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Meet our judges

It goes without saying that without respected, expert judges, a spirits competition’s awards have no merit.
L.A. Spirits Awards’ judges are among the most respected and well-known experts and tastemakers in the spirits industry. And as the most inclusive and diverse panel of judges in spirits competitions today our experts uniquely reflect the face of the contemporary spirits industry.
It goes without saying that without respected, expert judges, a spirits competition’s awards have no merit.
L.A. Spirits Awards’ judges are among the most respected and well-known experts and tastemakers in the spirits industry. And as the most inclusive and diverse panel of judges in spirits competitions today our experts uniquely reflect the face of the contemporary spirits industry.

Karla Alindahao

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Islay Scotch/Cognac
Luxury lifestyle writer powerhouse focusing on spirits, food, and travel  Passionate whiskey expert Top ForbesLife journalist

Karla has rightly earned worldwide recognition for her spirits-industry journalism. As senior contributor for ForbesLife, spirits are her primary beat.

Prior to ForbesLife, Karla honed her craft during stints at Haute Media Group, The New York Observer, Metropolis Magazine, Lifestyle Mirror, and Tatler Philippines.

Karla is especially passionate about brown liquor, red meat, and green M&Ms.

Karla Alindahao

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Islay Scotch/Cognac
Luxury lifestyle writer powerhouse focusing on spirits, food, and travel  Passionate whiskey expert Top ForbesLife journalist

Karla has rightly earned worldwide recognition for her spirits-industry journalism. As senior contributor for ForbesLife, spirits are her primary beat.

Prior to ForbesLife, Karla honed her craft during stints at Haute Media Group, The New York Observer, Metropolis magazine, Lifestyle Mirror, and Tatler Philippines.

Karla is especially passionate about brown liquor, red meat, and green M&Ms.

Tiffanie Barriere

HOME: Atlanta, GA
QUAFF: Martinez
Leading influencer in the spirits and cocktail education scene, known for combining history, specifically Black history, and the cocktail world Member, Tales of the Cocktail Grants Committee, the James Beard Beverage Advisory Board, and the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier  Named to Imbibe Magazine’s Top 75 for 2020 Helped build the reputation of Atlanta’s One Flew South as the “Best Airport Bar in the World”

Tiffanie Barriere is an influencer and educator who has been awarded with some of the beverage industry’s highest honors. Her reputation as a public historian has opened doors for her to speak on multiple panels, and she has interpreted the cocktails of African American and women firsts in spirits at the James Beard House in New York City.

Tiffanie Barriere

HOME: Atlanta, GA
QUAFF: Martinez
Leading influencer in the spirits and cocktail education scene, known for combining history, specifically Black history, and the cocktail worldMember, Tales of the Cocktail Grants Committee, the James Beard Beverage Advisory Board, and the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier Named to Imbibe Magazine’s Top 75 for 2020 Helped build the reputation of Atlanta’s One Flew South as the “Best Airport Bar in the World”
Tiffanie Barriere is an influencer and educator who has been awarded with some of the beverage industry’s highest honors. Her reputation as a public historian has opened doors for her to speak on multiple panels, and she has interpreted the cocktails of African American and women firsts in spirits at the James Beard House in New York City.

Derek Brown

HOME: Washington, DC
QUAFF: Not yet disclosed
Leading expert on spirits, cocktails, and the history and culture of spirits and drinks Award-winning authorChief Spirits Advisor, the National Archives FoundationAdvocate for responsible, mindful drinking and for non-alcoholic cocktail recipes in the non-alcoholic spirits movement

Derek’s passion for spirits and cocktails has taken him across the globe where he’s learned about the integral role food and drink play in culture, customs, and values of communities worldwide. He travels the world teaching seminars on the importance of alcohol in shaping our society. Derek is the bar owner of Columbia Room in Washington, DC.

Derek Brown

HOME: Washington, DC
QUAFF: Not yet disclosed
Leading expert on spirits, cocktails, and the history and culture of spirits and drinks Award-winning authorChief Spirits Advisor, the National Archives FoundationAdvocate for responsible, mindful drinking and for non-alcoholic cocktail recipes in the non-alcoholic spirits movement

Derek’s passion for spirits and cocktails has taken him across the globe where he’s learned about the integral role food and drink play in culture, customs, and values of communities worldwide. He travels the world teaching seminars on the importance of alcohol in shaping our society. Derek is the bar owner of Columbia Room in Washington, DC.

Erick Castro

HOME: San Diego, CA
QUAFF: Not yet disclosed
Host of the award-winning podcast, Bartender at Large Proprietor/bartender of multiple U.S. cocktail barsCo-Founder of Bartender’s Weekend, promoting the bartending profession’s “Spirit of Hospitality”

Erick began his cocktail empire at San Francisco’s Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch, served as Brand Ambassador for Plymouth and Beefeater, and co-created New York City’s Boilermaker. This bartending behemoth has created unique beverage programs that have earned a place on some of the nation’s most coveted lists, including Esquire's Best Bars in America, Food & Wine’s “World’s Top Bars” and countless nominations at the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in New Orleans.

Erick Castro

HOME: San Diego, CA
QUAFF: Not yet disclosed
Host of the award-winning podcast, Bartender at Large Proprietor/bartender of multiple U.S. cocktail barsCo-Founder of Bartender’s Weekend, promoting the bartending profession’s “Spirit of Hospitality”

Erick began his cocktail empire at San Francisco’s Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch, served as Brand Ambassador for Plymouth and Beefeater, and co-created New York City’s Boilermaker. This bartending behemoth has created unique beverage programs

Clyde Davis, Jr.

HOME: Washington, DC
QUAFF: Negroni
Over 20 years in the spirits industry developing and launching award-winning craft spirit brandsCo-founder, Team Spirits Imports Company, one of the leading rum importers in the U.S.Mentor to younger spirits and hospitality professionalsDedicated to making the world a better place for his two sons

Having helped develop and launch numerous successful craft spirits brands throughout his career, Clyde is currently the Vice President of U.S. Sales for Equiano Rum. Clyde owns 75 Proof Beverage Solutions and is a partner in Vergys Capital.

Clyde Davis, Jr.

HOME: Washington, DC
QUAFF: Negroni
Over 20 years in the spirits industry developing and launching award-winning craft spirit brandsCo-founder, Team Spirits Imports Company, one of the leading rum importers in the U.S.Mentor to younger spirits and hospitality professionalsDedicated to making the world a better place for his two sons

Having helped develop and launch numerous successful craft spirits brands throughout his career, Clyde is currently the Vice President of U.S. Sales for Equiano Rum. Clyde owns 75 Proof Beverage Solutions and is a partner in Vergys Capital.

Samara Davis

HOME: Los Angeles, CA/Atlanta, GA
QUAFF: Not Yet Disclosed
Founder and Chief Bourbon Enthusiast, Black Bourbon SocietyColumnist for the Bourbon Zeppelin and host of the Bonded in Bourbon podcastCertified Executive Bourbon Steward

As an influencer within the African American Community, Samara consults and advocates for diversity and inclusion in direct consumer marketing standards and the importance of having "a seat at the table" within the spirits industry.

Samara also speaks and moderates panel discussions at festivals across the country and hosts private educational whiskey tasting seminars.

Samara Davis

HOME: Los Angeles, CA/Atlanta, GA
QUAFF: Not Yet Disclosed
Founder and Chief Bourbon Enthusiast, Black Bourbon SocietyColumnist for the Bourbon Zeppelin and host of the Bonded in Bourbon podcast  Certified Executive Bourbon Steward

As an influencer within the African American Community, Samara consults and advocates for diversity and inclusion in direct consumer marketing standards and the importance of having ‘a seat at the table’ within the spirits industry.

Samara also speaks and moderates panel discussions at festivals across the country and hosts private educational whiskey tasting seminars.

John deBary

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Seltzer
Bar expert  Wine and spirits writer whose work has appeared in GQ, Bon Appétit, PUNCH, Liquor.com, Thrillist, Food & Wine, and Wine Enthusiast   Cocktail book author  Co-founder, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF), an advocacy and action nonprofit dedicated to finding structural solutions to quality-of-life issues facing workers in the hospitality industry  Wine Enthusiast Magazine 40 Under 40 Tastemakers of 2020; Thrillist's Local Heroes award winner; and Tales of the Cocktail’s philanthropy award winner.







John is a celebrated mixologist, author, and workers rights advocate with over a decade of experience crafting delicious drinks. John founded Proteau, a line of zero-proof botanical drinks. In March 2020, his nonprofit RWCF established a Covid-19 relief fund and has so far raised over $8 million to fund relief efforts for affected hospitality industry workers.

John deBary

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Not disclosed yet
Bar expert  Wine and spirits writer whose work has appeared in GQ, Bon Appetit, PUNCH, Liquor.com, Thrillist, Food & Wine, and Wine Enthusiast 
Cocktail book author  Co-founder, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF), an advocacy and action nonprofit dedicated to finding structural solutions to quality-of-life issues facing workers in the hospitality industry  Wine Enthusiast magazine 40 Under 40 Tastemakers of 2020; Thrillist’s Local Heroes award winner; and Tales of the Cocktail’s philanthropy award winner.

John deBary is a celebrated mixologist, author, and workers rights advocate with over a decade of experience crafting delicious drinks. John founded Proteau, a line of zero-proof botanical drinks. In March 2020, his nonprofit RWCF established a Covid-19 relief fund and has so far raised over $8 million to fund relief efforts for affected hospitality industry workers.

Kim Haasarud

HOME: Phoenix, AZ
QUAFF: Bee’s Knees
National President, United States Bartenders’ GuildFounder, The Cocktail Collaborative in Phoenix, AZ, a nonprofit workspace and educational platform for bartenders, brand ambassadors, beverage professionals, and cocktail enthusiastsCreator, Garden Bar PHX, a garden-to-glass concept Nationally recognized mixologist and beverage consultant, working with hundreds of liquor brands, major international restaurants and hotels to create successful cocktail and bar programsCocktail book author

Kim has been a judge on Iron Chef America, and her many guest TV appearances include the “The Today Show,” CBS’s “Early Morning Show,” and “Fox & Friends,” to name just a few. Her work has been seen in dozens of publications, from The Wall Street Journal to Redbook (as their “Mommy Mixologist”).

Kim Haasarud

HOME: Phoenix, AZ
QUAFF: Bee’s Knees
National President, United States Bartenders’ GuildFounder, The Cocktail Collaborative in Phoenix, AZ, a nonprofit workspace and educational platform for bartenders, brand ambassadors, beverage professionals, and cocktail enthusiastsCreator, Garden Bar PHX, a garden-to-glass concept Nationally recognized mixologist and beverage consultant, working with hundreds of liquor brands, major international restaurants and hotels to create successful cocktail and bar programsCocktail book author

Kim has been a judge on Iron Chef America, and her many guest TV appearances include the “The Today Show,” CBS’s “Early Morning Show,” and “Fox & Friends,” to name just a few. Her work has been seen in dozens of publications, from The Wall Street Journal to Redbook (as their “Mommy Mixologist”).

Lauren Paylor

HOME: Washington,, DC
QUAFF: Old Fashioned
Mixologist, writer, and nationally ranked bartenderFeatured in numerous media, including Imbibe, NBC News, Washington Post, Essence, and VinePairCo-Founder, Focus on Health, advocating for health and wellness for the food and beverage sectorCommittee member, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF)



Lauren has worked many roles in the food and beverage industry, including lead bartender of Drink Co., F&B Manager for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants in Washington, DC, and most recently as bartender at Silver Lyan at the Riggs DC Hotel. Today, she spends her time creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces through her work with Focus on Health. She is currently the Seedlip Brand Ambassador in Washington, DC, a Safe Bars Trainer, and the social media coordinator for Speed Rack.

Lauren Paylor

QUAFF: Old Fashioned
HOME: Washington, DC
Mixologist, writer, and nationally ranked bartenderFeatured in numerous media, including Imbibe, NBC News, Washington Post, Essence, and VinePairCo-Founder, Focus on Health, advocating for health and wellness for the food and beverage sectorCommittee member, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF)



Lauren has worked many roles in the food and beverage industry, including lead bartender of Drink Co., F&B Manager for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants in Washington, DC, and most recently as bartender at Silver Lyan at the Riggs DC Hotel. Today, she spends her time creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces through her work with Focus on Health. She is currently the Seedlip Brand Ambassador in Washington, DC, a Safe Bars Trainer, and the social media coordinator for Speed Rack.

Eryn Reece

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Martini
Dame Hall of Fame inducteeFounding member and secretary, LUPEC NYC, an organization that champions female bartenders Speed Rack National champion, featured in numerous publications, including Imbibe, New York Times, and Cosmopolitan

Eryn honed her craft behind the stick at some of the most celebrated bars in New York City including Death & Co. and Mayahuel. She currently serves as Bar Director at New York’s Banzabar and Freemans Restaurant.

Eryn Reece

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Martini
Dame Hall of Fame inducteeFounding member and secretary, LUPEC NYC, an organization that champions female bartenders Speed Rack National champion, featured in numerous publications, including Imbibe, New York Times, and Cosmopolitan

Eryn honed her craft behind the stick at some of the most celebrated bars in New York City including Death & Co. and Mayahuel. She currently serves as Bar Director at New York’s Banzabar and Freemans Restaurant.

Joseph D. Solis

HOME: Los Angeles, CA
QUAFF: Cognac/Sidecar
More than 20 years in wine and spiritsCEO of Sol Hospitality Group, has worked with brands like D’USSÉ Cognac/Bacardi, Diageo, and Moët HennessyExpertise in the influencer, urban, and luxury spirits markets  Advocate for equality and diversity of BIPOC in the wine and spirits industry

Joseph resides where luxury meets taste and has created cocktail for celebrities and red carpet events including the Grammys, BET Awards, and Rihanna’s Diamond Ball.

Joseph D. Solis

HOME:Los Angeles, CA
QUAFF: Cognac/Sidecar
More than 20 years in wine and spiritsCEO of Sol Hospitality Group, has worked with brands like D’USSÉ Cognac/Bacardi, Diageo, and Moët HennessyExpertise in the influencer, urban, and luxury spirits markets  Advocate for equality and diversity of BIPOC in the wine and spirits industry

Joseph resides where luxury meets taste and has created cocktail for celebrities and red carpet events including the Grammys, BET Awards, and Rihanna’s Diamond Ball.

Mark Stoddard

HOME: San Francisco, CA
QUAFF: Ice Cold Wet Martini
World champion mixologist and Level 3 certified sommelierCocktail and beverage trends expert for Fox and NBCRecent Gin Guild inductee

Mark is a talented spirits expert and brand ambassador who brought Hendrick’s gin from small craft status to mainstream success.

Mark Stoddard

HOME: San Francisco, CA
QUAFF: Ice Cold Wet Martini
World champion mixologist and Level 3 certified sommelierCocktail and beverage trends expert for Fox and NBCRecent Gin Guild inductee

Mark is a talented spirits expert and brand ambassador who brought Hendrick’s gin from small craft status to mainstream success.

Masahiro Urushido

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Martini
Unofficial Ambassador for Japanese bartending techniques and drinksWinner, StarChefs’ New York City Rising Stars; Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers; and nominated for Tales of the Cocktail’s “American Bartender of the Year” Bars under Masa’s leadership have been named “Best New American Cocktail Bar” by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, “Best New Opening” by the World’s 50 Best Bars made their lists of both “Best American Restaurant Bars” and “World’s Best Restaurant Bars”

Masa is an ace bartender with more than 17 years’ experience in the field. He is currently the Managing Partner, Head Bartender, and Director of Deliciousness at Katana Kitten, an award-winning Japanese-influenced cocktail bar in New York City.

His forthcoming book, The Japanese Art of the Cocktail, will be published later this year.

Masahiro Urushido

HOME: New York, NY
QUAFF: Martini
Unofficial Ambassador for Japanese bartending techniques and drinksWinner, StarChefs’ New York City Rising Stars; Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers; and nominated for Tales of the Cocktail’s “American Bartender of the Year” Bars under Masa’s leadership have been named “Best New American Cocktail Bar” by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, “Best New Opening” by the World’s 50 Best Bars made their lists of both “Best American Restaurant Bars” and “World’s Best Restaurant Bars”

Masa is an ace bartender with more than 17 years’ experience in the field. He is currently the Managing Partner, Head Bartender, and Director of Deliciousness at Katana Kitten, an award-winning Japanese-influenced cocktail bar in New York City.

His forthcoming book, The Japanese Art of the Cocktail, will be published later this year.
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