USC Judges

Eric Alperin
Eric Alperin
Beverage Director, Bar Owner
Eric Alperin

ERIC ALPERIN’S first experience behind the stick was at The Screening Room in NYC. He later found himself at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Michelin-starred Lupa, before landing at Sasha Petraske’s Milk & Honey and Little Branch – experiences that would change his life.

In Los Angeles, Eric created and managed Osteria Mozza’s liquor and cocktail program as part of the initial team. A year later, he opened The Varnish in downtown LA – a bar he co-owns and operates with Sasha Petraske and Cedd Moses.

In 2012, The Varnish won Best American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail and was a finalist for World’s Best Bar. Eric was also a finalist for Best American Bartender.

In 2013, The Varnish received a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Bar Program and was a Tales of the Cocktail finalist for World’s Best Bar. Eric was a finalist once again for Best American Bartender.

In 2014, The Varnish received a second James Beard nomination for Outstanding Bar Program. Also in 2014, Eric’s bar Half Step in Austin, Texas was nominated for a Spirited Award for Best New American Cocktail Bar. 

In addition to The Varnish and Half Step, Eric trained at the Beverage Alcohol Resource (B.A.R.) in New York City, where he received his B.A.R. Ready certification. He is acting Beverage Director for 213 Hospitality, a co-owner of Penny Pound Ice, The Slipper Clutch, Bar Clacson (a 2017 finalist for a Spirited Award for Best New American Cocktail Bar) and is currently under construction on a forthcoming bar project at Union Station in downtown LA.

Eric has been profiled in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, LA Weekly, Imbibe and Vogue (to name a few) and has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Layover,” Esquire Network’s “Best Bars in America,” NBC News and in Douglas Tirola’s feature film “Hey Bartender.”  

But what he really wants to do is write a book.