And Then There Were Nine
Your votes are in! Over the past two weeks, fourteen valley bartenders rallied their networks as they fought for their place in the lineup of nine that will compete in the 2016 Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition. Restaurant families were leveraged, bar patrons were prodded, and proud moms and dads encouraged to vote and share daily with #DevourAZSpirit.
But only nine could rise to compete in Round 2 on February 28th at Desoto Central Market. The starting lineup will now go head to head, bringing their best drinks to the bar. Get to know them here and then taste their signature styles day of, where the theme of the day will be taking pride in Arizona's spirit. In addition to native and heritage ingredients, you'll find locally-distilled spirits as well as nationally-recognized groups including The United States Bartender's Guild and local media such as the teams behind Bite Magazine and WriteonRubee.com. Modern music man and local photographer DJ Mr PHX will be mixing it up from a bird's eye view, and Principle Barman and Proprietor of Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlor and two parts Scottish gent, Ross Simon, will be calling the event in Queens English.
Dustin Bolin, Melinda's Alley
Dustin is pure home grown talent blending cutting edge cocktails with experimental style. He is the marquee mixologist of Melinda's Alley based in downtown Phoenix. He has a drive and passion for his craft and pushes the limits of the craft cocktail scene in the valley.
Titus Fauntleroy, St. Francis
Titus is the lead bartender of St. Francis on Camelback. He's a huge fan of Phoenix's local community. He loves to innovate and surround himself with other creative people. Music, style, and art are some of the main themes that drive his craft.
Joshua James, The Clever Koi
Joshua James is a Phoenix native and co-owner of The Clever Koi on Central and soon to be Gilbert location. James has been featured in national and local publications for his creative cocktail program and emphasis on new school mixology and elevated classics.
Michael Liberatore, Citizen Public House
Michael Liberatore is a harmacy major to turned bartender. With plenty of restaurant experience, he decided to focus on bartending and the skills behind it. The tight knit community and face time with patrons is what makes the career perfect for his loud personality. He's been known to say, "It's an amazing creative outlet and who doesn't love working with booze?"
Tanner Lips, The Henry
Tanner is one of the opening bartenders from The Henry. He is 26, and Devour would be his first bartending competition! He's attended multiple spirit events and training, and is seeking to start attending and participating in competitions to come.
Rob Moore, The Windsor
For over 18 years, Rob Moore has tended bar in 5 five countries and across 3 continents and geographies including Australia, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New York and now Phoenix. Through the diversity of his travel and rich experience, Rob has gained an appreciation for pure and simply crafted cocktails. Rob has been a pillar of the Windsor bar program for the last 4 years, known and loved for his boisterous personality and revered for his extensive beverage knowledge.
Jillian Newman, Desoto Central Market
Jillian Newman has been in the F&B industry for 14 years. Her passion for wine and spirits started when she worked for 5 years with the incredibly knowledgeable team at Sportsman's Fine Wine & Spirits. From there, she went on to Lon's at the Hermosa where, for the first time, she worked with highly innovative cocktails and house made ingredients. Today, she is the beverage director at DeSoto Central Market, implementing the practices of using fresh juices and house made ingredient in our signature cocktails.
Robert Porter, The Thirsty Camel
Robert Porter has over ten years of professional bartending experience in the Phoenix area and is currently mixing drinks at The Thirsty Camel at the legendary Phoenician Resort. Early in his career, he mastered Tiki Cocktails at Trader Vic's and then moved on to craft cocktails and mixology at The Sanctuary. Then, he spent some time developing his whiskey game over at Second Story Liquor Bar. He believes the best cocktails are made using fresh and simple ingredients, focusing on balance and creativity.
Zach Smith, Welcome Diner
Zach manages and tends bar at the Welcome Diner where he focuses on keeping his craft local and handmade. Over the last decade, he has quickly worked his way from bar patron to floor mopper to drink pourer. He's still mopping floors, but now he also oversees the beverage program at one of downtown Phoenix's favorite late night spots. He loves his wife Starr, his dog Porter, neat booze, and heavy riffs.