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Meet the Judges

This year's panel of judges ranges from diverse backgrounds and industry expertise to assess spirits from a variety of different perspectives. Each year, we call on top bartenders to seat them alongside with the top distillers, retailers, writers, and other key industry professionals to taste and evaluate each of our entries.  We are proud of all of the work each of our judges brings to the table to help grow the New Orleans Spirits Competition.

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Tiffanie Barriere

Educator/ Consultant/ Bartender
Drinking Coach

Tiffanie Barriere is the bartender’s bartender, an influencer and educator who has been awarded with some of the beverage industry’s highest honors. She is a Tastemakers of the South award-winner who spent seven years as the beverage director of One Flew South, the “Best Airport Bar in the World.” Tiffanie is a member of the Tales of the Cocktail Grants Committee, the James Beard Beverage Advisory Board, and a member of the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

Paul Clarke

Editor in Chief, Imbibe

Paul Clarke is a journalist specializing in spirits, cocktails, and the culture of drink. In 2014, he earned a Spirited Award for Best Cocktail Writer. Clarke wrote “The Cocktail Chronicles: Navigating the Cocktail Renaissance with Jigger, Shaker and Glass” (2015), and was a contributing editor for “The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails” (2021). He holds a WSET Level 3 Certification in Spirits and is a WSET Certified Spirits Educator.


Matthew Rowley


Matthew Rowley writes about culinary history, spirits, and beverage arts. He is the author of, and editor for, several books on spirits and distilling. A James Beard Awards finalist, he is a contributor to Imbibe, Distiller, Whisky Advocate, and other publications, and a judge for annual spirits and media awards programs. Rowley lives in San Diego, California.


ms. franky marshall

Modern Bartender ~ Educator ~ Consultant

franky has worked at some of the top establishments in New York City. She is highly sought after for her liquid creations, valuable industry insights, and many opinions, which have been widely featured across various media. She is an in demand speaker, event host, and judge for spirit and cocktail competitions in the U.S. and abroad. franky is excited to be a returning judge for the NOLA Spirits Comp.

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Dale DeGroff


Dale DeGroff has been a pioneer of the craft cocktail revolution since he worked at New York's fabled Rainbow Room in the 1980s. He influenced and mentioned generations of bartenders, whom he encouraged to move from the canned and pre-made to the fresh and natural. He's the author of The Craft of the Cocktail (2002) and The Essential Cocktail (2009), and a founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail.  In 2008 he was awarded the Tales of the Cocktail Lifetime Achievement Award.


Monique Huston

VP Spirits Portfolio

Monique Huston began her spirits career over two decades ago at the Dundee Dell in Omaha, Nebraska. Here she helped build and educate across one of the largest whisky and spirits collections in the world. Huston has served as a spirits judge and panelist at events and competitions. She has contributed to numerous publications and been featured in the Whisky Advocate, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been inducted to the Keepers of the Quaich, and sits on the advisory boards for the Council of Whisky Masters and WSWA’s Craft Spirits Access advisory panel..


Garnett Phillip

Owner: The Rogers Garden
and The Rum Bar BK

Garnett is a distinguished, forward-thinking entrepreneur that has been honored to recreate something symbolic for the many immigrants who had hopes of achieving the "American Dream." One means of spreading her message is enlightening people on history with a strong focus on rum and tradition. She focuses on developing a platform of expression, speaking not just to New York City but especially to the Caribbean people!

Keli Rivers

Sr Beam Suntory
Gin Brand Ambassador

A hospitality veteran of over 32 years, Keli has traveled the world working in kitchens and bars. Launching prestigious cocktail bars throughout The Bay Area, and transitioning into an ambassador role in 2018, Keli has been spreading the gospel of juniper-driven beverages as the award winning Senior Brand Ambassador for Sipsmith. Author of 3, soon to be 4 cocktail novellas, international spirits judge and Gin Magazine’s Iconic Awards; Gin Ambassador of the Year (2021) - to say she likes gin is a gross understatement. "

Elayne Duff

Director of Advocacy
Samson & Surrey

Elayne Duff is Director of Advocacy for Samson and Surrey and the founder of the Beverage Brand Ambassador Academy, a pioneering online program that provides on-boarding and advanced skill training for Brand Ambassadors and new sales reps in the beverage industry. With over 20 years of experience in the field, Elayne has held several key positions, including being the first head mixologist and National Brand Ambassador for Diageo USA. Elayne is an award-winning luxury brand ambassador, mixologist, and educator.


Flavien Desoblin

The Brandy Library

Flavien Desoblin owns two iconic bars in Manhattan: Brandy Library in Tribeca and Copper & Oak on the Lower East Side. Both are known for having some of the most comprehensive collections of brandies and whiskeys in the world. He has written two books on distilling and serves as a curator and host for the Spirits Network. Flavien was named Cognac Personality of the Year in 2010, recognized in 2013 by the Compagnie des Mousquetaires d’Armagnac, and in 2014 was honored with the title Keeper of the Quaich for his outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky 


Bridget Albert

Sr. Director External Communications, SGWS

Bridget is the Founder of the National Charity Foundation of the United States Bartenders' Guild, the world's largest contributor to the cocktail culture. She has designed beverage programs and produced trainings for top national Accounts that include the Hilton Worldwide Resorts,  Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Crystal Cruise Line. Bridget is the co-author of “Market Fresh Mixology” and “Life, Love Happiness and Cocktails” and the co-hostess on the celebrated Served Up the Podcast.


Lauren Patz

Head Distiller
Redwood Empire Whiskey

Bridget is the Founder of the National Charity Foundation of the United States Bartenders' Guild, the world's largest contributor to the cocktail culture. She has designed beverage programs and produced trainings for top national Accounts that include the Hilton Worldwide Resorts,  Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Crystal Cruise Line. Bridget is the co-author of “Market Fresh Mixology” and “Life, Love Happiness and Cocktails” and the co-hostess on the celebrated Served Up the Podcast.

Lisa Wicker

Master Distiller

Former Master Distiller beginning for Lexington Brewing and Distilling in Lexington and Pikeville, Kentucky, Dublin and Dundalk, Ireland. Previous five and a half years, President and Master Distiller at Widow Jane in Brooklyn, New York, distilling in Kentucky and New York. Senior Consulting Distiller for George Washington's Distillery for seven years.

Lynnette Marrero

Partner & Chief Mixologist @ Delola , Liquid Creative Director Aplós

Bartending guru, women’s industry champion, educator, inclusivity advocate, mentor, philanthropist and of course, craft cocktail savant - you may also recognize Lynnette Marrero as the Latiné co-creator of the Speed Rack international women+ bartending competition, the MasterClass Mixology teacher, as well as the mixologist behind JLo’s new line of read-to-drink Delola beverages.


H. Joseph Ehrmann

Proprietor of Elixir

As the 12th Proprietor of San Francisco’s second oldest saloon, ELIXIR (now in his 20th year of business), H. is recognized as a pioneer in the revitalization of cocktail culture today. He is also an internationally renowned spirits expert, judge, and educator. Besides his saloon, he runs a cocktail event production company (ELIXIR To Go), a beverage industry consultancy (Cocktail Ambassadors), a fresh cocktail mixer company (Fresh Victor), and an independent bottler of unique spirits (Kokoro Spirits).


Brett Pontoni

Specialty Spirits Buyer
Binny's Beverage Depot

Brett Pontoni is a 32-year retail veteran with Binny's Beverage Depot, 23 years as a buyer. He has strong connections across categories in the spirits world, and was a very strong early supporter of the craft beer and craft spirits space. Pontoni is a 2021 Whisky Magazine Icons of Whisky award winner.

Roland K Ng

President and Founder

Roland K. Ng serves as Kanosuke Whisky’s General Manager for the Americas. In this role he is responsible for the overall interests and operations of the distillery for the region including establishing local entities, marketing, and providing support to our partners in growing the Kanosuke brand. Roland also is a Co-Founder  of the San Francisco Whisky Society, the largest spirits enthusiast group on the West Coast and a Co-Founder of Fog City Social.


Tracie Franklin

Founder Get Spirited Consulting

Tracie Franklin is changing the face of whiskey and creating a more diverse industry. She is an internationally recognized spirits educator, consultant, distiller, and social media personality. She has represented numerous brands including; Rhum Clément, Angels Envy, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie and was the National Ambassador for Glenfiddich Scotch. She has numerous wine and spirits certificates and is a candidate for her diploma in distillation from IBD. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others.


Chantal Tseng

Bar-Somm, the Gibson and

DC based Chantal Tseng loves just about anything fermented and poured, as she tells it, but especially wine, tea and cocktails. She’s turned that love into almost 25 years of serving drinks as a bartender, bar manager and part-time Sommelier. Her current passions focus on sherry education and cocktails, literary inspired cocktail events, absinthe nights, a whole lot of rum content writing, and an obsession with cats. She is the current US Sherry Week Ambassador.


Geoffrey Wilson

Leadership Staff
Turning Tables NOLA

If you know Geoffrey; you’d know that he’s a good friend and a staunch believer in equality, visibility, and diversity in the hospitality industry. He’s also a talented and creative bartender and is on the leadership staff at Turning Tables New Orleans. Geoffrey has spent more than a decade working at some of the best bars across the country, such as Ocotillo in Phoenix, and Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland.

Laura Cullen

Liberty Consulting

Laura Cullen founded Liberty Consulting driven by the idea that core values including work ethic, inclusion and the desire to affect meaningful change in the hospitality industry should be an integral part of any business strategy. Laura is currently working with her clients to give them the freedom to succeed and the liberty to pursue happiness.

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Danny Ronen

Founder DC

Danny Ronen is the Founder and CEO of DC Spirits, a US-based food, wine and spirits educational organization. Ronen enjoys conducting recipe and product development, event planning, staff education and brand-building for such companies as Moet-Hennessy, Pernod-Ricard, Diageo, Campari, Anchor Distilling, Heaven Hill, Brown-Forman, Monin, Fair Trade USA, Novo Fogo Cachaça Organica and Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals.


Jeff Berry

Saloon Keeper

One of Imbibe magazine’s “25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century,” Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is the author of seven award-winning books on Tiki drinks and the owner of Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29, a New Orleans bar-restaurant which Esquire and Playboy named one of the USA’s best bars. Food & Wine magazine calls Jeff “one of the world’s leading rum experts,” while the New York Times cites him as “the Indiana Jones of Tiki drinks.”


Clyde Davis Jr.

Owner 75 Proof Beverage Solutions/ Housebar

Clyde Davis Jr. is a 20 year veteran of the spirits industry, has been involved in all levels of product development, importing , marketing and sales for many award winning products.     He holds Bachelors Degree from Morehouse College and an MBA from the University of Michigan and currently resides in Washington DC. 


Henry Preiss

Preiss Imports

In my 4th venture in the wine and spirits industry. I have spent the last 50 years building brands. Currently the one of the owners of Preiss Imports a specialty import and national distribution company. we service 60 distributors around the USA and have 40 suppliers who's brands we represent. Awarded the Ordre du Merit Agricole by the French Government in 2008 and decorated Musketeer de Armagnac in 2010.


Clay Risen

Spirits Writer

Clay Risen writes about spirits, mostly whiskey, for The New York Times and other outlets. He is the author of five books about whiskey, including, most recently, "American Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Original Spirit."


Abigail Gullo

Creative Director
International House Hotel

Abigail Gullo, a hospitality professional with two decades in the beverage industry, got her start making craft cocktails at the innovative bars of New York City. She has created drinks at award-winning restaurants in New Orleans, Seattle, Rome, Athens and Puerto Rico. Named Bartender of the Year many times, she concocted libations for the Today Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She co-hosts the podcast Drink & Learn and is Creative Director for Loa Bar and the International House Hotel in New Orleans.


Emma Janzen

Cocktail & Spirits Journalist and Author

Emma Janzen is an award-winning journalist and author who writes and photographs spirits and cocktails for outlets including The New York Times, PUNCH, The World's 50 Best Bars, and more. The recipient of two James Beard Foundation awards and two Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, she is the author of Mezcal: The History, Craft & Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit and co-author of books written with Julia Momosé, Toby Maloney, and Jim Meehan. Currently the Drinkways Editor for Good Beer Hunting, she also serves as the USA Midwest Academy Chair for The World’s 50 Best Bars.

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Martin Cate

Smuggler's Cove San Francisco

Martin Cate is a rum and exotic cocktail expert and the owner and creator of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco. Smuggler’s Cove has been featured on the World's 50 Best Bars List for six consecutive years and was named Best American Cocktail Bar 2016 at the 10th Annual Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Martin and Rebecca Cate's book “Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki” won the 2017 James Beard Award for Best Beverage Book and the 2017 Spirited Award for Best Cocktail Book.  

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Stephen Beal

International Drinks Expert

Steve Beal, Beverage Alcohol Industry Strategic Consultant, Industry Award Winner, Spirits Ambassador, Writer, Broadcast Personality. Prior to his official retirement in 2015, Steve was previously the senior brand ambassador for DIAGEO North America Whisky Portfolio. He was named Keeper of the Quaich (Scotland) in 2010 and Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the USBG Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. His International Drinks Specialist consulting firm was recently named 2023 Intetnationsl Drinks Consultancy of The Year by The Spirits Business publication.


More names to come: Judges are being added as they are confirmed

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