Sydney Bar Week 2016 kicked off at The Barber Shop with a 4 day long series of seminars, parties, events and tastings culminating in the 16th annual Bar Awards at Doltone House.
Here are the highlights of what was a most busy and exciting week:
Day 1 – Big Gin Small Gin Seminar, Bar Week Launch at the Barber Shop
Big Gin Small Gin
Bar Week kicked off at The Barber Shop with Big Gin Small Gin, a seminar originally written for and presented at Tales of the Cocktail. Chaired by Raj Nagra, the presenters were Griffin Blumer (Poor Toms Gin) Mikey Enright (The Barber Shop), Brendan Carter (Applewood Distillery) and Jason Chan (The West Winds Gin). Topics discussed included craft gin, size of still, number of botanicals and approach to sustainability.
Bar Week Launch Party
Later that evening, The Barber Shop hosted the Bar Week Launch party with Raj Nagra, Sean Forsyth, David Nguyen-Luu, Mikey Enright and Loy Catada behind the bar making delicious Bombay Sapphire Gin libations.
Photos of Day 1 are posted on Gourmantic’s Facebook Page.
Day 2 – Tio’s Bartender Brunch, Indie Tasting, Aperitivo, Idiot Savant
Tio’s Bartender Brunch
The next day’s activities began early at 10.30 am with Tio’s Bartender Brunch serving agave cocktails such as the Maria Sangreada and Manana Vampiro along with hearty food by Ghostboy Cantina – just what the Bar Week doctor ordered to get your ready for the next big event, which was…
If your memories of last year’s Indie Tasting were of a bunch of eager visitors crammed into Frankie’s, this year saw more brands and exhibitors spilling into the front section of the venue. Time was of essence, for tasting and to catch the spirit talks, and despite the best intentions to visit as many new spirits and/or exhibitors first then do a second round, we ran out of time.
Here are some of top picks of the spirits we got around to tasting (ever so briefly), in no particular order:
- Vermouth del Professore
- Captain Bligh XO Rum
- Tarquin Gin
- Everything from Tequila Ocho
- Everything from La Venerosa Raicilla
- Artemis Gin
- Prohibition Bathtub Gin (69% ABV)
- Husk Distillers Pure Cane
- Poor Toms Fool Strength Gin
- Maidenii La Tonique Quinquina
- Red Okar from Applewood Distillery
- The Italian
- Gunnery Rum
- Rum Diary Spiced Rum
- Raicilla Estancia
- Melbourne Moonshine Sweet Tea Shine
- Rogue Gin Goldilocks
- Ransom Gin
The Aperitivo: An Italian Tale
From Frankie’s to Maybe Frank and it was time for Aperitvo, or what do you get when you put 5 Italian brands and their Ambassadors in one room. Discussions included Campari, Martini Ambrato, Aperol, Oscar.697 Vermouth, Disaronno Originale, Fernet Branca, Carpano Antica Formula and Amaro Montenegro followed by Aperitivo cocktails and pizza by Maybe Frank. You had to be there!
Idiot Savant Prizes
The Unicorn in Paddington packed a massive crowd for the Idiot Savant prizes with a bar so busy that getting a drink (or water) was near impossible. The best party went to Hello Sailor and the best b1tch was awarded to the amazing Harriet Leigh. The full list of winners has not yet been released.
Photos of Day 2 are posted on Gourmantic’s Facebook Page.
Day 3 – Business of Bars Conference, Coleman’s Academy Panel, Premiumisation of Rum & Exclusive Facundo Range Tasting, Disaronno Presents: Simon Difford, Bourbon St, 28HKS at Henrietta’s
Business of Bars Conference
Hosted by David Spanton at The Whisky Room, the Business of Bars Conference brought together passionate industry people to provide their thoughts and advice on a range of topics to assist those just starting out and those established players. I was extremely honoured to be a part of the Say It Right! Getting Results in the Media panel with luminaries of the industry and media.
Coleman’s Academy Panel
From The Whisky Room, it was a quick jaunt to the magnificence of Restaurant Hubert for Coleman’s Academy where Paige Aubort introduced the panel: Harriet Leigh (chair), Tash Conte (Black Pearl), Edwina Throsby (Broadcast Media), Lauren Eldridge (Marque Restaurant) and Dee Ryan (Merivale). The women shared their stories as well as offering insights and advice to advance and achieve an equality for all and to end the disparity in opportunity and remuneration for women in the hospitality industry.
Premiumisation of Rum & Exclusive Facundo Range Tasting
Sean Forsyth, Loy Catada, Mark Wyatt and Dre Walters presented their thoughts at The Lobo Plantation on the current premiumisation of the rum category and presented a tasting of Neo, Eximo and Paraíso from the Exclusive Facundo Range.
At the conclusion of the seminar, the top 8 bartender of the year finalists were announced:
- Priscilla Kinezaki, The Barber Shop
- Paul Hammond, Bulletin Place
- Tom Egerton, Eau de Vie
- Dan Gregory, The Gresham
- Joe Sinagra, Bobeche
- Michael Chiem, PS40
- Brendon Osmers, The Gresham
- Will Cowley, Brooklyn Standard
Disaronno Presents: Simon Difford
Simon Difford gave a presentation at The Winery on “what makes great bars great”, from the simple to those little things that will have people coming back again and again followed by the Disaronno Mixing Star Winners preparing their cocktails.
Bourbon Street by Beam Suntory was held at Surley’s where bartenders and brand ambassadors coming head to head behind the bar to the raucous cheers of the crowd. And that’s about as much as we saw of the event!
28HKS at Henrietta’s
28HKS, Asia’s Best Bar for 2016 popped up at Henrietta’s for an evening of cocktails and food. The Five Foot Assassin was served on arrival followed by a Cocktail Retrospective menu that tempted you to order every drink.
Photos of Day 3 are posted on Gourmantic’s Facebook Page.
Day 4 – Academy of Bartenders, Tequila Ocho & Cheese Pairing, Bartender of the Year, Bar Awards, Discotheque After Party
Academy of Bartenders
Mitch Wilson assembled a host of speakers for a day of talks with the Academy of Bartenders at Grain Bar. Speakers included Tyson Koh of Keep Sydney Open, Paige Aubort of Coleman’s Academy and an amazing agave journey into the coming together of Tomas Estes and Phil Bayly, just to name a few.
Tequila Ocho & Cheese Pairing
Tomas Estes along with Phil Bayly presented downstairs at Big Poppa’s a stellar masterclass and tasting with Tequila Ocho and introduced the new 750ml packaging. Three expressions were paired with cheese:
- Tequila Ocho Plata Rancho “puerta del Aire” Harvest 2016 with Brie fermiere
- Tequila Ocho Reposado Rancho “La Latilla” Harvest 2015 with Occelli al Barolo
- Tequila Ocho Anjeo rancho “La Magueyera” Harvest 2014 paired with 36 month aged Gouda
Bartender of the Year
After competing on stage in front of 600 people at the bar Awards, Michael Chiem (middle) of PS40, Sydney was crowned Bartender of the Year 2016 while Paul Hammond (left) of Bulletin Place, Sydney can in 2nd Place and Dan Gregory (right) from The Gresham, Brisbane in 3rd Place.
Here are the results of the Bar Awards for 2016 held at Doltone House in Pyrmont:
- Bar of the Year: The Gresham, Brisbane (pictured)
- Bar Operator of the Year: Swillhouse
- Pub Operator of the Year: Merivale
- Best Bartenders’ Bar: Heartbreaker, Melbourne
- Best Specialty Beer Venue: Petition Beer Corner, Perth
- Bar Manager of the Year: Toby Hilton, Swillhouse, Sydney
- Best Bar Food: Dead Ringer, Sydney
- The Phil Bayly Award for Tequila Bar of the Year: Tio’s Cerveceria, Sydney
- Best Gin Bar: The Barber Shop, Sydney
- Best Whisky Bar: Boilermaker House, Melbourne
- Best Rum Bar: The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
- Pub of the Year: Coogee Pavilion, Sydney
- New Pub of the Year: Hotel Palisade, Sydney
- Rookie of the Year: Dale Schoon, Earl’s Juke Joint
- New Bar of the Year: Restaurant Hubert, Sydney
- Small Bar of the Year: Cobbler, Brisbane
- Regional Bar of the Year: Coal & Cedar, Newcastle
- Nightclub of the Year: Family, Brisbane
- Bar Team of the Year: Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, Sydney
- Cocktail Bar of the Year: Bulletin Place, Sydney
- Cocktail List of the Year: Eau de Vie Melbourne
- Best Live Music Bar: Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane
- Wine Bar of the Year: Bar Liberty, Melbourne
- Hotel Bar of the Year: Grain, Sydney
- Training Program of the Year: The Blend by Beam Suntory
- Brand Ambassador of the Year: Richard Blanchard, William Grant & Sons
- Outstanding Contribution: Tash Conte, Black Pearl
Cocktail Bar of the Year – State Awards:
ACT: Molly, Canberra
NSW: Bulletin Place, Sydney
NT: Chow, Darwin
QLD: The Bowery
SA: Maybe Mae, Adelaide
TAS: IXL Long Bar, Hobart
VIC: Black Pearl, Melbourne
WA: The Dominion League, Perth
Bar of the Year – State Awards:
ACT: Hippo Co, Canberra
NSW: The Baxter Inn, Sydney
NT: Hot Tamale, Darwin
QLD: The Gresham, Brisbane
SA: Hains & Co, Adelaide
TAS: Robbie Brown’s, Hobart
VIC: Heartbreaker, Melbourne
WA: Varnish on King, Perth
Bar Awards After Party – Disco Fever
The Discotheque themed after party with all its glitter and dancing was held at The Cliff Dive.
Photos of Day 4 and the Bar Awards are posted on Gourmantic’s Facebook Page.
Day 5 – Recovery and Comment
When I think back to Bar Week 2016, one word comes to mind: intense.
Gourmantic attended 17 out of 20 events over 4 days. The 3 events we did not attend due to a time clash were Tiki Face Off Challenge, Inaugural Bottled Cocktail Invitational and, Bartender of the Year Rounds 1 & 2. Maybe next year we can be cloned.
Thank you Australian Bartender Magazine, David & Amy Spanton, and Sam Bygrave for putting on an unforgettable Bar Week every year.
Until next year!