Heaven Hill Brands has announced the champion of the 2017 Bartender of the Year competition.

After a nationwide search to find the top bartenders across America, Nathan O’Neill from the Nomad Bar in New York City is the 2017 Bartender of the Year and the recipient of $15,000.

“I’m excited to be the 2017 Heaven Hill Bartender of the Year. It was an incredible experience, set in such a beautiful location. The standard of the competitors was absolutely fantastic and the atmosphere was perfect the whole time.”
– Nathan O’Neill

2017 Bartender of the Year Nathan O'Neill

2017 Bartender of the Year Nathan O’Neill

Photo Courtesy of Heaven Hill Brands

Eight finalists competed beachside at the St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico on June 5th, 2017. Final bartenders competed in a “beverage program” challenge creating an original cocktail utilizing ingredients native to Puerto Rico that was presented as if being considered for the St. Regis beverage program. The challenge was broken down into several sections, including selection of ingredients, concepting, ingredient preparation, recipe development, and presentation. Contestants were also asked to create two classic cocktails, one shaken and one stirred. Judging was based on the quality of the cocktails, the adherence to the guidelines, the technical performance, and the overall presentation.

Nathan O’Neill’s Winning Cocktail

Photo Courtesy of Heaven Hill Brands

Over 844 original cocktail recipes using Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky were submitted online nationwide beginning August 1st, 2016. 32 semifinalists then competed in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Nashville, Denver, Chicago and New York throughout February and March. The top contestant from each regional semifinal vied for the title of Bartender of the Year and $15,000 at the St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico.

2017 Bartender of the Year Judges Panel

2017 Bartender of the Year Judges Panel

Photo Courtesy of Heaven Hill Brands

“Our bartender of the year competition continues to raise the bar for innovation and professionalism in the hospitality industry. Congratulations to Nathan O’Neill, and to each of the contestants for their commitment to excellence and creativity.”
– Kate Latts, Vice President Marketing for Heaven Hill Brands

National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill Brands Lynn House, Bar Manager of Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and Owner/Bartender of Pouring Ribbons Joaquín Simó, and 2016 Bartender of the Year Abigail Gullo judged the final eight bartenders. Finalists were challenged on their full range of skills as hospitality professionals. Judges were looking for the ultimate bartender who displays the total breadth and aptitude all bartenders aspire to embody.

The following bartenders competed in the 2017 Bartender of the Year Finals:

  • Jesse Peterson – Livermore, CA.
  • Adam George Fournier – Santa Monica, CA.
  • Brenda Terry – Tampa
  • Chris Morris – Houston
  • Mario Salas – Nashville
  • McLain Hedges – Denver
  • Matty Eggleston – Chicago
  • Nathan O’Neill – New York

Grounded in the original Bartender of the Year Competition hosted by Domaine de Canton starting in 2009, Heaven Hill Brands resurrected the competition due to strong demand from bartenders worldwide. Abigail Gullo of Compere Lapin in New Orleans set the bar as the champion of the inaugural Bartender of the Year competition in 2016.

For more information, visit HeavenHill.com.


About Heaven Hill Brands
Founded in 1935, Bardstown, KY-based Heaven Hill Brands is the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer and the world’s second-largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. Heaven Hill’s diversified portfolio of brands includes Evan Williams Bourbon; Larceny, Elijah Craig and Henry McKenna Bourbons; Deep Eddy Vodka; Burnett’s Vodkas and Gin; Admiral Nelson’s and Blackheart Rums; HPNOTIQ Liqueur; The Christian Brothers Brandies; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur; Lunazul Tequila; and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky. Heaven Hill reminds you to “Think Wisely. Drink Wisely.”