Meet Your Southern Regional Finalists

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Here is a quick look at our Spectacular Southern Finalists who will be moving forward to the Regional World Class Competition. Three Finalists from each region will then go forward to compete at our National Finals.

 

We invited the finalists to tell us a little about themselves and their experience with World Class.

 

Kristin Amron

 

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills,or change your mindset when working at your bar?

I feel that I it helped advance my skills.  It's always nice to have an abundance of information on any given spirit to help expand my knowledge that I can later relay to my guests.  Getting a great reminder of things you may have already known is very helpful as well.

 

What is the best bartending advice you received?

The best bartending advice I have ever received is Don't Sweat the Small Things!  As bartenders we need to learn to let things go that may bother us during a shift so we don't pass that negative along to our next guest.  Letting negative things get to you only creates a domino effect.  It's good to not take things so personally.


 

Arthur Boothe

 

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?

Bartender labs are definitely an asset. There is always room to improve and even if you go into it with an ego, you should be able to walk away from the labs with something to add to your skill set. 

What is the best bartending advice you received?

It's rock and roll, not rocket science. 

Do you have any rituals right before competition time?

 I like to find a nice quiet corner and seclude myself with a cup of just below room temperature water with a squeeze of lemon peel, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing. Then, just as I feel everything in my mind and body start to even out and go numb I start humming the intro to the classic and beloved At The Gates tune - Slaughter of the Soul. I'm pretty much good to go from that point on. 


 

Nathaniel Capenos 

 

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?

Yes,the bartender lab advanced my skills and filled in gaps in my knowledge. 

Do you have any rituals right before competition time?

Yes, I meditate and try to empty my mind. That way when I walk on, all my practice takes hold rather than any last minute changes. Also, a few shots never hurts. 

What is the best compliment anyone could give you?

Ordering an original drink twice in a row.


 

Dustin Crawford

 

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your 

Any information always helps make you better. Even information you have received before it is always good to keep continuously learning. 

What is the best compliment anyone could give you?

"Killer socks!"

What's the simplest thing you've never mastered?

Making my bed every morning. 


 

Joshua Hiller

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?

The Bartender Labs always help open you up to new perspective from bartenders across your region or even across the country.  At every level I've always taken away something great from the seminars!

What is the best bartending advice you received?

Service ALWAYS comes first.  Period.

Do you have any rituals right before competition time?

Relax and jam to some music.....possibly with a hot shower......


  

Jonathan Howard 

 

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?

Absolutely. Every year the World Class Lab brings a new educational component that helps in both the create of drinks but also the needed skills of working behind a bar on a daily basis. 

Do you have any rituals right before competition time?

A Good Breakfast and Benny Goodman in my ears. 

What is the best compliment anyone could give you?

When people express how much they love the bar, I know I've done my job. Because the bar is an entire experience and that is why I do what I do. To try to the best of my ability to give guests a memorable experience. 


 

Lauren Klemm

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?
I've been reading the bartender labs online and going to the ones when available in my market since I first stepped behind a bar. I would certainly say they helped advance my skills by enhancing my knowledge. You really can't beat having a hands on experience, being able to smell and taste a product or its defining flavors.
What is the best bartending advice you received?
It'll all come up even. There are shifts where things go wrong or drinks or people that are difficult. Then there will be shifts that are beautiful and everything flows. So if its a bad shift or a bad interaction it'll end up even.

 

What's the simplest thing you've never mastered?
Flair. I can not throw things to save my life.

 

Justin Levaughn

 

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What is the best bartending advice you received?

Stay humble.  There is no reason to ever act annoyed or scoff at a guest.  You're literally being paid to give the guest a great experience and feel welcome.  If you can't pull this off, than I don't care how many classics you memorize, you're a bad bartender.

What is the best compliment anyone could give you?

"Typical Florida Man" 

What's the simplest thing you've never mastered?

Ping Pong


 

Laura Newman

 

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Do you have any rituals right before competition time?

Working out (both in the months leading up to the competition and at the hotel during the competition) gives my nervous energy an outlet. In the greenroom I wear noise-cancelling headphones to minimize distractions. And the night before the competition I try to organize a little get together with the other women I'm competing against - usually we'll bring a bottle of rose and some snacks to someone's room and hang out for an hour or two. 

What is the best compliment anyone could give you?

That I made a guest feel at home. I love providing a welcoming, comfortable environment for everyone who comes to my bar.

What's the simplest thing you've never mastered?

The double-stir.  This technique may be simple for most, but for me, it might as well be astrophysics.  

 


 

Shawn Newman

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?

These labs are always incredibly informative. I always leave with a new sense of motivation. I created one of my favorite recipes right after a Gin Lab with Bill Codman. These Bartender Labs encourage me to share my new found knowledge to guests and coworkers. Repeating what I've learned also helps cement knowledge into my memory

Do you have any rituals right before the competition time?

I do, but nothing unusual. I like to be alone and I generally listen to reggae or jazz (smooth, easy going music) while reviewing my notes. Doing this allows me to focus and relieve some stress.

What is the best compliment anyone could give you?

 would expect something like this from a parent or family member, but it came from a regular after asking what I would like to do with my life. This was such a humbling experience.


 

John Sabbe

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?

This years Bartender Lab absolutely changed my mindset behind the bar. Tasting spirits is a big part of my job, both when creating new cocktails and choosing new spirits to carry. The lab helped me have a better grasp on how to get the most out of tasting spirits, for both of those applications. In addition, the lab sparked my interest in a few spirits that generally fall off my radar. Blended Scotch has been playing a more prominent roll in my cocktail since the lab.

Do you have any rituals right before competition time?

My rituals before a competition are similar to my rituals before a shift behind the bar. I spend a little time meditating, imagining things that could go wrong and trying to mentally deal with them in advance. I try and clear my mind for a few minutes, just try and be still before the commotion. After those steps, I listen to a bit of loud music and then go into the fray. 


 

Nic Wallace

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Following the live or online Bartender Lab: Do you feel that this education helped to advance your skills, or change your mindset when working at your bar?

Completely.  These hands on demos and lectures help prepare you for the upcoming challenges and build a better mindset for you before competing. 

What is the best bartending advice you received?

Never be afraid to fail.  Failure is the greatest of teachers.

Do you have any rituals right before competition time?

Listening to music to help calm the nerves, or taking a quick walk for fresh air always helps.

 

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