2017 U.S. Bartender of the Year

Chris Cardone

After two challenging days of standout mixology showmanship, the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG) World Class Sponsored by Diageo has named Chris Cardone as the 2017 U.S. Bartender of the Year. The acclaimed competition, now in its sixth year, attracts the country’s best bartenders who represent the craft and elevation of the art of cocktail creation with the ultimate goal of representing the U.S. at the global competition in Mexico City this August.

Chris Cardone has demonstrated that persistence and passion for the trade can truly propel one to success, as it’s the fourth year that the New York based bartender has participated in the program. Cardone impressed the judges with his creative showmanship and keen interest in providing the best experience for the customer and as a result earned himself the honor of representing the US in the global finals in August.

“I’m so honored to be named the US Best Bartender of the Year. My experience in the program has helped to strengthen my abilities, knowledge and connection to the bartending community in such an impactful way and I know it will help to direclty benefit the future of my career in this industry. I’m thrilled to represent my country at the Global Finals in Mexico City and I am thankful that I will have the support of my colleagues and my country behind me,” commented Cardone.

The sixth iteration of the World Class U.S. competition drew in thousands of applicants, which led to a series of grueling regional competitions that proved that the skill of the bartending community is at an impressive all-time high. From there, fifteen bartenders advanced to the national competition in San Diego, CA hosted from June 13th to 14th, to impress judges by drawing unique inspiration from their experience behind the bar coupled with the local flavor of their respective hometowns. The bartenders demonstrated their knowledge, skill and creativity by crafting cocktails featuring a selection of the Diageo Reserve brands including Bulleit® Bourbon, CIROC® Vodka, Johnnie Walker® Blended Scotch Whisky, Ketel One® Vodka, Tanqueray No. TEN®, Tequila Don Julio® and Zacapa® Rum. The finals are judged by a selection globally acclaimed bar-industry leaders including the 2016 Global winner Jennifer Le Nechet, 2014 Global winner Charles Joly, past U.S. winners Tyson Buhler, Ricky Gomez, acclaimed bartenders and educators including Tony Abou-Ganim, Julie Reiner and more.

The two-day competition experience put the bartenders’ skills, senses and agility to the ultimate test with a series of difficult challenges. From crafting eight well-balanced cocktails in ten minutes or less in ‘Lightning Round’; to developing palate-pleasing cocktail pairings for specialty culinary dishes in the ‘Tasting Menu’; to drawing inspiration from fresh, seasonal ingredients found at a local market to craft out-of-the-box creations in the ‘Market Basket’; to mastering the element of surprise in ‘Dealer’s Choice’; to finally creating cocktails inspired by the culture and flavors of Mexico in the ’Viva Mexico’ challenge – the 2017 World Class program allowed each competitor to showcase their incredible depth of knowledge along impeccable and ever-important hospitality.

“The level of skill from each of the competitors continues to astound us and demonstrates the growing expertise of the bartenders in today’s industry. We are so proud that this program continues to contribute to their careers and provides such commraderie for the community,” comments Aaron Gregory Smith, Executive Director of the USBG.

Taylor Blades Director of On Premise for Diageo North America further comments, “The evolution of this program from the first year to the sixth, has been truly inspiring to watch. The level of commitment and engagement that each participant brings to the competition exemplifies the impressive talent found in today’s bartending community. We are proud to be committed to providing each participant with innovative new techniques, social responsibility ethics and ongoing education to help elevate their craft to the next level.”

Cocktails featured throughout the competition have been captured on Twitter and Instagram @WorldClassUS for creation and inspiration. When showcasing your own mixology creations or savoring award-winning cocktails crafted by your favorite local bartender, USBG World Class reminds you to drink responsibly.