Last night, on a sunny spring evening, more than 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 culminated in this flagship event that has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the bar industry and which is now in its 17th year. Voted for by the bar industry, the 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 Espresso Martinis to Tropical Island Mules. 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 Highball Express in Canberra and Society Salamanca in Tassie getting a nod for their achievements. In addition, a very happy crew from Dulcie’s Cottage in Merimbula, was awarded the title of Regional Bar of the Year. This is yet another addition to the multi-award winning Swillhouse bar portfolio which includes Baxter Inn, Shady Pines et al.
This year saw the introduction of two new awards – one for Restaurant Bar of the Year and one for the Best Sustainable Bar Program. Recognising the massive push by the bar industry to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, this award recognises those bars with who incorporate sustainability as part of their standard operating procedure. Charlie Parker’s, Merivale’s new cocktail bar in Paddington won the award. Just to give you an example of their commitment to sustainability the bar sources their straws from Western Australia from EFGLO which break down after two weeks in a compost bin and their sodas are made with the recycled elements from their daily prep of citrus, then batched and pulled on tap.
Brisbane operator Jamie Webb had a great year, with his new venue Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters taking out the award for Bar Food of the Year while Caxton Street stalwart Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall to out the honour of 2017’s Best Live Music Venue. Another multi-award winning favourite from Brisbane – The Gresham – did not go home empty handed. They won the coveted Bar Team of the Year award.
It was also a good year for Melbourne bars. Boilermaker House took home the gong for Best Specialty Beer Venue, Bad Frankie won Small Bar of the Year and Embla won the Wine Bar of the Year award. While multi-award winning Black Pearl was awarded Cocktail Bar of the Year.
The folks from Perth were overjoyed when popular local, Dimitri Rshiladze from Mechanics Institute won Bar Manager of the Year.
Sydney venues made a big splash this year with the Unicorn Hotel in Paddington taking out Pub of the Year, PS40 winning Cocktail Bar of the Year, Eau de Vie winning Hotel Bar of the Year and Oxford Street favourite Big Poppa’s winning Best Bartenders’ Bar. Big Poppa’s co-owner Jared Merlino also took out the award for Bar Operator of the Year, recognising his hard work building his bar portfolio which also includes Kittyhawk and Rum Bar of the Year, The Lobo Plantation.
The Barber Shop in Sydney’s CBD also took out Gin Bar of the Year while its owner, Mike Enright, one of the most well-loved members of the bar industry, was recognised for his dedication to both the industry as a whole as well as his passion for the gin 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 grueling day of competition on Monday, 8 of the country’s top young 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 Dan Gregory from Canvas in Brisbane who is about to make a move to Tassie to look at opening a bar down there. 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 Jonathan Carr from Kittyhawk in Sydney and in 3rd place was Jimmy Irvine from Restaurant Hubert in Sydney.
So here they are, the full list of winners from the 2017 Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards:
Bartender Magazine Bartender of the Year Proudly sponsored by Bacardi & De Kuyper
3rd Place: Jimmy Irvine, Restaurant Hubert
2nd Place: Jonathan Carr, Kittyhawk
Winner: Dan Gregory, Canvas
Cocktail List of the Year Proudly sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin
Rookie of the Year Proudly sponsored by The Blend Cocktail Competition by Beam Suntory
Ella Rhodes, Cobbler, Brisbane
Best Live Music Bar Proudly sponsored by Jagermeister
Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane
Bar Operator of the Year Proudly sponsored by Campari
Small Bar of the Year
Bad Frankie, Melbourne
Wine Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Unico Zelo Wines
Outstanding Contribution Proudly sponsored by Bartender Magazine
New Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Southern Comfort
Above Board, Melbourne
Hotel Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin
Eau de Vie, Sydney
Cocktail Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Monin
Black Pearl, Melbourne
Whiskey Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by The Exchange
Whisky & Alement, Melbourne
Best Sustainable Bar Program Proudly sponsored by 42 Below
Charlie Parker’s, Sydney
Rum Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Bacardi Rum
The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
Bar Team of the Year Proudly sponsored by The Exchange
The Gresham, Brisbane
Bar Manager of the Year Proudly sponsored by Chivas
Dimitri Rtshiladze, Mechanics Institute, Perth
Nightclub of the Year Proudly sponsored by Bacardi & De Kuyper
The Emerson, Melbourne
Best Regional Bar Proudly sponsored by The Blend Cocktail Competition by Beam Suntory
Dulcie’s Cottage, Merimbula
Pub Operator of the Year Proudly sponsored by The Exchange
Best Bar Food Proudly sponsored by Southern Comfort
Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters, Brisbane
Training Program of the Year Proudly sponsored by Bartender Magazine
The Exchange/The Blend, CCA & Beam Suntory
Brand Ambassador of the Year Proudly sponsored by Bartender Magazine
Samuel Ng, Four Pillars Gin
Restaurant Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Esprit de Figues
Restaurant Hubert, Sydney
Best Specialty Beer Venue Proudly sponsored by Mismatched Brewing Co.
Boilermaker House, Melbourne
New Pub of the Year
The Dolphin, Sydney
The Phil Bayly Award for Tequila Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Altos Tequila
Tio’s Cerveceria, Sydney
Gin Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Star of Bombay
The Barber Shop, Sydney
Best Bartender’s Bar Proudly sponsored by Jagermeister
Big Poppa’s, Sydney
Pub of the Year Proudly sponsored by Think Spirits
The Unicorn, Sydney
Bar of the Year
The Baxter Inn, Sydney
Bar of the Year State Awards
ACT: Highball Express, Canberra
NSW: The Baxter Inn, Sydney
NT: Lazy Susan’s, Darwin
QLD: Cobbler, Brisbane
SA: Hains & Co., Adelaide
TAS: Society Salamanca, Hobart
VIC: The Beaufort, Melbourne
WA: Mechanics Institute, Perth
Cocktail Bar of the Year State Awards Proudly sponsored by Monin
ACT: Bar Rochford, Canberra
NSW: PS40, Sydney
NT: The Pearl, Darwin
QLD: Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters, Brisbane
SA: Maybe Mae, Adelaide
TAS: Robbie Brown’s, Hobart
VIC: Black Pearl, Melbourne
WA: The Dominion League, Perth