The past eighteen months have been unforgiving for the hospitality industry, especially the first months of the pandemic, when closures have forced bars and other “non-essential businesses” to close. The bars are not essential? Tell that to the countless workers whose water points have not reopened for months, if at all, or to the millions of customers who needed a drink more than ever last year.
But for Cocktail tales, the 19-year-old New Orleans-based foundation dedicated to celebrating and supporting the industry, 202o has been a year filled with inspiring stories of persistence and entrepreneurial creativity.
So when is the time to organize the annual event? Spirited price—Founded in 2007 to honor the best bars, bartenders, brands and spirits-focused journalism — the Tales asked who and what exactly it should be celebrating last year. (Full disclosure: Forbes is the Official Media Partner of the Spirited Awards.)
“Thinking back to 2020, we realized that there really is no way to reward bars or bartenders on an equal basis,” said Eileen Wayner, new CEO of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. . “Bars were closed and many bartenders and staff were unemployed for long periods. And overall, the restrictions for bars varied widely. “
More: Tales of the Cocktail Launches Interactive Map of the World’s Best Bars
This summer, the foundation built an interactive map of the world’s best bars to celebrate the hundreds of past award winners and nominees, but no top bar was named for 2021. “Instead, Tales management decided that it would be much more appropriate for the industry to reflect on the past year, focus on recovery and find a way forward, ”Wayner said. “For the bars that were able to stay open and navigate closures and capacity restrictions, mask and vaccination warrants, we take our hat off. And we raise our glasses to the staff who work tirelessly to provide hospitality in the most difficult circumstances. “
As Charlotte Voisey, president of the Spirited Awards 2021, explained during tonight’s ceremony from New Orleans: “The committee has come to a consensus on the right way to pay tribute to this past year. We introduced five themes: community, digital experience, beverage culture, industry advocacy, and innovative hubs. We believe these things represent the resilience of our community all over the world and hope these examples may offer some advice for bars and bartenders still facing challenges. “
In addition to the editorial and media awards, the committee presented several special accolades, including the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award (to Mixellany Limited founders Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown), the Timeless US and International Awards for classic bars (Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco and Dukes Bar in London) and the Pioneer Award (to Bacardi LGBTQ + Ambassador Chris Cabrera). There were also two new inductees to the Dame Hall of Fame: Lauren Paylor, head of R&D production at Silver Lyan, and Sandrae Lawrence, founder and editor-in-chief of The Cocktail lovers magazine.
While the Spirited Awards have always recognized distinguished media coverage of the hospitality industry, this year’s focus was different. In addition to the usual mix of reviews and bartender profiles, much of the 2020 coverage touched on tough topics the foundation tried to shine a light on, including race relations in the hospitality industry, lack of representation of women and LGBTQ + people and under-compensation or untenable working conditions.
For example, Wayne curtis, recipient of this year’s Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing award, wrote “The myth of the peaceful plantation»For the Daily Beast’s Half Full, recounting the whitewashing of the word planting despite its obvious links to slavery. Curtis argues that this callous word should be removed from the hospitality world, even if that means Plantation Rum will have to rebrand itself.
And Plantation got the message, “Changing our name is our top priority and has probably been the most difficult exercise we’ve experienced so far. We are a relatively small family business with no brand or legal department and we do our best to work around the clock as we learn a myriad of complex legal and production details, ”says Alexandre Gabriel, Plantation Founder and Master Blender. . “We are committed to doing the right thing and we want to do it right, once and for all, for many decades to come. We ask our supporters and friends for patience as we make this momentous decision. “
During this time, Noah Rothbaum, half-full editor of the Daily Beast and the author and historian of the cocktail David Wondrich produced a number of provocative episodes on their podcast, Life behind bars including a special mini-series called ‘What I’ve Learned’, which examined the many pandemic-related issues facing the hospitality industry over the past year.
Rothbaum and Wondrich chatted with industry veterans such as Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, Masa Urushido of Katana Kitten, and Ryan Fitzgerald of ABV about solutions to some of the existential crises their businesses faced in 2020. Their conversations spilled over to them. addressed a large number of relevant, albeit uncomfortable, realities: “Fostering diversity in the beer and spirits world, “The fight to get people to wear face masks in bars” and “Staffing during a pandemic. “
In the books category, Ivy Mix, founder of the Brooklyn bar, winner of the Spirited Award Leyenda, and co-author James Carpenter won the award for best new book on the culture, history or spirits of beverages for Spirits from Latin America: a celebration of culture and cocktails. The beautifully illustrated tome provides important historical information on the many spirits in this part of the world, while also educating readers on how to use them in cocktails.
In the Special prices category, Dukes Bar in London (led by the famous Alexandre palazzi) won the coveted Timeless International Award. The St. James’ bar, which has long been a Martini temple – James Bond author Ian Fleming was a regular – and has served exceptional hospitality for over a century.
“Every time you come to London, you have to go to Dukes,” said Agostino Perrone, master mixologist at the Spirited Award-winning Connaught Bar in London, praising the competition. “You have the bartender in front of you with the white jacket, the smart personality. They make your day the happiest day of your life.
See the full list of 15th Annual Sprited Awards winners below.
TALES OF THE COCKTAIL SPIRITED AWARDS 2021
WRITING AND MEDIA WINNERS
Best Publication of Cocktails and Spirits: Soak the magazine
Best Online Broadcast, Podcast or Video Series: Life Behind Bars with Noah Rothbaum and David Wondrich
Best drafting of cocktails and spirits: “The Myth of the Peaceful Plantation” by Wayne Curtis, Half Full (The Daily Beast)
Best New Cocktail or Bartender Book: Drinking French: cocktails, aperitifs and coffee traditions that are emblematic of France, with 160 recipes by David Lebovitz (Ten Speed Press)
Best New Book on Beverage Culture, History, or Spirits: Spirits from Latin America by Ivy Mix with James Carpenter (Ten Speed Press)
Timeless American Award: Mexican restaurant Tommy’s, San Francisco
Timeless international award: Dukes Bar at the Dukes Hotel, London
Pioneer Award: Chris Cabrera
LADY INTRODUCED TO THE TEMPLE OF FAME
Dame Hall of Fame (United States): Lauren Paylor
Lady’s Hall of Fame (international): Sandrae Laurent