Each July, the sultry city of New Orleans gets even hotter when thousands of bar professionals, spirits ambassadors, and drinking enthusiasts gather for Tales of the Cocktail. Part industry convention, part open bar, the event started in 2003, as a celebration of New Orleans drinking culture. Over a decade later, TOTC spans several days and includes 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 100 American and international industry experts reviewed more than 2,000 nominees to determine the top 10 finalists in each of two dozen different categories that range from best new spirit or cocktail ingredient to international bartender of the year.
This year, two of Miami's finest have been named top 10 finalists for the ninth annual Spirited Awards.
For the third time, the Broken Shaker has been named a finalist in the Best American Hotel Bar category, competing against such heavy hitters as Louisville's Proof on Main, Chicago's Sable Kitchen and Bar, Los Angeles' Spare Room, New York's Breslin at Ace, 15 Romolo in San Francisco, Ace Hotel Downtown L.A., the Hawthorne in Boston, and Sazerac at Roosevelt and Bellocq, both in New Orleans. Broken Shaker's Elad Zvi says of the nod, "We are super humble and happy to be part of it. So many amazing people are part of it. This is the third time in a row that we've been nominated. Now, it's time for us to win."
Zvi's partner, Gabe Orta, calls out the Shaker's team, adding, "This is a testament to our staff's hard work. Without them, we wouldn't be where we are."
John Lermayer was named a finalist in the American Bartender of the Year category. Lermayer opens Sweet Liberty Drink and Supply Company in July, along with the team behind Blackbird Ordinary and restaurateur David Martinez. The bar will offer gastropub-style food and world-class cocktails with a neighborhood vibe.
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Lermayer, who made an international name for himself at top venues like the Mondrian Soho in New York, Florida Room at the Delano Hotel, and the Regent Cocktail Club, says of the nomination, "Any time you are in the conversation of being top 10 in your industry, it's a huge honor, especially when you consider, the panel is 100 top industry insiders and peers."
The bartender also gives a shout out to his fellow Miami finalists. "I'm really happy Broken Shaker is getting the nod. That place is awesome and it's great for Miami to be in the mix for these kinds of accolades."
Similar to James Beard, the field of 10 finalists in each category will be whittled down before the actual awards ceremony takes place in New Orleans on Saturday, July 18. On Tuesday, June 16, at 10 a.m., the final four in each category will be announced live with all finalists invited to the awards ceremony at the Sheraton New Orleans. Since this year's theme pays tribute to the sights, sounds, and flavors of Cuba, we're considering this a good luck omen for our Miami representatives to take home the top prizes. For the complete list of Tales of the Cocktails' Spirited Awards categories and finalists, visit talesofthecocktail.com.