In Awards by Clyde Mooney

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Last week saw Australian Bartender Magazine’s celebrated Bar Awards for 2017, with a strong showing from the pub community in the ever-shifting cauldron of cocktails and bar culture.

2017 marked the 17th Bar Awards, held at Pyrmont’s Doltone House with over 600 industry professionals from around Australia attending.

Dubbed the Oscars of the bar scene, 30 awards honoured venues and individuals on achievements from bartending prowess to best drinks, to Best Sustainable Bar Program, a new category this year, and taken by Merivale’s Paddington cocktail bar, Charlie Parker’s.

The Award for New Pub of the Year went to Christian Denny and Maurice Terzini’s Dolphin Hotel, while Pub of the Year went to the Unicorn Hotel, co-owned by Young Henrys director Oscar McMahon.

For not the first time, the highly acclaimed Baxter Inn took out Bar of the Year, and Melbourne’s amazing Black Pearl took the gong for Cocktail Bar of the Year.

But Pub Operator of 2017 went to Merivale, which with the recent purchase of The Collaroy, shows no signs of slowing down.

“It’s so exciting to win this award this year, as the competition across the industry at all levels is by far the strongest ever,” Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes told PubTIC.

“Business has never been so exciting, and this award is testament to my brilliant staff.”

In the individual categories, top prize of Bartender of the Year went to Dan Gregory of Brisbane’s Canvas. With the award Gregory will be flown to New Orleans to compete in Tales of the Cocktail.

Dan Gregory

And the Bar Award Bartender crown came atop Gregory’s win of the Australian final of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge for 2018, held Sunday 17 September.

Over the last 11 years Gregory has worked behind the bar at some of the country’s most coveted venues, including Black Pearl, and Eau De Vie, this year’s winner of Hotel Bar of the Year.

The Angostura win scores Gregory $10k and a year as the Australian Angostura Brand Ambassador, plus he will go to the global final of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2018, held in Trinidad & Tobago, where he could win prizes including US$10,000.

“It will be a great honour to represent a premium brand like Angostura,” said Gregory.

“I’m looking forward to competing in the global competition in Trinidad and hopefully I can do Australia proud and bring the trophy home.”

The same night, Think Spirits similarly held one of the many Bar Week events in lead-up to the Awards.

State winners from around Australia competed in the national finals of the BarBack Games (BBG). Finalists were NSW’s Kiran Gurnani from Scary Canary, Rye Walsh from El Publico in WA, Luke Mahony from The Carlton in Victoria, Charlie Paterson from Bank Street Social in South Australia, and Matthew Gianini from Queensland’s Brooklyn Standard.

The action-packed event saw bespoke challenges and classic industry gusto – over a few bevvys – with Kiran Gurnani of Sydney’s Scary Canary taking home the crown.

“The Fernet-Branca BarBack Games are a fantastic occasion for the industry to get together to cheer on the unsung heroes, whilst enjoying a shot or two,” proffered Think Spirits’ marketing manager, Jonathan Howells.


The Williams Flip

Dan Gregory’s winning rum cocktail “The Williams Flip”

60ml Angostura 7-year-old rum

3 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters

60mL fresh pressed pineapple juice

3 dashes Angostura orange bitters

15mL apricot brandy

20mL vanilla palm sugar (vanilla syrup)

Whole egg

Add all the ingredients to a Toby Tin, dry shake, add ice and shake hard. Single strain into chilled Tiki mug and top with ice.

Add a bamboo straw and garnish with 1/2 pineapple moon, mint and dust with icing sugar



Highlights of the Bar Awards 2017

Full list here.

Bartender Magazine Bartender of the Year Proudly sponsored by Bacardi & De Kuyper

Winner: Dan Gregory, Canvas


Outstanding Contribution Proudly sponsored by Bartender Magazine

Mike Enright


Cocktail Bar of the Year Proudly sponsored by Monin

Black Pearl, Melbourne


Best Sustainable Bar Program Proudly sponsored by 42 Below

Charlie Parker’s, Sydney


Pub Operator of the Year Proudly sponsored by The Exchange



New Pub of the Year

The Dolphin, Sydney


Pub of the Year Proudly sponsored by Think Spirits

The Unicorn, Sydney


Bar of the Year

The Baxter Inn, Sydney

Bar Back Games