Last night the best and brightest in the drinks industry gathered together at 12th Knot, Sea Containers, London, for the 10th Imbibe Personality of the Year Awards. To celebrate our 10th anniversary we added two new awards: Trailblazer of the Year and an award celebrating 10 Years of Outstanding Achievement. Find out who went home with a gong…
Bar Team of the Year, sponsored by Reyka Vodka
Winner: Artesian at the Langham, London
It’s the recent journey of the team at Artesian at the Langham that got it the win. Anna Sebastian (as well as Remy Savage who left in late 2019) has fostered a team of ambitious and award-winning bartenders that make this one of the most exciting bars in the UK, whether it’s a buzzy Friday night or a quiet Monday. They genuinely make you want to get behind the bar with them – that’s what makes a winning bar team.
Runner up: Lab 22, Cardiff
A HUGE thanks to our sponsors:
Restaurant Personality of the Year, sponsored by Estrella Galicia
Winner: Gearoid Devaney Ms & Xavier Rousset Ms, Trade Soho
The judges felt this really was the year for this duo to win this award. Already lauded and well respected in the industry, a gamble last year to open a members club for hospitality professionals has really paid off and Trade Soho goes from strength to strength. The vision for Trade was to create a space for those in the industry to network, share ideas, learn and inspire others and that’s exactly what the judges wanted to recognise with this award.
Runner up: Brodie Meah, Top Cuvée
Bar Owner of the Year
Winners: Elliot Ball, Olly Brading & Andy Mil, Murder Inc Bar, The London Cocktail Trading Co., Filthy XIII, Her Majesty’s Secret Service
This was one of the toughest categories for the judges, by far with all of the nominees having something special that made them shine above the rest. In the end, it was the longevity and success of Elliot Ball, Olly Brading & Andy Mil's bars that got them the win. The three owners of some of the UK's most fun and successful bars have built an empire, drawing on their individual (and very different) complementary strengths. Their application was a masterclass in restraint while also combining three seriously impressive CVs.
Runner up: Pajtim Tani Hasa, Lab 22, Cardiff
Sommelier of the Year, sponsored by Gosset Champagne
Winner: Elly Owen, Paul Ainsworth, Cornwall
In an industry that can be more about the drink than about the people, it was Elly’s people-first approach to her job that got the judges vote. Her personality and love for hospitality, and the people within it, shone through in her entry alongside an inventive approach to inspiring people all about wine including wine silent discos and wine and music events also won praise from the judges.
Runner up: Bert Blaise, St Leonards, London
Bartender of the Year, sponsored by Carpano
Winner: Giovanni Tavano, Kwānt
All of the entries in this category were note-worthy, with a huge range of industry accolades to shout about as well as a myriad of causes that our nominees are passionate about – from bartender wellbeing to mentoring. Our winner though, Giovanni Tavano of London’s Kwānt, stood out as someone who will act as an ambassador for bartenders coming up the ranks. Having spent time at D&D London, Sexy Fish and Genuine Liquorette, he’s now tending bar at Kwānt under the eye of bartender heavy-weight and owner Erik Lorincz. His ambition and focused attitude towards bartending really shone through – he will certainly inspire those around him as he continues in his career.
Runner up: Federico Pavan, The Donovan Bar
Pub Personality of the Year, sponsored by Laphroaig
Winner: Heath Ball, Red Lion & Sun
Like all of our finalists, our winner is a great pub operator, but what made him stand out from his peers as far as the judges were concerned was the emphasis on great drinks that has been maintained at a time when many publicans are turning their attentions to food. And it’s about pub drinks as well – not fancy concoctions but a cracking wine list and cask beer served in perfect condition.
Runner up: Clement Ogbonnaya, Prince of Peckham
Trailblazer of the Year
Winner: Lily Waite, The Queer Brewing Project
This category had a huge breadth of talent and ingenuity, covering the likes of workers' health, sustainability and giving our industry a voice. But it was Lily Waite of The Queer Brewing Project who really impressed this year's judges. Her tireless work within in the LGBTQ+ community in our industry deserves serious applause – not to mention that she's still under 30. Her outlook and attitude to the industry as a whole was refreshing and inspiring. A very worthy winner.
Educator of the Year, sponsored by Disaronno
Winner: Ross Duncan, The Stable Bars And Restaurants
Both our winner and our runner-up are from the world of cider, which perhaps says something about the way the world of cider is changing. Our winner won out, however by combining an infectious enthusiasm for his subject with a sophisticated understanding of the different ways people learn. His ability to adapt his methods to get the most out of his team and also his talent for unlocking the mysteries of cider to, not just the trade, but consumers as well was seen as more than reason enough to name him our educator of the year 2020.
Runner up: Gabe Cook, ciderologist
Innovator of the Year, sponsored by Schweppes
Winner: Iain McPherson, Panda & Sons, Hoot The Redeemer and Nauticus
This award had our judges really focus on the word 'innovator' by choosing our winner based on their ingenuity and flair. That's why Iain McPherson took the win, with a special focus on his method of 'switching' in cocktail making (using freezing techniques and separate water from spirits and switching it with something else). The judges merited McPherson for his inventiveness, his DIY-style of working (in a welcome shift from expensive bar equipment) and his openness with his own methods in introducing his peers to this new technique.
Winner: Melania Battiston, Medlar
This award is aimed at spotting the up and coming talent in our industry and is always a difficult one to judge, spanning as it does multiple parts of the trade and there being a wealth of young talent in the drinks industry (lucky us). Our winner comes from the world of wine, where the judges felt it can be harder to make waves and build a profile than perhaps the world of bartending where there are more opportunities to do so. In the end however, it really came down to attitude – when things had got tough and plans had gone awry this person’s ‘never give up’ approach shone through, something which the judges believe will take her even further than she has already come.
Runner up: Nicole Sykes, Satan’s Whiskers
Winners: Pete Brown, beer & cider author, broadcaster and consultant, and Colin Dunn, Diageo whisky ambassador
After hours of debate our judges decided there had to be two industry legends awarded this year – two different candidates you might never find. Both from different parts of the industry, both with very different careers and both in very distinct spheres of influence. Both with achievements that equally deserved to be recognised however. And so we did.
Our first legend, Pete Brown, is a man who gave up a lucrative career to become a blogger back in 2006. Since then he has written books, presented TV and radio programs and become a well-respected industry commentator. Along the way he has displayed a talent for championing the underdog: beer back when it was unfashionable; pubs when they were closing at a rate of hundreds a week; then he called out sexism in the industry, and cider got his attention when no one else was writing about it. Just like our other Industry Legend of 2020 (below) the only surprise for the judges was that he hadn’t gone home with this award before now.
Our second legend is Colin Dunn. Having previously spent time in the wine trade, Dunn now acts as whisky ambassador for Diageo. It was his influence and attitude to education that had our judges adamant to have him win this award, with personal anecdotes of his ability to import his vast knowledge of whisky to novice's and experts alike. That and how tirelessly he continues to work. Tributes to this legend on the night showed just how much Dunn has shaped and educated some of the brightest stars in the UK's bartending and spirits scene.
10 Years of Outstanding Achievement
Winner: Ryan Chetiyawardana, Lyaness, Cub, Super Lyan, Silver Lyan
This very special award marks the Imbibe Personality of the Year Awards' 10th anniversary, so our winner had to be someone who has been at the forefront of our industry for the last decade. The judges collated numbers from all competitions (including 2020), totting up who has been nominated and won the most amount of times.
It came as little surprise that Ryan Chetiyawardana came out on top with a career that has seen him open a world's best bar, as well as his most recent opening on Silver Lyan – his first permanent residence across the pond. He is regularly seen in both industry and consumer publications, not to mention his own (hugely popular) recipe books.
His roll call of POTY accolades have included six nominations between the years of 2012 and 2020, with three wins in 2012 for the Hot Stuff award, and 2014 and 2016 for Innovator of the Year. His ascension to his Industry Legend and Trailblazer nominations for the 2020 awards shows the growth of arguably the UK's most famous bartender. Not to mention that he's a tremendously nice guy, to boot.