Manhattan Experience: Regional Cocktail Competition at Detroit’s Marble Bar

By: Amber Ogden | February 18, 2016
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Craft cocktails have gained popularity in recent years, but there’s something to be said about a simplistic, classic cocktail. Take the Manhattan, for example.

A concoction with a rich history that dates back to the 1800s, the Manhattan is the star of’s Manhattan Experience Sponsored by Woodford Reserve, a one-of-a-kind competition held at the Marble Bar on Monday, Feb. 22. The 21 and up event is free to the public and begins at 6 p.m.

The competition will see local bartenders face off against one another to craft the perfect Manhattan using Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon, as well as an original cocktail using Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.

Participating local bartenders include Chas Williams (of The Oakland), Kyle Thousand (of The Oakland), Dorothy Elizabeth (of Standby), Daniel McCarthy (of La Dulce), Rick Paulger (of Roast) and Maureen Di Virgilio (of Winchester).

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There will be a panel of three celebrity judges at the regional competition, including Amanda Danielson (of Off the Map Hospitality), Shane Bang (of Standby and USBG president) and Josh Robinson (of Strive Creative).

“I think the Manhattan has stood the test of time for a few reasons… It isn’t an overly complicated cocktail to craft (and) it has three fairly basic ingredients, and it’s delicious,” Thomas Mulrenin, on-premise state manager at Brown-Forman, said.

Food will be provided courtesy of Mudgie’s catering, along with Woodford Reserve bourbon cupcakes. Local DJ Sara Aldridge will be spinning tunes.

The winner of the Detroit competition, along with all other regional winners, will go on to the next stage of the competition held at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in March. From there, and the USBG will select six finalists to compete in April’s final event in New York City for the chance to be named winner of the Manhattan Experience Sponsored by Woodford Reserve.

The competition is a great opportunity to check out Detroit’s new Marble bar, according to Mulrenin.

“Also, this might be your only chance to try these artfully crafted Woodford Reserve cocktails that were created by six of Michigan’s most talented bartenders and weigh in on who should be selected to represent Detroit and Michigan in the next round,” he said.

Cocktails will be judged based on a variety of factors, including presentation and appearance, understanding of the Manhattan and intelligent use of Woodford Reserve.

Local bartender Travis Fourmont took home the grand prize of Master of the Manhattan in 2013.

For more information on’s Manhattan Experience Sponsored by Woodford Reserve, visit the official website.