About the Academy

The North America’s 50 Best Bars Academy is the mechanism used to create the North America’s 50 Best Bars list. None of the employees of the organiser or any of the sponsors associated with the awards, including the main sponsor, has any influence over the results.

The Academy comprises 250 gender-balanced members, each selected for their expert opinion of the North American bar scene. It is made up of bartenders, bar owners, drinks media and well-travelled cocktail connoisseurs from Canada, USA, Mexico and the Caribbean.

To create the Academy and give it a fair representation of the bar landscape, we divide North America into 7 geographical regions: Canada East; Canada West; USA Northeast; USA Midwest; USA West; USA South; and Mexico and the Caribbean. Each region has a chairperson appointed for their knowledge of their part of the bar world. These Chairs each select a voting panel, updated annually, ensuring a balanced selection of drink writers, bartenders and cocktail aficionados.

Meet the North America’s 50 Best Bars Academy Chairs below.

Learn more about how the voting works

The Academy Chairs

  • Ben Mintzinstagram link

    Mintz is the Editor of Neat Pour, a daily publication for the beverage industry. Prior to Neat Pour, he founded and edited a community news source. When not travelling, Mintz can be found at home, in New Orleans, US, sipping on a Perfect Manhattan.

  • Charlene Rooke

    Charlene Rooke is a Canadian spirits journalist and educator. A WSET spirit educator, she also holds the prestigious SWE’s Certified Specialist of Spirits, trained in small-batch distilling at Kentucky’s Moonshine University and is the lead judge of the Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition. A former editor of magazines for Air Canada, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and other travel and hospitality brands, she is currently the Drinks Editor of Food & Drink, the in-store magazine of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (one of the world’s largest beverage alcohol buyers and retailers).

  • Christine Sismondoinstagram link

    A National Magazine Award-winning writer, Sismondo has been writing about spirits, cocktails, bars, books and history for the Toronto StarGlobe and Mail, Maclean’s and other publications for over 20 years. She’s also the author of America Walks into a Bar: A History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops; Prohibition, a six-part podcast series for Wondery’s American History Tellers and, most recently, Cocktails: A Still Life. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

  • Emma Janzenwebsite linkinstagram linktwitter link

    A journalist, photographer, and author, Janzen is one of the foremost authorities in cocktail writing in USA. Her first book, Mezcal: The History, Craft and Cocktails of the World's Ultimate Artisanal Spirit, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award in 2018; she co-authored The Way of the Cocktail with Kumiko owner Julia Momosé (2021), contributed to David Wondrich's The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails (2021), and is currently working on The Bartender's Manifesto with Toby Maloney of The Violet Hour (2022). Writing and editing from her home base near Chicago, she prefers her mezcal neat, her martinis made with gin, and her champagne served in a coupe.

  • Esther Tseng

    Tseng is a Los Angeles-based writer who writes primarily about food, cocktails and culture. Among other publications, she predominantly contributes to The LA TimesBon Appétit and Food & Wine. Originally from Wisconsin, she first started her food and cocktail blog 15 years ago, before becoming a freelance writer. 

  • Pamela Wiznitzer

    Since 2006, Wiznitzer has been working in NYC and across the globe to bring cocktail culture to life. She was nominated as one of the top 10 bartenders for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 American Bartender of the Year award and was named the 2014 Bartender of the Year by the Village Voice. She was named Food & Wine magazine's top 10 Rising Star Mixologists, is an inductee to the Dame Hall of Fame and was one of Wine Enthusiast magazine's 40 Under 40 in 2015. Her work has been featured in multiple publications including The New York TimesWall Street JournalZagatGlamour, Bloomberg and Esquire, and she features regularly on Food Network, Vh1, and NBC.

  • Pedro Reyesinstagram link

    Reyes has been a contributor to the best lifestyle magazines in Mexico – AccentVueloExpansiónLife&StyleChilango – while he carried out his role as Deputy Editor for Travel+Leisure Mexico for five years. He is the author of ¡Acá las Tortas!, a book about one of Mexico City's beloved street foods, as well as being a leading commentator on the city’s bar scene. Now, he is Creative Director at Paladar, a gastronomic marketing agency that creates events and experiences around Latin America’s food and drink scene.