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Meet Your 2021 World Class Mentors and Judges

By Lisa McMillan posted 27 days ago


2021 USBG World Class sponsored by DIAGEO Virtual season is in full swing! The competitors are fiercely preparing for the Regional Competition taking place virtually March 29th through April 6th. Register now at

The World Class Community continues to stay committed and connected through innovative ways of bringing teams together, including designated mentors and judges! These individuals provide support to the World Class Community, focusing on camaraderie and networking so intrinsic to the World Class experience.

About the Mentors

Mentorship is a new initiative of the USBG presents World Class sponsored by Diageo program. It opens up opportunities to engage and support even more of our World Class Community and allows the camaraderie and networking to continue virtually, which is so intrinsic to the World Class experience. World Class Alumni interested in being a mentor were assigned a mentorship role with the top 50 competitors from their Region. Utilizing breakout rooms, “Office Hours” were an opportunity for competitors to have the chance to bounce ideas off of the best minds possible - those that have been there before! To remain equitable, mentors were provided with clear boundaries on what they “can” and “cannot” provide feedback on with competitors and each mentor provided the same amount of “Office Hours” and involvement to each competitor in the interest of fairness.


About the Judges

The World Class Judges were retrained on new ways of judging taking into account what is fair and equitable in the new digital space and went through technical training for up-skilling on the digital filming for feedback/sizzle reel. For the first time, participants have a chance to have our judges make, taste, and provide feedback on THIER recipes. And judges remain in local regional markets to live taste recipes, ensuring the program stays safe and Covid-19 compliant.

Here's a little bit about the Mentors and Judges for 2021 USBG World Class sponsored by DIAGEO Virtual:



Settling in Boston, Jackson Cannon transitioned from a music career and found bartending to be the perfect profession for his diverse interests. One part performer, one part philosopher, and a healthy splash of cocktail historian, Jackson has since worked to elevate the craft of bartending in Boston. Together with three colleagues, Jackson formed the Jack Rose Society with a mission to preserve the art of the American cocktail. When he's not roving the world in search of rare spirits, Jackson travels the country participating as a judge in industry competitions, includiing Diageo World Class,and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.


James is an Ohioan, Buckeye, Eagle Scout and current President of the Columbus Chapter of the USBG.

He manages the bar program and spirits events for the historic, revered Refectory Restaurant. There, he applies his love of global history and art to his expertise of cocktails and fortified wines. When out from behind the bar, James pursues his interests of cycling, election integrity, and cooking.


A Virginia native, Rebecca graduated from the University of Chicago in 2015, working in hospitality while pursuing her studies. After earning her degree, Rebecca moved to Dublin, Ireland, tending bar at the locally-acclaimed pub Thomas House. She rose to bar manager at Tavola Restaurant in Charlottesville, VA, and started her competitive bartending career. Rebecca worked with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States as featured mixologist for its 2019 Public Policy Conference on Capitol Hill. She has participated in Diageo World Class 2019 as a National Finalist.

In 2020, Rebecca joined the Diageo Hospitality Partnership as its Virginia Educator.


Laura Newman is a Brooklyn native who moved to Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 2017. While she initially intended for the move to be temporary, she was so taken by the growing food and beverage scene that she decided to open a bar in the booming downtown Loft District. Her first bar, Queen's Park, opened in November 2018, featuring a menu of forgotten and not-so-familiar classic cocktails.

Laura has been a national finalist in competitions such as Patron's Margarita of the Year, the Woodford Manhattan Experience, and Speed Rack. Most recently, in 2018 she became the first woman to win the Diageo World Class US competition and placed in the top 4 at the global finals in Berlin.


Andrew Meltzer is an experience-driven bartender from San Francisco with a flair for technique and presentation. He is the 2016 World Class U.S. Bartender of the Year and a two-time food and cocktail pairing champion. Andrew managed the team at 15 Romolo in San Francisco, was beverage director at an Eastern Mediterranean hotspot, and most recently worked in London at Happiness Forgets. Andrew believes that cocktails should be consistent and delicious, but genuine hospitality is the most important part of a memorable experience.

Meltzer served as President and Chairman of the Board for the San Francisco Chapter of the USBG.


Lauren moved to Washington, D.C., in 2010 to attend nursing school and took a position at Drink Co. She established a thorough understanding of service, cocktails, spirits, and wine. As Lead Bartender, she providing staff members with guidance through education. She served as F&B Manager for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants in Washington, D.C. Lauren also worked on the beverage team at The Dabney (one Michelin star; James Beard Awards 2018: Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic).

She is currently the co-founder and owner of Focus On Health, a company focused on health and wellness for food and beverage employees.


Trevor is managing partner & founder of Be Better Hospitality which is made up of the bars Copper Spoon, Sidecar, Cubeicle Ice & Co, and soon to be more. In 2018, Trevor competed in World Class for the second time and advanced to nationals. In 2020, he was accepted into the BAR-5 DAY Spirit Education Program, and graduated BAR ready.

Also In 2020, his bar Copper Spoon was the first Indiana establishment recognized by the Spirited Awards, receiving a nomination for Best American Bar Team and World's Best Cocktail Menu.


Nonna Titulauri is a bartender rooted in San Francisco, CA. She started at 21 as a barback at Hakkasan SF and was quickly promoted to bartending. While still a barback, Nonna competed in her first bartending competition, the World Classs regionals in Honolulu, HI, in 2016. She joined World Class again in 2018 as a regional finalist in Seattle, WA. She took 3rd place at Speed Rack California in 2019, and recently won a sustainable cocktail competiton.

She holds a Bar Ready certificate from BAR 5-Day and has a Biochemistry degree from San Franciso State.


Justin has spent most of his professional career in restaurants and bars. After graduating from Texas A&M University, Justin tried his hand at restaurant and bar life, becoming a manager at Soma Sushi in Houston, Texas. Justin used his talents and drive to stage at Bobby Heugel's Anvil which led to becoming part of the opening staff at Alba Huerta's Julep. Upon leaving Julep, Justin joined the team at Johnny's Gold Brick. Justin left Johnny's in early 2020 in pursuit of his lifelong dream of being an owner operator partnering with Patrick Abalos to open Night Shift in 2021.

Justin left Johnny's in early 2020 in pursuit of his lifelong dream of being an owner operator. Justin is currently partnering with Patrick Abalos, a revered and talented bar man, as well as a local design and fabrication company, Rootlab, to open Night Shift. Night Shift will be a local neighborhood watering hole attracting the cocktail enthusiast as well as the relaxed bar goer. Night Shift is slated to open sometime in 2021.


How Allison Widdecombe Buchanan has been working in the hospitality industry for over 20 years and behind the bar for 15 of those. She has worked in bars and restaurants around the world and spent several years competing in a variety of competitions.

In the past Allison has won the Woodford Manhattan competition and the Grand Marniers Grand Masters competition. She competed in the Diageo finals three consecutive years. Originally from the Big island of Hawaii, Allison now lives in Denver.



Anu Apte (She/Her) is the sole proprietor of Seattle cocktail den Rob Roy and co-owns award-winning bars, No Anchor, Navy Strength, Vinnie's Wine Shop, as well as The BAR BAZAAR, a place for locals to pick up bar supplies and tools. Rob Roy continues to achieve national and international accolades. No Anchor was given two James Beard nods, and Navy Strength won Best New American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail in 2018. She has bartended worldwide and has taught classes at Tales of the Cocktail, The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, The Bar Institute, Portland Cocktail Week, and the Toronto Cocktail Conference. She has and been included in multiple books and publications for her work. In 2014 She was invited to present a cocktail at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution for the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Utah, has successfully tested for the BAR 5 Day program, is a Registered Yoga Instructor, currently sits on the board of directors for Seattle Restaurants United, and is working on a Post-Baccalaureate Program for Counseling and Psychology Professions through UC Berkeley intending to integrate mental health care into hospitality programs.


Aidan Bowie, originally from Scotland, is currently bartending at The Dead Rabbit in New York City and has been working in cocktail bars for the last 10 years.

Aidan was part of the opening team at Dandelyan, London and was the head bartender there for 2 years. During that time Aidan won the U.K Diageo World Class competition in 2016, competing in the global finals in Miami and won the U.K. Class Magazine bartender of the year in 2016.

Aidan moved to New York in 2017 to become the beverage director at The Aviary and The Office at The Mandarin Oriental where he worked for 18 months before starting work at BlackTail and The Dead Rabbit.



After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy with a degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management, Tyson Buhler worked in a number of Arizona's top bar programs before moving to New York in 2012 to bartend at world-renowned cocktail bar, Death & Company. In 2015, Buhler took home the honor of US Bartender of the Year in Diageo's World Class cocktail competition.

After two years as Head Bartender, Tyson took over as Beverage Director for Death & Company with a focus on beverage development and trainings overseeing properties such as Death & Company NYC, Death & Company Denver, and Death & Company Los Angeles.


Chris Cardone has 20 years of bartending, hospitality, and nightlife experience. He has trained, opened, and consulted for multiple restaurants, cocktail bars, nightclubs and a bartending school in New York. He has helped design, build, and remodel bars on Long Island and New York City. Chris is the 2017 US Champion of Diageo World Class, the world's largest global mixology competition, as well as a three time national finalist (2014, 2016 & 2017).

In 2015, Chris also finished in the top 3 at a National Finals competition at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.


Ricky Gomez was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He's has spent time "behind the stick" at Cure and Teardrop Lounge, two of the most critically acclaimed cocktail destinations in the country. There, Ricky harnessed his creativity, style, and palette to demonstrate the art of the crafted cocktail through both classic and innovative recipes. In 2012, Ricky was named the first-ever Diageo World Class US Ambassador and placed fifth in the global finals in Rio de Janeiro.

He opened up Palomar in Portland, Oregon, in April 2018, recognitioned as Bar of the Year by the Oregonian newspaper and Eater Portland.



Kim Haasarud is a nationally-recognized mixologist and beverage consultant, working with hundreds of liquor brands, restaurants, and hotels across the country in helping to create successful cocktail and bar programs. Her expertise and skills include: speaking engagements, media appearances and demos, drink development, bar design consultation, training, trend analysis & reports, and menu design. In 2020, she also helped clients with to-go programs and virtual experiences. Kim is the author of the best-selling "101... " cocktail series with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

She is on the Board of Directors for the USBG and was recently appointed the President of the USBG.


A global bartending champion, James Beard Award-winning beverage designer, and guest experience guru, Charles Joly is a leader in the international craft cocktail and spirits movement. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, he has helped to usher in the modern age of the cocktail. Fresh off of his fifth year creating and serving the signature cocktails at the Oscars and Emmys, he is a go-to entertainment personality for sources like People, E!, Rachel Ray, and others.

He is the only American ever to win World Class by Diageo, the largest and most prestigious bartending competition on the planet.


Lynnette Marrero is Bar Director at Llama San, NYC, and Llama Inn, Brooklyn, Co-Founder of Speed Rack, and the Mixology Teacher. Marrero's career began at NYC's Flatiron Lounge. In 2015, she opened The Llama Inn followed by Llama San. Marrero is one of America's Leading Female Mixologists (2009 James Beard Awards), Food & Wine and Fortune Magazine's Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink (2015), and Wine Enthusiast's Mixologist of the Year (2016).

In 2019, Marrero won Tales of the Cocktails' Spirited Awards World's Best Bar Mentors and its Philanthropy Award as co-founder of Speed Rack.


Julie Reiner has been elevating the cocktail scene in NYC for 20 years, most notably with the opening of the Flatiron Lounge in 2003. As co-owner and beverage director, Reiner drew her inspiration from her native Hawaii utilizing the freshest fruits and quality spices available in her original cocktails. In 2008, she opened Clover Club, a pre-prohibition cocktail bar and restaurant. In 2015, Julie opened Leyenda, a pan Latin bar and restaurant that celebrates imbibing traditions from across the Spanish-speaking world and beyond.

In 2011, Julie was honored with a James Beard nomination for spirits professional of the year.


Formerly a musical theatre actress, then a software developer, Katie's path to the cocktail world was a bit winding. She fell hopelessly in love with mixing drinks in college. As her skills evolved, a friend recklessly convinced her to give real bartending a try, and to her parents dismay, she never looked back. She's had the distinct pleasure of working behind many of her favorite Chicago bars including Moneygun, Drumbar, GreenRiver, and Billy Sunday.

She has also seen success in many national bartending competitions, most notably winning the title of 2019 US World Class Bartender of the Year.


Stay tuned for more highlights on the competitors by region, more news about the virtual competitions, and an announcement of the 2021 USBG World Class Bartender of the Year!