May 25, 2023
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.
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