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Woodford Reserve® and Esquire Name 2014 Master of the Manhattan at Fifth Annual Manhattan Experience

America’s best Manhattan cocktail is served 1,300 miles from New York City


January 14, 2014, Louisville, Ky. – Following a nationwide search for the best Manhattan cocktail in the United States, Woodford Reserve named the Master of the Manhattan during The Manhattan Experience finale on Monday, January 13 in New York City. Virginia King, a bartender from Miami, took home the coveted title after competing amongst five bartender finalists showcasing their creative takes on the classic Manhattan cocktail.

Bartenders across the U.S. mixed up their original Manhattan cocktail recipes featuring Woodford Reserve during a series of events held last fall in 30 cities in partnership with Esquire magazine. The winners from each location advanced to a final round of judging by an expert panel who selected six bartenders to compete in the January 13 finale. The finalists represented Connecticut, Indiana, Miami, New Orleans, Savannah and Wisconsin.

During The Manhattan Experience finale event, which was emceed by Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s Chopped and Esquire contributing writer, the six bartenders showcased their winning recipes to a panel of experts. The judges included award-winning cocktail writer, historian and Esquire drinks correspondent David Wondrich; 2013 Master of the Manhattan Travis Fourmont; and Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. Attendees also sampled and voted for their favorite recipe.

“The creative range of flavors that these talented bartenders added to the classic Woodford Reserve Manhattan made it difficult to choose a winner,” said Jason Kempf, Woodford Reserve brand director. “Virginia was named Master of the Manhattan because she perfectly accented the complex elements of Woodford Reserve bourbon to create a truly memorable cocktail.”

The winning recipe from Virginia King was the “Looking At Me Like You Don’t Want Me To Go” Manhattan:

1 ½ oz. Woodford Reserve bourbon
½ oz. Benedictine
¾ oz. Carpano
1 dash Angostura bitters
2 dashes cherry bark vanilla bitters
1 infused “dirty” cherry, for garnish
1 lemon twist, for garnish

In a mixing glass, add all ingredients. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the infused cherry. Squeeze lemon twist over drink and discard.

King and her winning recipe featuring Woodford Reserve will appear in an upcoming issue of Esquire. To learn more about The Manhattan Experience, please visit