The nominees for the Tales of the Cocktail 2009 Spirit Awards have been announced. Tales of the Cocktail is an internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held annually in New Orleans. This year’s five-day event takes place July 8-12, and the Spirit Awards will be held on Saturday, July 11.

From the Tales of the Cocktail website:

Through its annual Spirit Awards, Tales of the Cocktail provides recognition to those individuals and establishments that have shown an outstanding talent for advancing the craft of the cocktail. To embody the ideals with which Tales of the Cocktail was originally founded, these awards will provide recognition to both national and international guests, as well as to local New Orleanians. Winners will receive exclusive Riedel Crystal awards.

Following are the Spirit Award Categories, Criteria and Nominees.

World’s Best Drinks Selection
Criteria: A venue stocking an outstanding range of spirits and liqueurs. The judges will favor discernment as well as sheer numbers of bottles stocked.

Best American Cocktail Bar
Criteria: This award recognizes the influence on cocktail trends within the United States and seeks to award the country’s best cocktail bar.

World’s Best Cocktail Bar
Criteria: Only truly world-class bars will be considered for this illustrious title. Some bars attain worldwide recognition and this award recognizes the very best of the best.

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar
Criteria: Only bars which opened after 1st March 2008 may be nominated. This award aims to reward new creativity and ideas as well as well executed drinks.

World’s Best Hotel Bar
Criteria: The classic ‘American Bar’ played an important role in the history and development of cocktail culture. The judges are looking for hotel bars, which uphold this tradition (but are not necessarily old) and offer five-star service and consistently well-made drinks.

American Bartender of the Year
Criteria: From Jerry Thomas onwards, American bartenders have been amongst the most influential on drinks styles and cocktail culture in general. This award seeks to recognize the most influential American bartender today. The winner should be proficient at making all recognized classic drinks and also have created contemporary cocktails, which have been copied by his/her peers.

International Bartender of the Year
Criteria: The absolute best drinks mixer in the world. The winner must have received international recognition of their work with their own recipes crossing borders to appear on cocktail menus in numerous countries. (US citizens are not excluded.)

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book
Criteria: The best book published in 2008 regarding cocktails, liquor, and bars, bar design or bartending in general. New editions of existing works may also be nominated.

Best Cocktail Writing
Criteria: Great journalism is one of the best ways to communicate to the general public the value and significance of great cocktails and related products. This award is for any non-book journalism (Magazine, Newspaper, Website, etc) that promotes bars, bartender, or cocktails in general.

Best New Product
Criteria: This is awarded to what the judges consider to be the best new cocktail ingredient (spirit, liqueur, syrup or juice) or piece of cocktail equipment (muddler, shaker etc.). To qualify products must be on general retail sale in at least three US states.

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
Criteria: The judges seek to reward innovative and thirst inducing cocktail menus. Both the design and content will be considered.

Best American Brand Ambassador
Criteria: An award which recognizes the importance of personality in the promotion of drinks brands across America.

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