Area Bartenders to Compete in Taking the Long Road Cocktail Competition

Six Grand Rapids bartenders have been selected as finalists to compete live in the Taking the Long Road Cocktail Competition at Long Road Distillers on Monday, December 5th. Finalists were chosen by a panel of judges from numerous applicants from around West Michigan.

The goal of the Taking the Long Road Cocktail Competition is to highlight local bartending professionals while giving them an opportunity to showcase their talents for the community through the creation of inspired, handcrafted cocktails. Each finalist is using one or more of Long Road’s award-winning spirits as the base for their cocktails.

Long Road partnered with the Grand Rapids Bartending Guild, the local chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG), to host and promote the event. All six finalists in the competition are current members of the USBG-Grand Rapids.

“We’re excited to work with the USBG-GR chapter to promote this event and the local talent we have here in Grand Rapids,” said Long Road co-owner, Jon O’Connor. “We understand the value of working together as industry members to promote education, camaraderie, and collaboration. We hope that by fostering a stronger USBG-GR, we can unite the hospitality community in advancing the profession, elevate craft beverage culture, and ultimately, work together to promote excellent service for guests at all of our establishments!”

On Monday, the finalists will bring their cocktails to life in front of a live audience and a panel of judges in The Rickhouse at Long Road Distillers. Each competitor will build full cocktails for the judges, offer a narrative for how their cocktail fits the theme of the competition, and talk about the ingredients they have used to craft their drink. They will be judged on Originality, Taste/Aroma, and Presentation/Performance. The audience will also be able to contribute to the outcome of the competition, with 20% of the final score coming from a people’s choice vote.

The six finalists for the Taking the Long Road Cocktail Competition 2016 are:

  • Nate Cohn (Grove): The Heffron Hot Toddy with Long Road Gin and Cherry Brandy
  • Maureen Di Virgilio (The Green Well Gastropub): The Bitter Apple with Long Road Vodka
  • Rob Hanks (Reserve Wine & Food): The Sandlot with Long Road Wendy Peppercorn Vodka
  • Duncan McCargar (SideBar GR): The Cytherea Sour with Long Road Bourbon and Aquavit
  • Rick Muschiana (The Søvengård): A Walk in the Woods with Long Road Aquavit
  •  Zac Williams (JW Marriott Grand Rapids/ Dwight & Wendy with Long Road Wendy Peppercorn Vodka

The judges for the Taking the Long Road Cocktail Competition are:

Everyone is welcome to attend the event and cheer on the six finalists. Appetizers and cocktail samples will be provided. A cash bar will also be available. There is no cover to attend the event. Doors open at 5pm with the competition beginning promptly at 5:30pm.

More information about the competition, competitors, and cocktails is available at

About Long Road Distillers:

Long Road Distillers was born from the belief that making world-class spirits means never taking shortcuts along the way. After becoming the first craft distillery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Long Road Distillers formed relationships with local farmers to bring that mission to Grand Rapids’ West Side neighborhood. Each spirit produced at Long Road Distillers is milled from locally sourced ingredients, fermented, and distilled on-site. The result is an uncompromised lineup of spirits including Vodka, Gin, Whisky and more. Their spirits, along with a handcrafted collection of cocktails and a wide variety of food can be enjoyed at their tasting room at 537 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

About The Grand Rapids Bartending Guild (USBG-Grand Rapids Chapter):

The Grand Rapids Bartending Guild (USBG-GR) is a locally-driven chapter of a national initiative to develop and share the history, art, culture and enjoyment of beer, wine and spirits. They strive to foster connections between industry experts in the community through competition, education, and socialization. They work to maintain a network of like-minded professionals who are dedicated to the advancement of the field and the enrichment of the community.