Imagine, Imbibe

Oh, Annie Pierce—you sure know to make a magazine feel smart.

We already knew you were one of the best bartenders around—which is why we asked you to be on the latest cover of our food and drink quarterly Stock & Barrel—but then you turn around and win Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender, making us look extra credible in the process?

That’s just downright thoughtful.

Pierce, of cocktail haven Curio,  beat out bartenders from Columbus, Detroit, Louisville, and Indianapolis, becoming the second Columbus winner of the 11th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition presented by Bombay Sapphire. (Alex Chien, of Watershed, then of Blind Lady, was the other).

Now, she will be one of just a dozen regional winners from North America who will travel to England—the home of Bombay Sapphire and its Laverstoke Distillery—to compete for the 2017 North American title. In the meanwhile, all 12 finalists will also travel to New Orleans this month for Tales of a Cocktail, an annual cocktail gathering where the competitors will meet for the first time and have the opportunity to participate in a number of seminars led by industry leaders.

Which, if she wins in August, could end up being her. Past winners have also opened highly successful spots in Austin, Boston, and beyond. This year, for the very first time, the grand prize winner will be named “GQ Bartender in Residence,” where he or she will collaborate on a series of cocktail videos and act as an in-brand cocktail and culture expert throughout the year for GQ Magazine.

Guests and judges were presented to cocktails at the newly opened Grandview Cafe, based on appearance, aroma, imagination, and taste. The drink even impressed Tom Swift, VP/Managing Director for Bombay Sapphire.

“Each year, the Most Imaginative Bartender competition gives emerging bartenders an international stage to showcase their talents,” he said. “Annie’s London X Tokyo cocktail is a phenomenal example of the boundary-pushing creativity that is possible with cocktail making, and I look forward to seeing what she has in store at the North American Finals in England this August.”

For more on the North American Most Imaginative Bartender competition, please visit