Tales of the Cocktail 2013: Boston’s Drink Named World’s Best Cocktail Bar

The 2013 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards were in a New York state of mind, but it was Drink from Boston that took home the top prize, World’s Best Cocktail Bar. The 7th annual Spirited Awards honored eighteen of the world’s top bartenders, brand ambassadors, bars, spirits, authors and more. The ceremony took place at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. The event’s Great Gatsby theme inspired most of the 1,000 guests to go all out with their evening wear — no matter where you turned during the reception, the guys and dolls looked fantastic.

Drink General Manager John Gertsen at the Spirited Awards

Drink General Manager John Gertsen

Drink General Manager John Gertsen accepted the World’s Best Cocktail Bar award, and a couple of days later he posted the following note on the Drink Facebook page:

“After two nights of successfully falling asleep and waking up, I have come to realize that Saturday night wasn’t actually just a dream. I am incredibly honored to have accepted the award for the world’s best cocktail bar at this year’s Spirited Awards at the Tales of the Cocktail. To have shared the stage with such an amazing group of hospitality experts is something that I will never forget. I am humbled by our accomplishment. That feeling of humility is balanced by an overwhelming sense of pride. I am proud and grateful for the hard work of our team here at Drink, proud and grateful for the opportunities given to us by Barbara and all of my Managers here at the Gruppo, AND also proud and grateful to call Boston home. Without the support of our loyal guests we would be nothing. I am truly honored to share this award with all of you. Cheers!”

Sean Muldoon at the Spirited Awards

The Dead Rabbit founder and general manager, Sean Muldoon, accepts the award for World’s Best New Cocktail Bar as head bartender Jack McCarry (blue vest) looks on.

As a member of the USA Judging Committee, my perspective on the Spirited Awards was certainly different than previous years. But I was just as eager as everyone else to find out who would win, since that list was a well-guarded secret. By the end of the night, two New York bars had evenly split six of the top awards: The Dead Rabbit and Clover Club. The Dead Rabbit won World’s Best Cocktail Menu and World’s Best New Cocktail Bar, catapulting the six-month-old bar to the global cocktail stage. The International Bartender of the Year award went to The Dead Rabbit’s head bartender, Jack McGarry. At just 24, McGarry is the youngest recipient of the award, and the first U.S.-based bartender to win it since Audrey Saunders.

Julie Reiner at the Spirited Awards

Julie Reiner accepts the award for Best Bar Mentor

Clover Club beverage director and co-owner Julie Reiner was named Best Bar Mentor, and Clover Club took home the awards for Best American Cocktail Bar and Best High Volume Cocktail Bar.

Los Angeles bars were shut out of winning any of this year’s awards, but LA bartenders were still a presence throughout the night. Zahra Bates (Cole’s Red Car Bar) and Nathan Burdette (The Bazaar) were recognized as first-year CAPs (Cocktail Apprentice Program), and Bates was also announced as one of Beverage Media Group’s 2013 10 Mixologists to Watch.

Hosts Simon Ford and Tom Caltabiano did their best to keep the show moving, and they definitely improved on last year’s marathon. Some familiar LA faces popped up in videos that played during the awards, like this “public service announcement,” Hidden Dangers of the Bar!

Salvatore Calabrese at the Spirited Awards

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Salvatore Calabrese

gaz regan at the Spirited Awards

gaz regan

gaz regan was the epitome of class, from his heartfelt tribute to Olmeca Altos co-founder Henry Besant, to his acceptance of the Spirited Award for Best Cocktail Writing – Author. In a surprising move, he called fellow nominee Ian Cameron to the stage, and insisted that the diffordsguide editor take the trophy home instead. regan also bartends at The Dead Rabbit, as if the cocktail cognoscenti need another reason to make a pilgrimage to the Financial District.

Photos by Filip Wolak Photography, courtesy of Hanna Lee Communications.

For more photos of Tales of the Cocktail 2013, visit the Thirsty in LA Facebook page.

The 86 Company at the Spirited Awards

The 86 Company team onstage after Fords Gin won Best New Product. | Photo courtesy of The 86 Company

Following is the complete list of 2013 Spirited Awards finalists, with winners listed in bold.

American Bartender of the Year

Best American Brand Ambassador

  • Elayne Duff – Diageo Portfolio
  • Jamie Gordon – Absolut Vodka
  • Neyah White – Yamazaki
  • Todd Richman – Sidney Frank Portfolio

Best American Cocktail Bar

Best Bar Mentor

  • Bridget Albert – Chicago, Illinois
  • Dushan Zaric – Los Angeles, California
  • Francesco Lafranconi – Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Julie Reiner – Brooklyn, New York

Best Cocktail Writing – Author

  • Gary Regan
  • Ian Cameron
  • Paul Clarke
  • Robert Simonson

Best Cocktail Writing – Publication

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar

Best International Brand Ambassador

  • Claire Smith – Belvedere Vodka
  • Giuseppe Gallo – Martini
  • Ian Burrell – Rum Ambassador
  • Jacob Briars – Bacardi Portfolio

Best New Book (Cocktail/Bartending)

  • Drinks by Tony Conigliaro
  • The Tequila Ambassador by Tomas Estes
  • To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion by Philip Greene
  • Vodka Distilled by Tony Abou-Ganim

Best New Product

  • Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters
  • Dorothy Parker Gin
  • Fords Gin
  • Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

Best Restaurant Bar

  • Island Creek Oyster Bar – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • No. 9 Park – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Saxon + Parole Restaurant – New York, New York, USA
  • The NoMad Hotel – New York, New York, USA

International Bartender of the Year

World’s Best Cocktail Bar

  • Callooh Callay – London, United Kingdom
  • Candelaria – Paris, France
  • DrinkBoston, Massachusetts, USA
  • The Varnish – Los Angeles, California, USA

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

World’s Best Drink Selection

World’s Best Hotel Bar

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar

  • Experimental Cocktail Club – New York, New York, USA
  • Pouring Ribbons – New York, New York, USA
  • The Dead Rabbit – New York, New York, USA
  • The NoMad Hotel – New York, New York, USA


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