The annual SA BAR Awards took place virtually on 21 September, where the country’s mixologists and bars were recognised and awarded for their exceptional work to advance the industry locally. Let’s see who the winners are for this year!

The annual SA BAR Awards took place virtually on 21 September, where the country’s mixologists and bars were recognised and awarded for their exceptional work to advance the industry locally. Let’s see who the winners are for this year!

Cocktail Bar of the Year

The South African Cocktail Bar of the Year is one known for its cocktails, either by way of preparation, design or concept and/or delivery. It may have a selection of any kind of drinks offering, but cocktails are the most prevalent. It is not pertinent if cocktail sales outsell other drinks categories, although this can be a consideration. It is more pertinent to have a cocktail programme that is seen to be pushing interesting or new cocktail techniques.

Finalists
Sin + Tax in Johannesburg
Art of Duplicity in Cape Town
Cause | Effect in Cape Town
Lucky Shaker in Durban

Winner: Art of Duplicity in Cape Town

Bartender of the Year

The Bartender of the Year has contributed above and beyond all other bartenders, to the art of bartending, during the past calendar year. They have demonstrated skill in all factors of bartending while displaying a passion for the craft and pushed the boundaries of our industry, both geographically and conceptually.

Finalists
George Hunter
Jody Rahme
Owen O’Reilly
Julian Short

Winner: George Hunter

High Volume Cocktail Bar of the Year

The South African High Volume Cocktail Bar is a bar that is not necessarily cocktail focused; however, cocktails play an important role in the identity of the venue. It’s a bar known for its cocktails in accordance with how well cocktails are delivered at high volumes. Quality of cocktails is important, but the design and concept of the drinks don’t need to be groundbreaking. They can be simple libations but have to be delivered expertly and with consistency.

Finalist
House of Machines in Cape Town
Cause | Effect in Cape Town
Orphanage in Cape Town
Saint in Johannesburg

Winner: House of Machines

Bar Team of the Year 

Great bars are manned by great bartenders. The more great bartenders you have to hold down the bar, the better. This category rewards bars that have cultivated the best bar culture or way of working. Through the culture they have created, they will have developed a great atmosphere in their bars where bartenders have licence to work well together. This award speaks to the skills of the team as a whole, rather than any single individual.

Finalists
Vicious Virgin in Cape Town
Sin + Tax in Johannesburg
Art of Duplicity in Cape Town
Cause | Effect in Cape Town

Winner: Vicious Virgin

New Cocktail Bar of the Year

The South African New Cocktail Bar of the Year is a bar that is cocktail-focused. It’s a bar that – from the inception or over a short period of time – has gained notoriety for its cocktails, either by way of preparation, design or concept and/or delivery. It may have a selection of any kind of drinks offering. Cocktail sales are yet to be established and therefore shouldn’t be a point of major consideration. It is more pertinent to have a cocktail programme that is seen to be pushing interesting or new cocktail techniques.

Finalists
Vicious Virgin in Cape Town
Gigi Rooftop Bar in Cape Town
Smoking Kills Bar in Johannesburg
I Love Dough in Cape Town

Winner: Vicious Virgin

Mobile Bar Operator of the Year 

This category is reserved for operators of mobile bars within the events industry. These bars are non-permanent bars that are in operation for the duration of an event or series of events. The ability to deliver the best cocktails in a mobile setting is a major point, but not the only thing to consider when casting nominations. Mobile bar operators should be reliable and have the ability to react to challenges that arise as a result of having many moving parts to coordinate during events.

Finalists
Molecular Bars
Sip Exclusive
Thirst Bar Services
The Perfect Serve

Winner: Molecular Bars

Newcomer of the Year

Newcomer of the Year is awarded to a bartender who has made a noticeable and considerable contribution to the art of bartending during the calendar year, while only being involved in the industry for a short period of time.

Finalists
Taneale Van Der Merwe
Ryan Ontong
Katlego Manyathi
Arty Java

Winner: Taneale Van Der Merwe

Taneale Van Der Merwe

Brand Ambassador of the Year

The Brand Ambassador of the Year is a brand builder who has performed an ambassadorial role to any brand directly linked to the hospitality industry. A brand ambassador should be loyal to their brand and should be nominated because of their brand-building efforts made in the trade; their relationships with venues and with bartenders.

Finalists
Jody Francis
Lauren Penny
Aidan Powrie
Marson Strydom

Winner: Jody Francis

Media Contributor of the Year 

This category is designed to award to a person (bartenders included) who has contributed to the industry through the medium of pen, reel or cast. Social media platforms are not considered for this category – this is for someone who regularly contributes and is dedicated to documenting and recording events and happenings of the trade, and who has a reach to market.

Finalists
Leah van Deventer
Jan Laubscher
Anel Grobler
Surita Joubert

Winner: Leah van Deventer

Leah van Deventer

Brand Campaign/Event of the Year 

This award is designed to acknowledge any brand or person for their role in designing and implementing a campaign during the 2019 calendar year. It can be a competition, pop-up bar, any promotion (national or localised) or some sort of activity such as a presentation, road show or the like.

Finalists
World Class
Inverroche Pioneers
Bacardi Legacy
Patron Perfectionist

Winner: Inverroche Pioneers

Bartenders Brand of Choice

The Bartenders Brand of Choice has already achieved cult status or is on its way there. It can be a new market product or an established one, but most importantly it should be a brand that has gained more popularity during the 2019 calendar year than other brands. Brand strength in previous years vs. brand strength and advocacy in current year (2019) is considered.

Finalists
Bacardi
Bulleit
Espolon
Inverroche

Winner: Inverroche

International Footprint Award 

This award is dedicated to any individual who has propounded the SA bar industry in the international community more than any other SA representative. This individual has gained a rapport in the global industry either by travelling to a number of countries or by creating an international footprint through activity on social media. This person can live anywhere in the world, but must be a South African citizen.

Finalists
Julian Short
George Hunter
Kurt Schlechter
Bruce Dorfling
Caitlin Hill

Winner: George Hunter

Social Media Contributor Award 

This category is designed to award the industry professional who has created value for a brand/venue/event through their social media platforms. They have created a solid social media platform for themselves as a brand derived from their volume of activity through shares, likes and posts.

Finalists
Pete Lebese
Caitlin Hill
Jody Francis
Julian Short
Kresan Naidu

Winner: Pete Lebese

Pete Lebese

Mentor of the Year

Every bartender has a mentor. This category makes special mention of the person in the trade who has offered their time, knowledge and passion to help and develop the skills of others – and by so doing, has advanced the industry.

Finalists
Kurt Schlechter
Michael Stephenson
Cassandra Eichhoff
Gareth Wainwright

Winner: Cassandra Eichhoff

Pop-up Bar of the Year

The Pop-up Bar of the Year is awarded to the operators of temporary bars that are designed to operate for a limited time only. The time which the pop-up is in operation can be for just one night, or every night for a fixed time period. These bars can be cash bars or open bars and the experiences can be independently driven or brand sponsored. A pop-up bar is traditionally a space set up using portable elements that are temporary, as opposed to built-in elements that are permanent.

Finalists
Glenfiddich Challengers Club
Craigellachie at Athletic Club & Social
Hendricks Peculiar Picnic
Rum Tum Tum

Winner: Craigellachie at Athletic Club & Social

Trailblazer of the Year 

This category is awarded to any person who, in the 2019 calendar year, has shown exceptional and/or noteworthy gains within the industry. These gains can be by way of any new or groundbreaking technique, preparation system or instituted idea that actively improves the community or industry as a whole. They need to be an individual who has moved the industry forward.

Finalists
George Hunter
Evert De Jong
Julian Short
Brent Perremore

Winner: Brent Perremore

Liquor Store of the Year 

This category is awarded to any bottle store – a physical store, a virtual store or a redistributor. Nominees must have shown exceptional and/or noteworthy service to the hospitality industry during the 2019 calendar year. The bottle store must form part of the off-consumption space. These can be independent bottle stores, a chain or a particular bottle store within a chain. This isn’t based on volume alone – you should also consider the value added through customer service or a unique offering.

Finalists
Bar Keeper
Norman Goodfellows
Liquor City Claremont
Woodstock Liquors

Winner: Norman Goodfellows

Main Market/Local Bar of the Year 

This award is designed to reward any bar, shebeen or tavern, the operation of which must fall outside of what is considered the formal on-trade environment. Quality is important. but mass sales and experiences are even more important. This entity must have a ‘folklore’-like reputation that transcends the geographical boundaries in which it operates. This entity does not have to serve cocktails.

Finalists
Rands in Cape Town
Kwa Ace in Cape Town
Smoking Kills Bar in Johannesburg
The Shack in Cape Town

Winner: Smoking Kills Bar

Hotel Bar of the Year

The South African Hotel Bar of the Year is a bar that is cocktail focused. Volumes of dispensed cocktails are not the most telling aspect of this bar. The ability to follow global trends is a heavy consideration. Drinking experience plays an important role. The setting and ability to deliver cocktails in a manner associated with a five-star hotel is important, but the rating of the hotel is not.

Finalists
Gigi at Gorgeous George in Cape Town
Tobago’s at The Radisson Blu Waterfront
Bascule Bar at Cape Grace in Cape Town
Vista Bar at The One & Only in Cape Town

Winner: Gigi at Gorgeous George

This post first appeared on Food24 on 22 September 2020