For those unfamiliar, the Spirited Awards honor bars and bar industry professionals across multiple categories: American, International, Global, Writing & Media, and Additional Industry Awards.
A number of past Nightclub & Bar Award winners won crystal plates—the Spirited Award trophies—at this year’s ceremony.
Trick Dog, 2017 Nightclub & Bar Cocktail Bar of the Year, won the 2019 Spirited Award for World’s Best Cocktail Menu. The bar’s “Whole Dog Menu” is based Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog. Trick Dog’s semi-annual menu launches are highly anticipated.
Check this out: Here's Why the Negroni Should be the Favorite Drink on Your Menu
New York clinched four awards—two of which went to the iconic, century-old (but revamped) Dante—just edging out Singapore, which earned three. New Orleans and Las Vegas each clinched two Spirited Awards.
Both of Las Vegas’ awards were well earned by Herbs & Rye, owned and operated by Nectaly Mendoza, Nightclub & Bar’s 2016 Bartender of the Year. Mendoza and his passionate, dedicated team won Best American Bar Team and Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar. Anyone who has visited Herbs & Rye know that not only is the team committed to high-volume service, they send hundreds—often thousands—of high-quality cocktails across the bar without prebatching.
There’s nothing wrong with prebatching, of course. Several world-class bars—Spirited Award finalist Libertine Social, for example—utilize batching in one form or another. Famously, Ryan Chetiyawardana’s innovative White Lyan bar in London leveraged pre-made cocktails to reduce waste significantly.
Check this out: High Volume Shortcuts without the Shortcuts
The Herbs & Rye team simply takes a different approach to high-volume service: they’ve embraced the French culinary principle of mise en place; designed every bar station to be identical; honed their skill behind the bar; and analyzed recipes to see if steps can be eliminated without sacrificing drink quality.
“We are simply blessed. To change the world, we need to change ourselves. I truly believe we continue to do better because we as people work on ourselves to live better,” said Mendoza. “These awards are more than Herbs and Rye—they are for Vegas, they are for everybody going through something. We can only hope that this will help us motivate, inspire and change lives. It’s about more than just us—we hope it works as a beacon of light to others to guide them towards their goals.”
Along with New York, Singapore and Las Vegas winning big at this year’s Spirited Awards, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were recognized for their accomplishments in this industry.
“One of the things that makes me even more proud than winning an award at [Tales of the Cocktail] this last Saturday is seeing how well Mexicans [and] Mexican-Americans did at the Spirited Awards this year. Four of the plates this year went to Mexican [and] Mexican-American owned projects [and] bars which is a massive accomplishment for us [and] for our community as a whole,” said Erick Castro, partner in Raised by Wolves, the 2019 Nightclub & Bar Award winner for New Bar Concept of the Year. “In fact, if you expand the criteria to all Latin-Americans, our triumphs at the Spirited Awards this year grow even more, due to [Julio Cabrera’s] American Bartender of the Year win, and [Lynnette Marrero’s] dual victories for Best Mentor and Philanthropist of the Year. This brings our final tally for Latin-Americans to a total of SEVEN PLATES!!! This is [a] massive milestone and it is one that we need to celebrate! And since every winner become[s] a judge in the following year, this further diversifies the judging panel & gives our people a voice in years to come.”
Castro and Amelia Castanho host and produce Bartender at Large, winner of the 2019 Nightclub & Bar Award winner for Industry Podcast of the Year, and the 2019 Spirited Award for Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series.
Of the 12 women who were Spirited Awards finalists, three—Monica Berg, Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix—earned awards. Berg from Tayēr + Elementary won the award for International Bartender of the Year, and Marrero and Mix were awarded Best Bar Mentors. Speed Rack, founded by Marrero and Mix, won the 2019 Spirited Award Philanthropy Award.
The other women finalists included 2019 Nightclub & Bar Brand Ambassador of the Year Megan Breier, Kiowa Bryan, Philippa "Pippa" Guy, Lauren Mote, Kara Newman, Briana Volk, Jillian Vose, and Kirsten Amann and Misty Kalkofen.
We’re hopeful we’ll see more progress in nominations and winners for all industry awards, further reflecting and acknowledging the diversity of the bar, nightclub and restaurant business moving forward. Our industry is on its way, but we can do better—and we have faith that we will.