The beverages have been poured, the votes have been tallied and the winner of the inaugural Northern Kentucky Cocktail Classic has been crowned – Ray Perryman of Three Spirits Tavern. Perryman’s cocktail, the Harvest Season featured Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, pear and apple juice, a touch of lemon juice, ginger liqueurs, house-made spiced simple syrup, sweet ginger bitters and a smoked rosemary garnish.
The Northern Kentucky Cocktail Classic sought to determine the best bartender along The B-Line – a collection of five distilleries, eight bourbon bars and six bourbon-centric restaurants located in Northern Kentucky.
Three Spirits Tavern, hosted the event on Sunday, Oct. 9, which brought together finalists from a month-long competition in September, National Bourbon Heritage Month. Bartenders who sold the most of their signature cocktails from their respective establishment received an invite to the classic.
Attendees voted for the top four bartenders’ concoctions, which had to feature TAO Bitters from a small, Cincinnati-based business and Kentucky bourbon, to advance to the event’s finals. Perryman received a cash prize of $500 and a special bourbon barrel trophy and a mixology set from Barfly presented to him at a special party at Three Spirits to signify the achievement.
“The Northern Kentucky Cocktail classic was born out of a simple idea to showcase Northern Kentucky’s outstanding bourbon prowess and come up with a fun, exciting way to showcase The B-Line bartenders’ talent and creativity,” said the owner of Three Spirits Tavern and organizing partner of the competition Charlie Zimmerman. “Now that we have the first event like this under our belts, we can focus on expanding it to make 2023’s event rival if not surpass the ones in Lexington and Louisville that helped inspired it.”
Perryman hopes his win inspires people to patronize The B-Line even more.
“We have some amazing local distilleries right here in Northern Kentucky with some of the finest spirits made in America, but bourbon is without a doubt uniquely Kentucky,” Perryman said. “This event was a perfect way to mix – no pun intended – that heritage with my own creative twist. The bar and restaurant scene here is very close knit, so it was also a great, friendly competition between friends.”
Chase Hetzel, head bartender at Wiseguy Lounge, placed second at the inaugural Northern Kentucky Cocktail Classic and received $300. Hetzel made his Satsuma’s Revenge signature cocktail with Suntory Taki Whiskey, blood orange simple syrup, black sesame-infused New Riff Rye Whiskey and TAO bitters.
Megan Duncan, bartender at Smoke Justis placed third and received $200 for her signature Why So Serious cocktail. Duncan created the cocktail with Boone County Distilling Co.’s small batch, lemon juice, blueberry simple syrup, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, an egg white and TAO bitters.
First introduced in early 2018, The B-Line was created to help capture the millions of bourbon-curious people who travel along I-75 or fly into CVG Airport annually to visit Kentucky’s famed Bourbon Trail. The line is comprised of five distilleries – Boone Country Distilling Co., New Riff Distilling, Neeley Family Distillery, Second Sight Spirits and The Old Pogue Distillery – all of which are also on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
B-Line also includes eight bourbon bars named The Best Bourbon Bars in America by The Bourbon Review and six bourbon-centric restaurants. All 19 stops are located throughout Covington, Newport, Independence, Sparta, Augusta and Maysville, Kentucky. A complete list of stops can be found on The B-Line’s website.
“Celebrating our local role in a much larger story around bourbon heritage, having people discover some of our great local establishments and showcasing the creativity of the region – what is there to not like about the Northern Kentucky Cocktail Classic?” said meetNKY president and CEO, Julie Kirkpatrick. “We love to celebrate being the entry point to of the Bourbon State and the rich culture and history associated with that. We can’t wait to see this competition grow and see more enthusiasts of ‘America’s Native Spirit’ at next year’s event.”