The world’s top bars, bartenders, brand ambassadors, spirits and writers were honored at the 8th Annual Spirited Awards, which took place at the 12th annual Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Following the largest nomination pool in Spirited Awards history, an international panel of 140 judges recognized honorees across 23 categories. Simon Ford and Tom Caltabiano hosted a breezy ceremony that entertained the sold-out audience with an enjoyable mix of glamour, laughs and a few groans.

The Artesian's Alex Kratena at the 2014 Spirited Awards

Head bartender Alex Kratena with The Artesian’s Spirited Awards | Photo courtesy of The Artesian, Facebook

The lion’s share of the awards went to The Artesian at the Langham Hotel in London, which was named World’s Best Cocktail Bar, Best International Hotel Bar and Best International Bar Team. The Artesian’s Simone Caporale was named Best International Bartender. New York’s The Dead Rabbit added to its Spirited Awards collection with wins for Best American Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Drinks Selection.

The Golden State made a strong showing, with wins for San Francisco’s Trick Dog (Best American Bar Team) and Neyah White (Best American Brand Ambassador); L.A.’s Dushan Zaric (Best Bar Mentor); and San Diego’s Polite Provisions (Best American High Volume Bar).

San Francisco’s legendary Tequila Ambassador, Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, was the recipient of the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award for being “a champion for tequila here in the United States and around the world, helping to foster greater knowledge and appreciation for the often misunderstood spirit.”

The videos this year by Le JIT Productions were the best yet, and once again some familiar L.A. faces had a starring role. Case in point, this clip that introduced the award for World’s Best Drinks Selection, featuring Pablo Moix taking care of Simon Ford and Jacob Briars at Scopa Italian Roots:

The day after the awards, American Bartender of the Year winner, Sean Kenyon (Williams & Graham) posted to his Facebook page:

My favorite thing about this award is not the fact that it says “Sean Kenyon” on it, but the line that reads “Denver, Colorado.” The judging committee for ToTC has finally recognized a No Coast, secondary market with a major award. Come to Denver… We have an amazing culinary and bar community. You need to experience it first hand. See you there!

Kenyon – who never fails to impart wisdom and knowledge in his posts – touches on the real takeaway of the Spirited Awards. Whether it’s a winner or finalist, the long list of must-see bars continues to grow with every ceremony. There’s no better time than the present to start checking off that bucket list. Cheers!

Dale DeGroff sings at the 2014 Spirited Awards

Dale DeGroff closes out the 2014 Spirited Awards | Photo courtesy of Hanna Lee Communications, via Facebook

Following is the complete list of 2014 Spirited Awards finalists, with winners listed in bold.

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 (Artesian Bar at The Langham, 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

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Julio Bermejo (Tommy’s, San Francisco)

World’s Best Cocktail Bar: Artesian at The Langham (London)

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