The 2018 Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) took place at Randwick Racecourse last Wednesday night, and once again it was an amazing night for the nearly 600 people in the room.

The night sees 54 awards presented, which are voted by the industry, for the industry and being recognised by their peers makes success extra special for many of the winners. You can see the full list of the 2018 ALIA winners here.

Within the 54 winners announced on the night are the 12 major award winners including Bar Group Operator of the Year, Bartender of the Year, New Product of the Year, Liquor Store of the Year, and both the On- and Off-Premise Supplier of the Year.

The first major award presented on the night was Bartender of the Year, which this year went to Natalie Ng, who told TheShout: “I’m humbled to win this award, especially when so many of my favourite bartenders were also nominated. Definitely a career highlight. A big thank you goes to all the people I worked for and beside behind the stick with, Christian Blair, Charlie Ainsbury, Phil Bayly, Krystal Hart, Nick Van Tiel are just a few that come to mind. I’ve learnt so much from them.”

She added: “I also want to quickly thank my business partner Justin for always being the voice of reason behind the scenes and for helping make Door Knock a reality. My team at Door Knock are the best and I thank them for being the heart and soul of the venue. To all the bartenders that welcomed me whilst I’ve sat at your bar on my lonesome, every tiny interaction has inspired me in one way shape or form. ”

This year saw the Speakeasy Group named as the Bar Group Operator of the Year and co-founder, Sven Almenning was delighted with the win.

“WOW! Winning Group Bar Operator of the Year is huge for us, and means a lot to Greg and I and to everyone on our team. We’re still a relatively small and boutique bar and restaurant group so a massive thanks to Intermedia and the industry at large and everyone who voted for us,” Almenning said.

“I particularly want to say thanks to all our managers and staff who work tirelessly to keep our guests happy and to maintain the high standards of service and product that we ask of everyone. Thus award really belongs to them.”

With ALIA voted by the industry and with the results audited by PKF, it means that the trends that are happening in the industry are always reflected in the award winners. This year saw an increase in the number of craft winners, reflecting an important trend in the industry.

This was also reflected in the naming of the On-Premise Supplier of the Year, which this year went to Vanguard Luxury Brands.

Owner and founder, James France was delighted with the win, the third time that Vanguard has picked up this award.

“The ALIAs are the industry’s most respected awards and to win this ALIA means an enormous amount to everyone at Vanguard. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for us, along with every Vanguard customer, supplier and staff member. We’re on a high; thank you everyone.”

This year’s Liquor Store of the Year went to the Bayfields Liquor Superstore at Dee Why and Wayne Bayfield was understandably delighted with the win.

“We were honoured to receive Liquor Store of the Year for Bayfield’s Liquor Superstore at the ALIA awards,” he told TheShout.

“To be recognised as an independent, family owned operator is extremely rewarding knowing that all the hard work that you put into the business is recognised and appreciated. To have that recognition in a forum of your peers from your industry also tells us that we must be doing something right.

“A big thanks must go to the masterminds behind the scenes who make the shop what it is. Andy Gerry, our off premise group GM, who leads the pack and literally puts his blood, sweat and tears into the business and is pretty much family.

“Chris Herringe, our store manager, who leads the team in the shop and provides the end product to the customer in terms of product and service. Melissa Jones, who does all our digital marketing for the shop which is becoming a more and more important aspect of our business. And of course, the rest of the team on the floor who stock the shop and serve the customers, without their hard work and fantastic attitudes, this award would not have been won.”

The 2018 Retail Group of the Year was named as Bottlemart, and the CEO of the Liquor Marketing Group, Gavin Saunders said: “Extremely proud to collect the award for best Retail Group on behalf of our Bottlemart and Sip’n Save members and the entire LMG team.

“The award tops off an incredible few years for LMG which has seen growth across all States and all major categories. The fact that the award is judged by the industry adds to the recognition for the efforts of the LMG team and our members who represent our brands on a daily basis.”

For the second year in a row Asahi Premium Beverages was named as the Off-Premise Supplier of the Year and General Manager – National Sales, Michael Ritoli was also delighted to have once again been recognised by industry peers.

“It was a great achievement to be recognised as Off Premise Supplier of the Year by our peers for the second year in a row and we are extremely proud and honoured. We have a great team at Asahi and without their dedication this recognition would not be possible,” he told TheShout.

“We would like to thank the team at Intermedia for putting on another spectacular event and congratulate everyone who was nominated for an award on the night.”

It was also a successful night for Lion who won New Product of the Year for Iron Jack and the Liquor Brand of the Year for Furphy Refreshing Ale.

Trade Relations Director, Doug May, said: “This is a marvellous result for Lion, and a credit to the teams who have put so much work into these brands over the last 12 months.”

This year’s ALIA had the Halloween theme and this brought a lot of colour and fun to the event, take a look at video and pictures from this year’s ALIA here.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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