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  • Writer's pictureTyler Haley

Woodford Reserve Master of the Manhattan 2022

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Good evening, all. Thank you for your interest in Drink Like Royalty!

A few weeks back, my good friend and old co-worker Rick told me about this awesome opportunity to compete in Woodford Reserve's annual Master of the Manhattan competition.

I said yeah right, ok, I'll do it later. I thought about it for a bit and decided that this competition was exactly what I needed to do. I went to the liquor store and assembled my list.

I went home, R&D' until I couldn't stand (it) anymore, and submitted my Manhattan, aptly named the "Astoria", having taken inspiration from one of New York's premier luxury hotels. Here we are a few weeks later, and the Astoria earned me a top 12 spot for Tennessee's applicants! I was happy and surprised that this prestigious and innovative brand recognized me as a top contender in Nashville. I mean, think about how many great bartenders Nashville has!

We all met at The Grange; a contemporary restaurant located inside of our Grand Hyatt for a nice luncheon. We met with Woodford Reserve and Brown-Foreman ambassadors, and also

Jon Howard, one of the 3 judges for this year's competition. He is not only a past competition winner and all-around respected bartender, he also has traveled the world using his palate and Hospitality skills to develop innovative bar programs and open multiple esteemed bars.

Jon gave us all some valuable insight into what to expect during the next round of competition, what works and doesn't work, and what the judges are really looking for.

The battle for Tennessee's top spot will be on April 4th, and the winner moves on to the Louisville round of competition to compete for a spot in the finals, held in Manhattan! It is our responsibility to flawlessly execute our Manhattan submission and an original cocktail in front of the judges, who will be picking apart our recipes and asking us why we used certain ingredients and techniques. After all, doesn't everything that makes up a great cocktail serve a purpose? My job is to pick apart the nuances of the bourbon and showcase just how good Woodford Reserve really is.

And my oh my is it complex.

My fellow comrades all made it to this next round for a reason. Most currently work in some of the top beverage programs in the city, and all have the skills to back up their name. This will be a close race, but I am sure that whoever wins #1 and goes to Louisville to compete will do well,

and possibly even make it to the finals! Stay tuned for more updates. Cheers! 🥃

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