Bartender Spirits Awards

Bartender Spirits Awards
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Zachary Faden - Lead Bartender At Brasserie Liberté

Photo for: Zachary Faden - Lead Bartender At Brasserie Liberté

22/12/2021 Zachary shares about which cocktails are going to be in demand, his expectations when the on-premises sector fully reopens, and more.

Tell us about yourself and how you got into the drinks and bar scene?

I originally intended to be a professor.  After grad school, as I was applying to Ph.D. programs, I returned to DC and as you can only do there, accidentally became a defense contractor. It was supposed to only be a summer job but ended up being a five-and-a-half-year career. However, I frequently found myself reading about the history and culture of cocktails, visiting cocktail bars, and drinking cocktails.  

When my favorite bartender called offering a chance to bartend at his recently James Beard Award-nominated program, I jumped at the opportunity.  For seven months, I bartended in the evenings after working my full-time day job, then committed to focusing solely on the drinks and bar scene. I enjoy creating original cocktails and since my introduction to the industry has been fortunate enough to have my recipes published, win various awards, and have gained valuable experience opening multiple restaurants, curating spirits lists, and creating craft cocktail programs throughout the DC area.

What are your current role and your main responsibilities?

My current role is the director of spirits curation and education for the Museum of Distilled Spirits. It is dedicated to the cultural heritage of distilled spirits through the storytelling method of integrating content created by industry experts with the experiences of our audience resulting in compelling event programming. The programming structure corresponds to the TTB’s six designated distilled spirits: Brandy, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Vodka, and Whiskey. My particular specialization and forte are curating content regarding nonconformist spirits which do not fit quite well in the TTB’s taxonomy.


What do you think are the most important skills you need to be successful working in your role?

I am greatly influenced by Daniel Meyer’s Setting the Table and his philosophy of “enlightened hospitality”. I am not in the food and drink business, I am in the people business. I am ultimately trying to make experiences and to make people happy. As valuable as food and drink knowledge is, listening and empathy are even more important.

How have you found the last year in lockdown and what sort of things have you been doing to keep on top of your skills and knowledge?

This past year has been a strange and trying time. To keep on top of my skills and knowledge, I routinely practice the habits which first helped prepare me for the industry: I read and I drink. 

What are you expecting when the on-premise sector does fully re-open in terms of how customers will respond?

As on-premise business re-opens, I think customers will respond quite positively. Bars have consistently been third spaces; an environment separates from home and the workplace. These institutions are essential to building community, and I think that customers will be very welcoming of their return.

Why did you want to be involved in the Bartender Spirits Awards?

I am honored and humbled to be involved in the Bartender Spirits Awards. The BSA’s evaluations of spirits both reflect and direct industry trends. To be recognized by peers to help in this process is very meaningful.

What is it about the awards that make it stand out from other competitions?

I love the BSA’s tagline, “Judged By Bartenders, Bar Managers and Off-Premise Managers For The On-Premise Industry”. Essentially, what makes the BSA stand out from other competitions is that is by bartenders for bartenders.

Do you use awards to pick new trends and see what new drinks are coming into the market?

Yes, I think that spirits awards and competitions are a valuable means of identifying new spirits and trends.

What sort of demand do you think there will be when the on-trade does re-open and what sort of drinks, spirits, and cocktails are going to be most in demand?

I think that there will be a robust demand when the on-trade does re-open.  I think one of the most impactful developments for bars in the past year has been the legalization of to-go cocktails. I think this trend will continue even after the on-premise re-opens.

Act now for Early Bird Deadline

Anyone entering their products and brands by January 31, 2022, can take advantage of the early bird offer. See below for pricing rates and the key dates for this year’s competition. To enter your spirits click HERE

* Early Bird Pricing - $120 per spirit ends January 31, 2022)
* Regular Pricing - $160 per spirit (February 1, 2022, to April 20, 2022)

Quantity Discount Available:

- 3 to 9 entries: 10% discount
- 10 to 14 entries: 15% discount
- 15 or more entries: 20% discount

* Warehouse Closes: April 24, 2022
* Judging Day: May 15, 2022
* Winners Announced: May 31, 2022

Submissions are closed! The deadline to receive samples at the warehouse is May 3, 2024. Click here to see shipping instructions.