Mandarine Napoleon Delivers Unexpected Results For Its National Bartender Competition

Three pairs of the country’s best bartenders have been chosen for a grand prize trip to Belgium after an unconventional finals round of the Mandarine Napoléon Emperor’s Challenge

Mandarine Napoleon Delivers Unexpected Results For Its National Bartender CompetitionMandarine Napoléon, the 19th century citrus liqueur created for Napoléon Bonaparte, has announced the top three winning pairs of bartenders in the finals round of the first annual Mandarine Napoléon Emperor’s Challenge in Miami in April. The weekend was a surprising mixture of fun and games for the bartenders, as the teams were hit with several curveballs juggling glamorous experiences with rugged setbacks along the way.

Mandarine Napoléon hosted 12 of the country’s top bartenders as they went head-to-head in the finals round of the first annual Mandarine Napoléon Emperor’s Challenge. “We wanted to applaud the iconoclasts who showed us the qualities that Napoleon himself embodied,” said Mandarine Napoléon owner and head judge Marc de Kuyper. “The true winners, however, were the ones that could win the challenge thinking outside the box, working well under pressure, and most of all: being a team player. These are the values of a truly gifted conqueror. In the end, I couldn’t pick just one team, so the top three teams have earned a trip to Europe.”

The three pairs of winning bartenders selected by owner de Kuyper personally are as follows: John Lermayer (The Regent Cocktail Club) and Vanessa Leon (Flagship Lounge at American Airlines Arena) from Miami; Jon Kraus (Louis 648) and Enzo Cangemi (Ovest Pizzoteca & Bar) from New York; and Zach Patterson (Melrose Umbrella Co.) and BC Hoffman (Old Field Liquor Room) from Los Angeles.

The Challenge traveled to five markets – Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York – throughout 2013 to hold semifinals events, where two bartenders (four in Los Angeles due to a tie) rose victorious among a pool of 20 per market. The winning teams from each market were flown to Miami in April to battle it out in a 2-day national finals round that is part celebration, part competition.  When the bartenders arrived in Miami, they spent their first night at the Delano South Beach hotel. The bartenders were treated to a happy hour at The James Beard-nominated Broken Shaker, followed by a private, Mandarine Napoléon-paired dinner at Lure Fish Bar and after-dinner drinks at The Regent Cocktail Club. It was a luxurious and quintessential South Beach night. The following morning, the bartenders checked out of the hotel and in a complete 180, were taken to the Oleta State Park campgrounds. The finalists had no idea where they were going or what they were getting into.  While the first evening was a celebration honoring the victors to date, the dynamic, action-packed weekend switched gears to test not only the skills of each bartender’s hand and imagination, but also their ability to uphold a sense of teamwork and camaraderie under challenging circumstances.

Once at Oleta State Park, the teams were thrust into a series of both classic and quirky camp games including cornhole, a three-legged race, tug-o-war, pin the hat on Napoleon and a kayak race around an island. After completing the outdoor challenges, the teams took on the Bad Drinks Gone Good Challenge: a hilarious concept where each team had to choose from a list of “bad drinks” from a set of 10, and make them good. Working with a limited set of beers, spirits, and bar tools from the ingredients table, the teams had to reinterpret such universally reviled classics like the Lemon Drop, Woo Woo and Mind Eraser into palatable delights that incorporated Mandarine Napoléon’s signature flavor, too. Entirely unorthodox, and wholly fun, through the five rounds of this game, the winners found exciting new ways to make a Bad Drink taste Good.

After putting dozens of top bartenders from the five major markets across the country against each other, and ranking them on their ability to be creative, teamwork-minded mixologists under all circumstances, Mandarine Napoléon’s Emperor’s Challenge ended with a brilliant blast.  The six winning bartenders will enjoy a trip to Beerse, Belgium to tour the Mandarine Napoléon distillery, and continue to reap the benefits of lavish, European nights filled with decadence and adventure, compliments of de Kuyper and Mandarine Napoléon.

About Mandarine Napoléon
Mandarine Napoléon (SRP $37.50) is an exquisite, well-balanced blend of mandarins and refined 10-year-old aged cognac.  Dating back to the early 1800s and its roots stemming from the hands of Napoléon Bonaparte, the liqueur’s history is as rich as its distinctive flavor.  The drink was custom made for Napoléon Bonaparte after the emperor came across the chemist Antoine-François de Fourcroy, known for his extraordinary skill of distilling. It was not until 1892, after the two had died, that the liqueur was introduced to the public.  Mandarine Napoléon is currently found in well over 100 countries and relaunched in United States in 2011. Mandarine Napoléon is the first liqueur composed of mandarins and cognac, permitting a smooth taste, as opposed to the sour flavor encountered in other citrus-based liqueurs. The drink is composed of only natural ingredients.

Mandarine Napoléon has earned numerous rewards and praise, including a 5-star-rating by Simon Difford of Class Magazine, 94 points from Wine Enthusiast’s February 2012 Buying Guide, a Spirits Gold Medal at WSWA Tasting Competition 2013, an International Craft Awards 2013 Gold Medal, a Gold Medal at the 2013 Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards in the Fruit Liqueur category, and a Gold Medal and Best in Category Award for Liqueurs at the 2013 San Diego Spirits Festival International Spirits Competition. For more information please visit and find them on Facebook, and Twitter.