Rapscallion names 2020 Bartender of the Year

Rapscallion, Phillips Distillery, & Prairie Organic Spirits names Bartender of the Year during 1st Ever Bartender Competition held at Rapscallion Table & Tap in Acton


Justin Rivers of Great Road Kitchen in Littleton named 2020 Rapscallion Bartender of the Year


Rapscallion Table & Tap, in partnership with sponsor Phillips Distilling Co., hosted the first-ever Rapscallion Bartender Competition on January 14, 2020, featuring Prairie Organic Vodka and Gin. Justin Rivers, bartender at Great Road Kitchen in Littleton, took first place with his signature cocktail, “Hungry Ghost.” Judges praised the entry as a perfectly balanced cocktail with a creative combination of ingredients to innovate a new flavor.

Contestants were asked to create a unique cocktail featuring a Prairie Organic Spirit. Prairie Organic Gin was the spirit of choice amongst all the competitors. This included cocktail runner up, “Outshine,” crafted by Chris Hooper of Bar25 in Ayer, that judges described as “exploding with flavor.” 

Rapscallion’s own Hilary Mathiau, bar manager at the Brewery in Sturbridge, impressed judges with her signature cocktail,  “Strange Brew. ” The drink was crafted to feature Rapscallion’s New England IPA and Prairie Organic Gin, which judges commented was a “great concept” with balance.

Competitors from throughout Massachusetts participated in the event representing various dining establishments. In addition to Rivers, Hooper, and Mathiau, the lineup included Marc Assini from Forge & Vine, Anthony Brocatto from Woods Hill Table, and Scott Bubar from Red Raven. 

The panel, led by Phillips Distilling Co.’s CEO Mike Duggan, consisted of Dominika Zielinska of Hynes Restaurant Group, local artist and teacher Linda Finnerty, and Jordan McCatherin. 

To a packed house, contestants were asked to prepare and present their cocktails to judges and attendees. Each cocktail was taste-tested by the judges panel, who rated the cocktail on a series of categories on a weighted scale: cocktail name, taste, appearance, presentation & style, and creative & innovation. Winner Justin Rivers took home the title and a cash prize; additionally, “Hungry Ghost”  will be honored as a featured beverage on the Rapscallion Table & Tap cocktail menu. 

Rapscallion’s cocktail program has grown significantly in popularity since the first of its two restaurants opened in 2013, initially serving just beer and wine. This is due in no small part to the creativity and vision of its two lead bartender/mixologists Miguel Salguero (Rapscallion Table & Tap, Acton) and Carlos Dias (Rapscallion Kitchen & Bar, Concord), who spearheaded the competition in collaboration with the teams from Prairie Organic Spirits and Phillips Distilling, Co. 


2020 Bartender Competition Contenders

Judges Panel
Winning Cocktail by Justin Rivers – Hungry Ghost
Strange Brew featuring Rapscallion’s New England IPA


About Rapscallion: With current brewing headquarters and taproom in Sturbridge and two restaurants located in Acton and Concord, Rapscallion is a MA-only microbrewery that puts freshness, quality and consistency above all else, honoring the craft, the Rapscallion customer and their local communities.

Prairie Organic Spirits, based in Princeton, Minn., produces farm-crafted spirits using single-sourced, vintage corn grown on family-owned, organic Midwest farms. The #1 USDA Certified organic spirits brand, Prairie Organic Spirits distills each batch to taste, with a commitment to high-quality ingredients. Prairie Organic offers spirits in three award-winning expressions – Organic Vodka, Organic Cucumber Flavored Vodka and Organic Gin – all of which are free from herbicides, pesticides and gluten. Phillips Distilling Company founded the brand in 2008 with a mission to grow organic spirits for the land, farmers and future.

Phillips Distilling Company (Phillips) is one of the most innovative and enduring distilled spirits companies in North America. Over 107 years in the making, Phillips continues to produce high-quality products using only the finest ingredients, sourced from around the globe. Phillips is consistently a pioneer in the spirits industry, from America’s first schnapps in the 1930s to flavored vodka in the 1950s to flavored whiskey in the 1990s to organic spirits in the 2000s.