The and
USBG’s Manhattan Experience
Official Rules and Regulations

Sponsored by Woodford Reserve

Overview: in conjunction with the USBG will be hosting a nationwide search for bartenders who are passionate about Bourbon, the Manhattan cocktail, Woodford Reserve and what it means to create a truly meaningful cocktail experience.  Over the course of this search there will be multiple phases that test the ability of North America’s best bartenders, beginning with competitions across 40 cities, continuing to a semi-final educational event in Kentucky and concluding at the finale event in Manhattan.  


Create two recipes:

  1.     An original cocktail that showcases your skill as a bartender.  This cocktail should highlight the attributes of whichever Woodford Reserve expression you choose to use  and be a cocktail that you would proudly serve to guests in your own bar
  2.    Provide your ‘ideal’ recipe for the classic Manhattan cocktail, including the way you would serve it to guests
  3. One of your two cocktails must feature Woodford Reserve Bourbon as the base spirit.  The second cocktail must feature Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked or Woodford Reserve Rye as the base spirit.

Submit your recipes at

Participating Regions:

Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Boston, MA; Calgary Alberta, Canada; Charleston, SC; Chicago, IL; Columbus OH; Connecticut; Washington DC; Delaware; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Jacksonville, FL; Kentucky; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Maryland; Miami/South Beach, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis MN; Kansas City, MO; New York City, NY; Nashville, TN; New Jersey; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Puerto Rico,  Rhode Island; Richmond, VA; Buffalo,  NY; San Diego, CA; San Francisco/Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; Seattle, WA; Tampa, FL; Toronto, Canada; Vancouver, Canada


  1. and the USBG will send one winner from each of the qualifying rounds (40 markets approximately) to the Woodford Reserve Distillery for an immersive educational experience.   The Semi-finalists prize (ARV: $3,000) will include:

- Round trip coach airfare

- Lodging accommodation (standard room, double occupancy) for (3) nights

- Hosted tour of the Woodford Reserve Distillery

- Arrive evening Monday April 2, 2018 Depart morning Thursday April 5, 2018.

  1. and the USBG will send 6 finalists to NYC to compete in the final event, for a chance to be crowned the winner of the Manhattan Experience. The Finalists prize (ARV: $3,000.00)  will include:

- Round trip coach airfare

- Lodging for 2 nights (standard room, double occupancy)

- Arrive evening Sunday April 22, 2018; Finale on Monday April 23, 2018, Depart morning Tuesday April 24, 2018.

  1.    One bartender will be chosen as the overall winner of the Manhattan Experience (ARV: $5,000.00). and the USBG will provide this winner with the following:

- Feature article on announcing the winner

- Trip to London for 2 people (winner + guest) dates TBD, first week of October, 2018

- Travel (coach airfare) and accommodations for 2 nights (standard room, double occupancy) in London.


Taxes are the sole responsibility of prize winners.  No substitution/transfer of prize permitted. Prize winners are responsible for all necessary travel documents, including but not limited to passports.  Alcohol is not part of any prize.


  •      December 18, 2017 12:00:01 a.m. – February 6, 2018 11:59:59 p.m. PST :  Open for online recipe submissions
  •      December 18, 2018 – February 25, 2018:  Regional judging period  
  •      March 4, 2018– March 14, 2018: Local qualifying rounds are held in participating markets
  •      April 2, 2018 – April 5, 2018:  Distillery Trip for regional winners; 6 Finalists are announced
  •      April 2018:  Finale event in New York City Monday April 23 , 2018

General Rules:                                                              

This program is open to all working bartenders and USBG members that are not employed by liquor companies or distributors as full time employees.               

Competitors must be at least 21 years of age.

Competitors must be legal United States or Ontario, Canada Residents, residing in one of the participating regions. Void where prohibited.  No purchase necessary.



By entering this program, you are giving, USBG, Woodford Reserve, and its affiliates explicit rights to use your photo, an image of your drink, drink recipe name, and your drink recipe for publicity purposes, including but not limited to: press, social media, digital activation and promotional activation.                                                                                                                                           

Selection Process:

Phase 1 - Online entries:  

For the purposes of determining the Regional finalists, entries will be assigned to the closest applicable market, as determined by the Sponsor.  All complete entries submitted to within the entry timeframe will be judged against the below criteria based on the perceived qualities of the written recipes and essay entry.  Entrants will be notified via email if they have been selected to move onto the regional competition.

Judges will not take into consideration current employer, time spent bartending or any other personal information in the selection of Regional finalists.

Judging Criteria (Online Entries)

Initial scores will be based on the judges’ interpretation of the written description submitted. In some cases, judges may recreate the cocktails to settle closely ranked submissions.

Original Woodford Reserve Cocktail:  (50 pts.)

  •      Taste and Balance  (15pts.)
  •      Creativity and Originality  (15pts.)
  •      Intelligent use of Woodford Reserve (10pts.)
  •      Presentation and Appearance  (5pts.)
  •      Creativity, relevance and appeal of recipe name (5pts.)

Woodford Reserve Manhattan Recipe: (50 pts.)

  •      Taste and Balance (20pts.)
  •      Presentation and Appearance (15pts.)
  •      Thoughtful and intelligent use of ingredients (15pts.)

Phase 2 - Regional Events:

For the purposes of selecting Semi-Finalists, regional events will be judged by local panels, as determined by the Sponsor with the assistance of and the USBG.  The regional competition rules and judging criteria will be created by and the USBG, and will be shared with all regional participants prior to the regional competitions.

Phase 3 - Semi Final

A Semi-Final event will be held in Louisville, KY, where all 40 winners of the regional events will compete for a chance to move on to the Finals in New York City.

A panel of industry experts selected by and the USBG will judge this event. Rules and judging criteria will be created by and the USBG and will be shared with all Finalists a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the Semi-Final competition. These will be a variation of the criteria outlined above.  Weighting may vary.


Phase 4 - Final

A total of Six Finalists will be selected from the semifinal round and will compete at the New York finale event in Manhattan.  For the purposes of selecting the winner of the Manhattan Experience, a panel of well-respected industry experts selected by and the USBG will judge the competition.  Rules and judging criteria will be created by and the USBG and will be shared with all Finalists a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the Final competition. These will be a variation of the criteria outlined above.  Weighting may vary.

Guidelines and Requirements:                                                      

  •      Recipes must be original. An original recipe is the product of one's own mind and is not a copy or imitation.
  •      Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon must be listed as the primary ingredient in one of your two cocktail recipes .
  •      Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Woodford Reserve Bourbon or Woodford Reserve Rye  must be listed as the primary ingredient one of your two cocktail recipes.
  •      All recipes must conform to any legal regulations.
  •      All recipes must be states in parts and not ounces. Drops and dashes are allowed.
  •      Recipes must not exceed 7 ingredients including drops, dashes (This does not include garnish, sprays or citrus zests)
  •      Limit one entry per person/email address.

Any entries attempted through the use of agencies or robotic, repetitive, automatic, programmed or similar methods will be void. Any attempt by a person to use multiple email accounts or identities to gain more entries than permitted by these Official Rules shall result in disqualification at the sole discretion of Sponsor. In the event of a dispute regarding the identity of the person submitting an entry, the entry will be deemed to be submitted by the “authorized account holder” associated with the email address at the time of entry, which must comply with these Official Rules. The authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned an e-mail address by the service provider or other organization that is responsible for assigning email addresses. Potential winners may be required to provide evidence (to Sponsor’s satisfaction) that they are the authorized account holder of the e-mail address associated with a winning entry. In the event a dispute regarding the identity of the person who actually submitted an entry cannot be resolved to Sponsor's satisfaction, the affected entry will be deemed ineligible. Entries and other submitted material become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. Refer to Additional rules below for more details regarding the requirements for your entry.

Additional Requirements for Entry:

Entries must be in English. Entries must not allude to the overconsumption or irresponsible consumption of beverage alcohol. Entries that do not include all required information and do not adhere to the foregoing and following requirements will be considered void and will not be considered in the judging of this contest. Entries that are deemed by Sponsor in its sole discretion to be illegal, obscene, profane or not in keeping with Sponsor's image will be disqualified.

Entry Requirements:

By submitting an entry, you warrant that:

  •      You are the creator of the entry
  •      The entry does not infringe the intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights or any other legal or moral rights of any third party, including any current or former employer, and does not defame any person or identify any person by name other identifying information
  •      The entry has not previously been entered in any other contest
  •      The Entry has not been previously published in any medium
  •      The entry does not violate any law or regulation
  •      Sponsor's determination as to whether any entry potentially violates the rights of any third party is final.


Employees of Brown-Forman,, USBG, their affiliates, liquor wholesale licensees, as well as advertising/promotion agencies and their immediate family members and household members of each and retail license holders are not eligible. This promotion is void wherever prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. In the event that the contest is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor or Administrator reserves the right to discontinue or modify the Contest, or to disqualify participants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, Sponsor and Administrator shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. You must be at least 21 years of age to be eligible. Contest void wherever prohibited or restricted by law.

By accepting a prize, any winner: (a) releases Brown-Forman/ and their affiliated companies and licensed alcohol wholesalers and retailers from any/all liability claims, action or proceedings arising out of or for injuries or damages sustained while involved in any promotion activity or connection with the use of the prizes; as well as (b) consents to the use by Brown-Forman/ for promotional purposes in connection with this promotion, of his or her name and/or likeness and/or voice without further compensation where permitted.  Winner must complete an affidavit of eligibility and liability release.  A 1099 will be issued.

The Sponsor and participating promotional companies are not in any way liable for damage, loss or injury resulting from computer malfunctions, misdirected or incomplete entries or acceptance and use of the prize. Brown-Forman/ reserves the right in its sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this contest should virus, bugs or other causes beyond the control of sponsor corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the contest. The Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel terminate or suspend the contest. The Sponsors assume no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communication line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. CAUTION: Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operation of the game is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such attempt.

Entrants will be automatically opted-in to receive messages from (Entrants may unsubscribe from list at any time.)

I acknowledge that I have read and understand the rules & regulations pertaining to The Manhattan Experience Program Sponsored by Woodford Reserve.





For a list of prize winners, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:, 1263 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94103.  Do NOT send entries to this address.

Woodford Reserve is a registered trademark used with permission.  

Craft Carefully. Drink Responsibly.



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Signature Cocktail Competition

  1. This is a spirit on spirit cocktail, with famous brand serving as the base spirit. No muddled fruit, juices and or syrups should be used in making a Signature. Fruits, herbs, essences and spices may be used in infusions however.
  2. Modifiers such as fortified wines, bitters, tinctures, infusions and citrus oils are acceptable variables in a Signature cocktail.
  3. The ratio of modifier(s) to base spirit (famous brand) should never exceed 50:50. The cocktail should be not exceed 3.5 oz.
  4. The Signatures' traditional garnishes are a citrus twist or olives. Cocktail onions are also an acceptable garnish. When thinking of new garnishes, let your imagination run wild.
  5. The cocktail can be served up or on the rocks. In addition, it may be stirred or shaken. Glassware and presentation are up to the contestants.

Judging Criteria

  1. Relevance to the Signature cocktail (20 points)
  2. Presentation and Appearance (20 points)
  3. Taste and Balance (30 points)
  4. elit Brand Awareness (20 points)
  5. Cocktail Name and Inspiration (10 points)

Insider Tips
from the


The Manhattan is one of those classics that at its heart is a simple combination of three ingredients but when taking it to great heights then the devil is in the details. With this competition, I want to see your attention to the little details that can elevate this cocktail. Your thoughts behind the ratio and style of Vermouth. Choice of bitters. Your choice of glassware and garnish. How do you present this and how does this cocktail make you feel. In my perfect bar, once you sit in front of a great Manhattan, all the details come together to take you to another place. A great Manhattan engages all your senses.


Register for a chance
to compete in

The Manhattan Experience

The entry deadline has passed.

See official rules and regulations

Competition & Timeline

Show off what you can do with
2 original Woodford Reserve recipes. will host an immersive experience
for 40 regional semi-finalists at the Woodford Reserve
Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky

The finalists will compete in New York City, where one
bartender wins the title of Master of the Manhattan and
an all-expenses-paid trip to London.




Sign up to register yourself
and submit your recipes



Qualifying rounds are hosted
by participating markets



Educational distillery trip and
Semi-finals in Louisville, KY



The Manhattan Experience
Finale in New York City

Participating Regions

Get Inspired

Understanding the
Manhattan Experience

The Manhattan is a three-ingredient timeless classic cocktail. However, it takes so much more to make this drink the memorable experience that it should be. Read the judges tips below to learn more about how to create a truly excellent Manhattan.

In addition, your entries will be evaluated by the judges on the following criteria:

  • Taste, Balance, Presentation and Appearance
  • Creativity, Originality and Relevance
  • Thoughtful use of Ingredients
  • Intelligent use of Woodford Reserve
  • Understanding of the Manhattan

Advice from the Judges

Meet the Judges

Your competition entries will be evaluated by these
cocktail and spirits luminaries from across the country.




The entry deadline has passed.

See official rules and regulations

Spread the word

Let your peers know that you've registered for
a chance to be part of something big.