Make It In Manhattan

Richmond bartender wins international cocktail competition.

Sophia Kim at Woodford Reserve’s Manhattan Experience.

Photos courtesy of Woodford Reserve / Kertis

In May, at the renowned NoMad Bar in New York City, six finalists from across the United States and Canada prepared their original takes on the classic Manhattan, one by one, in front of three judges well-versed in the trade. There, at Woodford Reserve’s Manhattan Experience, Sophia Kim, bartender at Saison in Richmond, claimed the title Master of the Manhattan.

Kim has participated in this cocktail competition for the past three years, each year making it a little further. The first year she won the regionals and attended the semifinals in Louisville while working for Richmond’s Dutch & Company, where she first learned the art of cocktails. “It was a whole new world,” Kim says. “I didn’t even know this competition world existed.” The next year, she applied what she had learned—the importance of precision, finesse, and every single element of presentation being thought out—and advanced to the finals. This year, Kim says, “I wanted the chance to work behind The NoMad Bar one more time, to serve industry professionals and compete behind closed doors.”

For her final winning presentation, Kim took a piece of Richmond with her. She used handmade leather coasters and walnut presentation trays from local craftsmen, as well as Polish coupe glasses from the ’60s and vintage blue glasses sourced from local antique shops, to serve her two signature drinks. Woodford.Liquor.com

Sophia Kim’s Winning Recipes
Sure and Steady Manhattan

2 dashes Angostura bitters

¼ ounce Montenegro

¾ ounce Carpano Antica Formula vermouth

1 ounce Woodford Double Oaked bourbon

1 ounce Woodford Reserve bourbon

Combine all and serve up in a coupe glass, garnished with an orange twist.

Bubblegum Julep

1 barspoon Yellow Chartreuse

1 barspoon Bigallet China-China

1 barspoon Citrus Oleo

2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon

Combine all with a swizzle stick and serve with crushed ice, garnished with mint leaves.


This article originally appeared in our Drink 2019 issue.

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