All the 2016 Bar Awards winners are here

The Bartender of the Year Michael Chiem (middle) with Denis Brown of Bacardi-Martini (left) and Australian Bartender editor Sam Bygrave (right).

The Bartender of the Year Michael Chiem (middle) with Denis Brown of Bacardi-Martini (left) and Australian Bartender editor Sam Bygrave (right).

The Australian bar industry dazzles at the year’s premier awards night!

All the thrills, spills and live action from the ‘Oscars’ of the bar industry

On a sunny spring evening, 600 bar professionals from around Australia headed down to the picturesque Doltone House at Jones Bay Wharf in Pyrmont for a night of clinking glasses, drinking cocktails and of course, giving out gongs to congratulate the fine efforts of the standouts in the industry. A week of bar industry events known as Bar Week (www.barweek.com.au) culminated in this flagship event that has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the bar industry and which is now in its 16th year. Voted for by the bar industry, the Bartender Magazine Bar Awards are hotly contested and highly prized.

The event, which sold out weeks ago, kicked off with cocktails on the deck, featuring everything from Boulevardiers to Old Fashioneds. Guests then moved into the dining room, under the expert guidance of bar industry personality MC Stu Gregor. First up, a series of state awards were presented with venues such as Molly & Hippo Co in Canberra and Robbie Brown’s in Tassie getting a nod for their achievements. In addition, a very happy crew from Coal & Cedar in Newcastle was awarded the title of Regional Bar of the Year. They just edged out previous winners, Miss Moneypenny’s from Noosa and Pocket Terrigal.

This year saw the introduction of several new awards dedicated to specialty spirit bars; the results of which were highly anticipated. The award for Rum Bar of the Year was taken out by an ecstatic team from The Lobo Plantation in Sydney while the Gin Bar of the Year went to The Barber Shop in Sydney. The tequila mad team from Tio’s Cerveceria in Surry Hills took out the inaugural Phil Bayly award for the Best Tequila Bar, while Boilermaker House down in Melbourne was recognized for the dedication to Whisky, taking out the Whisky Bar of the Year award. Hotel bars also had their own category this year with Grain at the Four Seasons in Sydney’s CBD taking out the top prize.

The multi-award winning crew from Swillhouse were recognized again as the Bar Operators of the Year for their stellar effort with venues such as the hot new restaurant and bar, Hubert (which also won New Bar of the Year) Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice, Baxter Inn and Shady Pines. Long-time Bar Manager, Toby Hilton, was also the well-deserved winner of the Bar Manager of the Year for his work across all their venues.

The Merivale Group also proved their staying power this year, taking out the prize for Pub of the Year with the Coogee Pavilion as well as the Pub Operator of the Year title. Having won awards across multiple categories since the Bar Awards began 16 years ago, Merivale has proven without doubt that they still have the formula for success. Not an easy thing, in an industry that prides itself on adapting constantly to cutting edge trends.

This year, guest travelled from across Australia to attend the awards. With tables from every Australian state and territory, this has truly become a national awards ceremony, with small cities and towns fully represented. And winners also came from around Australia with Brisbane having a particularly big year. Cobbler won Small Bar of the Year, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall won Best Live Music Venue, Family won Nightclub of the Year and The Gresham took out the prize for Bar of the Year for the second year in a row.

Speaking of wins in a row, 2016 marked the fourth year on the trot that Sydney CBD bar, Bulletin Place, took home the trophy for Cocktail Bar of the Year, an unprecedented run of wins in this category.

For the third year running the finals of the Bartender Magazine Bartender of the Year Competition (proudly sponsored by Bacardi & De Kuyper) were held live on stage between awards. After a gruelling day of competition on Monday, eight of the country’s top bartenders had just five minutes to prepare their signature cocktail in front of an esteemed panel of judges and 600 industry peers. It was nerve-wracking business. Taking out the top prize was Michael Chiem from PS40 in Sydney. In addition to the title of ‘Bartender of the Year’ the folks from Bacardi, De Kuyper & Bartender magazine will also be flying him to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. In second place was Paul Hammond from Bulletin Place in Sydney and in 3rd place was Dan Gregory from The Gresham in Brisbane.

Bartender of the Year Sponsored by Bacardi & De Kuyper
3rd Place: Dan Gregory, The Gresham, Brisbane
2nd Place: Paul Hammond, Bulletin Place, Sydney
Winner: Michael Chiem, PS40, Sydny

Bar Operator of the year sponsored by William Grant & Sons
Swillhouse

Pub operator of the Year sponsored by Disaronno
Merivale

Best Bartenders’ Bar sponsored by Disaronno
Heartbreaker, Melbourne

Best Specialty Beer Venue sponsored by Yenda
Petition Beer Corner, Perth

Bar Manager of the Year sponsored by The Exchange
Toby Hilton, Swillhouse, Sydney

Best Bar Food
Dead Ringer, Sydney

Bar of the Year
The Gresham, Brisbane

The Phil Bayly Award for Tequila Bar of the Year
Tio’s Cerveceria, Sydney

Best Gin Bar sponsored by Bombay Sapphire
The Barber Shop, Sydney

Best Whisky Bar sponsored by The Exchange
Boilermaker House, Melbourne

Best Rum Bar sponsored by Bacardi Rum
The Lobo Plantation, Sydney

Pub of the Year sponsored by Pernod Ricard
Coogee Pavilion, Sydney

New Pub of the Year sponsored by Pernod Ricard
Hotel Palisade, Sydney

Rookie of the Year sponsored by The Blend
Dale Schoon, Earl’s Juke Joint

New Bar of the Year sponsored by Fever-Tree
Restaurant Hubert, Sydney

Small Bar of the Year 
Cobbler, Brisbane

Regional Bar of the Year sponsored by The Blend
Coal & Cedar, Newcastle

Nightclub of the Year
Family, Brisbane

Bar Team of the Year sponsored by The Exchange
Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, Sydney

Cocktail Bar of the Year sponsored by Monin
Bulletin Place, Sydney

Cocktail List of the Year sponsored by William Grant & Sons
Eau de Vie Melbourne

Best Live Music Bar sponsored by Bacardi & De Kuyper
Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane

Wine Bar of the Year sponsored by Unico Zelo
Bar Liberty, Melbourne

Hotel Bar of the Year sponsored by Fever-Tree
Grain, Sydney

Training Program of the Year presented by Bartender Magazine
The Blend by Beam Suntory

Brand Ambassador of the Year presented by Bartender Magazine
Richard Blanchard, William Grant & Sons

Outstanding Contribution
Tash Conte, Black Pearl

Cocktail Bar of the Year – State Awards
Sponsored by Monin
ACT: Molly, Canberra
NSW: Bulletin Place, Sydney
NT: Chow, Darwin
QLD: The Bowery
SA: Maybe Mae, Adelaide
TAS: IXL Long Bar, Hobart
VIC: Black Pearl, Melbourne
WA: The Dominion League, Perth

Bar of the Year – State Awards
ACT: Hippo Co, Canberra
NSW: The Baxter Inn, Sydney
NT: Hot Tamale, Darwin
QLD: The Gresham, Brisbane
SA: Hains & Co, Adelaide
TAS: Robbie Brown’s, Hobart
VIC: Heartbreaker, Melbourne
WA: Varnish on King, Perth