We're still weeks away from finding out who will take home top prize at Time Out Miami's 2017 Bar Awards—which means there's still time to do a little recon and pay a visit to the finalists. We'll be doing the same alongside our talented panel of bartenders and industry pros, who will be helping us select the winners. Curious to find out who will weigh in? Let us introduce you to our experts.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Time Out Miami's Bar Awards
Meet the panelists
Spencer Taliaferro, lead mixologist at EPIC Hotel and LILT Lounge
Spencer Taliaferro is the lead mixologist at the EPIC Hotel, where he oversees the beverage programs for the on-site cocktail bar LILT Lounge, as well as the property's sustainable seafood restaurant Area 31. His trademark? Ice. He created LILT's In Ice We Trust program, which features flavored cubes and frozen liquor infusions.
Photograph: Michael Pisarri
Charles Steadman, beverage director at 1 Hotel South Beach
Charles Steadman has his hands in all things drink-related at the 1 Hotel. When he's not coming up with new batched drinks for the beach-chic lobby bar, Tom on Collins, he's dreaming up new craft cocktails for Tom Colicchio's Beachcraft and Matthew Kenney's Plnthouse restaurants on site. Charles has curated a program that focuses on international wines, seasonal drinks and craft beers specifically for the hotel.
Leo Holtzman, owner, SoCal Cantina South Beach
Magician-cum-mixologist, Leo Holtzman owns and runs SoCal Cantinas in Brickell and South Beach, where on most days you'll find him serving up all sorts of tequila-based drinks ("it's the best spirit," he says) and entertaining customers with his whimsical talents. His signature? The spicy Gardner’s Margarita.
Eddie Fuentes and Hector Acevedo, beverage developers and founders of Cocktail Cartel Co.
One of Miami's top consulting companies, the Cocktail Cartel has left its footprint on celebrated beverage programs at places like the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Fink Table & Tap and Glass & Vine. Partners Eddie Fuentes, Hector Acevedo and Manuel Picon also consult on projects as far-flung as La Marina in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic.
Photograph: Gabriel Gutierrez
John Lermayer, co-owner, Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company
Award-winning bartender John Lermayer is the man behind Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company, which he co-owns with Dan Binkiewicz and David Martinez. In 2015, he became the first American bartender to participate in the Daquiri King competition at the El Floridita Bar in Cuba.