This year's winner lives, breathes, and likely dreams new ways to prepare and promote spirits

If earning our Bartender of the Year title were simply a matter of making delicious drinks, Lauren Mote would have been deserving of it long ago. But our judges set a near impossible bar in this category, one Mote clears easily this year—not as a bartender so much as an ambassador for the myriad pleasures of top-shelf adult imbibing. Mote lives, breathes, and likely dreams (whenever she does sleep) new ways to prepare and promote spirits. Behind the wood during early jobs at Lumière and the Refinery, she impressed with her ability to mix an impeccably balanced cocktail and make every customer feel like a VIP—something she continues to do in her current role as bar manager at Uva. That, however, is but one small part of her schedule. Cofounder of the successful Bittered Sling brand and beverage consultant to restaurants including Yew Seafood + Bar (which introduced her marine-themed Oceans menu earlier this year), she also makes a point of hiring and mentoring relatively unproven applicants at Uva. All this, and she can regale you with a hilarious anecdote (about, say, a recent visit to a distillery in the Scottish Highlands) while mixing a flawless Old Fashioned.