Veteran Miami bartender Josue Gonzalez recently relocated to D.C., and now he’ll rep his new city as a national semi-finalist in the annual United States Bartenders’ Guild Legacy Cocktail Competition next year in Puerto Rico. Sponsored by Bacardi, the competition requires entrants to integrate the brand’s products.
Gonzalez, who splits his time bartending at Michelin-rated Bresca and critically acclaimed Union Market newcomer St. Anselm, will compete at the national championships in February against 11 other bartenders. From there, two U.S. contestants — one from each coast — will advance to globals in Amsterdam in April, pitting their rum concoctions against those created by dozens of bartenders from around the world.
The winning rum elixir that got Gonzalez to nationals is the Alegria (“joy” in Spanish), which features 4-year Bacardi Anejo, martini bitters, lime juice, arroz con leche syrup, and a lime twist garnish.
Drinkers can currently order the Alegria at Bresca. In the coming weeks, St. Anselm and the Wharf’s Kith and Kin will also serve the cocktail.
Gonzalez tells Eater he has more menu placements and pop-up shifts across the city in the works. Part of the judging process leading up to nationals includes demonstrating the public’s willingness to buy it.
He’s the second D.C.-based bartender to make it this far in the 13-year-old contest. Last year, French Scotty Marshall — then-bartender at U Street bar Five to One — won nationals and advanced the global finals.
Gonzalez counts two Miami mixologists, Rob Ferrara (Swine Southern Table & Bar) and the late John Lermayer (Sweet Liberty bar), as mentors who “inspired me to learn what moves me as a person and as bartender.”
Gonzalez, who is Cuban, moved from his hometown of Miami to D.C. four months ago and recently flew back to guest-stir at parties surrounding the Art Basel fair.