Austin bartender Brett Esler of Whisler’s a finalist in the Louis Royer Cognac competition

Louis Royer Competition Postcard

Louis Royer Cognac announced its six finalists for the Louis Royer Cognanc 2014 High Proof Cocktail Competition, and Brett Esler of Austin hotspot Whisler’s is one of them. Glad to see Texas represented on a national stage like this. All of the other finalists are from New York, but Austin still shines through!
The press release follows:
NEW YORK, November 19, 2014—Louis Royer, an iconic Cognac house dating to 1853 and led by the fifth generation of its founding family, today announces the seven finalists of the third annual “Show Me the Proof!” High Proof Cognac Cocktail Competition. It celebrates Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac, which the mixology community has embraced as much for its finesse as its strength. The spirit is at the forefront of reviving Cognac’s historic role as a prime cocktail ingredient. 109 recipes were submitted by craft bartenders across the country, proving the popularity of high proof Cognac as a highly versatile spirit for cocktails. The finalists will compete in New York City at Bacchanal restaurant on December 1, 2014 for a Grand Prize of an all-expense paid trip to Jarnac and Paris in France, as well as $1,000 in cash prizes for both second and third places.
The seven finalists, in first-name alphabetical order, are as follows:
  • Brett Esler, Whisler’s (Austin, Texas)
  • Gregory Buda, The Dead Rabbit (New York)
  • Jason Cousins, Da Claudio (New York)
  • Justin Noel, Sweetwater Social (New York)
  • Luis Hernandez, Bacchanal (New York)
  • Shae Minnillo, Maison Premiere (Brooklyn)
  • Timothy Miner, The Long Island Bar (Brooklyn)
 It will be judged by leading lights of the spirits/cocktail industry:
  • Dale DeGroff – Legendary mixologist and founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail
  • Paul Pacult – Noted spirits critic and publisher/editor of The Spirit Journal
  • Steve Olson – Founder of aka wine geek and renowned spirits, wine and cocktail expert
  • Jack Robertiello – Widely-respected spirits and cocktail writer
  • Jérôme Royer – Louis Royer Cognac’s Master Selector and a fifth-generation family member
  • Sother Teague – Bartender at Amor y Amargo and co-winner of the Grand Prize of the second annual “Show Me the Proof!” High Proof Cognac Cocktail Competition
  • Pamela Wiznitzer – Bartender at The Dead Rabbit and co-winner of the Grand Prize of the second annual “Show Me the Proof!” High Proof Cognac Cocktail Competition
“We are delighted by the craft bartending community’s burgeoning enthusiasm for ‘Force 53’ and their limitless creativity exhibited by their sophisticated cocktail applications. The number of recipes submitted this year actually exceeded last year’s,” says Nicolas Royer, U.S. Brand Ambassador and a sixth-generation member of the Royer family. “The finalists showed us the proof that they deeply understand ‘Force 53’ and the flavor potential that it brings to cocktails.”
The cocktail recipe compilation was executed by the competition’s partner,, a leading online community of thousands of bartenders and mixologists, which promoted it to its members.
About Louis Royer Cognac
Founded in 1853, Louis Royer is an iconic Cognac house located on the banks of the Charente River in Jarnac, France. It is a revered producer of award-winning Cognacs, including VSOP, high proof and XO expressions. In 2013, Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac received a “Best in Show” Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine & Spirits Competition and the house’s XO was awarded a Gold Medal. In addition, XO was named among the World’s Top 120 Spirits by Paul Pacult’s renowned The Spirit Journal. 
Master Blender Laurent Robin works closely with Master Selector Jérôme Royer, a fifth-generation family member, together with Master Distiller Monia Martin, to meld together fine eaux-de-vie to create Cognacs of remarkable complexity and approachability. They exemplify the house’s bee emblem that symbolizes its passion for work, organization and commitment. For more information, please visit  On social media, please follow us on Twitter at @Force53cognac and like us on Facebook at

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