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Meet Your 2023 World Class Mentors and Judges

By Marcela Rudershausen posted 27 days ago



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2023 USBG World Class sponsored By DIAGEO is in full swing! The Top 30 competitors are fiercely preparing for the National Competition taking place May 15-19, 2023 in Austin, Texas.

The World Class Collective 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 Collective, focusing on camaraderie and networking so intrinsic to the World Class experience.

About the Mentors

Mentorship is an initiative of the USBG presents World Class Sponsored By Diageo program. It opens opportunities to engage and support even more of our World Class Collective 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 30 competitors. Utilizing personal, private scheduled time competitors were given the opportunity to have the chance to bounce ideas off of the best minds possible - those that have been there before and are leaders in the service industry! 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 Collective of Judges takes part at various levels of evaluating this year’s applications from Round 1 Paper Judging, Round 2 Cocktail Judging and National Live Competition. Judges are ushered through an in-depth understanding of performance appraisal from potential biases to rating errors. Since World Class is first and foremost an educational opportunity for bartenders, participants have the opportunity to receive in-depth feedback from judges at each level of the competition.


Get to know the Mentors and Judges for 2023 USBG World Class Sponsored By DIAGEO:


@Anu Apte-Elford 

Anu Apte is the sole proprietor of acclaimed Seattle cocktail den, Rob Roy, and co-owns award-winning bars, Trade Winds Tavern, Navy Strength, and Vinnie’s Wine Shop. Navy Strength won Best New American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail in 2018. She has been bartending across the globe, and has been included in hundreds of publications. 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, and currently sits on many boards for groups that are changing the landscape of hospitality industry. 

Tyson Buhler

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, Denver, and recently opened Death & Company Los Angeles. Tyson lives in Los Angeles, CA with his fiancée, Shel.

Leo Robitschek

As Vice President of Food and Beverage and Head of Bars at Sydell, Leo brings tremendous experience, leadership and creativity to the culinary and beverage programs across the Sydell portfolio. Working alongside Sydell since 2010 as NoMad’s Managing Partner of F&B and Bar Director at Make it Nice, Leo Robitschek has been responsible for developing and leading the cocktail programs and teams at all NoMad properties.

A native of Venezuela, he first began working in hospitality while attending the University of Miami, but it was upon moving to New York City where his appreciation for the craft of cocktails and food began to take focus. First joining Eleven Madison Park in 2005, he reinvented the cocktail program of the award-winning restaurant. Since the opening of the first NoMad hotel and Elephant Bar in New York in 2012, and the subsequent openings of NoMad properties in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and London, Leo has overseen all aspects of the cocktail programs and served as a leader to the beverage teams for the NoMad brand. 



Patrick Abalos

Patrick Abalos, owner of Not Too Sweet Ventures and partner in The Cocktail Manual, is a New Mexico native and a 16+ year food and beverage industry veteran based in Houston, Texas. He has worked in hotel food and beverage as well as free standing concepts having overseen the development of multiple beverage programs. Some of his milestones have been opening his open bar, running a resort beverage program, opening a hotel and several restaurants, consulting at local concepts in the Houston market as well as most recently in Denver, CO through his company Not Too Sweet, and former managing partner of award nominated Night Shift in the East End of Houston. He is an active member and president/chairman of the Houston USBG chapter and has been heavily involved in the competitive bartending scene.

He is an active member in USBG presents World Class sponsor by Diageo competition having been a Regional and National Finalist. During the day he is the Director of Operations for Night Moves Collective in Houston and at night focuses on Not Too Sweet and The Cocktail Manual.

Aidan Bowie

Aidan Bowie, originally from Scotland, is currently bar tending at Dead Rabbit in New York City and has been working in cocktail bars for the last 10 years. He was part of the opening team at Dandelyan, London and was the head bartender there for two years. During that time, Aidan won the U.K World Class competition in 2016, competing in the global finals in Miami as well as winning Class Magazine bartender of the year. 

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. He then moved on to working at BlackTail and Dead Rabbit, where he is currently.

Allison Buchanan

Allison Widdecombe Buchanan originally hails from the Big Island of Hawaii and loves to create a good cocktail that reflects that. Allison lived in many cities learning the ropes of the restaurant and bar industry, from New York to Budapest, from London to Portland and beyond. She moved to Denver in 2011 and soon found a home at Williams & Graham, where she spent several years with a beautiful bar family until settling down at a Nobu restaurant where she currently bartends. 

Chris Cardone

Chris Cardone has over 22 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.

He has appeared on a number of television networks including NBC, ABC, CBS, Spike TV, The Food Network, USA Network, E-Television and the Travel Channel. And he has been bartending at Restaurant I Sodi in NYC since January 2016.

Adam George Fournier

Adam “George” Fournier hails from Erie, Penn. but has been a native of Los Angeles, CA for over a decade. He is a proud graduate of the Syracuse University theater program. He has been a hospitality professional for over 15 years.

As of 2023 Fournier is thrilled to be the first ever Bar Director for Spago Beverly Hills with the goal to guide the iconic restaurant into the next decade of its evolution. 

@Harrison Ginsberg 

Harrison Ginsberg developed his passion for the restaurant/hospitality industry like most the dish pit at an Italian joint. After working in both back of the house and front of the house roles, Harrison decided to continue his education at Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island. While attending University Harrison tended bar at both Cook & Brown and The Dorrance.

Harrison moved to Chicago in September 2013 to pursue his career behind the bar and in the spirits industry, gaining a position as an opening bar team member at The Dawson. He moved back to his home state, New York in Spring of 2016. He helped to open BlackTail, while also bartending at The Dead Rabbit, helping to obtain multiple achievements and awards for both bars; most notably the No.1 spot on the World's 50 Best Bars list from Drinks International magazine.

@Ricky Gomez 

Like the cocktail, Ricky Gomez was born in the Southern city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Ricky’s passion for great cocktails strengthened with the reopening of New Orleans landmark restaurant, Commander’s Palace. There, Ricky learned the importance of fresh ingredients and helped perfect recipes inspired by pre-prohibition era cocktails to pair with the restaurant’s seasonal menu. Ricky was also part of the opening team at Cure, one of the most critically acclaimed cocktail destinations in the country. During his tenure, Ricky harnessed his creativity, style and palette to demonstrate the art of the crafted cocktail through both classic and innovative recipes.

@Kim Haasarud 

From her humble beginnings as a bartender in the 90’s in New York City to becoming James Beard honored mixologist and author, Kim Haasarud has embraced innovation and hospitality throughout her work on hundreds of projects with clients ranging from hotel groups, restaurant chains, mixology bars, liquor brands, distributors and other beverage brands both domestically and internationally. Kim’s enthusiasm, professionalism, and easy-to-approach style have won her long-lasting client relationships with groups from drink development to on-site presentations, and opening bars.

This year, she opened Garden Bar PHX and The Cocktail Collaborative (a hospitality workspace) in downtown Phoenix in addition to developing virtual tasting experiences for corporate groups. While her volunteer service started years ago, during the pandemic Kim helped raised and distribute over 10M to bartenders in the US in need through her Board of Directors role with the USBG National Charity Foundation and has performed weekly IG Live updates on behalf of the charity for two years. 

@Colleen Hughes 

Colleen Hughes is a multi-award-winning mixologist and Beverage Director for the Tonidandel-Brown Restaurant Group, overseeing four different bar concepts with a fifth due to launch in Summer of 2023. Colleen also serves as a Director on the National Board of the United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG).

2022 top 10 Hottest new restaurants in the United States Bon Appetite 
Mixologist of the year Charlotte 2022 - BOB awards 
NCRLA Mixologist of the year 2021
Supperland Best new restaurant of the year 2021 – Charlotte Magazine
Mixologist of the year 2018 - Charlotte magazine
#2 restaurant bar in the south 2017 - Southern living
Bartender of the year 2016 -Thrillist
Appeared in many local and national publications including Southern Living, Popular mechanics, Chilled, Garden and Gun, Bon Appetite and Forbes

@Charles Joly 

Charles Joly is a global bartending champion, James Beard Award winning beverage designer, content contributor, speaker and philanthropic enthusiast. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, he has helped to usher in the modern age of the cocktail, while showcasing his talents at premier world events such as the Oscars, Emmys, Grammy’s, Kentucky Derby and beverage leadership summits.

As the first American to achieve a win at World Class sponsored by Diageo, Charles is dedicated to cultivating and educating today’s bartenders. With culinary roots planted deeply as former beverage director at the famed Aviary in Chicago, Charles’ talents earned him “Top 10 Most Influential Bartenders” by Bon Appetite.

Franky Marshall

Franky has worked at some of the top establishments in NY. A former USBGNY Vice-President, she has made an impact with an emphasis on education, mentorship, and continues to give back in various ways, including as a Co-Chair of the TOTCF Education Committee. In 2022 she made Tales of the Cocktail's Top 10 list for Best U.S. Bar Mentor, was nominated twice for U.S. Bartender of the Year, and is a member of the Dame Hall of Fame. In addition to being an educator, she holds various certifications, is an in demand speaker, competition and spirits judge, and MC, who is sought after for her cocktails, opinions, and has been featured in numerous books and publications.

Lynnette Marrerro

Lynnette Marrero’s career began when she accepted a job at NYC’s Flatiron Lounge alongside cocktail savant Julie Reiner. Marrero quickly made the transition from cocktail-waitress to bartender and knew that the spirits industry was her true calling. Marrero spent time shadowing Zacapa Rum Master Blender in Guatemala and working as a Rum Ambassador for Diageo for two years. She returned to bars creating her own company Drinksat6, cultivating a new generation of cocktail bartenders and elevating the bar at restaurants.  Marrero is the  head of Education for Bar Convent Brooklyn, and Business Committee co-chair for Tales of the Cocktail Education Committee.

In 2015, Marrero opened and is now the Bar Director at Brooklyn hotspot The Llama Inn and Llama San, which received a glowing three-star review from the New York Times. Marrero has won Time Out Eat Out Awards for  Best New Cocktail Bar and Best Bar Restaurant Hybrid for projects in NYC.

Andrew Meltzer

Andrew Meltzer is an experience-driven bartender from San Francisco with a flair for technique and presentation. In 2016 he became the World Class U.S. Bartender of the Year, and he is a two-time food and cocktail pairing champion. Andrew managed the team at the destination bar 15 Romolo in San Francisco, was the beverage director at Noosh--an Eastern Mediterranean hotspot--and shook things up in London at Happiness Forgets. He’s currently consulting on new bars and restaurants, writing about hospitality, and expanding his beverage studies into the world of wine. 

Meltzer is a leader in the bartending community. He spent five years working with the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, where he served as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. He’s explored cocktail culture all over the world and has been featured in publications such as, PUNCH, and The Beverage Journal. Andrew is passionate about advancing the bartending community through education and mentorship.

Laura Newman

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.

While in New York City, Laura worked at bars and restaurants such as Dover, Bergen Hill, Bacchanal, and Sweet Polly, and served as the assistant beverage director for Mother of Pearl and Cienfuegos. When she wasn’t behind the stick, she was the St-Germain Brooklyn brand ambassador.

William Pasternak

William Pasternak has 15 years of hospitality experience across the full range of FOH positions. He has competed in World Class 3 times at both the Regional and National level, winning some national challenges in 2018. William moved to NYC to be on the opening team of BlackTail of which he later became the bar manager. Some of his chief responsibilities included developing cocktails and developing staff members for one of the best bars in the world. William also spent time at The Dead Rabbit and helped open Existing Conditions in 2018.

@Jessi Pollak 

Jessi Pollak is the Bar Manager at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She is a leader in the local bartending community -- mentoring, educating, and advocating for environmentally sustainable bar practices. Jessi is "Bar Ready" certified by The Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR-5) program, and one of the highest scoring graduates of the BarSmarts Advanced program. She has participated in the Cocktail Apprentice Program with Tales of the Cocktail three times, as well as travelled nationally and internationally for cocktail competitions and conferences. Jessi was a 2020 Speed Rack National Finalist, the national winner of the 2021 Marie Brizard Toast to HerStory competition, and the USBG World Class by Diageo 2022 Bartender of the Year.

Julie Reiner

Julie Reiner is the co-founder of world-renowned cocktail bars, Clover Club and Leyenda in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and the author of The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion. Julie has been elevating the cocktail scene in NYC for 25 years starting with her first bar Flatiron Lounge (2003) followed by The Pegu Club (2005), which she opened with Audrey Saunders.  

Reiner drew much of her inspiration from her upbringing in Hawaii by utilizing the freshest fruits and premier quality spices & spirits available in her original cocktails. Julie’s award winning beverage program at Clover Club is highly focused on classics, and furthers her signature style of superior quality and green market ingredients. In 2015, Julie opened Leyenda, a pan Latin bar and restaurant with Ivy Mix, a long-time bartender at Clover Club. She celebrates the spirits and imbibing traditions from across the Spanish-speaking world and beyond.

Trevor Scovel

Initially having a carer in the Engineering & IT field, Trevor bartended through college at various college bars and fell in love with the idea of going to work at five to pour drinks and chat with strangers. Trevor took his first bar manager job at 24 and joined the hospitality industry for life. Now with three bars, an ice company, and a bottle shop under his belt - education & training continues to be his biggest passion.

#WorldClasUS  #WorldClass2023  #WorldClassCocktails  #usbg  #Diageo 


Stay tuned for more highlights on the competitors, more news about the National competitions, and an announcement of the 2023 U.S. Bartender of the Year!