Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America Competitions Winners

Jason Asher competing at the Iron Mixologist Competition

Jason Asher competing at the Iron Mixologist Competition

This year’s Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America convention in Las Vegas featured three competitions including Iron Mixologist, Hoptails and Call for Cocktails.

secret ingredients for Iron Mixologist Competition

secret ingredients for Iron Mixologist Competition


The Iron Mixologist is a tough competition as bartenders have to come up with three drinks all based on the basket of secret ingredients. A peek into the basket revealed several kinds of chili peppers, fennel and also a whole apple pie! The drink categories are Apertif, Long Drink and Dessert. One could imagine the fennel for the apertif, maybe something spicy for the long and of course the pie for the dessert drink.

surprise ingredient for Iron Mixologist Competition

surprise ingredient for Iron Mixologist Competition – apple pie


Jason Asher, Beverage Program Development Specialist for Young’s Market Arizona, came up with the best dessert cocktail featuring the apple pie.

Apple of My Eye

  • 1.5 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac (infused with the Dutch Apple pie)
  • .5 Pierre Ferrand dry curacao
  • .75 lemon juice
  • .25 oz simple syrup
  • .75 egg white

Jason pureed 2 tablespoons of the pie into the cognac and strained it before adding it and all the ingredients to dry shake. Add ice then double strain into a coupe. Grate cinnamon and add a cinnamon stick for garnish.

J.R. Starkus, Master Mixologist and Spirits Educator for Southern Wine & Spirits came up with the Brasserie, featuring the fennel and won for the best Apertif style drink. And Andrew Pollard, Beverage Development Specialist for Wirtz Beverage, took the prize for best Long Drink. His Hot and Bothered featured serrano chili.

You must make 4 drinks

You must make 3 drinks; apertif, long drink and dessert


Nick Nistico, the corporate mixologist for the Premier Beverage Company came in for best in show for his Apertif – Celery Pina, Long Drink – Collins Avenue and Dessert Drink – Picnic Basket. He took a slightly different approach to his drinks using habanero chili for his apertif and fennel in his long drink.

Naomi Schimek for Hoptails

Naomi Schimek for Hoptails

Last year I judged Hoptails, a beer cocktails competition. I was excited to see Naomi Schimek, Beverage Director for the Spare Room in Hollywood representing Cognac Park at Hoptails. She didn’t place but I had the opportunity to try her drink at the Cognac Park booth later and it was excellent. Troy Clarke from Boston took first place with his Winter Vacation, a bold drink with double black IPA, reposado tequila and a peaty Scotch rinse.

Second Place

Second Place – Ham Brew Bloody Mary


In second place came the Ham Brew Bloody Mary from the Retro Rad Chef Emily Ellyn representing LiDestri Spirits.



LiDestri Bloody Mary bar


At the LiDestri luncheon, I had the opportunity to make my own Bloody Mary and mine was just as great as one of the top drinks. That’s because LiDestri makes the Bloody Mary mix with the vodka included. No need to measure. Just top with your favorite toppings. Of course, the winning drink from Emily did have a little extra kick from adding bourbon and pineapple beer. You can say she revved it up!


My bloody

My bloody can win awards any day



Third Place

Third Place – Ruby Red Shandy


It was nice to see Brooke Arthur’s Ruby Red Shandy from House Spirits take 3rd place. Herbs and Rye bartender Isai Haro made the drink for Brooke as she was unable to attend the convention.

Call for Cocktails - Joel Black for Pisco Porton - Trinity Sour

Call for Cocktails – Joel Black’s Trinity Sour (photo from Pisco Porton)

An early morning competition for Call for Cocktails saw Lynn House, PAMA Brand Ambassador, Heaven Hill win first place. Pacific Edge’s Victoria D’Amato-Moran won second place with her mezcal cocktail. And LA’s Joel Black for Pisco Porton took third place. His drink was a two-parter that sounded very intriguing. First he served a palate cleanser of pisco sour caviar and then a pisco sour with grape and lemongrass. The trinity in the name refers to the three grapes in the pisco.

The competitions are great fun because you get to root for your favorite bartenders. Samples of the drinks are provided to the audience. It’s also a nice addition to the the show floor and meeting rooms.




© The Minty 2014