- Max and Noel Venning claimed the title of Bar of the Year for Three Sheets and New Bar of the Year for Bar Three, with younger brother Max taking the title of Best Bartender
- Declan McGurk from the Savoy’s American and Beaufort Bar was named Bar Manager of the year
- Wins came from across the UK, with bars and bartenders from London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bournemouth, Sheffield and Birmingham taking awards
- Industry legend Alessandro Palazzi of Duke’s Bar in London took the prize of Lifetime Achievement – A PAST LUSH LIFE GUEST!!
Last night I was honored to attend CLASS Magazine’s Bar Awards 2019. The Awards are renowned as the premiere UK bar industry celebration.
Representatives from the UK’s leading bars attended the Awards yesterday at Lindley Hall inLondon, along with internationally renowned personalities.Judged by industry experts from across the country, the CLASS Bar Awards recognises the talent, achievements and diversity of the UK bar scene.
Three Sheets in Dalston, London, was the overwhelming choice of the CLASS collective (over 70 expert judges that voted), winning Bar of the Year sponsored by Southern Comfort ahead of London bars Dandelyan and Swift.
One of its two owners – Max Venning – beat the likes of Alex Lawrence of Dandelyan and Remy Savage of Artesian to the title for Bartender of the Year sponsored by Jura Single malt scotch whisky.
Offering cocktails that are simple on the surface but complex underneath, Three Sheets is an ode to minimalism.Beloved by bartenders, this place combines an unpretentious vibe with cocktails that have taken on a cult status in the industry. Their bottled, carbonated take on the French 75, with gin, verjus, lemon, moscato and orange flower has become one of London’s most loved cocktails. Hailing from Manchester and with experience at Drink Factory and Bar Termini, Max Venning is one of two brothers behind three leading London bars – Three Sheets in Dalston, Bar Three in Spitalfields and Little Mercies in Crouch End. Max and Noel Venning’s Bar Three – the first of two openings last year – took the prize of New Bar of theYear. Burrowed under Blixen in Spitalfields, this dimly-lit, alcoved haven for discerning drinkers has a short menu of crafted cocktails.
Another multi-award winner was The American Bar at The Savoy, whose leader, Declan McGurk took the coveted titled of Bar Manager of the Year sponsored by The Dublin Liberties Irish whiskey. The cocktail world institution also took home the prize for Hotel Bar of the Year sponsored by Peroni Italia for the second year running.
Drinks Menu of the Year sponsored by Fentimans was won by Mr Lyan’s Dandelyan at Sea Containers for the third year running. Dandelyan, which is due to close in late March and be replaced by Lyaness, took the award for its fifth menu – The Modern Life of Plants, which is an ode to sustainability and modern agriculture. Creative leaders Ryan Chetiyawardana and Alex Lawrence tell their stories through cocktails that draw on three of the most pervasive ingredients in the alcoholic beverage world: mint, grapes and hops.
Coupette in Bethnal Green, London again took the gong for Cocktail of the Year sponsored by Grand Marnier, with its Apples cocktail, beating off competition from Three Sheet’s ingenious takes on the French75 and Whiskey Soda. With cold-pressed, carbonated apple juice and a rotating calvados selection, Coupette’s Apples embraces the vagaries of seasonal produce and the quality and breadth of calvados.
Specialist Bar of the Year sponsored by Cenote tequila went to whisky venue Black Rock for the third year in a row. Owned by Tom Aske and Tristan Stephenson, the contemporary basement bar with a collection of over 350 whiskies beat tiki bar Laki Kane and Calvados-focused Coupette.
The Emerging Bartender of the Year category sponsored by Jägermeister Manifest was won by Amber Blood, the young London-based bartender impressing judges with her menu writing skills at both her former bar Little Bat and current digs Callooh Callay.
While other upcoming bar stars came in the form of Coral Anderson of Swift in London whose hospitality skills saw her claim Front of House Star sponsored by New Amsterdam Vodka and Erin Davies fromNocturnal Animals in Birmingham whose supreme organisation led to him winning Back Bar Star of the Year sponsored by Doorly’s rum.
While London was named the UK’s cocktail capital, taking 11 of the 16 awards, there were wins from Manchester, Edinburgh, Bournemouth, Sheffield and Birmingham.
Terroir Tapas collected a trophy for Bournemouth, winning the Sustainable Practices Award. The restaurant bar has an ethos focused on local produce, low-waste and a reduced carbon footprint, which runs throughout its operation. Its bar and tables are made from recycled plastic, waste water is recycled to flush toilets and cocktails and food share ingredients to minimise waste.
Public in Sheffield collected the award for Bar Food Menu of the Year, beating off competition from Scout and Satan’s Whisker’s in London.This subterranean den is owned by Sheffield visionaries James O’Hara and James Hill, aka the Rockingham Group, who are backing the city’s creative talents. One of these talents is Tom Aronica, whose cooks up restaurant-standard small plates of pan-European food from a corner kitchen of the bar.
Restaurant Bar of the Year was awarded to Edinburgh’s Bon Vivant for the second year running. BonVivant, with its fine European cuisine, top-end cocktails and comprehensive wine list took the top spot from Bethnal Green’s Sager + Wilde and 2017 winner, Hawksmoor Spitalfields.
Crazy Pedro’s – a small bar chain in Manchester and Liverpool won Social Media Presence of the Year. Using the irreverent tone of their tequila-quaffing Mexican frontman, Crazy Pedro’s has mastered its social media output, using both video and photo content to engage with its followers on anything from new menu items to local campaigns in the community.
Ending the night was the Lifetime Achievement award sponsored by Champagne Gosset, which went to Alessandro Palazzi. With 32 years in the industry under his belt, Alessandro Palazzi has had a varied bartending career, from humble beginnings in Cobham to serving Madonna at the Ritz. But Palazzi is best known for his work at the cult-favourite Dukes and his association with the Martini.His, with almost-frozen spirit poured with a liberal hand, is the best around. To have a Martini made from Palazzi’s famous trolley is a rite of passage for the cocktail lover. A true legend of bartending in London, the UK, if not the world.