A panel of judges sipped through 20 cocktails last week. | Photo by Sara Havens

In July, the call went out around the country for the best home bartender — those men and women who don’t necessarily spend much time behind a bar but who can come home and craft a fine cocktail.

This was the first time Four Roses held a contest of this nature, and it was all in the name of celebrating its 130th anniversary as a brand. So it was quite fitting that they received nearly 130 original recipes using their signature Kentucky bourbon.

Staff then whittled that number down to 20, and a panel of cocktail judges, including this writer, gathered at a top-secret location last week to sample each one and choose a winner.

The Peach Rose was the clear winner. | Courtesy of Four Roses

One by one, an expert bartender from Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits created each cocktail using the ingredients and directions listed on the entry forms, and we sipped our way through all the mixers, bitters, ginger beers and rose petals used in each recipe.

It was a tough job.

But one cocktail rose above the rest, and that was the Peach Rose by Will Mejia of Phoenix, Ariz.

The simple and refreshing drink uses Four Roses Single Barrel, yellow peach, simple syrup, lemon juice, Pimms and ginger beer, and is served on the rocks, preferable nugget ice. The full recipe is below.

“I started playing around with cocktails many years ago,” Mejia said in a news release. “I then realized the enjoyment I get when sharing new drinks and recipes with my friends and family. I started making clear ice for my cocktails and sharing videos on Instagram, and the outreach from the community has been amazing. My buddy told me about this contest, so I whipped up my wife’s favorite drink, shot a photo of it at my office with a few co-workers, and hit submit.”

Mejia wins lots of Four Roses swag, including a signed barrel head by Master Distiller Brent Elliott, as well as a trip for two to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September. His cocktail will be served at several Four Roses 130th anniversary events around the country as well as the aforementioned Bourbon Festival in Bardstown.

Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott sat on the judges’ panel. | Photo by Sara Havens

Elliott, who also was on the judges’ panel, said that while most competitions are geared toward professional bartenders, Four Roses wanted to reach out to the everyday bourbon lover who enjoys making standout cocktails for dinner parties, cookouts, etc.

“Will’s Peach Rose is a refreshing drink anyone can make at home and that we’ll use to toast Four Roses’ 130-year history,” he said in the release.

This September, Four Roses will release a 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch that was chosen by Elliott and features four of the brand’s 10 bourbon recipes. The ages of the barrels used in the batch range from 10 to 16 years old.

Peach Rose

1 oz Four Roses Single Barrel
Quarter of yellow peach
¾ oz simple syrup
¾ oz lemon juice
1 oz Pimms
Splash of ginger beer
Lemon rind and fresh basil for garnish
Muddle peach with simple syrup and lemon, then add the Pimms and Four Roses Single Barrel. Shake over ice and strain into a Mason jar. Add pebble ice and splash with ginger beer. Garnish with lemon rind and fresh basil.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."