Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) have announced the Top 10 nominees for the 2020 Spirited Awards. 

Australia is represented well throughout the nominees, making a mark on seven of the international categories. The news comes after Australian venues also shined in the regional Top 10s, which were announced last month. 

The awards were founded in 2007 and now celebrate beverage professionals, products and establishments across the global spirits and cocktail community, aiming to recognise the contributions of each aspect of the industry. This year the final awards will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

TOTCF European Co-Chair, Claire Warner, said: “In light of everything that is happening today, it would be easy to question whether we need the Spirited Awards. We are living through uncertain and unprecedented times. Right now, are awards really necessary?”

“But, to answer whether they are necessary, would be to ignore the fact that this year saw the highest number of nominations we’ve ever received. Greater geographical, cultural and gender diversity than ever before. More celebration of creativity, tenacity and community than ever before. More recognition of the passion, devotion and energy that our industry calls for, than ever before.”

Considering this high calibre of entries across the world, for Australia to still feature prominently in the mix is testament to the great things our local industry is accomplishing. 

Among the categories where Australia was recognised was Best International Restaurant Bar, where Sydney venues Continental Deli Bar Bistro and Restaurant Hubert were both nominated. Along with Restaurant Hubert, Swillhouse Group also had a nomination with The Baxter Inn under the Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar.

Swillhouse’s Anton Forte told TheShout it was an honour to be nominated, a testament to the hard work of their team.

“We’re stoked. Bummed to be closed right now, but amped that we’ve been recognised. We’re all looking forward to reopening,” Forte said.

In Melbourne Made in the Shade’s Bar Margaux has been nominated for Best New International Cocktail Bar with owners Zara and Michael Madrusan telling TheShout they were thrilled when they heard the news.

“Obviously awards and accolades are not what drive us to be who we are and do what we do,” the pair said.

“That said, we are so incredibly proud of what Margaux has become in her first year, and the team and community that brought her to life. This sort of international recognition is a comforting reminder that our hard work, and the absolute passion and dedication of our team does not go unnoticed. We are over the moon to be able to share this wonderful news with our crew, particularly amidst the doom and gloom of current circumstances. We look forward to raising a glass in that beautiful basement together in the not so distant future.”

Two Australian venues congratulated their bartenders for making the International Bartender of the Year list – with Maybe Sammy’s Andrea Gualdi and Byrdi’s Luke Whearty nominated. 

Whearty, who co-owns Byrdi with Aki Nishikura told The Shout: “It is definitely very humbling to be nominated and feel especially grateful to be mentioned by our peers for such awards when most places are just trying to survive.”

“Honesty can’t wait until we can just open our doors once again and just simply looking forward to welcoming people into our home at Byrdi.”

Nishikura added: “These nominations are a testament to our team who we are extremely proud of. Congrats to all the other nominees also but I think everyone will just be happy when we can all open our doors again and continue to do what we all love!”

Meanwhile, Maybe Sammy, who were also nominated for Best International Cocktail Bar and Best International Bar Team, took to Facebook to celebrate, and said: “It’s important, perhaps more now than ever, to support each other as a global community and recognise our accomplishments for doing something we all love!⁣⁣⁣”

These sentiments are echoed by TOTCF President, Caroline Rosen, who said: “It is paramount that we keep our community intact in whatever ways we can right now.”

“The hospitality industry has been decimated throughout this pandemic, but we are a strong, resilient group. The ability to honor our peers is of the utmost importance and we’re so proud of this year’s class of nominees.”

The full list of Australia’s nominees is below.

Best International Bar Team:

Maybe Sammy, Sydney

International Bartender of the Year:

  • Andrea Gualdi, Maybe Sammy, Sydney
  • Luke Whearty, Byrdi, Melbourne

Best International Brand Ambassador:

Martin Hudak, Mr Black

Best International Cocktail Bar:

Maybe Sammy, Sydney

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar:

The Baxter Inn, Sydney

Best International Restaurant Bar:

  • Continental Deli Bar Bistro, Sydney 
  • Restaurant Hubert, Sydney

Best New International Cocktail Bar:

  • Bar Margaux, Melbourne
  • Byrdi, Melbourne

World’s Best Spirits Selection:

Cantina OK!, Sydney

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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