazine. His writing on food, wine, spirits, and beer has also appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Decanter, The Art of Eating, Wine and Spirits, Food & Wine, Gourmet and many others. His first book, Passion for Pinot, was published in 2009, and his second, Secrets of the Sommeliers (with Rajat Parr), was released in October 2010, winning a James Beard award in 2011. Jordan’s latest, Two in the Kitchen, with his wife Christie Dufault, was published June 2012. www.7x7.com


David Mahoney

Wine & Spirits Writer, Minneapolis

David Mahoney

Wine & Spirits Writer, Minneapolis

David Mahoney has more than 25 years of experience editing and writing for a variety of national and regional magazines, including Esquire, Acura Style, The History Channel Magazine, and The Tasting Panel. He was a travel writer and senior editor at Sunset, one of the country’s leading regional magazines, and the editor of Minnesota Monthly, the award-winning publication affiliated with Minnesota Public Radio. He was also the founding editor of the nationally distributed magazines Drinks and Real Food. David is currently the wine and spirits columnist for Artful Living magazine. http://artful-livingmag.com


Meridith May

Publisher & Executive Editor, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles

Meridith May

Publisher & Executive Editor, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles

As Publisher/Executive Editor and co-founder of The Tasting Panel Magazine, the fastest growing and most widely circulated beverage industry publication, Meridith May has reformatted the look and amplified the voice of the wine and spirits trade. From her days behind the scenes and on the air in L.A. radio to her stints as restaurant and wine critic for several urban and rural newspapers, Meridith ran California’s oldest trade publication, Patterson’s Beverage Journal, from 2000-2007, until she bought the name with business partner Anthony Dias Blue. Together, they launched their new, monthly magazine, The Tasting Panel, now going into its seventh successful year. www.tastingpanelmag.com


Tim McDonald CSS

President, Wine Spoken Here, Napa

Tim McDonald CSS

President, Wine Spoken Here, Napa

Based in the Napa Valley, Tim McDonald founded a full service marketing communications consulting company in 2006. As a 30 year spirits and wine industry veteran, Tim has held positions with E & J Gallo as Marketing Director Fine Wine Communications, Peak Wines as V.P. of Marketing & Communications, Director of Trade Relations with Trinchero Family Estates, Heublein IDV as Director of Trade & Public Relations and National Accounts sales assignments with Seagram and Heublein. He started his career bartending in Las Vegas and Honolulu before becoming a spirits salesperson. Tim has experience with all types of media, national accounts, wholesale distributors, restaurant and retail segments. He has served as a spirits judge in San Francisco World Spirits Competition from its inception. Tim has also been a wine judge in over 100 wine competitions and was recently named Director of Judging for the San Francisco International Wine Competition. www.wineandspiritsspokenhere.com


Fred Minnick

Wine and Spirits Journalist, Louisville

Fred Minnick

Wine and Spirits Journalist, Louisville

Fred Minnick writes for Caviar Affair, Saveur, Tasting Panel, Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate and Wine Enthusiast. In 2012, his Tasting Panel “American Whiskey” column earned the prestigious APEX Award for Editorial Excellence. As an award winning writer and photographer, Fred is the author, contributor or photographer to six books. Fred’s latest book is Whiskey Women: How Women Distilled, Marketed and Bootlegged Bourbon, Scotch & Irish Whiskey (Potomac Books, 2013). Based in Louisville, Kentucky, he is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. www.fredminnick.com


Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Bar Manager/Founder, Clyde Common/RepealDay.org, Portland

Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Bar Manager/Founder, Clyde Common/RepealDay.org, Portland

Jeffrey Morgenthaler has been an award-winning bartender since 1996. He currently manages the James Beard Award-nominated bar program at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon. His recipes and wisdom have appeared in such newspapers as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, as well as in Wine Enthusiast, Playboy, Wired, and Imbibe magazines. Forbes Traveler called him one of the "Cocktail Movers and Shakers" of 2007. Playboy named him one of the top ten mixologists in the United States in 2009 and The Tasting Panel magazine awarded him as a "New Leader" the same year. In 2011, he was named a "Rising Star Mixologist" by StarChefs. Jeffrey writes about bartending and mixology for several publications and on his website, www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com .


Matthew Myers

Director of Beverage Rosewood Beijing, Beijing, China

Matthew Myers

Director of Beverage Rosewood Beijing, Beijing, China

Matt Myers brings more than 12 years from behind some of the finest bars in the world. As an expert on cocktails, wine, champagne, beer and spirits, Matt has been responsible for developing the concepts, themes and beverages for various bars and restaurants around the globe including the MGM Grand Ho Tram Beach signature bar, Churchill’s. His vast experience includes the Bellagio in Las Vegas, creating new menu items for its various bars and restaurants, roles at Wynn Resorts, and Michael Mina's restaurants in Las Vegas, Mexico and San Francisco. In 2011 Matt won the “People's Choice Award” from the United States Bartender's Guild for his fabulous “Thai Pina Colada”. www.mgmhospitality.com


Robert Plotkin

Author, Writer, Beverage Consultant, BarMedia, Tucson

Robert Plotkin

Author, Writer, Beverage Consultant, BarMedia, Tucson

Robert Plotkin is an expert in the field of mixology and beverage management. With over 30 years of hands-on industry experience augmented by 20 years as a consultant and writer, Robert is no stranger to the demands of beverage industry business. He has authored 16 books over the last twenty years based on [his] proven policies, procedures and operational strategies for profit generating beverage operations. His books are used in university classrooms and as in-house guides for on-premise operators. Plotkin also writes for numerous trade magazines, including The Tasting Panel, Wine Enthusiast, Cheers, Beverage Dynamics and Restaurant Hospitality. He is a frequent lecturer at industry trade shows where he speaks on cost control, beverage marketing and how to increase sales. His sense of humor is as well known as his reputation for professionalism, which makes his speaking engagements as much fun as they are informational. www.barmedia.com


Patricia Richards

Proprietor & CEO, Bar Chef Biz, Inc., Las Vegas

Patricia Richards

Proprietor & CEO, Bar Chef Biz, Inc., Las Vegas

A native of Vancouver, Canada, Patricia Richards currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. With over 25 years experience in the hospitality industry, Patricia spent 8 years as Master Mixologist of The Wynn Las Vegas Resort & Casino, teaching and training staff, and developing cocktails for the resorts' 25 bars. Currently Patricia works as the National Training Manager for Bacardi USA, conducting entire spirit category trainings and creating cocktail menus. www.patriciarichards.biz


Jim Romdall

Spirits Consultant, Educator, Mixologist, Rumba, Seattle

Jim Romdall

Spirits Consultant, Educator, Mixologist, Rumba, Seattle

Jim Romdall grew up in Seattle and studied film at the University of Washington. After bartending in Seattle and Los Angeles, he joined Vessel 5th Avenue in 2006, becoming manager in 2008 and co-owner in 2011. Jim earned national attention when he was awarded the Rising Star Award for Mixology in 2009 by StarChefs based in Manhattan. He is a founder and the current President of the Washington State Bartenders Guild, an organization that promotes education, professionalism and “raising the bar” behind the bar. Jim is a sought-after consultant and speaker, as well as a guest bartender at some of the finest establishments across North America. He is passionate about staying on the forefront of the evolving cocktail landscape. More importantly, Jim’s ambitions are matched by the amount of fun he has on the job. www.vesselseattle.com


Audrey Saunders

Co-owner and Mixologist, Le Pegu Club, New York

Audrey Saunders

Co-owner and Mixologist, Le Pegu Club, New York

Audrey Saunders, widely recognized as one of the leaders of modern mixology, opened the award-winning Pegu Club in New York in 2005. Through her mentorship, Pegu is largely responsible for spawning a number of the country's finest mixologists, and many of Audrey's innovations have been pivotal in advancing the direction of the beverage industry. Pegu was cited by the New York Times as “The Harvard of Mixology”, and in 2009 it named the Gin-Gin Mule one of the most significant cocktails of the decade. Imbibe Magazine also voted Audrey one of the 25 most influential cocktail personalities of the past century. Awards include Bon Appetit’s Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year, and in 2012 Pegu Club was a James Beard Nominee in its new “Best Bar” category. www.peguclub.com


Max Solano

Mixologist & Beverage Manager, Emeril's Restaurants at the Venetian and Palazzo Resorts, Las Vegas

Max Solano

Mixologist & Beverage Manager, Emeril's Restaurants at the Venetian and Palazzo Resorts, Las Vegas

Max Solano began his career with Emeril's Restaurants in March of 2006 as a bartender at Emeril's Tchoup Chop in Orlando, Florida. Promoted to Beverage Manager in late 2007, he was relocated to Las Vegas and opened Emeril's Table 10 Restaurant, setting up the company's first mixology program. Max has become one of Las Vegas' most exciting, influential, and creative mixologists and in 2012, Gayot awarded his bar program at Delmonico as one of the country’s Top 10 Cocktail Bars. There he created the renowned "Book of Whisky", one of the biggest compilations of whiskey in the U.S. In addition to many accolades and awards throughout his career including Bartender of the Year in the state of Nevada and Restaurant Bartender of the Year by Vega Seven Magazine, Max and his cocktails have been featured on television, magazines and online media such as: Forbes, ABC Television's The Morning Blend, GQ Magazine, Saveur Magazine, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Las Vegas Weekly Magazine, Imbibe Magazine, Cheers Magazine, Las Vegas Review Journal, Vegas Seven Magazine, Hemispheres Magazine, LA Times and many more.


Kevin M. Vogt MS

Wine & Spirits Director, Emeril’s Restaurants, Las Vegas

Kevin M. Vogt MS

Wine & Spirits Director, Emeril’s Restaurants, Las Vegas

Master Sommelier Kevin M. Vogt is Wine Director for Chef Emeril Lagasse in Las Vegas and has been working this organization since 1996. In 1999, Mr. Vogt successfully passed the Master Sommelier Exam. Since 2000, Kevin has been a judge for Anthony Dias Blue’s San Francisco International Wine Competition, and a judge for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. He is a wine educator and public speaker and has taught college level wine courses and lectured aboard Crystal Cruise Lines for their food and wine festival events. In 2004, Delmonico Steakhouse became the 88th restaurant in the world to achieve the Wine Spectator’s Grand Award. Kevin graduated from UNLV with a degree in Hotel Administration in 1993. www.masterywines.com


Levi Walker CSS

Craft Spirits Manager, Young’s Market Company, San Diego

Levi Walker CSS

Craft Spirits Manager, Young’s Market Company, San Diego

Levi Walker is the Craft Spirits Manager for Young’s Market San Diego. Certified Specialist of Spirits, spirits enthusiast, organizer and lifelong cocktail shaker, he has led seminars, formal tastings and educational cocktail sessions for a multitude of brands in every spirit category. As a co-founder of the United States Bartenders Guild, and Elbow Benders Association in San Diego, Levi now heads a group of well over 100 local bartenders that gather monthly for spirit focuses, trainings and tastings. He has had multiple successes in cocktail competitions, landing him in GQ magazine, and his cocktails can be found on menus from San Diego to Seattle.


MS - Master Sommelier

CSS - Certified Spirits Specialist