Breckenridge Distillery tells BourbonBlog.com Breckenridge Distillery’s Liquid Chef Billie Keithley wins Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky for Bar Manager of the Year.
Come rain, shine or a global pandemic, the whisky world has come together once more to celebrate the industry’s people and places in the Icons of Whisky awards. The drinks industry has faced one of its most challenging years in recent history. From bartenders to brand ambassadors, retailers to visitor attraction managers, the 2021 Icons of Whisky awards honors those who have worked tirelessly for the growth of the industry.
Billie Keithley is one such woman. She’s the mastermind behind Breckenridge Distillery’s famous cocktails. Known as the Liquid Chef, Billie’s credo is “If it’s edible, I can make a cocktail out of it.” With a focus on Colorado local and seasonal ingredients, Billie’s cocktails entice and stimulate all the senses.
All of us on the BourbonBlog.com team can attest to Billie’s incredible passion and talent as we’ve spent many times over the last decade or so. As an example of the fun and creativity, we found this video below from a “Boozy Snowcones” experience where the distillery brought the spirit of Colorado to the French Quarter in New Orleans.
The Barrel-Smoked Strawberry Horchata and the Goblet of Fire, which has an applewood-smoked bubble on top, are just a couple of her game-changing cocktails. Her signature Obi-Wan Old Fashioned made with Breckenridge Port Cask Finish Whiskey brings in over $200,000 in sales annually alone.
Billie’s “I can’t stop learning” mentality is ingrained in every cocktail that she creates; whether for the distillery, a bar, restaurant or for an event. Her passion for cocktail creation is just as important as her passion for customer service which originates in the fundamentals of genuine hospitality: she is as gracious as she is accepting of all walks of life.
“I was extremely surprised when I received the news that I was named America’s Best Bar Manager because there is so much talent and passion out there in the industry,” Billie tells BourbonBlog.com.
“Other than working with Breckenridge Distillery, this is the biggest work achievement ever in my life, so far. I’m always thinking about what I can do next to elevate the cocktail experience for our guests (everyone in the galaxy)! Ideas for cocktails are running through my brain eight days a week, I don’t sleep. I think to myself, ‘it has to be elevated.’ With every cocktail, I want to see the smiles on faces at the first sip. If not, I’m not doing it right. I thirst for more knowledge and I am not afraid to admit that I am still learning every day.”
“I am grateful for the extraordinary team I have behind the Breckenridge Distillery Restaurant Bar. It is their attention to detail, the art and passion for making cocktails and creating an extraordinary guest experience that has made this an award-winning bar and one that people consider a must-visit attraction.”
Billie is a veteran to the industry with over 20 years of experience as a bartender, teacher, manager and master of mixology, and a staple to the Breckenridge Distillery libations program. While she has achieved Rockstar status with her latest recognition, her approachable demeanor and incredible passion for the craft is apparent. Last year brought unimaginable challenges to bars and restaurants, yet Billie was able to keep people enjoying hand-crafted cocktails through a virtual learning series that reached more than 500 spirits enthusiasts.
Photo credit: Liam Doran/Breckenridge Distillery