The Top Four Finalists have been announced for the 8th Annual Spirited Awards, taking place on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at the 12th annual Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Los Angeles finalists include Brooke Arthur (Best American Brand Ambassador), Honeycut (Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar), The Spare Room (Best American Hotel Bar), and Dushan Zaric (Best Bar Mentor). At last year’s ceremony, Boston’s Drink took home the award for World’s Best Cocktail Bar, while six of the remaining top awards were evenly split between two New York bars, The Dead Rabbit and Clover Club.

Honeycut cocktail bar

Cocktail Bar at Honeycut | Photo courtesy of Honeycut, via Facebook

From the Tales of the Cocktail press release:

“Through its annual Spirited Awards®, Tales of the Cocktail® recognizes those that continue to represent the cocktail industry in exciting new spotlights. To embody the ideals in which Tales of the Cocktail® was originally founded, these awards were developed to recognize both national and international honorees across twenty-three categories. Each award recipient will receive an exclusive Riedel Crystal trophy.”

Tales of the Cocktail added a new award category this year: Best Bar Team (American and International). Created to highlight the teamwork that goes into running a successful bar, Best Bar Team recognizes an American and an International team of bartenders, bar backs, and servers that deliver the highest quality cocktail experience. Additionally, the Best Cocktail Writing categories from previous years have been renamed Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer and Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication.

This year, the judging committees were greatly expanded – the American and International teams totaled 140 judges. The American judging committee was chaired by Simon Ford; Jacob Briars oversaw the selection of all International judges; and Dave Wondrich – the James Beard Award-winning writer and five-time Spirited Awards winner – lead the judging team dedicated to the writing awards.

“Today there is so much talent in our industry, and judging these awards is only getting tougher and tougher, which is why we have made these changes. It is important to us that these awards are run with credibility and integrity for both past and future winners,” said Ford.

The American judging committee was divided into three regional judging leaders: Erick Castro chaired the West Coast committee, Jackson Cannon chaired the East Coast committee, and Sean Kenyon chaired the Central USA committee. So Cal-based judges include yours truly, Brooke Arthur, Zahra Bates, Aidan Demarest, Dan Dunn, Trevor Easter, Lindsay Nader, Dave Stolte, and Daniel Warrilow.

Following the largest nomination pool in Spirited Awards history, the Top Ten Finalists were announced in May. For the first time, the Top 4 Finalists were announced live on Google+, hosted by Simon Ford.

The winners will be announced on July 19 at the 2014 Spirited Awards ceremony in New Orleans, featuring a theme inspired by Truman Capote’s legendary 1966 Black and White Ball. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.talesofthecocktail.com.

After the jump, a complete list of the Top Four nominees according to category.

Half Step in Austin, Texas

Half Step

AMERICAN CATEGORIES

American Bartender of the Year

  • Jeff Bell (New York)
  • Marcovaldo Dionysos (San Francisco)
  • Bobby Heugel (Houston)
  • Sean Kenyon (Denver)

Best American Bar Team – New Category

Best American Brand Ambassador

  • Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)
  • Chris Patino (Pernod Ricard USA Portfolio)
  • Neyah White (Suntory Japanese Whiskies)
  • Angus Winchester (Tanqueray Gin)

Best American Cocktail Bar

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar

Best American Hotel Bar

Best American Restaurant Bar

Best New American Cocktail Bar

INTERNATIONAL CATEGORIES

International Bartender of the Year

  • Simone Caporale (London)
  • Zdenek Kastanek (Singapore)
  • Hidetsugu Ueno (Tokyo)
  • Tom Walker (London)

Best International Bar Team – New Category

Best International Brand Ambassador

  • David Cordoba (Bacardi)
  • Giuseppe Gallo (Martini)
  • David Piper (Hendrick’s Gin)
  • Claire Smith (Belvedere Vodka)

Best International Cocktail Bar

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar

Best International Hotel Bar

Best International Restaurant Bar

Best New International Cocktail Bar

WRITING

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer

  • Toby Cecchini (United States)
  • Paul Clarke (United States)
  • Jeffrey Morgenthaler (United States)
  • Robert Simonson (United States)

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book

  • Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff Berry
  • Cocktail Culture by Shawn Soole & Nate Caudle
  • The Curious Bartender by Tristan Stephenson
  • The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

OVERALL CATEGORIES

Best Bar Mentor

  • Jacob Briars
  • Jackson Cannon
  • Jim Meehan
  • Dushan Zaric

Best New Product

  • Ancho Reyes
  • Crawley’s Imperial Shaker Machine
  • Del Maguey Ibérico mezcal
  • Martini Gran Lusso Vermouth

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

World’s Best Drinks Selection

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