NCB's Shake It Up!, Ultimate Spirits Challenge Announce Champions

Josh Harris, a founding partner of the San Francisco-based cocktail and spirit consulting company Bon Vivants, was named this year's winner of the sixth annual Shake It Up! creative cocktail challenge, sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits of America, during the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show held March 12-14 in Las Vegas. Harris had 20 minutes to come up with and create a concoction made with the final round's secret ingredient: Mionetto Il Moscato Sparkling Wine. Although this was Harris' second time competing in Shake It Up!, he did not make it to the finals last year. This time around, Harris took home the top $15,000 prize with a cocktail featuring elderflower liqueur and carbonated grapes. "I think this is a fantastic, beautiful event," Harris says. "I'm happy to make it to the big dance."

Josh Harris

Josh Harris (center) takes top honors at the 2012 Shake It Up! mixology competition at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show.

The annual Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USC) was held at Astor Center in New York City March 5-9. Ultimate Beverage Challenge LLC, the sponsoring company, announced the top spirits in more than 30 categories. USC began with a record number of contestants as more than 650 spirits were entered (up 15% from 2011) from more than 70 companies and 30 countries around the world.
Led by Ultimate Beverage Challenge (UBC) Founder and Judging Chairman F. Paul Pacult and Judging Co-Chairman Sean Ludford, 14 of the world’s foremost distilled spirits authorities, including award-winning authors, spirits buyers, journalists, educators, bar owners and consultants rated the world’s finest distillates on USC’s innovative multilevel system, rendering unassailable results. This group of experts named 31 USC Chairman’s Trophy winners and more than 80 Finalists.

For a list of the 2012 Ultimate Spirits Challenge Chairman's Trophy Winners, click here.

Campari has announced the first-ever Campari “Best Aperitivo” Cocktail Competition in conjunction with the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild (USBG).  The official USBG national competition will seek out the best drinks made with Campari as an aperitivo — a pre-dinner libation designed to stimulate the appetite. The competition is open to all active members of the USBG, the leading non-profit network for professional bartenders.

The competition will start with regional mix-offs at every one of the USBG’s 29 local chapters across the United States from March 15 to April 15. The regional finalists will win a trip to New York City to compete at the final competition on May 13 during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. The judges include: USBG President David Nepove, bar legend Tony Abou-Ganim, master mixologist Francesco Lafranconi and aperitivo expert Jacques Bezuidenhout. The USBG national winner will receive a trip to Beijing to compete in the 2012 International Cocktail Competition.

The era of the classic cocktail is forever being visually depicted in the popular TV series "Mad Men." Every lunch meeting or dinner on the program features something that has been shaken or stirred. Prior to the "Mad Men" debut, from 2-6 p.m. on March 25, the Quill Seasonal Cocktail Competition will host top bartenders at The Jefferson, in Washington, D.C., as they vie for honors and share a good time.
This year, participants include Patrick Owens, American Ice Company; JP Caceres, Four Seasons; Logan Skidmore, Live; Ben Wiley, America Eats; Ricco Montano, Cafe Milano; and Milton Hernandez, Bibiana. As the competitors prepare their best for the judges, guests will enjoy a sneak preview of their efforts, along with a cognac tasting featuring the spirits of A. De Fussigny Cognac, a cheese buffet and canapés. Space is limited, and guests will wield the power of a vote, alongside the judges.  
Tickets are $40 per person, and discounted on-site parking will be available. For tickets check out


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