Texas Bourbon Maker Announces State Bartender Competition

Thursday 09th, January 2020 / 14:20 Written by
Texas Bourbon Maker Announces State Bartender Competition

Texas Bourbon Makers Invite Lone Star State Bartenders and Mixologists to Vie for the Title of “Best in Texas” Bartender & Win $10,000 Prize

Garrison Brothers Distillery, the first legal whiskey distillery in Texas, and Texas Monthly, the national magazine of Texas, announced today a statewide bartender competition taking place through the first half of 2020. Dubbed Bourbon Brawl 2020, the competition is set to launch two weeks prior to Texas Independence Day, March 2, and will unfold in four stages across five major Texas cities from December 2019 to May 2020. The grand prize? $10,000 from a public charity called Good Bourbon for a Good Cause, founded by the Garrison Family and their staff in 2018. 

To qualify, hopeful contestants (both bartenders and consumers) need to submit recipes online via this link to be judged blindly by a panel of experts. 75 bartenders will be selected to participate in Garrison Brothers’ annual mixology event, The Bourbon Takeover of Texas, a full week in which distinguished bars and restaurants across the state feature cocktail specials highlighting the 2020 vintage of Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon. These limited-time offerings will be available from Monday, February 17 – Friday, February 28. During this period, the Garrison Brothers team will visit every participating location to taste, critique, examine, and enjoy each cocktail, considering its potential for advancement to the second round of the competition.

Texas Bourbon Maker bartender

From the 75 locations participating in The Bourbon Takeover of Texas, 25 bartenders will be chosen to compete in the semi-final round of the bartender competition. However, their cocktails are not necessarily the key criteria for advancement; the bartender’s attitude, charm, camaraderie with customers, and concern for the well-being of their community and constituents are also factors under consideration.

The semi-final round will take place in five cities across Texas: Austin, Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and San Antonio. A first place winner will be chosen at each semi-final and will advance to the finals and win $500. The final competition will be held in Austin on May 7th. Five bartenders will compete head to head for the chance to be crowned the Bourbon Brawl 2020 Bartender of the Year and take home $10,000, their very own Single Barrel (for personal consumption only), and a complete Texas Luxury experience (to be announced at a later date).

Texas Bourbon Maker bartender

Consumers and at-home bartenders who are not employed at an establishment are also encouraged to submit an online entry. These entries will not be judged against the recipes from professional bartenders — they will be judged separately. The top five entries (one per market) will be invited to attend their respective markets’ semi-final competition, where their cocktails will be served at the beer and wine bar during the competition. Each market’s consumer entry winner will also be invited to attend the final competition in Austin where they will have the opportunity to make their cocktails in front of Garrison Brothers Distillery staff, bar industry professionals, and the top five Bourbon Brawl bartenders.

Tentative dates of the spectator-focused contest are below. Time and location details will be released soon.

Thursday, December 12 – Sunday, January 5, Online Submissions | Qualifying

Monday, February 17 – Monday, February 28, Bourbon Takeover of Texas | Qualifying

Thursday, March 26, San Antonio Semi-Finals

Thursday, April 2, Houston Semi-Finals

Thursday, April 9, Fort Worth Semi-Finals

Friday, April 16, Dallas Semi-Finals

Thursday, April 23, Austin Semi-Finals

Thursday, May 7, Austin Finals

“Good bourbon has the power to change the world, and that’s exactly what we want to do with this competition. We want to permanently and positively change someone’s world,” said Garrison. To this end, the $10,000 cash prize will be paid out by Good Bourbon for a Good Cause, a 501(c)3 public charity.

Texas Bourbon Maker bartender

If a bartender, mixologist, restaurateur, or consumer would like to participate in the 2020 Bourbon Takeover of Texas (February 17 – February 28), he or she should submit a recipe via http://garrisonbros.com/bourbon-brawl. The deadline to submit is midnight on Sunday, January 5. The 75 bartenders and five consumers selected to participate will be announced via a press release on Wednesday, January 15.

“If I wanted to win $10,000, I’d start considering my recipes and my dream now,” said Garrison. “I’ve seen how creative, competitive, passionate, and innovative the Texas talent is. That’s just one reason I’m incredibly excited for what 2020 has in store.”


Texas Bourbon Maker bartender

Garrison Brothers Distillery is a small farm and ranch located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country that authentically produces straight bourbon whiskey. Garrison Brothers introduced the first bourbon whiskey legally made in Texas in 2010 and has since developed a rabid fan base. They currently have a waitlist of more than 15,000 just to volunteer on bottling days, and their Cowboy Bourbon™ normally sells out within hours of its release. Garrison Brothers is the first legal bourbon distillery in Texas history and is one of the first distilleries in America outside of Kentucky to produce authentic, handmade bourbon whiskey—and only bourbon whiskey. The business was founded in 2006.

Every expression of Garrison Brothers bourbon is made from a sweet mash bill and barrel-aged in the intense Texas climate. The extreme heat creates multiple aging seasons in a year, resulting in a darker, richer, and fuller bourbon; bolder than almost any other bourbon on the market.

At the American Craft Spirit Awards in 2018, the Garrison Brothers team was awarded a gold medal for its Single Barrel Bourbon, a silver medal for its 2016 Small Batch Bourbon, and another silver for its Balmorhea Twice Barreled Bourbon. Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible named Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon™ “American Micro Whiskey of the Year” in 2014 and again in 2017. Whiskey Bible recently awarded the same distinction to Balmorhea Twice Barreled Bourbon for 2019 and 2020. Garrison Brothers was voted Best Craft Whiskey Distillery in America by readers of USA Today in 2017.

Garrison Brothers is a proud and active member of the communities of Blanco, Fredericksburg, Hye, Johnson City, and Stonewall. The distillery and its barrel barns are open to the public for tours in Hye, Texas. Anyone interested in learning more about Garrison Brothers Bourbon or in taking a tour of the distillery should visit garrisonbros.com or follow @garrisonbros on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


In association with the distilled spirits community, GOOD BOURBON FOR A GOOD CAUSE is the beneficiary of marketing and promotional events conducted for philanthropic purposes. Funds of GOOD BOURBON FOR A GOOD CAUSE are distributed to charitable organizations primarily, but not exclusively, in Blanco and Gillespie counties of Texas and also to charitable organizations that serve current and former American military personnel. The types of charitable causes that are supported include, but are not limited to:

  • Organizations that help current or former American military veterans and their families
  • Organizations that help former American military personnel get back to leading a rewarding life
  • Organizations that help American veterans recover from debilitating medical, mental health or psychological challenges such as coping with memories of torture, lost friends and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Organizations dedicated to conserving and preserving nature, wildlife, green spaces, or historical landmarks and historical sites.
  • Other charitable organizations that the board of directors determine to be within the intent and spirit of the formation of this corporation.

To date, the organization has raised and contributed close to $200,000.


Texas Bourbon Maker bartender

Texas Monthly, the national magazine of Texas, has chronicled life in contemporary Texas since 1973, reporting on vital issues such as politics, the environment, industry, and education. Texas Monthly produces elite journalism across print, digital, and live platforms that captures the unique spirit of Texas and speaks to Texans. The magazine is known for astute political commentary and compelling longform narrative nonfiction. As a leisure guide, it is the indispensable authority on the Texas scene, covering music, the arts, travel, restaurants, museums, and cultural events with its insightful recommendations. Texas Monthly has a reputation for providing its readers with the highest editorial and design quality and has won fourteen National Magazine Awards. For more information, visit TexasMonthly.com.

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