BAR Awards winners

The BAR (Bartending Accolades & Recognition) Awards have steadily been gaining traction since its humble beginnings four years ago. 

From a casual gathering of drink slingers, the event is now a formal, national affair where the crème de la crème of the drinks industry – from brand ambassadors to drinks media – don tuxes and shimmery frocks and celebrate their own.  Here are this year’s finalists and winners, as voted by their peers. Spoiler alert: yours truly features!

Best New Cocktail Bar 

Awarded to a bar that’s gained notoriety for its cocktails, either by way of preparation, design, concept or delivery.

Winner

Art of Duplicity

Finalists

Lucky Shaker (Ballito)
Mix Bar (Joburg)
The Little Fox Cocktail Bar (Joburg)

Cocktail Bar of the Year

Awarded to a bar that has a long history of being known for its cocktail menu, cocktails, staff compliment and overall experience. 

Winner

Cause | Effect (Cape Town)

Finalists

Art of Duplicity (Cape Town)
Mootee (Joburg)
Sin+Tax (Joburg)

High-Volume Cocktail Bar of the Year

Awarded to 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 ground breaking.

Winner

The House of Machines (Cape Town)

Finalists

Cause | Effect (Cape Town)
Lucky Shaker (Umhlanga)
Orphanage Cocktail Emporium

Hotel Bar of the Year

Awarded to the hotel bar with the ability to stay on global trends, taking into account the drinking experience with the setting and ability to deliver cocktails with a five-star backing.

Winner

Bascule Bar at Cape Grace (Cape Town)

Finalists

Tobago’s Bar & Terrace at Radisson (Cape Town)
Blu Vista Bar at The One & Only (Cape Town)
Willaston Bar at The Silo (Cape Town)

Best Pop-up Bar of the Year

Awarded to a non-permanent bar that’s operational for a set duration, delivering the best cocktails and the perfect drink experience at their pop-up locations. These spaces are fun filled, evoking emotion and the fear of missing out. The winner was the must-see place of 2018.

Winner

The Polynesian Pearl Diver (Cape Town)

Finalists

Little Havana (Durban)
Mootee Shebeen (Joburg)
Rum Tum Tum (Cape Town)

Best Mobile-bar Operator

Awarded to a mobile bar within the events industry that has been in operation for the duration of an event or series of events. It has the ability to deliver the best cocktails in a mobile setting, be reliable and to react to challenges.

Winner

Molecular Bars

Finalists

SIP Exclusive
The Perfect Serve
Thirst Bar Services

Best Bar Team

Awarded to the bar that has cultivated the best bar culture or way of working. This award speaks to the skills of the team as a whole rather than any individual.

Winner

Cause | Effect

Finalists

Lucky Shaker 
Sin+Tax 
The House of Machines

Newcomer of the Year

Awarded to the bartender who has contributed the most to the art of bartending during the calendar year while only being involved in the industry for a short period of time.

Winners

Alecs Besier and Nkuli Khanyile

Finalists

Cameron-Leigh Henning
Misha Chinnah

Bartender of the Year

Awarded to a bartender who has contributed the most to the art of bartending during the calendar year. It’s someone who’s demonstrated skill in any factor of bartending while displaying a passion for the craft and pushing the boundaries, both geographically and conceptually.

Winner

Travis Kuhn (The Perfect Serve)

Finalists

Bruce Dorfling (Lucky Shaker)
Julian Short (Sin+Tax)
Rudi de Vos (The House of Machines)

Brand Ambassador of the Year

Awarded to a brand builder who has performed an ambassadorial role to any brand that’s directly linked to the hospitality industry. They should be loyal to their brand, and should be nominated for this category because of their brand building efforts made in the trade, which may include their relationship with venues and bartenders.

Winners

Caitlin Hill (Rémy Cointreau) and Jody Francis (Inverroche)

Finalists

Kresan Naidu (Pernod Ricard)
Marson Strydom (RGBC)

Mentor Award

Highlights special mention to persons in the trade who have offered their time, knowledge or passion for the industry to help and develop the skills of others.

Winner

Cassandra Eichhoff

Finalists

Gareth Wainwright
Kurt Schlechter
Michael Stephenson
Travis Kuhn

Bartenders’ Brand of the Year

Awarded to a brand that has already achieved cult status or is on its way there. It can be a new product or an established one but most importantly it’s a brand that has gained more popularity during the 2018 calendar year than other brands.

Winner

Bulleit Bourbon

Finalists

Bacardi Rum
Espolon Tequila
Havana Club Rum

International Footprint Award

Dedicated to an individual who has promoted the SA bar industry in the international community more than any other SA representative. This individual has gained a reputation in the global industry either by travelling to a number of countries, or has created an international footprint through activity on social media.

Winners

Sumaiyah Connolly and Travis Kuhn

Finalists

Bruce Dorfling
Kurt Schlechter 

Best Brand Campaign

Awarded to any brand or natural person for the role they played in designing and implementing a campaign during the calendar year 2018. It can be a competition, pop-up bar, promotion (national or local) or some sort of activity such as a presentation, road show or the like.

Winner

Diageo World Class

Finalists

Olmeca Tequila’s Tahona Society
The Botanist’s Forager Series
Woodford Reserve’s Woodford Bourbon Trail

Media Contributor of the Year

Designed to award a person (bartenders included) who has contributed to the industry through the medium of pen, reel or cast.

Winner

Leah van Deventer

Finalists

Anel Grobler
Bernard Gutman
Jan Laubscher

Social Media Award

Awarded to a bartender who’s created value for a brand/venue/event through their social media platforms. This is a person who has created a solid social-media platform for themselves as brand derived from their volume of activity through shares, Likes and posts.

Winner

Peter Lebese

Finalists

Caitlin Hill
Julian Short
Rudi de Vos 

This post first appeared on Food24 on 26 March 2019.