Each summer, the already sultry city of New Orleans gets smoking-hot when thousands of bar professionals, spirits ambassadors, and drinking enthusiasts gather for Tales of the Cocktail.
Part industry gathering, part learning experience, part drink fest, the event began in 2003 as a celebration of New Orleans' diverse and rich cocktail culture.
Tales of the Cocktail has grown to a massive event spanning several days with thousands of bartenders, restaurant owners, and cocktail enthusiasts coming together for a robust schedule of seminars, a tribute dinner, scholarship funds, and the Spirited Awards, which recognize the world's best bars, bartenders, writers, and experts in the field.
This year, a panel of 110 American and international industry judges reviewed more than 1,500 unique nominees to determine the top ten finalists in each of two dozen categories that range from Best Restaurant Bar to Bartender of the Year.
Though there are many awards and publications that recognize excellence in the bartending and spirits industries, these awards hold significant meaning because winners are chosen by their peers. Simon Ford, Spirited Awards chairman and host, says of the Spirited Awards: "These awards recognize the people and places that captured the imagination of the 110 judges, but please also remember these awards are celebrating the industry we all love and the resurgence of the cocktail movement."
Last year, the Broken Shaker was named Best American Hotel Bar at Tales of the Cocktail. Upon receiving the award, the Shaker's Gabe Orta told New Times: "We are so proud and
This year, two Miami bartenders and one Miami Beach bar are in the running for a 2016 Spirited Award.
Iconic Miami bartenders Julio Cabrera and John Lermayer are both nominated for American Bartender of the Year. They face some of the best bartenders in the nation, including Chris Hannah of French 75 in New Orleans, Marcovaldo Dionysos of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, and Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common in Portland.
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Lermayer's Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co. is also in the running for Best New American Cocktail Bar. The South Beach bar that invites patrons to "pursue happiness" was recently named Best Bar, Miami Beach in New Times' 2016 Best of Miami issue and was voted Best Happy Hour by readers.
Additionally, London's Duck & Waffle is a finalist in the Best International Restaurant Bar category — notable for the fact that a Miami outpost of the restaurant is in the works.
This Monday, June 20, at 3 p.m., Simon Ford will announce the final four finalists for each category from Los Angeles via Facebook Live on the Tales of the Cocktail Facebook page. Each finalist will be invited to attend the live ceremony in New Orleans July 23 as part of the 14th-annual Tales of the Cocktail weekend.