Imbibe announces Drinks List of the Year 2019 winners

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

22 October 2019

Last night, the best and brightest of the UK bar community gathered at D&D’s 100 Wardour St in the heart of Soho to find out the winners of Imbibe’s Drinks List of the Year competition.

Now in their fourth year, our Drinks List of the Year awards recognise the hard work the on-trade puts in to crafting thoughtful, creative menus – ones that do far more than communicate what’s in the glass.

Thanks to our sponsors

  • Nero Premium Vodka
  • Highland Park Whisky
  • Franklin & Sons
  • Maker’s Mark
  • Copenhagen Distillery
  • Euroboozer

Determining this year’s winners from our impressive shortlist was no easy task. Through minimalist contraptions, musical homages, madcap themes and beyond, 2019’s nominees elevated their drinks menus to an art form. It was only after an intense day of deliberation that our judging panel managed to choose a winner for each of our eight categories, as well as the overall champion.

With Soulshakers’ Michael Butt and Imbibe’s acting editor Millie Milliken as the evening’s masters of ceremonies, we announced the best of the best…

  • Rum List of the Year: Laki Kane, London
  • Group Drinks List of the Year: The Liars Group, Manchester
  • Themed Drinks List of the Year: Lab 22, Cardiff
  • Whisky List of the Year: Brigadiers, London
  • Hotel Drinks List of the Year: American Bar at the Savoy, London
  • Gin List of the Year: The Leafy Elephant, Wokingham
  • Classic Drinks List of the Year: Anthracite, London
  • Avant Garde Drinks List of the Year: Wolf at The Door, Manchester
  • Overall Drinks List of the Year 2019: Blue Bar at The Berkeley, London

In the winner’s circle for the second year in a row was Cardiff’s Lab 22, which once again took home the Themed List of the Year award. So how did they do it? ‘We went in with one focused idea and maintained our concept all the way through. We just stuck to our principles,’ said bartender Max Hayward of the bar’s Pioneers + Visionaries-themed menu.

The judges

  • Millie Milliken, Imbibe
  • Julian de Feral, drinks consultant
  • Michael Butt, Soulshakers
  • Clinton Cawood, journalist
  • Stu Bale, Crucible
  • Lucy Morton, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK

Wokingham’s The Leafy Elephant, which snagged the Gin List of the Year title, was a newcomer to the awards, having only opened this summer. ‘We wanted to make our selection of 250 gins accessible for our customers,’ explained Paul Minea, the venue’s general manager. ‘The list took me six months to develop.’

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was our overall Drinks List of the Year winner, Blue Bar at The Berkeley. In years past, we selected our overall champion from the list of category winners, but not so in 2019. ‘Blue Bar’s Meta menu didn’t fit neatly into any of our categories, but it was the one list that our judges kept coming back to,’ commented Milliken.

‘We’re so surprised! I wanted our guests to be able to understand and approach the menu in a way that was fun,’ said Blue Bar’s head bartender Andrea Melis, who crafted the list. Judging by the newest award in the Blue Bar’s collection, Melis’ list was more than successful.

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