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The World's Best Bar: The American Bar at London's Savoy Hotel Wins Top Spot at the 12th Annual Spirited Awards

It was a most excellent year for Great Britain as London bars once again dominated the Spirited Awards in New Orleans during this year’s Tales of the Cocktail—just as it did in 2016 and 2015. In the “Global” and “International” categories, an impressive seven awards (out of fourteen) went to London watering holes. And if you count “International Bartender of the Year” (Joe Schoefield) and “Best International Brand Ambassador” (Ian Burrell), that’s really nine out of fourteen—because both men hail from the UK.

Triple Threat: The American Bar at the Savoy won three top awards—World’s Best Bar, Best International Bar Team and Best International Hotel Bar.SAVOY

The American Bar at London’s famed Savoy hotel took home three significant prizes, including the Award’s most prestigious one: “World’s Best Bar.” The other two honors it took home are “Best International Bar Team” and “Best International Hotel Bar.” And Happiness Forgets, in Hoxton Square, is back in the game—winning “Best International Cocktail Bar,” beating some serious competitors: Singapore’s AtlasParis’ Le Syndicat, and Mexico City’s Licorería Limantour. “The Best International Restaurant Bar” went to Sager + Wilde Paradise Row (not to be confused with its wine bar cousin on Hackney Road)—a well-earned win. As for one of the more anticipated awards of the evening, the “Best New International Cocktail Bar,” went to Coupette—the relatively low key France-inspired neighborhood joint in Bethnal Green.

Win, Win: Last year’s top bar, London’s Dandelyan was awarded World’s Best Cocktail Menu.PHOTO: DANDELYAN

Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Dandelyan at London’s Mondrian Hotel is the recipient of “World’s Best Cocktail Menu,” outshining formidable opponents—including New York’s Dante and Blacktail. It may be a downgrade of sorts from Chetiyawardana’s win last year, when Dandelyan was named “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” but it’s rather remarkable that the man has been consistently taking home prizes for years. That’s saying something.

Greece Lightning: The Clumsies in Athens won Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar.PHOTO: THE CLUMSIES

Noticeably missing in this year’s ceremony were all the outstanding bars in Asia, a few of which were recognized in the last three years. Instead, we saw Athens’ The Clumsies claim the top title of “Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar.” And if you look only at the “International” category, it is the only non-UK winner. (That’s right, seven out of eight awards went to England.)

American Greatness: Miami’s Sweet Liberty won Best Spirit Selection and Best American Bar Team.PHOTO: SWEET LIBERTY

Stateside, Miami emerged with three wins: Sweet Liberty claiming “Best American Bar Team” and “World’s Best Spirit Selection.” While The Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami claimed “Best American Hotel Bar.”

The most moving part of the awards ceremony was undeniably the “Lifetime Achievement Award” presented to John Lermayer, the preternaturally joyful bartender and owner of the Spirited Award-winning Sweet Liberty in Miami Beach, who died in June at the age of 45.

There’s Only One John Lermayer: The much-beloved bartender who owned Miami’s Sweet Liberty and who passed away in June, was the recipient of 2018′s Lifetime Achievement Award.PHOTO: WORLD RED EYE

“We’ve all heard Lermayer stories. We’ve all been complicit in Lermayer stories,” said Laura Cullen, Lermayer’s friend of more than two decades and one of the many bar owners he mentored. “John was unapologetically American. He did not back down. He did not compromise. John Lermayer understood that success was not about what you had, but about what you give back.” To illustrate the point, Gary Solomon Sr. of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation came onstage to announce that the organization was donating $10,000 to a fund established for Lermayer’s young son.

Cullen continued her tribute by passing along some of Lermayer’s most cherished wisdom. “He knew the influence he had—and chose empowerment over power,” she said. “Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously….And every damn day—pursue happiness.”

New York Minute: The NoMad Bar in Manhattan won Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar.PHOTO: KARLA ALINDAHAO

Unlike previous years, 2018’s U.S winners are a lot more diverse, with only a single New York bar making the cut: The NoMad Bar for “Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar.” And that’s refreshing news, having bars in other cities conquer key categories—including “Best American Restaurant Bar” (Portland’s Clyde Common), “Best New American Cocktail Bar” (Seattle’s Navy Strength), and “Best American Cocktail Bar” (Chicago’s Lost Lake).