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Bartender Spirits Awards

Bartender Spirits Awards
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Trudy Thomas

Corporate Director of Beverage at Southworth Development, Spirits Educator and Mixologist, Nashville

Trudy Thomas is a nationally known Beverage Professional, Hospitality Leader, Wine Director, Spirits Educator and Mixologist.  A Kentucky native, she grew up in an area rich in the tradition of moonshine which inspired an early fascination, not just with the bourbon industry, but with the people who make up the remarkable community that crafts, lives, and breathes bourbon.   

Following her passion for the industry, she began working as a bartender in college and eventually moved to Chicago where she started managing beverage programs for regional restaurant chains, overseeing the entire program not just wine, spirits, beer, and cocktails, but coffee, tea, and other beverages, a path eventually leading to her first job as a National Director of Beverage when she joined the Wolfgang Puck Restaurant Group. In this position she had the opportunity to train at Spago Beverly Hills with Master Sommelier Michael Bonacorsi and was mentored by Chef Wolfgang Puck. It was this opportunity where she honed her palate, learned the nuances of food & beverage pairings.

She joined Marriott International at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2008, and was hired to raise the bar on their beverage program during the renovation of the historic property, including opening BLT Steak Scottsdale with Chef Laurent Tourondel.  In 2014 she had the opportunity to move closer to her Kentucky home when she joined Marriott’s largest property Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville as Director of Beverage.  In this role she was responsible for overseeing a 25-million-dollar beverage program for 20 restaurants and lounges, Soundwaves a 5-acre Water Park, Golf Course, Paddle Boat, and Night Club as well as room service and banquets. 

The pandemic provided a new opportunity for Trudy to impact an emerging regional restaurant group based in Nashville, encompassing 31 restaurants in eight states as Corporate Director of Beverage and lead to her current position at Southworth Development as the Corporate Director of Beverage and Beverage experience, a real estate investment company with Resorts in the United States, Scotland, and the Caribbean.

Trudy's passion and expertise for bourbon equally extends to wine, craft beer and artisanal cocktails.  She holds multiple certifications including being one of only a few to achieve the Certified Spirits Educator designation from the Society of Wine & Spirits Educators and is currently studying to achieve the Master of Whiskey Certification.  She was one of the first women in the United States to judge brown spirits and has served as a judge to both the prestigious San Francisco Spirit’s Competition, and as a wine and spirits judge at Chicago’s Beverage Tasting Institute.  She volunteers her time serving the nonprofit side of the industry with the U.S. Bartenders Guild, Les Dames Escoffier Nashville and The WITI Group to promote the future leadership and education of those in the beverage business. 

Trudy lives in Nashville and when she isn’t listening to live music in one of her favorite venues she enjoys hiking, golf, and thoroughbred horse racing.

Meet our Judges

Makenzie Helem

Top 30 bartenders in the US for USBG World Class 2023 and Bartender at Spilt Milk, Chicago