The on-trade movers and shakers gathered together in Soho, London to find out which bar would take home the coveted title of Drinks List of the Year.
Nominees travelled from far-flung corners of the UK for the celebrations at 100 Wardour St on 16 October to see if Dandelyan could retain the top spot for a second year.
After teasing you earlier in the week, the Overall Drinks List of the Year went to Merchant House, whose ‘elegant, stylish and balanced’ menu – themed around European Empires – impressed the judges with its classic yet forward-thinking feel.
‘We definitely weren’t expecting this – it’s really amazing,’ Merchant House’s Hebe Richardson told Imbibe. ‘It was so lovely to be nominated for Avant-Garde List of the Year – that category was full of amazing bars. But Merchant House doesn’t quite fit neatly into any of the categories. So to be recognised by Imbibe for the work we are doing is such an honour.’
Guests were treated to canapés and cocktails provided by Maxxium as they watched the winners take the stage to receive their awards, with bars from as far as Sheffield (Avant-Garde Drinks List of the Year – Picture House Social) and Bournemouth (Whisky List of the Year – Smokin Aces Cocktail Bar & Whisky Lounge) collecting gongs.
‘This is unreal,’ Smokin Aces’ Luke Sheppard said on his win. ‘We are very shocked and really excited to be in the same room as the other whisky bars – it’s a real honour.’
‘We’ve created a carefully curated list of whiskies, we’ve got 156 on our list and every whisky earns its place,’ GM John Adams added.
Esteemed hotels and groups were not forgotten, in two new categories this year – Hotel Drinks List of the Year and Group List of the Year, given to Punch Room at the London Edition and Dishoom respectively.
‘It is beautiful to be on the list but to win against a few big hotel groups is amazing,’ the Punch Room team said. ‘We thought Scarfes Bar would win or the Savoy.’
We caught up with this year’s judges to tell us exactly what made the following drinks lists so special.
Gin Drinks List of the Year
Winner: 40 St Paul’s, Birmingham
Runner up: Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour
Whisky Drinks List of the Year
Winner: Smokin’ Aces, Bournemouth
Runner up: Ballygrant Inn, Islay
Rum Drinks List of the Year
Winner: Trailer Happiness, London
Runner up: Auld Reekie Tiki, Edinburgh
Themed Drinks List of the Year
Winner: Doctor Ink’s Curiosities, Exeter
Runner up: Pennyroyal, Cardiff
Avant-Garde Drinks List of the Year
Winner: Picture House Social, Sheffield
Runner up: Merchant House, London
Classic Drinks List of the Year
Winner: Cocktail Embassy, London
Runner up: Hidden Rooms, Cambridge
Hotel Drinks List of the Year
Winner: Punch Room at the Edition, London
Runner up: American Bar at the Savoy, London
Group List of the Year
Winner: Dishoom, UK
Runner up: New World Trading Co, UK
Overall Drinks List of the Year
Winner: Merchant House, London