The hotly anticipated Bartending Accolades and Recognition Awards are in their final phase, with the top-four (or five) nominees in each category being put to vote by their industry peers. Here they are!

COCKTAIL BAR OF THE YEAR 

The South African Cocktail Bar of the Year is bar that is cocktail focused. It is a bar which is 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 program which is seen to be pushing interesting or new cocktail techniques.

ELIGIBILITY

Any bar which has been operating for one calendar year
Has a cocktail program (size of the list is not important)
This is an independent bar which is not part of a chain of restaurants
This bar can be nominated for multiple awards e.g. Hotel Bar of the Year.

CRITERIA

Cocktail list (size, concept) 
Calibre of bartender/staff complement
Delivery of cocktails, overall experience
Consistency

NOTES

Quality beats quantity.

Finalists

Sin + Tax
Art of Duplicity
Cause | Effect
Lucky Shaker

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.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person who resides and works in South Africa, and applies thetrade of bartending in a bar of any type.

CRITERIA

Competitions entered
Competitions won
International exposure
Bartending ability/ technique
Knowledge and passion

NOTES

The Bartender of the Year can be anyone who has tendered bar during the 2019 calendar year. The number of years a bartender has been active in the industry is not as important as the impact they have made during the year.

Finalists

George Hunter
Jody Rahme
Owen O’Reilly
Julian Short

HIGH VOLUME COCKTAIL BAR OF THE YEAR

The South African High Volume Cocktail Bar is a bar which is not necessarily cocktail focused, however cocktails play an important role in the identity of the venue. It is a bar which is 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. They can be simple libations but have to be delivered expertly and with consistency.

ELIGIBILITY

Any bar which has been operating for 1 calendar year
Has a cocktail program (size of the list is not important)
This is a bar which can form part of a chain of restaurants or a single restaurant, but cannot form part of a hotel or chain of hotels
This bar can be nominated for multiple awards

CRITERIA

Quality of Cocktails (with speed and volume in mind)
Ability to deliver cocktails at high volumes
Consistent delivery

NOTES

Quality, then quantity, then complexity/design.

Finalists

House of Machines
Cause | Effect
Orphanage
Saint

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 who 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 license to work well together. This award speaks to the skills of the team as a whole, rather than any single individual.

ELIGIBILITY

Any bar or mobile bar can be nominated for the strength of their bar team, as a collective.

CRITERIA

Bar flow and atmosphere
Interaction with guests and each other
Social Media presence of the individuals in the team, totalled together
Representation and success in competitions
Delivery of drinks, skill displayed across bar team

NOTES

Focus on delivery of drinks rather than the actual drinks themselves.

Finalists

Vicious Virgin
Sin + Tax
Art of Duplicity
Cause | Effect

NEW COCKTAIL BAR OF THE YEAR

The South African New Cocktail Bar of the Year is a bar which is cocktail focused. It is a bar which, 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 drink 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 program which is seen to be pushing interesting or new techniques of the cocktail.

ELIGIBILITY

Any bar which has been operating for under 1 calendar year
This bar has to have opened doors for trading in 2019
Has a cocktail program (size of the list is not important)
This is a bar which is not part of a chain of restaurants
This bar is not eligible for Cocktail Bar of the Year

CRITERIA

Cocktail list (size, concept)
Calibre of bartender/staff complement
Delivery of cocktails, overall experience
Consistency

NOTES

This should be a bar which has been hotly anticipated. The quality of drinks should be remarkable from the outset, and could be seen as innovative or pushing boundaries.

Finalists

Vicious Virgin
Gigi Rooftop Bar
Smoking Kills Bar
I Love Dough

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 which would be 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.

ELIGIBILITY

Any company which has operated a temporary bar which is not a natural, long standing venue. Eligible nominees have operated a mobile bar in the previous calendar year. Mobile bars are companies which offer bartending experiences in the event space. These bars, are usually activated overnight on a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ system.

CRITERIA

Cocktail offering
Range/variety/style of bars or services
Calibre of bartender/staff compliment
Reliability
Consistency
Staff handling
Ability to react to onsite/sporadic challenges

NOTES

This category is reserved for bar operators who manage many different mobile setups, and therefore differs from Pop-Up Bar of the Year.

Finalists

Molecular Bars
Sip Exclusive
Thirst Bar Services
The Perfect Serve

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

The Newcomer of the Year award 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.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person who resides and works in South Africa, and applies the trade of bartending in a bar of any type.

NOTES

The Newcomer Bartender of the Year can be anyone who has tendered bar during the calendar year (2019). The Newcomer of the Year can also be nominated as the SA Bartender of the Year.

CRITERIA

Competitions entered
Competitions won
International exposure
Bartending ability/technique
Knowledge and passion
Time in industry

Finalists

Taneale Van Der Merwe
Ryan Ontong
Katlego Manyathi
Arty Java

BRAND AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR

The Brand Ambassador of the Year award is awarded to a brand builder who has performed an ambassadorial role to any brand that is 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.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person who resides and works in South Africa, and performs a role of brand builder to any local or international brand directly related to the hospitality industry.

CRITERIA

Relationships with venues
Relationship with bartenders
International acclaim
Prevalence of brand in trade
Activities run
Brand knowledge

NOTES
The Brand Ambassador of the Year has powerful relationships with both venues and tradespeople. Their brand/ brands should have seen an increase in traction, year on year, during the 2019 calendar year. Their involvement and support with trade events (whether sponsoring or just attending) should be considered.

Finalists

Jody Francis
Lauren Penny
Aidan Powrie
Marson Strydom

MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR OF THE YEAR

This category is designed to award 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, so nominate the person who regularly contributes and is dedicated to documenting and recording events and happenings of the trade, and who has a reach to market.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person who resides and works in South Africa, and has contributed in any way to the industry through any video, magazine, article or cast.

CRITERIA

Body of work
Contributions
Frequency of contributions
Event coverage
Attendance to industry events and happenings
Value of opinion

NOTES

This category is dedicated to someone who has a valued opinion about things in our industry. They are regular contributors and partakers in industry events and document them. Their opinion is respected and sought after.

Finalists

Leah van Deventer
Jan Laubscher
Anel Grobler
Surita Joubert

BRAND CAMPAIGN/EVENT OF THE YEAR

This award is designed to acknowledge any brand or natural 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), some sort of activity such as a presentation, road show or the like.

ELIGIBILITY

This award is open to any brand, which operates in the South African market.

CRITERIA

Can be on or off trade
It can be a once off, or a series of activities
Duration of campaign is not important
Consider the reach and impact
Sales can play a part

NOTES

This is not an advert, nor an advertising campaign. This is something tangible, that encourages or supports growth, passion or development of our industry and craft.

Finalists

World Class
Inverroche Pioneers
Bacardi Legacy
Patron Perfectionist

BARTENDERS BRAND OF CHOICE AWARD

The Bartenders Brand of Choice award is awarded to a brand that 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. Consider previous brand strength in previous years vs. brand strength and advocacy in current year (2019).

ELIGIBILITY

Any single brand that is available in the current SA market
Criteria
Sales
Activity
Cult status
Incremental brand advocacy

NOTES

The Bartenders Brand of Choice should be obvious. It is a firm favourite with which you can immediately identify. In any category there are brands you would be comfortable to swap out, but there is always one brand that you simply would not. That would be your brand of the year!

Finalists

Bacardi
Bulleit
Espolon
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 has created an international footprint through activity on social media. This person can live anywhere in the world, but must be a South African citizen.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person who is seen to be flying the flag for the South African bar industry at home, or abroad.

CRITERIA

Impact on industry
Reputation in global market
Wide reach of following
Size and strength of contact book
Nature of involvement in the industry (bar owner, bartender, brand champion)

NOTES

South Africa as a collective is making a noise in the global community, who’s barking the loudest?

Finalists

Julian Short
George Hunter
Kurt Schlechter
Bruce Dorfling
Caitlin Hill

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.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person who resides and works in South Africa, and applies their trade as a Bartender, brand champion, bar owner or the like in a hospitality or bar-related business of any type.

CRITERIA

Volume of shares, likes and posts
Size of following
Frequency of posts
Overall impression
Value generated through social platforms
Personal advocacy impression

NOTES

Social media has become a powerful communication channel for building brands. The recipient of this award will be an industry professional who has been able to generate hype with brand building as an end goal.

Finalists

Pete Lebese
Caitlin Hill
Jody Francis
Julian Short
Kresan Naidu

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 advanced the industry.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person, but must be a mentor in the bar, or hospitality Industry.

CRITERIA

People skills with knowledge and passion
Position in trade (bar owner, brand principle etc.)
Activeness in trade, accompanied by presence at events
Generosity of time, skill, knowledge
Activities of platforms created to impart knowledge, time and skill

NOTES

This is someone who has acquired a great deal of knowledge, skill and passion over a period of time. They are very generous and share this knowledge, skill and passion, they are available for just about anything and perhaps even create their own platforms for sharing. They are always supportive.

Finalists

Kurt Schlechter
Michael Stephenson
Casandra Eichhoff
Gareth Wainwright

POP UP BAR OF THE YEAR

The Pop-up Bar of the Year is awarded to the operators of temporary bars which 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 which is setup using portable elements which are temporary, as opposed to built-in elements which are permanent.

ELIGIBILITY

Any bar in South Africa which has been erected for a defined period using mobile elements.

CRITERIA

Cocktail list (size, concept)
Calibre of bartender/staff complement
Delivery of cocktails, overall experience
Consistency
Theme and concept
X factor

NOTES

Pop-up bars generally get away with doing things which are off beat and unique. The Pop-up Bar of the Year must have the X factor element which would be difficult or impossible for a permanent bar to achieve. The cocktails, and the delivery thereof must be exceptional, and not over committing to serious equipment or vessels can be forgiven in lieu of short operational time frames.

Finalists

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

TRAILBLAZER OF THE YEAR 

This category is awarded to any natural 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 ground breaking technique, preparation system or instituted idea that actively improves our community or industry as a whole. They need to be an individual who has moved the industry forward.

ELIGIBILITY

Any natural person who resides and works in South Africa, and applies their trade in our industry in any capacity.

CRITERIA

Ground breaking techniques are to be considered
Communication on new technique or ground breaking idea
Exposure and implementation thereof
Reaching impact, better influence

NOTES

This award is given to a natural person, who has used their skills, in whatever capacity, whether developing a single drink or the industry as whole, and has created something ground-breaking that has pushed our industry forward.

Finalists

George Hunter
Evert De Jong
Julian Short
Brent Perremore

LIQUOR STORE OF THE YEAR

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

ELIGIBILITY

Any liquor store, physical or virtual

CRITERIA

Unique offering
Special customer services
Client relations
Range of liquor available
Speed of delivery
Use of in-store promotions

ELIGIBILITY

Any liquor store, physical or virtual.

Finalists

Bar Keeper
Norman Goodfellows
Liquor City Claremont
Woodstock Liquors

MAIN MARKET/LOCAL BAR OF THE YEAR

This award is designed to reward any bar, shebeen or tavern. The operation of the entity 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 which transcends the geographical boundaries in which it operates. This entity does not have to serve cocktails.

ELIGIBILITY

This entity must have been trading for at least one year
This entity should trade under the shebeen or tavern descriptor
This entity could be nominated for multiple awards, such as Bar Team of The Year or Cocktail Bar of the Year

CRITERIA

Has to be an on-consumption venue
Sales and experiences are highly important factors to this category
Notoriety and reputation is of high importance
Ability to attract consumers from formal market should be considered
Impact on community can be considered

NOTES

This is a new category for the awards. This category should highlight the big wins that bars, taverns and shebeens are having in our industry.

Finalists

Rands
Kwa Ace
Smoking Kills Bar
The Shack

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.

ELIGIBILITY

Only bars which form part of a hotel chain or single hotel are eligible.

CRITERIA

The stars of the hotel are not important. The drinking experience should be five stars and the drinks list should have an international feel.

NOTES

The quality of the cocktails is paramount; the delivery in terms of setting and overall experience should be on par.

Finalists

Gigi at Gorgeous George
Tobago’s at The Radisson Blue Waterfront
Bascule Bar at Cape Grace
Vista Bar at The One & Only

The BAR Awards will be held at the Maslow Hotel in Joburg on 23 March 2020. Good luck to the finalists!