NCB’s Bar Award Winners Announced
Just as difficult as deciding what nightclubs reigned supreme was uncovering what bars were hottest in 2009 — especially figuring out the best beer bars, wine bars, cocktail lounges and more. But our panel of industry insiders was up to the task, judging entries spanning 14 categories (seven bar-specific categories). Again, thanks to all who helped us highlight and recognize the best in the business.
Unlike the nightclub category awards, which were dominated by Las Vegas, the bar awards offered great diversity, with no city capturing more than one award. It just goes to show how the industry has continued to grow and spread, even with recent bumps in the economy.
Cocktail Lounge of the Year (sponsored by Absolut Vodka) was won by The Drawing Room in Chicago, thanks in no small part to barman extraordinaire Charles Joly, who crafts some of the Windy City’s best cocktails and has overseen a tremendous bar program that landed them on the cover of Nightclub & Bar last year.
Taking home the award for Wine Bar of the Year was Flute Midtown in New York City, and with its below-the-sidewalk location in space known to be a favored speakeasy during Prohibition days, it’s no wonder xenophiles have taken to hiding away with their favorite sparkling varietal at Flute.
For Beer Bar of the Year, it was the Willimantic Brewing Company in Willimantic, Conn., earning top prize. After winning Best Brew Pub in its home state, this award affords the microbrewery national exposure and accolades.
The award for Bartender of the Year (also sponsored by Absolut Vodka) goes to H. Joseph Ehrmann of San Francisco’s Elixir, the award-winning neighborhood saloon that’s location has served its neighbors since 1858 and was named one of the Top 100 Bars by Food & Wine Magazine.
The award for Small Wonder Bar of the Year went to the buzz-creating Manifesto, which has seemingly changed the cocktail game in Kansas City, Mo., with its commitment to fresh ingredients and proudly not serving PBR. It’s being called the “first real cocktail bar in the state,” and it seems to be staying true to that moniker.
The Sports Bar of the Year award goes to the venue channeling former Pittsburgh Steelers great, Jerome Bettis Grille 36 in Pittsburgh. Having been voted Best Sports Bar in Pittsburgh every single year since it opened, it should be no surprise that it takes home the NCB prize.
Lastly, for Hotel Bar of the Year, it was POV in Washington, D.C. bringing home the prize to its perch atop the W Hotel.