What’s shakin, cocktail fans? Welcome to Episode 264 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!
This time around, we’re joined by Mike Vander Horn (@cocktail.complex). He’s a bartender based in South Jersey who’s made the switch from home enthusiast to professional mixologist, and he’s also been making waves at the highest levels in the brand-sponsored cocktail competition space.
In this inspiring conversation with bartender Mike Vander Horn, some of the topics we discuss include:
- Mike’s personal journey, from his humble origins as a “rum and diet” drinker, to the cocktail competitions that would ultimately lend him the authority to step behind the bar as the head bartender at the newly opened Queen Jayne’s Lounge & Royal Drinkery in Somers Point, NJ.
- The different types of cocktail competitions that exist in today’s world–ranging from the purely digital, to the lavish, “fly-you-into-a-big-city-to-compete” affairs put on by the world’s largest brands.
- Then we walk through his journey at this year’s Diageo World Class US event, where he competed against 29 of the best bartenders in the country without ever having bartended professionally.
- Of course, that leads logically to his latest project over at Queen Jayne’s Lounge, which requires a thorough discourse on the drink culture in South Jersey, which is one of my favorite places, but it’s a little difficult to understand unless you’ve spent a good deal of time there.
- Along the way, we cover the best resources for learning about and entering cocktail competitions, the daunting widowmaker of an event called “the speed round,” how to pronounce Snoop Dogg’s Gin, and much, much more.
Mike has shared an Instagram Broadcast Channel, where he’s aggregating a lot of the resources in this episode for those who might be interested in following in his footsteps and competing in cocktail competitions in the future. So of course we’ll link to it in the show notes, but we’ll also post it on our community Discord Server, along with a ton of other great conversations and news items that are updated weekly. That’s also the place to go if you want the chance to ask questions for upcoming guests, share cocktail recipes, and raise a virtual glass with other Modern Bar Cart listeners. It’s completely free, and if you want to join, all you need to do is drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you an invite.
With that, please enjoy this fascinating glimpse into the world of professional cocktail competitions and so much more with the first home bartender to make it into the Diageo World Class US Top 30 competition, Mike Vander Horn.