Aussies make it to the 10th Annual Spirited Awards

By Stefanie Collins, editor b&c

Some of Australia’s best bars have once again been recognised for their impact on the world stage as they were named in the top ten finalists in the 10th Annual Spirited Awards.

Created in 2007, The Spirited Awards recognise the year’s best bars, bartenders, writers, and experts in the global bar industry. Following a “rigorous evaluation” of over 1500 unique nominees, the top ten for each award category were announced last night. 

The Australians that will be facing off against the best in the world include Charles Ainsbury, for International Bartender of the Year; and Jason Crawley, Global Best Bar Mentor; while the bar teams at The Baxter Inn and Black Pearl received nods in the Best International Bar Team category.

On the bar front, Bulletin Place is up for Best International Cocktail Bar while that team’s second venue Dead Ringer is up for Best New International Cocktail Bar; Eau De Vie (Melbourne) and The Lobo Plantation are nominated for Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar.

In the global award section, The Baxter Inn picked up a second nomination for World’s Best Spirits Selection. 

On Monday, June 20, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Time), these nominees will find out if they have made it to the final four, with the announcement broadcast in real time from Los Angeles via Facebook Live on the Tales of the Cocktail Facebook Page. Each finalist will then be invited to attend the award ceremony in New Orleans. 

Recognition in these awards is a huge achievement and emphasises Australia’s place on the global bar industry stage. 

“These nominees are just a snapshot of the talent and creativity that is in our industry today. In order to truly capture what is going on in the global cocktail movement, our short lists would need to be doubled.” says Simon Ford, Spirited Awards Chairman® and host. “These awards recognize the people and places that captured the imagination of the 110 judges, but please also remember these awards are celebrating the industry we all love and the resurgence of the cocktail movement.”

The 25 award winners will be announced at the Spirited Awards in New Orleans on Saturday, July 23, 2016 as a part of the 14th Annual Tales of the Cocktail. 

This year will also see a celebration of the life of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Inductee, Sasha Petraske, as well as other industry pioneers that have been lost this year.

2016 Young Guns of Wine finalists announced

The 12 finalists have been announced for the 2016 Young Guns of Wine Awards, in recognising Australia’s best young winemakers.

Nick Stock, Rory Kent, Philip Rich, Josh Elias, Mike Bennie, Pip Anderson and Adrian Rodda gathered at Circa in April for the final round of judging to find Australia’s best young winemaker.

Chief judge Nick Stock noted on the evolution of the competition, “Just as the leading edge of Australian wine continues to evolve fast in all directions, we’ve expanded and refreshed the judging panel to draw on broad experience and varying backgrounds and we welcomed a record number of entries this year.

“Judging this award has always been as challenging as it is thrilling and this year, our tenth anniversary, was the toughest and most rewarding ever. It was incredibly competitive to make the final round of 12.”

The confirmed finalists for 2016 are:

Brendon Keys, BK Wines (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Chris Tyrrell, Tyrrell’s (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Gilli & Paul Lipscombe, Sailor Seeks Horse / Home Hill (Tasmania)
Jasper Button, Commune of Buttons (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Joanna Marsh, Billy Button Wines (Alpine Valleys, VIC)
Josephine Perry, Dormilona (Margaret River, WA)
Marty Singh, Precipice (Yarra Valley, VIC)
Michael Downer, Murdoch Hill (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Richard Evans, Two Tonne Tasmania (Tasmania)
Simon Killeen, Simao & Co (Rutherglen, VIC)
Tessa Brown & Jeremy Schmolzer, Vignerons Schmolzer and Brown (Beechworth, VIC)
Yoko & Andries Mostert, Brave New Wine (Great Southern, WA)

Competition founder Rory Kent pointed out some of the key numbers: “2016 was our biggest field of ‘shortlisted’ winemakers to date. After the judges’ nominations round, we tasted around 100 wines from 50 invited winemakers to find the top 12. Amongst these there are eight first-time finalists and each of the five major wine states are represented.”

New panelist Mike Bennie described the uniqueness of the competition: “As a first timer on the inner sanctum of Young Guns of Wine, I was struck by its open weave nature of discourse that draws on everything from zeitgeist of Australian wine culture through to reverence of historical context for wine, and looks to an appreciation of experimentation yet at the same time embraces an understanding of ‘fine wine culture’.

“Diversity of entrants is striking; to be making exquisite wine yet have the weight of generational family responsibility on one’s shoulders, including winemaking duties, business acumen, vineyard understanding, and touchstones of marketing/sales, as say Chris Tyrrell of Tyrrell’s does, through to the graffiti-esque thrill of avant-garde approach from Andries Mostert of Brave New Wines, or Jo Perry of Dormilona, says something about relevance and currency of this excellent wine competition.”

Trophies are the “Wine Australia Best New Act”, “Ocean Eight Winemaker’s Choice”, “People’s Choice” and the “Riedel Young Gun of Wine”. Winners will be announced on July 1 following a presentation at the POW Kitchen and Bandroom.

Public events with all the finalists coming to Sydney (June 25) and Melbourne (June 30).

Photos by James Morgan for Alquimie Edition 7 out in June 2016.