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Meet Our Judges

We take great pride in having some of the top spirits buyers judging in our trade buyer only spirits competition.  Most of these buyers have been judging with us for many years in our competitions. The judges value the blind tasting judging process by category and price. Many future buying decisions are made during the competition process.

Below is our current roster of judges. Check back often for updates! 

Miguel Aranda
Film/Photo/Event Production, Bartender, Bar Consultant

Previous Positions:
Owner of Botanic Lab Production and Bar Consultancy

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Creator of many bar menus for Michelin restaurants and bars

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
Mezcal Cucharilla

John Bush
Owner of Black Emperor Bar

Previous Positions:
Bartender

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Time Out's Best Bartender 2 years in a row

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
An Eagle Rare Manhattan kit

Frank Caifa
F&B Director, The Lexington Hotel / Beverage Director, The Stayton Room

Previous Positions:
Beverage Director, Peacock Alley and La Chine, The Waldorf Astoria, NYC

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Author, Waldorf Astoria Bar Book

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
A good bottle of bourbon for a housewarming gift

Flavian Desoblin*
Partner of Brandy Library
Christina Helmer
Head Bartender at The Cabinet and Spirits Expert Freelance

Previous Positions:
Various at Middle Branch, Attaboy, Locanda Verde, Top of the Standard, Strategic Group etc.
Consulting and event work for numerous spirits brands

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Bar Smarts

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
5Sentidos Tobala-Tobaziche (destillado de agave)

Darnell Holguinn
Partner/Beverage Director Las'lap, Co-Founder The Silver Sun Group, Co-host Azucar y limon

Previous Positions:
Beverage Director at VNYL, Fifty restaurant

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Time Out NY top ten bartender - 2015
Bacardi Legacy Global finalist - 2017

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
A bottle of Ron Zacapa Edicion Negra

Links
@azucar.y.limon

Beki Mann
Spirits Buyer at Gramercy Wine
Ms. Franky Marshall
Modern Bartender, Educator, Consultant

Previous Positions:
Beverage Director Le Boudoir, Brooklyn
Bartender: Dead Rabbit, Monkey Bar, Clover Club

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Certified Cognac Educator
Pineau des Charentes Educator
WSET Level 2 Wine & Spirits with Distinction
Court of Master Sommeliers Level 1
DOC Cava Academy
Member TOTCF Business Education Committee
Judge TOTCF Spirited Awards
Inductee Dame Hall of Fame

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
A bottle of Rhum Agricole finished in Calvados casks that I brought back from Martinique. Looking forward to opening it!

Patrick McCarthy*
Spirits Manager Bayway Liqour

Previous Positions:
Newark Fire Department

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Keeper of the Quaich

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
Hibiki 17 year old and Redbreast 27 year old

Tim Miner
Death & Co
Justin Noel
Owner Sweetwater Social & Goldbar, Director of Trade of Advocacy for London Essence Co.

Previous Positions:
National Brand Ambassador Espolon Tequila
National Mixologist Mionetto Prosecco
Director of Education Jagermeister
Brand Specialist Taylor Fladgate
Prestige Portfolio National Ambassador Bacardi

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
Bar 5 Day Ready
Certified Spirits Sommelier
Level 1 Sommelier Wine

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
Bottle of Ramazotti for my Father

Marlon Paltoo*
Spirits Buyer at Park Ave. Liquor
Ben Rojo
Black Emperor Bar
Francis Schott
Owner & Beverage Director Stage Left Steak, Catherine Lombardi Restaurant, StageLeftWineShop.com

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
B.A.R. Certified
Best of Award of Excellence in Wine Spectator for the last 2 decades

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
Absinthe

Links:

Stageleft.com
@Stageleft
Stageleft Facebook

CatherineLombardi.com
@CatherineLombardiRestaurant
Catherine Lombardi Facebook

Stageleftwineshop.com

@FrancisSchott

Lucinda Stirling
Seaborne & Middle Branch
Scott Rosenbaum
Vice President, T. Edward Wines & Spirits Lecturer, International Wine Center
Previous Positions
Spirits Strategist, T. Edward Wines & Spirits
Contributing Editor, SevenFifty Daily
Buyer, DrinkUpNY
 
Certifications, Awards & Credentials
WSET Level 4, Wines & Spirits
WSET Certified Educator
Certified Specialist of Spirits
 
What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
A 10 year-old bottle of rum from Antigua
Tommy Tardie*
Owner of The Flatiron Room, NYC Fine & Rare, NYC

Previous Positions:
Creative Director at Young & Rubicam, Draft Worldwide

Certifications, Awards & Credentials:
World's Top Bars — Get Lost Magazine
Best Whiskey Bars in America — Travel & Leisure Magazine
Best Whiskey Bar in New York City — Village Voice
Best Whisky Bar — Drammie Awards
Dinner's Choice Award "Hot Spot" — OpenTable.com

What was the last boozy gift you bought for someone you cared about?
A 50 year old Clan Denny for my brother's 50th birthday.

Links:
GoodnightGroup.nyc
TheFlatironRoom.com
FineandRare.nyc
@TommyTardie
@FineandRareNYC
@TheFlatironRoom

Masashiro Urushido
Founder of Katana Kitten
*Whiskey Panel Judges

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