TOTCF Spirited Awards

Since its establishment in 2007, the Spirited Awards® have grown to become one of the most prestigious and coveted honors in the industry. Recognizing writers and brand ambassadors alongside bartenders and bars, the Awards showcase the talent found throughout the entire spirits community.

NOMINATE HERE FOR THE 2020 SPIRITED AWARDS®

Philanthropy Award Nominations

2020 Spirited Awards® Nomination Process is open January 13th - February 26th


2020 Spirited Awards® Dates & Deadlines:

Nomination Period Opens: 10:00 AM CST January 13th, 2020

Nomination Period Closes: 11:59 PM CST February 26th, 2020

Regional Honorees Announced: April 14th, 2020

Top 10 Nominees Announced: May 4th, 2020

Finalists Announced: June 1st, 2020

Winners Announced: July 25th, 2020


Spirited Awards® judges are a collection of respected bartenders, bar owners, educators, and writers from across the globe entrusted with this critical calling. Drawing on their years of experience and their knowledge of the current work being done locally, nationally, and internationally, together the judges can evaluate nominees from far and wide to ensure that the Spirited Awards® represents the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry.

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation's Spirited Awards® Committee is dedicated to valuing the inclusion of the communities we serve by working towards recruiting a judging panel reflects their incredible diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality.

We aim to recruit judges of upstanding character who are diverse, extensively-traveled, recognized within their field, and representative of different-sized markets within their region. Recognizing that inclusion is key to a well-represented committee, TOTCF strives to ensure that we have a good representation of gender across the judging panel.

Read more about our Judging Code of Conduct.



Spirited Awards 2020 Categories and Criteria

Disclaimer: Any person or establishment that won an award at last year’s Spirited Awards® is not eligible for nomination in the category for which it won. Also, no person or establishment can win an award more than twice in the same category.

American Categories


Best American Bar Team

This award recognizes the best collection of talent working in an American bar today, including bartenders, barbacks, servers and front of house. Eligible recipients may range from two dynamic bartenders who bring a unique, compelling chemistry to their small bar to a larger team that orchestrates the theater of a high-volume craft experience.

Considerations include:

  • Professionalism
  • Dedication
  • Hospitality
  • Consistency of service
  • High quality cocktails
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019


*NEW* Best American Bar Mentor

This award recognizes the individual or individuals who, in their professional life, play a crucial role in raising the quality of bars, bartenders and cocktails without currently working as a bartender.

Considerations include:

  • Inspiration to others in the industry
  • Level of professional standards
  • Positive impact on the industry in their career
  • Innovation in the industry
  • Exceptional industry insights
  • Willingness to foster and educate the next generation


American Bartender of the Year

This award recognizes the American bartender who has had the most influence on drinks styles and cocktail culture. This bartender works regularly behind the bar of a single establishment and develops and serves incredible drinks.

Considerations include:
  • Innovation in drink creations
  • Personability, hospitality and generous spirit
  • Technical, practical skills and knowledge
  • National recognition of their work and personal recipes that have crossed borders and appeared on cocktail menus in other areas
  • Must work regularly behind a single bar–at least 3 shifts a week or more


Best American Brand Ambassador

This award recognizes the American ambassador whose creative use of brand communication, combined with personality, has had the most impact on the promotion of drink brands through engaging the trade and executing compelling education and seminars.

Considerations include:

  • Trade engagement
  • Quality of education and seminars
  • Creativity in brand communication
  • Must be working as a full-time Brand Ambassador in the field with a primary focus on education for the trade
  • Excludes any Brand Executives


Best American Cocktail Bar

This award recognizes the American bar that sets the highest of standards in the industry and has influenced national cocktail trends.

Considerations include:

  • Menu
  • Bar teams
  • Atmosphere
  • Cocktail quality
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019
  • Must be a free-standing bar

Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar

This award recognizes the American High Volume Cocktail bar that has taken steps and designed systems in order to excel in the service of cocktails at high volume.

Considerations include:

  • Menus with a variety of cocktail styles
  • Bartender team who work quickly and consistently under pressure
  • Reliable quality of service for large groups
  • Excellent standard of cocktails served
  • Consistently produces a high-number of quality cocktails weekly
  • Minimum capacity: 75 people
  • Must have opened prior to April 1st, 2019

Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Best American Hotel Bar

This award recognizes the American hotel bar that offers the best service and consistently well-made drinks in a comfortable setting, ultimately upholding the tradition of the classic hotel bar.

Considerations include:

  • Service
  • Consistency
  • Cocktail quality
  • Atmosphere
  • Ability to cater to an international guest
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019

Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Best American Restaurant Bar

This award recognizes an American restaurant bar that is dedicated to creating a great cocktail experience for their dining guests.

Considerations include:

  • Aperitif and digestive drinks
  • The food and cocktail menus need to be well integrated
  • Bartending
  • Mixology excellence
  • Establishment must have full dinner menu
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019
  • Must already have high ratings as a primarily food and wine business


Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Best New American Cocktail Bar

This award recognizes a recently opened American cocktail bar that made an immediate impact on cocktail culture and set new high standards for the industry.

Considerations include:

  • Creativity
  • Décor
  • Service
  • Execution of drinks
  • Must have opened between April 1, 2019 and February 26, 2020


Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


International Categories

Best International Bar Team

This award recognizes the best collection of talent working in an International bar today, including bartenders, barbacks, servers and front of house. Eligible recipients may range from two dynamic bartenders who bring a unique, compelling chemistry to their small bar to a larger team that orchestrates the theater of a high-volume craft experience.

Considerations include:

  • Professionalism
  • Dedication
  • Hospitality
  • Consistency of service
  • High quality cocktails
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019


Best International Bar Mentor

This award recognizes the individual or individuals who, in their professional life, play a crucial role in raising the quality of bars, bartenders and cocktails without currently working as a bartender.

Considerations include:

  • Inspiration to others in the industry
  • Level of professional standards
  • Positive impact on the industry in their career
  • Innovation in the industry
  • Exceptional industry insights
  • Willingness to foster and educate the next generation


International Bartender of the Year

This award recognizes the International bartender who has had the most influence on drinks styles and cocktail culture. This bartender works regularly behind the bar of a single establishment and develops and serves incredible drinks.

Considerations include:
  • Innovation in drink creations
  • Personability, hospitality and generous spirit
  • Technical, practical skills and knowledge
  • International recognition of their work and personal recipes that have crossed borders and appeared on cocktail menus in other areas
  • Must work regularly behind a single bar–at least 3 shifts a week or more


Best International Brand Ambassador

This award recognizes the International ambassador whose creative use of brand communication, combined with personality, has had the most impact on the promotion of drink brands through engaging the trade and executing compelling education and seminars.

Considerations include:

  • Trade engagement
  • Quality of education and seminars
  • Creativity in brand communication
  • Must be working as a full-time Brand Ambassador in the field with a primary focus on education for the trade
  • Excludes any Brand Executives


Best International Cocktail Bar

This award recognizes the International bar that sets the highest of standards in the industry and has influenced international cocktail trends.

Considerations include:

  • Menu
  • Bar teams
  • Atmosphere
  • Cocktail quality
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019
  • Must be a free-standing bar


Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar

This award recognizes the International High Volume Cocktail bar that has taken steps and designed systems in order to excel in the service of cocktails at high volume.

Considerations include:

  • Menus with a variety of cocktail styles
  • Bartender team who work quickly and consistently under pressure
  • Reliable quality of service for large groups
  • Excellent standard of cocktails served
  • Consistently produces a high-number of quality cocktails weekly
  • Minimum capacity: 75 people
  • Must have opened prior to April 1st, 2019

Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate


Best International Hotel Bar

This award recognizes the International hotel bar that offers the best service and consistently well-made drinks in a comfortable setting, ultimately upholding the tradition of the classic hotel bar.

Considerations include:

  • Service
  • Consistency
  • Cocktail quality
  • Atmosphere
  • Ability to cater to an international guest
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019


Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Best International Restaurant Bar

This award recognizes the International restaurant bar that is dedicated to creating a great cocktail experience for their dining guests.

Considerations include:

  • Aperitif and digestive drinks
  • The food and cocktail menus need to be well integrated
  • Bartending
  • Mixology excellence
  • Establishment must have full dinner menu
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 2019
  • Must already have high ratings as a primarily food and wine business


Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Best New International Cocktail Bar

This award recognizes a recently opened International cocktail bar that has made an immediate impact on cocktail culture and set new high standards for the industry.

Considerations include:

  • Creativity
  • Décor
  • Service
  • Execution of drinks
  • Must have opened between April 1, 2019 and February 26, 2019


Note: The bars that qualify for Best American or International Cocktail Bar, Best American or International High Volume Cocktail Bar, Restaurant Bar or Hotel Bar will only be considered for the final ten and final four in one of the above categories. In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.


Writing & Media Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication

This award recognizes outstanding print journalism (magazine, newspaper, online media) that features bars, bartenders, cocktails, spirit reviews, trends, and drinks culture.

Considerations include:

  • Beverage-related content.
  • Innovative, engaging, and notable writing.
  • Distinguished and dynamic collection of writers.
  • Exciting and impressive photography and design.
    • For print magazines, a sample of a single issue published during the date range specified below must be submitted with the nomination. Digital issues are preferred, but hard copy samples are also acceptable.
    • For newspapers and online publications, samples of specific, relevant articles published within the date range specified below must be submitted with the nomination.
    • For hard copy samples, the cost of submitting and shipping the sample is the responsibility of the publisher, publicist, or editor.
    • Please contact natalia@talesofthecocktail.org to arrange coordination and shipping of hard copy samples (as applicable). Samples must be shipped after close of the submission period (February 26th, 2020). Sample must have been published between April 1, 2019 and February 26th, 2020.

Disclaimer: English is the shared language for the judging committee. For the most thorough consideration by the judges, samples should either be published in English or translated into English. Samples in non-English languages are welcome, but the judges' abilities to read and score such samples may be limited.


Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing

Great journalism is one of the best ways to communicate the value and significance of great bars, bartenders, cocktails, and drinks culture. This award recognizes the writing and publication of a single piece of outstanding work (magazine, newspaper, online media) that highlights bars, bartenders, cocktails, spirits, trends, and drinks culture.

Considerations include:

  • Influence and following within the industry.
  • Innovative, engaging, and notable reporting, research, and writing.
  • This award recognizes a single, exceptional piece of work—candidates must upload one published writing sample per nomination.
  • Samples must have been published between April 1, 2019 and February 26th, 2020

Disclaimer: English is the shared language for the judging committee. For the most thorough consideration by the judges, samples should either be published in English or translated into English. Samples in non-English languages are welcome, but the judges' abilities to read and score such samples may be limited.


Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book

This award recognizes the best book published in the past year regarding cocktails, bars, bar design, or bartending in general.

Considerations include:

  • Bartending or cocktail-related content (this includes books focusing on low- or no-alcohol cocktails).
  • Innovative, engaging, and compelling writing.
  • Book must have an initial designated publication date between April 1, 2019 and February 26th, 2020
    • New editions of previously published books may be nominated.
  • Books must be readily available for retail purchase; works prepared and distributed as menus, marketing material, or that are only available to limited audiences are not eligible for consideration.
  • A sample of the final, finished book must be submitted with the nomination form; nominations without judging samples cannot be considered.
    • When submitting book samples, hard copies are greatly preferred, though digital samples may also be accepted.
    • For hard copy samples, the cost of submitting and shipping the sample is the responsibility of the publisher, publicist, or author.
    • Please contact natalia@talesofthecocktail.org to arrange coordination and shipping of hard copy samples (as applicable). Samples must be shipped after close of the submission period (February 26th, 2020).
    • For hard copy samples, the submission may only include a standard version of the published work, and a cover letter or copy of the submission form. Samples that are signed by the author, or that include promotional material, personal notes, gifts, or other items will be disqualified.

  • Note: A book can only be nominated in one of these categories (“Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book” or “Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits”). In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.

Disclaimer: English is the shared language for the judging committee. For the most thorough consideration by the judges, samples should either be published in English or translated into English. Samples in non-English languages are welcome, but the judges' abilities to read and score such samples may be limited.


Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits

This award recognizes the best long-form nonfiction published in the past year, including works on drinks culture, cocktail history, drinks-related personal memoir, spirits and distillation, or other aspects of the drinks world as it relates to spirits and cocktails.

Considerations include:

  • Content must be related in some way to spirits, cocktail history, bar culture, or similar themes.
  • Well-researched, innovative, and compelling writing.
  • Book must have been published between April 1, 2019 and February 26th, 2020.
    • New editions of previously published books may be nominated.
  • A sample of the final, finished book must be submitted with the nomination form; nominations without judging samples cannot be considered.
    • When submitting book samples, hard copies are greatly preferred, though digital samples may also be accepted.
    • For hard copy samples, the cost of submitting and shipping the sample is the responsibility of the publisher, publicist or author.
    • Please contact natalia@talesofthecocktail.org to arrange coordination and shipping of hard copy samples (as applicable). Samples must be shipped after close of the submission period (February 26th, 2020).
    • For hard copy samples, the package may only include a standard version of the published work, and a cover letter or copy of the submission form. Samples that are signed by the author, or that include promotional material, personal notes, gifts, or other items will be disqualified.

Note: A book can only be nominated in one of these categories (“Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book” or “Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits”). In case of ambiguity, the judging panel reserves the right to decide which category is the most appropriate.

Disclaimer: English is the shared language for the judging committee. For the most thorough consideration by the judges, samples should either be published in English or translated into English. Samples in non-English languages are welcome, but the judges' abilities to read and score such samples may be limited.


Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series

This award recognizes the best broadcast, podcast or online video series regarding bars, bartenders, cocktails, spirits, drinks culture, and bartending in general.

Considerations include:

  • Beverage-related content.
  • Influence and following within the industry.
  • Innovative, engaging, and notable media pieces.
  • Judges will consider a single episode first broadcast or posted online during the date range specified below. A sample file of a single, eligible episode, or a link to a single, eligible episode, must be included with the nomination form. The selected samples must have been broadcast or posted online between April 1, 2019 and February 26th, 2020

Global Categories

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient

This award recognizes the item that has made the most significant impact on the cocktail and bar industry in the past year.

Considerations include:

  • Must be a spirit (liquor, liqueur) or a cocktail ingredient (tonic, bitters, syrup or garnish)
  • Must be available for purchase with a minimum of three state distribution in the U.S. or in three countries in the rest of the world.
    • Provide a list of outlets in key markets where the product on distribution
  • Top 10 selected candidates will be asked to submit a sample product
  • Item may be new or a new reformulation
  • Item must have been launched between April 1, 2019 and February 26th, 2020


World’s Best Cocktail Menu

This award recognizes the bar’s ability to communicate its offerings to their guests in a physical manner–via hard copy bar menu or board.

Considerations include:

  • Originality and creativity of design
  • Content: range of spirits and specialty cocktails
  • Diversity of cocktail styles
  • To be considered, a PDF or JPG copy of the menu must be uploaded along with nomination form

World’s Best Spirits Selection

This award recognizes a venue that stocks an outstanding range of spirits.

Considerations include:

  • Comprehensiveness of one particular spirit or category
  • Discernment and extraordinary dedication to the spirit or category
  • Number of bottles stocked
  • A focus on specialty, rare or vintage selections
  • Staff knowledge of the spirit or category
  • PDF or JPEG copy of the spirits selection must be uploaded along with nomination form

Philanthropy Award (submit nominations here)

This award recognizes outstanding service by an individual or institution that demonstrates outstanding commitment to the hospitality community either through direct financial support, development of charitable or educational programs, volunteering and/or leadership in philanthropy.

Considerations include:

  • Depth/breadth of reach
  • Lasting Impact in community
  • Innovation/Creativity to address an issue or need in the hospitality industry

Additional Industry Awards (Not Available for Public Nomination)


Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award

This award recognizes the achievement of an individual, whom over the course of their career, has made significant contributions and lasting impact in the hospitality industry


Timeless American Award

This award recognizes an American bar that is a pillar in its community, has built a strong reputation for being an important space within its local and regional community, and one that has provided a benchmark for the industry there. The American Classic is a bar that is both welcoming and familiar, but also respected as an institution that has encouraged the culture and growth of other establishments, and has been a staple for locals and visitors alike. Eligible recipients should embody the culture and warmth of the city or location in which it resides, offer quality cocktails, consistent customer service and a certain compelling quality that makes it truly resonate within its community.

Considerations include:

  • Unique environment that represents its location
  • Customer Service
  • Focus on Hospitality
  • Consistency of service
  • Quality cocktails
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 1995 (25+ years)


Timeless International Award

This award recognizes an International bar that is a pillar in its community, has built a strong reputation for being an important space within its local and regional community, and one that has provided a benchmark for the industry there. The International Classic is a bar that is both welcoming and familiar, but also respected as an institution that has encouraged the culture and growth of other establishments, and has been a staple for locals and visitors alike. Eligible recipients should embody the culture and warmth of the city or location in which it resides, offer quality cocktails, consistent customer service and a certain compelling quality that makes it truly resonate within its community.

Considerations include:

  • Unique environment that represents its location
  • Customer Service
  • Focus on Hospitality
  • Consistency of service
  • Quality cocktails
  • Must have opened prior to April 1, 1995 (25+ years)

Nominations for the 14th Annual Spirited Awards® Live NOW!

Submissions will be accepted

JANUARY 13th 10:00 A.M. CST - FEBRUARY 26TH 11:59 P.M. CST

NOMINATE HERE FOR THE 2020 SPIRITED AWARDS®

Please note that inquiries will be responded to within business hours (9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. CST) during this time period.


Nomination Process

  • The Spirited Awards® have a long standing tradition of honoring beverage professionals and industry leaders, who in turn become regarded as influential role models among their peers. As such, all voters are urged to consider the character and conduct of all nominees and they're affiliated organizations. If you have concerns about a candidate’s behavior or the culture at their bars or establishments, please do include them in the nomination process.
  • In order to be considered for any one category you only need ONE nomination per category.
  • The Spirited Awards® are NOT based on popular vote.
  • All nominations will be evaluated by their respective judging committees.
  • Nominations for the 2019 Spirited Awards® open on Monday, January 13th, 2020 at 10:00 AM CST and close on Wednesday, February 26th 11:59 PM CST.
  • Anyone is able to submit a Spirited Awards nomination through our online awards judging software program.


Judging

Thank you to the 2020 Spirited Awards® Chairs and judges for volunteering their time and supporting the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and the Spirited Awards.

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation aims to recruit judges of upstanding character who are diverse, extensively-traveled, recognized within their field, and representative of different-sized markets within their region. Recognizing that diversity is the key to a well-represented committee, TOTCF strives to ensure that we have equitable representation of gender across the judging panel.

Judging Code of Conduct

Voting Procedures


Spirited Awards Overall Chair
Charlotte Voisey
Spirited Awards International Chair
Jacob Briars
Central U.S. Co-Chairs
Bridget Albert
Shaun Traxler
West U.S. Co-Chairs
Kiowa Bryan
Mary Palac
East U.S. Co-Chairs
Laura Cullen
Andy Seymour
Europe Co-Chair
Guiseppe Gallo
Claire Warner
Canada Co-Chairs
Lauren Mote
Evelyn Chick
Middle East & Africa Co-Chairs
Stephanie Simbo
Richard Irwin
Latin America & Caribbean Co-Chairs
Camille Austin
Tato Giovannini
Asia Pacific Co-Chair
Micaela Piccolo
Hayley Morrison
Writing & Media Co-Chairs
Paul Clarke
Matthew Rowley
Sandrea Lawrence
Francois Monti