These are the best bars, bartenders and bar operators in Australia: the 2017 Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards finalists


It’s that time of year again folks, when we celebrate the best of the Australian bar industry.

That’s right, it’s time for the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards finalists. Never before has the industry been in such good form — and it’s not just in the big two cities of Sydney and Melbourne where the drinking is good.

This year sees Hobart enter the fray, with a swag of nominations. And Queensland and Perth are still representing, with Adelaide bar Maybe Mae flying that city’s flag for good drinking.

The Bar Awards takes place on Tuesday the 19th of September this year, and is just one of the many great events in store for Sydney Bar Week this year, taking place from the 16th to the 20th of September — take a look at the full timetable of 22 big events over five days at barweek.com.au.

If you’re a finalist for the Bar Awards, you can now secure your seat at the event — click here.

If you’re keen to exhibit or to sponsor at one of the great Sydney Bar Week events we have lined up, get in touch with David Spanton on david@spantonmedia.com.

Take a look at the best bars in Australia, below.

BAR OF THE YEAR

This is the big one. The Bar of the Year offers the complete experience — service, atmosphere, a great concept and well executed drink offering — this bar will see the punters (and bartenders) returning again and again.

  • Big Poppa’s, Sydney
  • Boilermaker House, Melbourne
  • Earl’s Juke Joint, Sydney
  • Kittyhawk, Sydney
  • Mechanics Institute, Perth
  • Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, Sydney
  • Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney
  • The Baxter Inn, Sydney
  • The Beaufort, Melbourne
  • The Gresham, Brisbane

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by The Perfect Blend

This is the award that recognises the up and coming bartenders in the industry. They must have worked as a bartender for either less than two years come June 1 2017, or be aged 23 and under by June 1 2017.

  • Anneliese Grazioli, Hot Tamale, Darwin
  • Cherish Wilkie, Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, Sydney
  • Ella Rhodes, Cobbler, Brisbane
  • Evan Stroeve, Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney
  • Hannah Lawson, Loretta’s, Melbourne
  • Harry Saunders, The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
  • Isaac Iozzi, Mechanics Institute, Perth
  • Magnus Moore, The Gresham, Brisbane
  • Negasi Tesfai, Garden State Hotel, Melbourne
  • Sarah Chiverton, Jangling Jack’s, Sydney

COCKTAIL BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Monin

Getting a cocktail right is no easy task. Finalists for this award must be the kind of bar that uses bottled mixers, employs quality ice and superlative ingredients, with cocktails as their central drinks focus.

  • Above Board, Melbourne
  • Black Pearl, Melbourne
  • Bulletin Place, Sydney
  • Charlie Parker’s, Sydney
  • Eau de Vie, Melbourne
  • Maybe Mae, Adelaide
  • PS40, Sydney
  • Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters, Brisbane
  • The Everleigh, Melbourne
  • This Must Be The Place, Sydney

NEW BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Southern Comfort

These are the best bars that have opened up in the year since June 1 2016. They have a great focus on service, they break new ground in terms of what they’re offering, and they can compete with the best bars in the world.

  • Above Board, Melbourne
  • Big Poppa’s, Sydney
  • Charlie Parker’s, Sydney
  • Deathproof, Brisbane
  • Electric Avenue, Brisbane
  • Hooch & Fellow, Townsville
  • House of Correction, Melbourne
  • Kittyhawk, Sydney
  • Mjølner, Sydney
  • Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters, Brisbane

BEST SUSTAINABLE BAR PROGRAM

Proudly sponsored by 42BELOW

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.

  • Charlie Parker’s, Sydney
  • Maybe Mae, Adelaide
  • Society Salamanca, Hobart
  • Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney
  • The Void Bar at MONA, Hobart

NIGHTCLUB OF THE YEAR

We really need to thank the folks that run the nightclubs. They do the graveyard shift week in and week out. They’re the place you go when you don’t want to go home. It’s the home of the dancefloor and the DJ and late, late nights. There must be a focus on music and dancing.

  • Air, Perth
  • Casablanca, Sydney
  • Cliff Dive, Sydney
  • Connections, Perth
  • Family, Brisbane
  • Goodbar, Sydney
  • Heya Bar, Brisbane
  • Ivy, Sydney
  • Laruche, Brisbane
  • The Emerson, Melbourne

PUB OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Nespresso

No doubt one of the biggest awards of the night and one that just keeps getting better year on year, with new and innovative operators bringing their take on the Aussie pub. It’s the meeting place, it’s where so many of life’s great moments can happen — the finalists for this award bring the complete experience.

  • Coogee Pavilion, Sydney
  • East Village Sydney, Sydney
  • Garden State Hotel, Melbourne
  • Statler & Waldorf, Brisbane
  • The Defiant Duck, Brisbane
  • The Dolphin, Sydney
  • The Lincoln, Melbourne
  • The Newport, Sydney
  • The Paddington, Sydney
  • The Unicorn, Sydney

HOTEL BAR OF YEAR

The winner of this award will be the type of bar within a hotel providing accomodation that offers great service, is staffed by passionate, knowledgeable bartenders who go the extra mile for their guest, and is the kind of bar that you want to visit even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

  • Eau de Vie, The Kirketon, Sydney
  • Grain, The Four Seasons, Sydney
  • Hennessy Rooftop Bar, Mayfair Hotel, Adelaide
  • Henry Deane’s, Hotel Palisade, Sydney
  • IXL Long Bar, The Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart
  • Rooftop at QT, QT Melbourne
  • Shadow Wine, Alex Hotel, Perth
  • The Collins Bar, The Hilton, Adelaide
  • Zephyr, Hyatt Regency, Sydney
  • Zeta Bar, The Hilton, Sydney

SMALL BAR OF THE YEAR

Here’s to the bars doing big things in small places. This award is dedicated to those bars with a capacity of less than 100 people, who offer the complete experience: great drinks, brilliant banter, and a unique identity.

  • Above Board, Melbourne
  • Bad Frankie, Melbourne
  • Bulletin Place, Sydney
  • Burrow Bar, Sydney
  • Cobbler, Brisbane
  • Hooch & Fellow, Townsville
  • Jangling Jack’s, Sydney
  • Maker, Brisbane
  • Mechanics Institute, Perth
  • Vasco, Sydney

BAR MANAGER OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Chivas Regal

A good manager can make or break a bar business. They navigate the delicate terrain between bar staff and owners, surround themselves with great staff, and lead from the front.

  • Trish Brew, Gin Palace, Melbourne
  • Toby Hilton, Swillhouse, Sydney
  • Sam Egerton, Merivale, Sydney
  • Ryan Lane, The Gresham, Brisbane
  • Kevin Peters, Garden State Hotel, Melbourne
  • Jack Sotti, Boilermaker House, Melbourne
  • Dre Walters, Kittyhawk, Sydney
  • Dimitri Rtshiladze, Mechanics Institute, Perth
  • Dave Marshall, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane
  • David Nguyen-Luu, The Barber Shop, Sydney

REGIONAL BAR OF THE YEAR

We know our industry is really going places when there are bars in regional areas that are rivalling the venues in major city hubs. This is for venues outside of the capital cities..

  • Coal & Cedar, Newcastle
  • Dulcie’s Cottage, Merimbula
  • Goldfish, Hunter Valley
  • Hooch & Fellow, Townsville
  • Lost Bills, Bunbury
  • Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa
  • Morries, Margaret River
  • Pocket Bar, Terrigal
  • Rhonda’s, Terrigal
  • Three Wolves, Cairns

BAR OPERATOR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Campari Australia

This category is a rundown of some of our industry’s most dedicated professionals. Here you will see a lot of Bartenders and managers turned owners. People who slogged it out, loved the trade and wanted to do it on their own. Nominees for this award can be individuals or companies.

  • Andrew Baturo, QLD
  • Andy Freeman, WA
  • Bread & Circuses, WA
  • Dave Kerr, VIC
  • Icebank Hospitality, NSW
  • Jared Merlino, NSW
  • Martin Lange, QLD
  • Michael Madrusan & Zara Young, VIC
  • Speakeasy Group, NSW/VIC
  • Swillhouse, NSW

PUB OPERATOR OF THE YEAR

This award recognises those publicans with a keen eye for running great pubs. Their staff offer brilliant service, their pubs feel like a home away from home, and they’ve always got their eye on the next big thing, keeping their venues relevant and fresh. Nominees for this award can be individuals or companies.

  • Dixon Hospitality
  • Elvis Abrahanowicz, Jake Smyth, Kenny Graham & Oscar McMahon
  • Good Beer Company
  • Maurice Terzini
  • Merivale
  • Milestone Hospitality
  • Urban Purveyor Group
  • Sand Hill Road
  • Solotel
  • The Sydney Collective

BEST SPECIALTY BEER VENUE

Proudly sponsored by Mismatch Brewing 

Our beer drinking ways have come a long way — now you can actually drink more than an icy lager at many of our fine establishments. From IPAs to strong ales, these venues stock it all.

  • Archive, Brisbane
  • Bitter Phew, Sydney
  • Boilermaker House, Melbourne
  • Carwyn Cellars, Melbourne
  • Cookie, Melbourne
  • Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney
  • Keg & Brew, Sydney
  • Petition Beer Corner, Perth
  • The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide
  • The Winston, Hobart

BAR TEAM OF THE YEAR

 

Proudly sponsored by The Exchange

A good bar crew is all about working hard till the last glass is washed and helping your fellow staff when they’re down. You can tell when a bar team wants to be at work and it rubs off on the customers — they want to be there too.

  • Big Poppa’s, Sydney
  • Black Pearl, Melbourne
  • Boilermaker House, Melbourne
  • Cobbler, Brisbane
  • Kittyhawk, Sydney
  • Mechanics Institute, Perth
  • Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, Sydney
  • Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney
  • The Baxter Inn, Sydney
  • The Gresham, Brisbane

COCKTAIL LIST OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin

To be nominated for Cocktail List of the Year, the list must be well presented, offering great drinks — all killer, no filler — and be a complete concept, speaking to the bar’s reason for being.

To be eligible for this award, the venue must supply a PDF of their cocktail list and a supporting statement describing the idea behind it.

  • Above Board, Melbourne
  • Black Pearl, Melbourne
  • Charlie Parker’s, Sydney
  • Eau de Vie, Melbourne
  • Kittyhawk, Sydney
  • Maybe Frank, Sydney
  • Maybe Mae, Adelaide
  • Mjølner, Sydney
  • PS40, Sydney
  • The Dominion League, Perth

WINE BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Unico Zelo

To be nominated for Wine Bar of the Year, the bar must have a great wine list filled with must-sip drops. Whether the list is broad and all-encompassing, or small and focused, these bars will have wines — and the expertise to back them up — that other venues just can’t match..

  • 121BC, Sydney
  • Bar Brose, Sydney
  • Bar Liberty, Melbourne
  • Bar Rochford, Canberra
  • Embla, Melbourne
  • Gerard’s Bar, Brisbane
  • Love Tilly Devine, Sydney
  • Monopole, Sydney
  • Petition Wine, Perth
  • Shadow Wine Bar, Perth

NEW PUB OF THE YEAR

The pub is that great institution of Australian drinking, but it’s not excluded from the changes to Australia’s drinking culture in recent years. The New Pub of the Year moves with the times, offering an fresh idea while keeping all the hallmarks of a great pub. They’re a place to meet, a place to eat, a place where many great moments in life take place. This is open to pubs that have opened or been substantially renovated in the year since June 1 2016.

  • East Village Sydney, Sydney
  • Garden State Hotel, Melbourne
  • Hope & Anchor, Brisbane
  • Potts Point Hotel, Sydney
  • Queens Hotel, Sydney
  • The Dolphin, Sydney
  • The Lady Hampshire, Sydney
  • The Paddington Inn, Sydney

BEST BAR FOOD

Is there a better place to eat than at the bar? The standard of bar food is better than ever, and this award seeks to recognise the best eats in the bar.

  • Bar Liberty, Melbourne
  • Bar Rochford, Canberra
  • Charlie Parker’s, Sydney
  • Continental Deli Bar Bistro, Sydney
  • Dead Ringer, Sydney
  • Long Chim, Perth
  • Restaurant Hubert, Sydney
  • Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters, Brisbane
  • The Beaufort, Melbourne
  • Varnish on King, Perth

BEST BARTENDERS’ BAR

Proudly sponsored by Jagermeister

Best Bartenders’ Bar really needs very little introduction. It is just that: a bar for bartenders. It’s the place where bartenders go when they knock off or have a night off. So they better have some good booze, cold beer and great chat.

  • Big Poppa’s, Sydney
  • Black Pearl, Melbourne
  • Brooklyn Standard, Brisbane
  • Burrow Bar, Sydney
  • Heartbreaker, Melbourne
  • Loch & Key, Melbourne
  • Mechanics Institute, Perth
  • Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, Sydney
  • Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney
  • The Gresham, Brisbane

LIVE MUSIC BAR OF THE YEAR

This award seeks to celebrate those bars where you can get a good drink, but with live music as a big focus of the bar. No soulless music hangars here — it’s got to be a place you’d just as happily go for a drink as for a gig.

  • Brooklyn Standard, Brisbane
  • Cherry Bar, Melbourne
  • Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney
  • Heya Bar, Brisbane
  • Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall
  • The Basement, Sydney
  • The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
  • Upstairs Beresford, Sydney

RESTAURANT BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Esprit de Figues

This award recognises those bars within restaurants that give you a reason to visit aside from the food.

  • Bennelong, Sydney
  • Big Poppa’s, Sydney
  • Dead Ringer, Sydney
  • Fred’s, Sydney
  • Long Chim, Perth
  • Lui Bar, Melbourne
  • Maybe Frank, Sydney
  • Mjølner, Sydney
  • Restaurant Hubert, Sydney
  • The APO, Brisbane

GIN BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Star of Bombay

To be eligible for this award, the bar must have a broad selection of gin, highlight gin cocktails where cocktails are listed, and employ staff who are knowledgeable on the category

  • Dutch Courage Officers Mess, Brisbane
  • Frisk Small Bar, Perth
  • Gin Palace, Melbourne
  • Hains & Co, Adelaide
  • Moya’s Juniper Lounge, Sydney
  • Society Salamanca, Hobart
  • Stillery, Sydney
  • The Barber Shop, Sydney
  • The Flour Factory, Perth
  • The Rook, Sydney

RUM BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by BACARDI

To be eligible for this award, the bar must have a broad selection of rum, highlight rum cocktails where cocktails are listed, and employ staff who are knowledgeable on the category. 

  • Hains & Co, Adelaide
  • Highball Express, Canberra
  • Hula Bula, Perth
  • Kittyhawk, Sydney
  • Rude Boy, Hobart
  • Rum Bar, Airlie Beach
  • Rum Diary Bar, Melbourne
  • Sneaky Tony’s, Perth
  • South Seas Cocktail Lounge, Hobart
  • The Lobo Plantation, Sydney

WHISKY BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by The Exchange

To be eligible for this award, the bar must have a broad selection of whisk(e)y, highlight whisk(e)y cocktails where cocktails are listed, and employ staff who are knowledgeable on the category. 

(Whether it is Scotch or American, Japanese or Australian, it doesn’t matter which style of whisky is the focus).

  • Boilermaker House, Melbourne
  • Cobbler, Brisbane
  • Society Salamanca, Hobart
  • The Baxter Inn, Sydney
  • The Dominion League, Perth
  • The Elysian Whisky Bar, Melbourne
  • The Gresham, Brisbane
  • Varnish on King, Perth
  • Whisky & Alement, Melbourne
  • Whisky Room at The Clock, Sydney

THE PHIL BAYLY AWARD FOR TEQUILA BAR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Olmeca Altos

To be eligible for this award, the bar must have a broad selection of tequila and/or mezcal and other agave distillates, highlight agave cocktails where cocktails are listed, and employ staff who are knowledgeable on the category.

  • Alquimia, Brisbane
  • Barrio Cellar, Sydney
  • Bodega Underground, Melbourne
  • El Grotto, Perth
  • Hot Tamale, Darwin
  • Los Hermanos, Melbourne
  • Mamasita, Melbourne
  • Mezcalito, Melbourne
  • Pancho Villa, Hobart
  • Tio’s Cerveceria, Sydney

BAR OF THE YEAR
– STATE AWARDS

These awards recognise those bars in each state that are the top of their game. Voting for each of these awards is optional.

  • ACT: Akiba, Highball Express, Hippo Co
  • NSW: Big Poppa’s, Earl’s Juke Joint, Kittyhawk, Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, Shady Pines Saloon, The Baxter Inn
  • NT: Chow, Lazy Susan’s, The Deck Bar
  • QLD: Brooklyn Standard, Canvas, Cobbler, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, The Gresham
  • SA: Hains & Co, Biggies at Bertram, NOLA, Pink Moon Saloon, Udaberri
  • TAS: IXL Long Bar, Robbie Brown’s Bar, Society Salamanca
  • VIC: Boilermaker House, Lily Blacks, Gin Palace, The Beaufort, Whisky & Alement
  • WA: Alfred’s, Bar Lafayette, Mechanics Institute, The Flour Factory, Varnish on King

COCKTAIL BAR OF THE YEAR – STATE AWARDS

These awards recognise those cocktail bars in each state that are the top of their game. Voting for each of these awards is optional.chat.

  • ACT: Bar Rochford, Black Market, Molly 
  • NSW: Bulletin Place, Charlie Parker’s, PS40, This Must Be The Place
  • NT: Chow, The Pearl
  • QLD: Canvas, Hooch & Fellow, Maker, Press Club, Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters
  • SA: Africola, Bibliotheca, Clever Little Tailor, Maybe Mae, Hains & Co
  • TAS: Robbie Brown’s, Society Salamanca, South Seas Cocktail Lounge
  • VIC: Above Board, Black Pearl, Eau de Vie, The Everleigh
  • WA: Bobeche, Choo Choo’s, The Dominion League

BRAND AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Australian Bartender

The role of the brand ambassador continues to grow; not only do these folks champion their own brands, but they play a valuable part in the education and development of Australian bar culture.

  • Andy Wren, Bacardi-Martini
  • Dan Woolley, The Exchange
  • Daniele Pirotta, Campari
  • Justin Strzadala, Monkey Shoulder
  • Karel ‘Papi’ Reyes, Monin
  • Michael Nouri, The Exchange
  • Mitch Wilson, Plantation Rum
  • Nick Miles, Sailor Jerry
  • Natalie Ng, Diageo World Class
  • Samuel Ng, Four Pillars Gin

TRAINING PROGRAM OF THE YEAR

Proudly sponsored by Australian Bartender

The role of spirits suppliers in providing great training has only increased in recent years. this award recognises those training programs that equip bartenders with the skills and the knowledge to further their careers.

  • Diageo Bar Academy, Diageo
  • Fine Drinks Movement, SouthTrade
  • The Exchange/The Blend, CCA & Beam Suntory