With more and more competitions being held on a national level, here are a few tips to help you stand out!

Use Your Own Photograph

Most pictures pulled from the internet have copyright. When you use these images and present them as your own, you run the risk of disqualification. With cell phone cameras being as advanced as they are, there is no reason why you can’t snap a quick picture and submit it.


Make sure your cocktail photo is high resolution and use proper lighting. This is a must if you want it to stand out to the judges. In the photo, you should include ONLY the bottle of the spirit being showcased. Do NOT put every single product you used in the photo. It takes away from what you are showcasing, which is your cocktail and the brand holding the competition.

Know Your Judges

When a competition is announced, the judges are usually listed. A quick internet search can help you “know your audience” so that you can craft your masterpiece accordingly.

Tips for Competing Mixologists

Tips for Competing Mixologists

Photo by Louis Hansel

Read the Instructions

There will always be judging criteria that you must meet. Not following the rules is a sure way to be passed up.

Showcase the Brand

Make sure that the brand you are using is the star of the show. Always make sure the sponsored spirit shines in your cocktail and is not overpowered by your modifying ingredients.

Do Not Use Competitors Brands

This tip seems like a no-brainer. Make sure you learn about the brand or the importer and use modifiers from their collection. You don’t want to use a competitor brand if you can help it. That information is usually accessible on the website for the brand.

Accesible Ingredients

Homemade ingredients are awesome, but if they are something that is not easily sourced through the internet or a local grocery store, you might want to consider using something else.

Do Not Use Illegal Ingredients

Remember that when a brand hosts a competition, they are looking for cocktails that will be replicated everywhere it is sold. Not all states allow recreational drugs, and not all consumers do them, so do NOT use drugs in your cocktail.

Hopefully these tips will help you to stand out and move on to the next round of any competition you enter.

Wendy Verdel Hodges

National Director of the Chilled 100 Wendy Hodges

National Director of the Chilled 100, Wendy Hodges

Wendy has been in the Food and Beverage industry since her teenage years. She worked her way up from hostess through all aspects of FOH positions. She has over 20 years of bartending experience and has done it all. (nightclub dive bar, cocktail lounge…you name it) She has recently taken on the role of National Director of The Chilled 100.