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Meet the 2024 World Class Mentors and Judges

Marcela Rudershausen
Marcela Rudershausen
May 21, 2024

World Class 20242024 USBG World Class sponsored By DIAGEO is in full swing! The Top 30 competitors are fiercely preparing for the National Competition taking place June 2nd through June 4th in Austin, Texas. The World Class Collective continues to stay committed and connected through innovative ways of bringing teams together, including designated mentors and judges! These individuals provide support to the World Class Collective, focusing on camaraderie and networking so intrinsic to the World Class experience.

About the Mentors

Mentorship is an initiative of the USBG presents World Class Sponsored By Diageo program. It opens opportunities to engage and support even more of our World Class Collective and allows the camaraderie and networking to continue virtually, which is so intrinsic to the World Class experience. World Class Alumni interested in being a mentor were assigned a mentorship role with the top 30 competitors. Utilizing personal, private scheduled time competitors were given the opportunity to have the chance to bounce ideas off of the best minds possible - those that have been there before and are leaders in the service industry! To remain equitable, mentors were provided with clear boundaries on what they “can” and “cannot” provide feedback on with competitors and each mentor provided the same amount of “Office Hours” and involvement to each competitor in the interest of fairness.

About the Judges

The World Class Collective of Judges took part at various levels of evaluating this year’s applications from Round 1 Paper Judging, Round 2 Cocktail Judging and National Live Competition. Judges were ushered through an in-depth understanding of performance appraisal from potential biases to rating errors. Since World Class is first and foremost an educational opportunity for bartenders, participants had the opportunity to receive in-depth feedback from judges at each level of the competition.

Get to know the Mentors and Judges for 2024 USBG World Class Sponsored By DIAGEO:



Anu Apte

Paper Judge

As a multi-venue bar owner, Anu Apte continuously works with her staff to develop drinks and hospitality in uniquely conceptualized venues. She has been involved with World Class Studios since 2012, serving in various capacities such as hosting, judging, teaching studios, and mentoring. Anu is well-acquainted with this program!

In addition to her extensive industry experience, Anu holds a Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Science and recently completed a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Psychology and Mental Health Counseling from UC Berkeley. This educational background enables her to understand the aspects of the competition that may make competitors nervous or apprehensive, allowing her to effectively coach them to be their best selves.


Andrew Meltzer

Paper Judge

Andrew Meltzer is a bartender from San Francisco with a flair for technique and presentation. In 2016 he became the World Class U.S. Bartender of the Year, and he is a two-time food and cocktail pairing champion. Andrew managed the team at the destination bar 15 Romolo in San Francisco, was the beverage director at Noosh--an Eastern Mediterranean hotspot--and shook things up in London at Happiness Forgets. He’s currently consulting on new bars and restaurants, writing about hospitality, and expanding his beverage studies into the world of wine.

Meltzer is a leader in the bartending community. He spent five years working with the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, where he served as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. He’s explored cocktail culture all over the world and has been featured in publications such as, PUNCH, and The Beverage Journal. Andrew is passionate about advancing the bartending community through education and mentorship. A huge fan of tiki cocktails and spirit-forward whiskey drinks, you’ll find him drinking Daiquiris and Manhattans.
Leo R

Leo Robitschek

Round 2 Judge

As Vice President of Food and Beverage and Head of Bars at Sydell, Leo Robitschek brings immense experience, leadership, and creativity to the culinary and beverage programs across the Sydell portfolio. Since 2010, Leo has worked with Sydell as NoMad’s Managing Partner of F&B and Bar Director at Make it Nice, developing and leading the cocktail programs and teams at all NoMad properties.

A native of Venezuela, Leo began working in hospitality while attending the University of Miami. His appreciation for the craft of cocktails and food deepened upon moving to New York City. He joined Eleven Madison Park in 2005, where he reinvented the cocktail program. Since the opening of the first NoMad hotel and Elephant Bar in New York in 2012, and subsequent NoMad properties in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and London, Leo has overseen all aspects of the cocktail programs and led the beverage teams. During the pandemic, he collaborated with World Central Kitchen to raise money and produce meals for people in need, focusing on the medical and hospitality industries. Leo also mentored 70 global bartenders annually through the Cocktail Apprentice Program at Tales of the Cocktail for 10 years.

Leo and his team have received numerous awards, including the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program, and Best Bar in North America (#4 in the world) on the 50 Best Bars list in 2018. He is also the author of The NoMad Cocktail Book.



Patrick Abalos

Paper Judge

Patrick Abalos, owner of Not Too Sweet Ventures and partner in Swizzle Media, is a New Mexico native and a 16+ year food and beverage industry veteran based in Houston, Texas. He has worked in food and beverage in free standing bar/restaurants and hotel concepts having overseen the development of multiple beverage programs. Some of his milestones have been opening his formerly owned award winning bar called Night Shift, running a 700 room resort beverage program, opening a hotel and several restaurants, and finally consulting at local concepts and hospitality groups in the Houston market through his company Not Too Sweet, He is an active member and former president/chairman of the Houston USBG chapter and has been heavily involved in the competitive bartending scene. He is an active collective member in USBG Presents World Class Sponsored by DIAGEO having been a Regional and National Finalist. In 2023, he launched his new company Swizzle Media LLC focused on digital content for the food and beverage industry.

Allison Buchanan

Paper Judge

Allison Buchanan is originally from the Big Island of Hawaii but has lived in many other places. She was part of the Williams & Graham bar team for about five years, from 2012 to 2017. During her tenure, she competed in the Diageo World Class national finals from 2014 to 2016. In 2015, Allison won the national Woodford Manhattan Experience and represented the United States in the Pan Global Cocktail Competition in Argentina.


Tyson Bulher

Paper Judge

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy with a degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management, Tyson Buhler worked in a number of Arizona’s top bar programs before moving to New York in 2012 to bartend at world-renowned cocktail bar, Death & Company. In 2015, Buhler took home the honor of US Bartender of the Year in Diageo’s World Class cocktail competition.

After two years as Head Bartender, Tyson took over as Beverage Director for Gin & Luck with a focus on beverage development and training, overseeing properties such as Death & Company NYC, Denver, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and The Danforth as well as various consulting and management projects. Tyson currently lives with his fiancé Shel Bourbon and puppy Ferris in Lawrence, KS.


Chris Cardone

National, Paper Judge

Chris Cardone has over 23 years of bartending, hospitality, and nightlife experience. He has trained, opened, and consulted for multiple restaurants, cocktail bars, nightclubs and a bartending school in New York. He has helped design, build, and remodel bars on Long Island and New York City.

Chris is the 2017 National Champion of Diageo World Class, the world's largest global mixology competition, as well as a three time national finalist (2014, 2016 & 2017). Chris finished Top 5 in the world at Diageo World Class Global Finals 2017. Since 2018, Chris has presented across the US for World Class Educational Studios and judged both the regional and national finals.

Chris is also a 4-time national flair bartending finalist. Chris has organized and judged bartending competitions of all styles all over the world since 2004 and has appeared on a number of television networks including NBC, ABC, CBS, Spike TV, The Food Network, USA Network, E-Television and the Travel Channel. His work has been featured in the NY Times, Newsday, New York Magazine, Beverage Media, Wine Enthusiast and Chilled Magazine. He currently bartends at Restaurant I Sodi in NYC since January 2016.

Meaghan Dorman

Round 2 Judge

Meaghan Dorman is currently the Bar Director of New York City's Raines Law Room (2009), Raines Law Room at the William (2014), Dear Irving (2014) and Dear Irving on Hudson (2019). The bars have become essential cocktail stops in NYC, and received recognition from World's 50 Best: North America, Tales of the Cocktail and Esquire Magazine's "Best Bars". A passionate teambuilder and creative force, Meaghan was a Top 4 finalist for 2022 Tales of the Cocktail Best American Bar Mentor.

Meaghan was named Imbibe Magazine 2016 "Bartender of the Year" and has been profiled by the New York Times for the unique success of her venues. She was a finalist in the 2013 International G'Vine Gin Connoisseur Program, taking home the "Best Technical Skills" award. Meaghan was a 2013 inductee in TOTC's Dames Hall of Fame and co-founded the annual TOTC Catalyst Luncheon. Tenets of Meaghan's bar programs are consistency & collaboration, leading to dynamic teams and nightly bar magic.


Leanne Favre

Round 2 Judge

Leanne Favre, a seasoned mixologist, embarked on her journey in the world of cocktail bartending at the renowned Mayahuel in the heart of New York City. With a knack for crafting exceptional drinks, she soon made her mark at the iconic Clover Club in Brooklyn, where her skills and commitment to the craft flourished. Leanne now holds the esteemed position of Beverage Director at Leyenda. Her role involves curating and innovating the beverage program, reflecting her unwavering passion for taste, innovation, and excellence.

Leanne's expertise extends beyond the bar, having ventured into the global stage through numerous cocktail competitions where her talent shone, securing victories and accolades. Her adventurous spirit and love for creating unique cocktails have taken her around the world, each experience adding layers to her wealth of knowledge in libations, cuisine, and culture.


Adam George Fournier

National, Round 2, Paper Judge

Adam Fournier is the 2021 USBG Presents World Class US Bartender of the Year as well as the first ever Bar Director for Spago BH, the original Wolfgang Puck restaurant. He has run award winning bar programs for over a decade including places like NoMad LA, Fellow, and Faith & Flower.

Adam is also a writer, having contributed to numerous industry publications, part of the Imbibe 75, and a passionate educator.


Harrison Ginsberg

Paper Judge

Harrison Ginsberg discovered his passion for the restaurant and hospitality industry like many others: in the dish pit at an Italian restaurant. After gaining experience in both back-of-house and front-of-house roles, he pursued further education at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. During his time there, he tended bar at Cook & Brown and The Dorrance.

In September 2013, Harrison moved to Chicago to advance his bartending career and joined the opening bar team at The Dawson. In the spring of 2016, he returned to his home state of New York, where he helped open BlackTail and bartended at The Dead Rabbit, contributing to both bars' numerous achievements, including The Dead Rabbit's No. 1 spot on the World's 50 Best Bars list by Drinks International magazine.

Harrison has competed in numerous prestigious competitions, including the national finals for Bols Around the World (2nd place), Bacardi Legacy 2014 (Midwest Finalist), Grand Marnier Grand Masters Winner 2015, and the National finals for Diageo World Class in 2015 and 2017. He was also named Heaven Hill’s 2018 Bartender of the Year. Additionally, he successfully completed the rigorous Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR 5-Day) course.

In 2018, Harrison joined the team at 70 Pine Street, overseeing Crown Shy, SAGA, and Overstory as the company's bar director.


Kim Haasarud

Paper Judge

From her humble beginnings as a bartender in New York City in the 90s to becoming a James Beard-honored mixologist and author, Kim Haasarud has embraced innovation and hospitality. She has worked on hundreds of projects with hotel groups, restaurant chains, mixology bars, liquor brands, and distributors both domestically and internationally. Kim's enthusiasm, professionalism, and approachable style have won her long-lasting client relationships, from drink development to on-site presentations and opening bars.

This year, she opened Garden Bar PHX and The Cocktail Collaborative in downtown Phoenix and developed virtual tasting experiences for corporate groups. During the pandemic, Kim helped raise and distribute over $10 million to bartenders in need through her role with the USBG National Charity Foundation and provided weekly IG Live updates on behalf of the charity. Her work continues as a Foundation Board member and President of the United States Bartenders Guild.

Kim is the author of the best-selling "101..." cocktail series with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She has been a featured presenter at Epcot's "Food & Wine," a judge on Iron Chef America, USBG World Class, Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender, and various spirits competitions. Kim has appeared on "The Today Show," CBS' "Early Morning Show," "Fox & Friends Live," and other programs. Her work has been featured in numerous print and social media outlets, including the NY Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Imbibe, and Saveur. She lives in Phoenix, AZ, with her husband Kevin, their two children, Holden and Maddy, and their miniature Australian Shepherd, Lucy.


Charles Joly

National, Paper Judge

Charles Joly is a global bartending champion, James Beard Award winning beverage designer, content contributor, speaker and philanthropic enthusiast. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, he has helped to usher in the modern age of the cocktail, while showcasing his talents at premier world events such as the Oscars, Emmys, Grammy’s, Kentucky Derby and beverage leadership summits.

As the first American to achieve a win at World Class sponsored by Diageo, Charles is dedicated to cultivating and educating today’s bartenders. With culinary roots planted deeply as former beverage director at the famed Aviary in Chicago, Charles’ talents earned him “Top 10 Most Influential Bartenders” by Bon Appetite. In 2014 he launched his own brand, Crafthouse Cocktails. True, bottled cocktails designed to make high quality, unpretentious beverages accessible and bring people together to celebrate. A partnership with Fortessa Tableware Solutions has delivered a functional and stunning line of bar tools and glassware for the home bartender and professional alike found in Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel.

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Charles readily partners with charities dear to him including No Kid Hungry/Taste of the Nation, Meals On Wheels, Habitat For Humanity and rescue animal organizations. When he’s not mixing up cocktails, Charles is spending time with his rescue pittie, Jackson (#AdoptDontShop), scouring vintage and flea markets for buried treasure that he shares on his Instagram account @TellTailVintage and trying to keep his many house plants alive.

Lynnette Marrero

Paper Judge

Lynnette Marrero’s career began when she accepted a job at NYC’s Flatiron Lounge alongside cocktail savant Julie Reiner. Marrero quickly made the transition from cocktail-waitress to bartender and knew that the spirits industry was her true calling. Marrero spent time shadowing Zacapa Rum Master Blender in Guatemala and working as a Rum Ambassador for Diageo for two years. She returned to bars creating her own company Drinksat6, cultivating a new generation of cocktail bartenders and elevating the bar at restaurants.

Marrero is the head of Education for Bar Convent Brooklyn, and Business Committee co-chair for Tales of the Cocktail Education Committee. In 2015, Marrero opened and is now the Bar Director at Brooklyn hotspot The Llama Inn and Llama San, which received a glowing three-star review from the New York Times. Marrero has won Time Out Eat Out Awards for Best New Cocktail Bar and Best Bar Restaurant Hybrid for projects in NYC.


Franky Marshall

Round 2 Judge

Franky has worked at such storied New York establishments as Clover Club, Monkey Bar, Tippler, Dead Rabbit, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, and Le Boudoir Brooklyn where she created a widely recognized beverage program. In 2022 she made Tales of the Cocktail's Top 10 list for Best U.S. Bar Mentor. Previously she was a two time nominee for U.S. Bartender of the Year, is a member of the Dame Hall of Fame, and was honoured with a Legacy award from the Black Bourbon Society. As the former Vice-President of the Bartender's Guild of NY, she volunteered her time to focus on education, mentorship, and continues to give back in many ways including as a Co-Chair for the TOTCF Education Committee.

An all around Educator, franky is Certified by the Cognac and Pineau des Charentes categories, and holds certifications CMS 1, WSET Level 2 Wine, Cava Academy and others. She is an in demand speaker, event MC, and judge for many high-profile spirit and cocktail competitions. Sought after for her original cocktail creations and her opinions, she has contributed to numerous books, publications, and has been widely featured across various media. Franky has studied French in France, Spanish in Spain, and feels very fortunate to be able to travel the world experiencing locales through the lens of their unique cuisines and drinking cultures.


Laura Newman

National, Round 2, Paper Judge

Laura Newman is a Brooklyn native who moved to Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 2017. Her first bar, Queen’s Park, opened in November 2018, featuring a menu of forgotten and not-so-familiar classic cocktails. Queen’s Park has received numerous accolades and awards, including placing in the top 10 “Best New American Cocktail Bars” at the 2019 Spirited Awards. Laura opened her second bar, Neon Moon, in February 2021.
While in New York City, Laura worked at bars and restaurants such as Dover, Bergen Hill, Bacchanal, Sweet Polly, and Overthrow Hospitality, and served as the assistant beverage director for Mother of Pearl and Cienfuegos. When she wasn’t behind the stick, she was the Brooklyn brand ambassador for St-Germain.
Laura is a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, has a degree in hospitality management from the Institute of Culinary Education, served in the Cocktail Apprentice Program at Tales 2016, and has presented at numerous industry events and seminars, such as Tales of the Cocktail and the Nightclub and Bar Show.

She and her work have been featured in publications such as The Daily, Time Out New York, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Food & Wine, Southern Living, and She has also been featured in books such as Maggie Hoffman’s The One Bottle Cocktail and Dave Nitzel’s Hospitality DNA.

In addition to managing and beverage directing at her two bars, Laura stays busy by doing consulting work for various liquor brands, bar & restaurant groups, publishers, and festivals.



T Cole Newton

Paper Judge

T. Cole Newton is the owner of the bars Twelve Mile Limit and the Domino in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife and son. Cole serves as the Vice President of the United States Bartenders’ Guild and the Board Secretary of the New Orleans Women and Children’s Shelter. Cole’s book, Cocktail Dive Bar: Real Drinks, Fake History, and Questionable Advice from New Orleans’s Twelve Mile Limit, was a national release by Running Press in 2021.

William Pasternak

Round 2, Paper Judge

William Pasternak has 15 years of hospitality experience across the full range of FOH positions. He has competed in World Class 3 times at both the Regional and National level, winning some national challenges in 2018. William moved to NYC to be on the opening team of BlackTail of which he later became the bar manager. Some of his chief responsibilities included developing cocktails and developing staff members for one of the best bars in the world. William also spent time at The Dead Rabbit and helped open Existing Conditions in 2018.

Jessi Pollak

National, Round 2, Paper Judge

Jessi Pollak is the Bar Manager of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a leader in the Midwest bartending community, mentoring and educating the next generation of bartending professionals and advocating for more environmentally sustainable bar practices. Under her leadership, Spoon and Stable was named a Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards Regional 10 Honoree. In 2022, she was crowned USBG Presents World Class sponsored by Diageo “US Bartender of the Year,” competing with her peers on a national stage. She then went on to earn a spot in the Top 10 Finals at the 2022 World Class Global Finals in Sydney, Australia. She received the Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR-5) “Bar Ready” certification and is one of the highest-scoring graduates of the BarSmarts Advanced program. She has served as a mentor for Tales of the Cocktail’s Cocktail Apprentice Program three times and has judged cocktail competitions around the country. Her recipes have appeared in Difford’s Guide, the Daily Beast, and Chilled Magazine.

Julie Reiner

Round 2 Judge

Julie Reiner is the co-founder of world-renowned cocktail bars, Clover Club and Leyenda in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, Milady's in Soho NYC, and the author of The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion. Julie has been elevating the cocktail scene in NYC for 25 years starting with her first bar Flatiron Lounge (2003) followed by The Pegu Club (2005), which she opened with Audrey Saunders. Julie along with Tom Macy launched Social Hour Cocktails in 2020, a premium canned cocktail line. Most recently, Julie was featured as a judge on the Netflix show, Drink Masters.

Renato Tonelli

National, Round 2, Paper Judge

From a young age, Renato was immersed in different cultures, not only from living in NYC, one of the largest, most diverse cities in the world but also because of his Italian heritage. Being exposed to the Italian countryside and culture encouraged his passion for travel and the discovery of different foods and flavors.

Renato also fell in love with bartending. This passion enabled him to work while traveling the world. After spending 10 years abroad between Italy, Belgium, and Australia, he finally moved back to New York City where he began his blog called “Sustainable Bartender”, teaching bartenders how to upcycle leftover food waste.
Tonelli serves as the Beverage Training Director for ‘Dante’ one of the world's best bars. Even in his free time, Renato is enamored with constantly experimenting with new flavors and cocktail recipes. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Azzurra and dog Nerone.


Stay tuned for more highlights on the competitors, more news about the National competitions, and an announcement of the 2024 U.S. Bartender of the Year! 

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