Two new awards and a new finalists panel — Bar Awards voting is now open!

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It’s that time of the year when we begin the voting in the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards.

Now in its 17th year, the Bar Awards shine a spotlight on the best bars, bartenders, and bar operators the country has to offer.

And this year, after consultation with the trade, we have two new awards and a couple of changes to make the awards stronger than ever.

In recognition of the efforts that many bartenders and bar operators have been undertaking to take issues around sustainability seriously, and the way in which cocktail lists across the country have begun to adopt zero-waste bartending approaches, we’ve introduced for the first time the Best Sustainable Bar Program award.

This award recognises those bars with who incorporate sustainability as part of their standard operating procedure. They’ve taken steps to reduce their impact on the environment and are thinking about how they can reduce, reuse, and recycle elements of the bar program.

The Best Sustainable Bar Program award is not based on the popular vote but will be assessed by a panel to determine the finalists. To be eligible for this award, the venue must nominate themselves and supply a PDF of their drinks list and a one page supporting statement highlighting the steps they’ve taken to implement a sustainable bar program. See more on this on the voting page here.

We’ve also got a new award that recognises the great work and delicious drinking that can be found in restaurants across the country, with the Restaurant Bar of the Year award. It is designed to champion those bars within restaurants that offer a reason to drink there whether or not you may be dining.

This year, thanks to some great feedback from the trade we’re strengthening the awards process.

This year, as always, the finalists will be determined by the trade’s vote. The top ten in each of the 32 categories will then be reviewed and voted on by their peers — that is, the other finalists — to determine the winners in each category.

How does this work? Once the finalists have been announced in the July issue of the magazine, we’ll be in touch with all finalists to ask them to rank the bars and operators in the next round of voting (bars that are finalists in multiple categories will still receive just the one entry). You won’t be able to vote in categories in which you’re nominated. We hope with this refinement to the awards we can further strengthen your voice in the process.

The Cocktail List of the Year award sees a slight tweak as well this year. This year, in addition to the voting, you’ll need to submit a PDF copy of your menu for the finalists panel to review.

That’s enough chat for now — click here to head to the voting page and have your say in the Bar Awards and save the date for Tuesday 19 September.