Century Grand in Phoenix won Best U.S. Cocktail Bar and New York’s Martiny’s was named the best new cocktail bar in America at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.
Sips, the innovative Barcelona “drinkery house” renowned for its “couture cocktails at prêt-à-porter prices” was named World Best Bar at the 17th annual Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Founded in 2021 by cocktail legends Simone Caporale (2014’s International Bartender of the Year for his mixology magic at Artesian in London’s Langham Hotel) and Marc Alvarez (the former beverage director at Ferran and Albert Adrià’s acclaimed El Barri culinary group in Spain), Sips immediately shook up the cocktail world, racking up awards for its inventive creations served in fanciful—and often fantastical—drinking vessels.
As a prelude to the big award of the night, Sips was also named Best International Cocktail Bar—besting nominees Atwater Cocktail Club in Montreal, A Bar With Shapes for A Name in London, and Alquímico in Cartagena (which won Best International Bar Team).
London’s The Connaught Bar also earned two awards. Director of mixology Agostino Perrone—a longtime titan of the cocktail industry—won Best International Bar Mentor. While Giorgio Bargiani, the bar’s assistant director of mixology, won International Bartender of the Year.
“A mentor is a person that everybody needs, especially when it comes down to a career—like Ago has been for me” Bargiani says of Perrone. “He’s not a person to tell you what to do on a daily basis, but he’s the person that will help you shape your dreams.”
As for the U.S. categories, New York is home to two big Spirited Award winners. Faye Chen and GN Chan’s Double Chicken Please on the Lower East Side won World’s Best Cocktail Menu—an impressive feat for a bar that opened in the midst of the pandemic in November 2020, having started as a popup in 2017. And Takuma Watanabe, an alumnus of Angel’s Share (he was its head bartender for eight years), was awarded Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar for Martiny’s, his three-level bar in Gramercy.
And Kate Gerwin’s distillery-cum-bar in Albuquerque, Happy Accidents (which was 2022’s Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar), was named Best U.S. Bar Team. And Jason Asher and Rich Furnari’s locomotive-themed Century Grand in Phoenix—a 2020 Best New American Bar finalist— lived up to its early promise and won Best U.S. Cocktail Bar.
Geographically speaking, Singapore dominated the awards with three wins across two categories. Jigger and Pony at the Amara Hotel—led by husband-and-wife duo Indra Kantono and Gan Guoyi—was named Best International Hotel Bar (besting Hong Kong’s Argo, Bangkok’s BKK Social Club, and Vancouver’s Botanist). Accepting his Spirited Award, Kantono explained one of the secrets of his success: “Hotel bars are the living rooms of the world,” he said “and we can’t wait to welcome you in our living room.”
Meanwhile, Vijay Mudaliar of Singapore’s Native won yet another accolade. Mudaliar’s second endeavor, Analogue Initiative—a sustainable concept that doubles down on his zero-waste ethos with an entirely plant-based menu—was named this year’s Best International Restaurant Bar. And the legendary Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel—birthplace of the Singapore Sling—is the recipient of the prestigious Timeless International Award.
One of the evening’s most moving speeches came from spirits educator Tiffanie Barriere, who won the Tales Visionary Award. “This is for Black champions,” she began to loud applause. “This is for juke joints that were the first with bottle service. This is for the GIs from World War I that brought Cognac to America. This is for the Harlem Renaissance. This is for the mint julep. This is for the South, which always has something to say, yet the in-house men and women that had to serve on plantations, this is for you.”
Barriere continued as the applause swelled, “This is for the Black champions that built communities. This is for the Black champions that do philanthropy. This is for Black champions who rewrite their resumes just to be recognized. This for the Black champions I see on social media sharing content, photos, victories, questions. This is for the Black champions who worked at distilleries—past and present—women and men. This is for the Black sharecroppers, Black bartenders, who worked endless nights in restaurants they could not eat in. This is for you.”
In the writing categories, journalist Emma Janzen—a two-time James Beard Foundation award winner—took home two major honors. Janzen’s “The Great Mezcal Heist,” a deep dive into mezcal’s flawed certification process won Best Cocktail and Spirits Writing. And The Bartender’s Manifesto—cowritten with mixology master Toby Maloney—is this year’s Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book.
Next year, Tales of the Cocktail will take its show on the road with a satellite festival in Singapore. “We see many similarities between the multicultural locales of New Orleans and Singapore,” says Eileen Wayner CEO of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF), which hosts the festival and awards. “And, we see Singapore’s growing cocktail scene as embodying the industry’s spirit of innovation and community, and a collective drive for excellence.”
Outside of the annual Spirited Awards, the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation—which was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2018—also funds programming and events to support to the hospitality community. “TOTCF has granted more than $350,000 in awards for projects improving the global hospitality landscape,” says Wayner, “and will grant an additional $100,000 this year–funding initiatives centered on bartender welfare and well-being.” Among the organizations receiving support are Diversity Distilled, which focuses on DEI strategies and training, and Turning Tables NOLA, which offers bar training and provides career opportunities.
The overall sentiment of the night was perfectly distilled in the acceptance speech of International Bartender of the Year Giorgio Bargiani: “Straight up with style—and don’t forget to smile.”
See the full list of winners from the 2023 Spirited Awards below.
Tales Of The Cocktail Spirited Awards 2023
International Bartender of the Year: Giorgio Bargiani (Connaught Bar, London)
Best International Bar Mentor: Agostino Perrone
Best International Brand Ambassador: Nicola Riske (The Macallan)
Best International Bar Team: Alquimico (Cartagena, Colombia)
Best International Cocktail Bar: SIPS (Barcelona, Spain)
Best International Hotel Bar: Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel (Singapore)
Best International Restaurant Bar: Analogue Initiative (Singapore)
Best New International Cocktail Bar: Line Athens (Athens, Greece)
U.S. Bartender of the Year: Christine Wiseman, Marygold’s Brasserie / Broken Shaker (Miami)
Best U.S. Bar Mentor: Chris Patino
Best U.S. Brand Ambassador: Vance Henderson (Hendrick’s Gin)
Best U.S. Bar Team: Happy Accidents (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Best U.S. Cocktail Bar: Century Grand (Phoenix, Arizona)
Best U.S. Hotel Bar: Hey Love at The Jupiter (Portland, Oregon)
Best U.S. Restaurant Bar: Café La Trova (Miami)
Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar: Martiny’s (New York)
WRITING & MEDIA
Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication: Punch
Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series: The Speakeasy Podcast
Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing: “The Great Mezcal Heist” by Emma Janzen, for Eater
Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book: The Bartender’s Manifesto by Toby Maloney with Emma Janzen
Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits: Modern Caribbean Rum: A Contemporary Reference to the Region’s Essential Spirit by Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith
World’s Best Bar: Sips (Barcelona)
Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient: Martini & Rossi Floreale Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo
World’s Best Cocktail Menu: Double Chicken Please (New York)
World’s Best Spirits Selection: Raised by Wolves (San Diego, California)
Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Desmond Payne (MBE)
Timeless International Award: Long Bar at the Raﬄes Hotel Singapore (Singapore)
Timeless U.S. Award: Tiki-Ti (Los Angeles)
Tales Visionary Award: Tiffanie Barriere
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