Brown-Forman hosted the Connecticut state championship of the Woodford Reserve “Manhattan Experience” cocktail competition at Wood ‘N’ Tap in Newington on March 5. Six bartenders faced off for the chance to be named state champion and move forward in the next round of the national competition at the Woodford Reserve distillery in Tennessee. Competitors were required to make two cocktails for judges: a version of the Manhattan and an original cocktail, both using Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey. Each competitor was judged using a points system by the panel of three judges: Anthony DeSerio, USBG CT Founding Member and Bartender, Mikro Beer Bar; Dimitrios Zahariadis, USBG New Haven President, Owner of The Cocktail Chemist and Co-founder of Highland Brass Company; and Chris Parrott, USBG Hartford President and Owner of Little River Restoratives. Daniel Rek of Elm City Social was named state champion with his cocktails The OG Manhattan and Charred Passion. One of 40 semi-finalists from around the country, Rek will advance to the next leg of the Manhattan Experience at the Woodford Reserve distillery in Tennessee for a week of brand education and continued competition. The top six finalists from Tennessee will compete for the grand prize at the finale event in New York City on April 23. The grand prize winner will be named “Master of the Manhattan” and receive an all-expenses-paid trip to London and a feature article on Liquor.com.