Judging The Socially-Distanced Woodford Reserve Cocktail Competition

WINNER: Scott Augsburger from Wise Guys in Cincinnati, OH

Runner Up: Nina Lobo from Trouble Bar in Louisville, KY

Today I judged a socially-distanced cocktail competition. In previous years this has been the Woodford Reserve Ultimate Manhattan Competition, but this year things have been a little different Many of the competitors thought the whole thing had been canceled until they received the call that the Woodford Reserve brand team had figured out a way to hold the competition – in the closed Trouble Bar in Louisville, one at a time, with just three judges present.

Ordinarily cocktail competitions are part of larger events or are held at open bars where there are large crowds. Typically everyone makes their cocktails simultaneously, or at least in rapid succession, and the judges go from person to person or the cocktails are brought to the judges within a relatively short period of time.

Socially-distanced cocktail competition judging was actually a lot more laid back and enjoyable than other cocktail competitions I’ve judged before. Each bartender was able to fill us in on their inspiration, talk about their ingredients, and answer any questions we had. The pace meant that we had more time to give the bartenders thoughtful feedback.

The winners will be announced tomorrow, but until then here are some photos I snapped during the competition – another relative luxury of the slower-paced setup of this pandemic-era competition.

Overall, I appreciated the safety precautions the Woodford Reserve brand team enforced, and I would definitely judge this style of competition again, pandemic or no.

Check out the cocktail pictures on my Instagram page – @LouGirl502.

Here are some shots of the talented bartenders in action:

Bill Whitlow of Rich’s Proper in Covington, KY
Emily Sego of Brooklyn & The Butcher in New Albany, IN
Davy Butterworth from Decca in Louisville, KY
Josh Ott from The Thirsty Fox in Lexington, KY
Scott Augsburger from Wise Guys in Cincinnati, OH
Nina Lobo of Trouble Bar in Louisville, KY
Sarah Young of Odeon in Louisville, KY
Mallory Williams of 643 Sportsbar and Grill in Bowling Green, KY

Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

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