Twenty mixologists, five cocktail luminaries and four challenges – all came together to determine who will journey to Brazil to represent the United Sates in the world’s largest international cocktail program. After months of scouring the country and searching for America’s top talent behind the bar, the United States Bartenders’ Guild has named Richard Gomez the first ever Diageo World Class U.S. Ambassador. As one of the nation’s top cocktail talents, Ricky will compete in the finals against 47 of his peers from around the globe. Gomez first got behind the bar as a hobby and to make extra money, however while working in the iconic Garden District, he became intrigued with New Orleans cocktail culture and began learning basic mixology techniques. Following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, he started working at the reopening of New Orleans landmark restaurant, Commander’s Palace, where his passion really grew.

What does it take to be a star behind the bar?
[quote]I was fortunate enough to enrich my knowledge of mixology by attending the Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) Education Program in NYC as a work-study student. I got to meet and learn from industry leaders such as Dale DeGroff, Steven Olson, Andy Seymour, Paul Pacult, Doug Frost and David Wondrich to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the world of cocktails. Upon returning to New Orleans I began working at Cure where I was able to harness my creativity, style and palette to demonstrate the art of the crafted cocktail through both classic and innovative recipes. I think a bar star stays honest to their craft and abilities. They are on top of leading trends through the knowledge they acquire by reading, listening to their mentors and learning from their own experience. They offer supreme service and a high-quality experience to each and every guest and they love what they do. Aspiring bartenders should also become a member of the USBG. It is a great networking tool that is something of a cocktail think tank. It really fosters the camaraderie of great bartenders and provides a truly collaborative environment for the industry.[/quote]