Eight finalists competed to be named state winner of the annual Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience: Jesse Hedberg, Perry Miller, Vito Lantz, Anthony Guaetta, Kelly Adams, Carlos Garcia, Silas Axtell and Alexis Forte. The cocktail competition was held center stage at the first New England Whiskey Festival at Twin River Casino on September 27, 2014. The winner, Silas Axtell, received a trip to the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky to compete in the semi-finals.
Judges and competitors: Front row: Don Jean, Brand Manager, Brown-Forman; Fred Smerlas, Proprietor, Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse; Bistro 9 Bartender Perry Miller; The Dorrance’s Vito Lantz; Jesse Hedberg of Justine’s/Local 121; Kelly Adams of The Boathouse; Anthony Guaetta of Lighthouse Barat Twin River Casino; Silas Axtell, Head Bartender at (soon-to-open) Townsman in Boston; Peter Lloyd Clayton, Owner, Bartenders Academy in Connecticut; and Johnson & Wales faculty member, Brian Warrener. Back row: Frank Martucci and award-winning New York bartender, Chris Cardone.
Frank Martucci, General Manager Beverage Operations, Twin River Casino and National Executive Vice President United States Bartenders Guild officiated as Silas Axtell delivered the win.