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Get to Know Your Midwest and Southern Regional Finalists!

By Shayleigh Ward posted 03-21-2019 19:08

  
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2019 USBG World Class sponsored by DIAGEO season is in full swing! The competitors are fiercely preparing for the much-anticipated Midwest and Southern Regional Competitions taking place in Minneapolis on April 28th - May 1st. There, the finalists will be competing over 2 days for the opportunity to advance to the National Competition.


We invited both the Midwest and Southern finalists to tell us a little about themselves and their experience with World Class. 


:: Midwest Region ::

VIACHESLAV BORISOV

What inspired you to enter World Class?

This competition is the best stimulus to create your own cocktails, improve yourself as a professional and meet like-minded people who also have a passion for bartending and the art of creating new libations.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

The greatest match for a tropical climate would be a bottomless Passion Fruit Mojito. The cocktail itself is very refreshing and quenches the thirst perfectly.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

Stevie Wonder sings one of my favorite songs, "My Cherie Amour". Hearing this song reminds me about sherry and makes me want to serve him a Bamboo.
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LANCE BOWMAN

What inspired you to enter World Class?

I've done a number of competitions over the past few years, and had even attended World Class seminars in the past, but this is the first year that I had the confidence to enter. Interacting with past winners such as Charles Joly and Chris Cardone was a big part of what got me to enter, as well as the opportunity to meet other amazing bartenders from the community.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

Tough call, if I had to pick one category I would go with a daiquiri, if I have to narrow it down more than that I would say a split base of aged rum and funky white Jamaican overproof proof rum, with a splash of amontillado sherry balanced slightly to the tart side. The close runner up would be fizzy yellow beer and a neat pour of some agave distillate, the boilermaker counts as a cocktail doesn't it?

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I've been a huge fan of cocktails that incorporate tea for several years; the amount of depth it can add to a cocktail and its ability to make a cocktail really pop is my principal go-to. There is such a wide breadth of selection in tea styles that you have a nearly infinite palette of flavors to play with, currently my favorites are Lapsang Souchong and its brooding smokey character, chamomile for it's rich floral characteristics and tendency to bring out memories of the past, and a tisane of tropical spiced clementine, all from my friends at Rare Tea Cellar.
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JAMES DEFRANCE

What inspired you to enter World Class?

The competitors who have come before me - who I meet more of every month - are the most generous and inspirational people in our industry. Everyone going at it alone to elevate our craft into art, our trade into profession are representing their cities, their identities and their cultures in potentially a big way. Average people wouldn’t have started driving without seeing race cars and cocktails are doing the same to elevate the spirits world everywhere.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?
Obscure chilis. Working through subtleties of arbol vs urfa vs gualijo is like finding a shoe store full of different Cinderella slippers where each one is going to be the perfect flavor partner of a different cocktail build. Just enough heat and flavor for a surprise finish is usually the goal.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

Winston Churchill. I would make the 20th century’s most ferocious Scotch-loving person my Melon Collie - taking his favorite, Johnnie Walker and pairing it with honeydew, lemon and dill salt. I think he’d hate the idea and begrudgingly come around - at least for breakfast.
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ANTON NGUYEN

What inspired you to enter World Class?

I entered World Class to be able to showcase my passion for cocktails and spirits. Bartending is not only a job for me - but life. I cannot see myself doing anything else as a profession or livelihood. Bartending is rich in tradition and history. I want to be a part of this amazing culture and history, to be recognized, to be inspired, to grow, and to contribute to the innovation and craft for bartenders all over the world.
What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

My favorite ingredient to use at the moment is Kaffir leaves. The bright and aromatic properties of this vibrant ingredient are so special. It's like injecting citrus steroids into cocktails when applied, if that is even a thing, and it makes other juicy citruses come alive and personifies it.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

I would love to make a cocktail for Anthony Bourdain. During this last decade, I fell in love with his books and TV series. He is an inspiration to myself and many others. I would make any style of dealer choice he would request as well as a delicious bar snack to pair with his drink. Perhaps a Singani Basil and Strawberry Fizz, made in the style Henry C. Ramos, with a juicy Birria slider and fried cinnamon sweet potatoes skins. My take on the good old milkshake and burger.
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KATIE RENSHAW

What inspired you to enter World Class?

World Class truly pushed me in my craft last year, and I wanted nothing more than to come back and continue to grow with this competition. On top of that, being a part of the World Class family is a special bond, and I've made friends who support and inspire me constantly. Getting to meet so many incredible bartenders from around the country is a huge part of the experience for me.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

A Jungle Bird! First off, I'm on an island, so tiki seems like the appropriate choice. Plus a Jungle Bird has all of my favorite qualities - it's rich, bitter, tropical, and refreshing all at the same time.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I've been smoking drinks and syrups for drinks with Palo Santo wood lately, and really liking what it does to cocktails. The scent is heavenly, like a hike in the woods after a rainstorm. It's cozy, woodsy, and bright all at the same time, so it can enhance a lot of different base spirits.
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PAULINE SAUER

What inspired you to enter World Class?

While watching the finals stream from Berlin last fall, I was captivated and terrified about the idea of participating in the competition. I decided to put my fears aside, challenge myself, and push myself outside of my comfort zone.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

The whiskey sour was my mother’s favorite cocktail. It always evokes feelings of home and family. I would never be alone if I had one by my side.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I have been obsessing over the versatility of carrots lately. They can be creamy, rich, sweet, savory, and even acidic if prepared the right way.
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RODRIGO SERRANO

What inspired you to enter World Class?

When I started Bartending school I started to follow the World Class competition on social media and watched it online. I became very interested in it, and I decided to participate in Guatemala. This was a really good experience for me as it opened my mind to another level. When I moved to the states I first lived in Florida. While I was there, the 2016 World Class finals was in Miami and I visited bars and got to meet different World Class bartenders. Talking to them about their experiences has inspired me to enter. I even submitted last year and I did not qualify but I never wanted to give up because this is a dream of mine.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

If I were stranded on a desert island, I would choose to have a Gin & Tonic as my one cocktail because it is very refreshing. It's one of my favorites cocktails and also Gin is my favorite spirit. 

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

If I could make a cocktail for any celebrity it would be Roger Waters, the singer of Pink Floyd. I would make him a Smokey Paloma, because I know that he likes Mezcal and Tequila. Also I would like to surprise him with this cocktail because I'm sure he would enjoy it.
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CARL SPARKS

What inspired you to enter World Class?

The first time I entered, it was at the behest of other prior competitors. After having gotten a taste, the level of competition, stakes, and brand support are unparalleled. Not to mention, the people you meet are one of the best parts.
If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

Probably a mint julep. It's simple yet elegant practicality lends to both flavor and a refreshing factor not found in most cocktails in that many ingredients.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I've become obsessed with micro-dosing lately. So anything that has complexity in small amounts. Think old world traditional type stuff and I'm probably into it.
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DOUG SPRADLEY

What inspired you to enter World Class?

I've always loved pushing the boundaries of my own knowledge, and World Class pushes each and every bartender who enters to try and better themselves in this way. Win, lose, or draw, each competitor comes away with fantastic knowledge and great friendships.
What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

Lapsang souchong tea-- love the smokey flavor.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

A Tanqueray 10 martini for Jerry Thomas, just to see how his simple book inspired our world today.
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SARAH SYMAN

What inspired you to enter World Class?

I entered World Class to allow myself space to continue to be challenged in unique ways and push myself creatively. Becoming stagnant and complacent is dangerous for anyone's creativity, and I saw this as a really fun way to keep me on my toes.
What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I've been playing around with a lot of lemongrass and honey - both pretty readily accessible ingredients, but also quite versatile in a variety of cocktails, both shaken and stirred.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

Tom Waits, if he was still drinking. And we'd just drink whiskey on the rocks. He's an incredibly unique and prolific musician who has truly LIVED. I would love to be able to sit and hear his stories.
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:: Southern Region ::


KRISTIN AMRON

What inspired you to enter World Class?

I'm about to turn the big 4-0 this year. I wanted to prove to myself and to other "aging" bartenders that it's never too late to push yourself to something greater.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I love to use Li Hing Powder. Add a little salt it makes a sweet and savory ingredient.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

Dave Grohl. A shot of Bulleit 10 year and a high five. My husband and I are about to celebrate our 10-yr Anniversary in August and Everlong was our wedding song.
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PARRIS BROADUS

What inspired you to enter World Class?

Some of my best friends and mentors inspired me to be the best that I could be, and I found World Class to be the perfect space to challenge myself. Can’t wait to show everyone what ATL has to offer.
What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I’ve always loved dabbling with different syrups and I have a really dope Apple basil syrup that I’ve been using in a lot of my personal drinking ventures.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

I’d want to make a cocktail for Nina Simone. I’d make her the best Corpse Reviver No. 2 I’ve ever made in my life and just ask her anything and everything.
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NATHANIEL CAPENOS

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

Jungle bird. Plus then I'd have Campari on the island so I could fashion other aperitif drinks too.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I really love putting saline in almost anything. Varying amounts can change the dynamics of one drink.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

I'd wanna make Bill Murray a cocktail because of lost in translation. Could use scotch or japanese whisky and I'd probably make it lifting and stirred. I'd make him tell me jokes as a tip.
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CHRISTINA CROUT

What inspired you to enter World Class?

My New Year's resolution this year is to get out of my comfort zone and enter my first cocktail competition. After attending World Class Studios, the restaurant where I work hosted a Q&A lunch where Josh Hiller, Kelly Minton, and Michael Tubiera all shared their stories of competing in World Class and I was so inspired by their success stories as well as their hilarious mishaps, I decided to apply.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

A gin gimlet. A nice floral and citrus forward contemporary style gin, and lime with its natural cooling properties and simple syrup with a couple dashes of orange bitters.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I love working with different kinds of peppercorns right now, they all lend something different to a cocktail. Some can change the mouthfeel, some add floral or fruit notes. It's interesting experimenting and adding dimension to different syrups with them.
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MICHAEL DOYLE

What inspired you to enter World Class?

World Class is something that I have always wanted to do since becoming a craft bartender. Being able to put my artistic and technical abilities to the WC test is the ultimate challenge in my career.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I currently have a love affair with Lapsang Souchong Tea. The second I smelled this majestic black tea it took me directly to a distinct memory as a child sledding down a snowy hill, getting cold and wet, and retreating to a stony lodge with a massive fire. Everyone would huddle around to get warm and dry off their boots and gloves. Using this ingredient in a cocktail not only challenges my ability to utilize smoke but also gives the cocktail a nostalgic purpose.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

I would choose someone with complete originality and a mind that thinks outside of the box. Someone I could take wisdom from and maybe gain a universal truth. The guy who comes to mind is Elon Musk. He looks like a gin guy. Would definitely make him a Saturn.
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REBECCA EDWARDS

What inspired you to enter World Class?

I had the opportunity to attend the Northeast Regionals last year as a guest and found the experience incredibly inspiring. It's not often you get to be in a room with some of the best bartending talent in the country. I went home full of ideas and ready to apply this year.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

I've been having a lot of fun with carrots lately. I was recently gifted the use of a masticating juicer and it's really influenced my ability to incorporate vegetables into cocktails. They're a super dynamic ingredient and pair well with a wide variety of spirits.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

I'm a huge It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fan, so I would have to say Danny DeVito! He's a smart and funny guy who enjoys a could cocktail. He's famously known as huge fan of limoncello, so I would probably make him a limoncello ramos riff I once came up with during a particularly strong sweet tooth moment.
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RYAN HART

What inspired you to enter World Class?

The Charlotte USBG is filled with passionate bartenders who inspire me to continually push myself to grow. Most of our chapter went to World Class Studios to learn and it was there I decided I would continue down the path to competing.
What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

Hand-Cut Clear Ice. I used to pay a local ice monger for clear ice until I started at The Crunkleton and now we have a clear ice machine in house that produces 25 lb bricks. Breaking them down in front of guests and serving them a beautiful spirit-forward cocktail with the clear ice adds an element to the cocktail that no esoteric syrup or bitters will ever come close to.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

I'd probably want to make Ernest Hemingway a Hemingway Daiquiri. Nothing like making a guest their favorite drink.
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KEVIN KING

What inspired you to enter World Class?

Excited about the opportunity to learn and meet new people!

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?
I love making cordials out of citrus leaves and any other kind of unique leaf.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

I'd make Jerry Thomas a sherry cobbler.
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KELLY MINTON

What inspired you to enter World Class?

I wanted to push myself and top my first performance in 2017.
What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

When it's in season I love using fresh hay. It's an awesome aromatic when made into a tea and can make a striking garnish.

If you could make a cocktail for any celebrity living or dead who would it be and what would you make them?

Aubrey plaza and a boulevardier. I like weird quirky humor and a couple of boozy drinks would definitely get that flowing.
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NIC WALLACE

What inspired you to enter World Class?

What inspired me to enter World Class this year comes down to my last five years in the competition. After competing consecutively that many times and not reaching the top, I have a lot I want to prove to myself. This year I'm more focused than ever before and ready to take on any challenge!

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ONE cocktail what would it be and why?

The one and only cocktail I would be stranded with on a desert island would be the classic Boulevardier. For me, the Boulevardier is the perfect cocktail, not only due to its simplicity, but its ability to blend its ingredients harmoniously in a 1:1:1 ratio.

What is your favorite unique ingredient to make drinks with right now?

My current ingredient obsession is Fennel Pollen. Much in the way that salt can add balance to high acid or sugar cocktails, Fennel Pollen can be modified through multiple methods to add layers of depth to many Spring and Summer favorites.
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To find a World Class bartender or cocktail near you, visit http://worldclass.usbg.org.
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