Chelsea Santos has been crowned the grand prize winner in the Balcones Bartender Challenge.

Texas bartenders battled it out to create the most original whiskey cocktail using either Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey or Texas Rye 100. Six finalists were chosen to visit the Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas, to create their cocktail for a panel of judges. Although each unique recipe impressed the judges, only one grand-prize winner was chosen, with five runners-up each winning $1,000.

Check out the five runners-up:

Taking home the $5,000 grand prize was Chelsea Santos with her cocktail, This Must Be the Place.

“For close to seven years, I’ve spent the better part of my life behind a bar. I’ve worked, as many of us do, in almost every realm imaginable. A major portion of my career was spent in Waco, Texas. I began this new way of life in a community that, from an outsider, seems anything but the place for this type of creativity to blossom. Knowing better, I embarked on a project that would consume much of my mindset. Ever since, I’ve had a passion for creating new drinks, studying classics, and understanding the basis to this beloved culture. “This Must Be the Place” is anywhere that you can find curiosity, spirit, and most importantly, perseverance. After leaving the space where I began my bartending career, I traveled and finally turned a new leaf in a new city … though some days, it feels oddly familiar. On those days, I absorb my ‘here’ entirely, but carry with me everywhere I’ve been. Luckily, in Texas we’ve got a lot of space to spread and many roots to reach for. After first tasting Balcones’ newest core product, I dabbled here and there and felt this cocktail offered a bit of me, the spirit, and where ‘our place’ is currently. The components all meld together to create familiar flavors with a twist.”
– Chelsea Santos

This Must Be the Place

This Must Be the Place

This Must Be the Place

Recipe by Chelsea Santos


  • 1 1/2 oz. Balcones Rye
  • 1/2 oz. Giffard Abricot du Roussillon
  • 1/2 oz. Housemade Chai Syrup
  • 1/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters

Preparation: Combine all ingredients, shake and strain. Prepare with expressed lemon peel.

For more information on the Balcones Bartender Challenge, visit