Tales of the Cocktail Foundation announces 2021 Spirited Awards® Top 10, Digital Playbill and Interactive Directory

Posted on: Aug. 23, 2021 | | By: Gia Vecchio

NEW ORLEANS, LA (August 23, 2021) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is honored to announce the Spirited Awards® Top 10 nominees for the 2021 Writing and Media categories, the 2021 Spirited Awards official media partnership with Forbes, the release of the 2021 Digital Playbill, and the inaugural Spirited Awards® Directory presented in partnership with marquee sponsor Diageo Bar Academy. Founded in 2007 to celebrate excellence in the drinks industry, the Spirited Awards have become one of the most globally revered accolades, recognizing beverage professionals, products, and establishments across all facets of the spirits and cocktail industry, this year honoring recipients through the lens of the conference’s 2021 theme: Community. 

While reflecting on 2020 presents a difficult climate for the notion of excellence, it also presents a pivotal moment for global acknowledgment of hard work and resilience. As the cocktail industry navigated closures, government shutdowns, and global travel restrictions in 2020, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and the Spirited Awards Co-Chairs made the difficult, but necessary, decision that there was no fair way to honor every award category for 2021. However, in an effort to continue celebrating the strides and achievements of the drinks industry, the 2021 Spirited Awards Ceremony will announce winners for the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Pioneer Award, Timeless U.S. Award, Timeless International Award, and the five awards within the Writing and Media categories. 

“Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is honored to recognize the tenacious spirit of our industry, one that inspires us to band together and embrace this year’s theme of community, by presenting the 15th Annual Spirited Awards,” said Tales of the Cocktail Foundation CEO Eileen Wayner. “As we continue to navigate many uncertainties, we are grateful for the opportunity to shine a light on the thought-leadership, innovation, collaboration, and perseverance that is advancing the craft and culture of our beloved cocktail community.” 

2021 Spirited Awards®  Top 10 Writing and Media Nominees (listed in alphabetical order):

​​Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Boothby
  • CLASS magazine
  • Difford’s Guide (diffordsguide.com)
  • Discard the Zine
  • DRiNK Magazine
  • Epicurious
  • Imbibe 
  • Liquor.com
  • The Spirits Business
  • VinePair

Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Agave Road Trip from Heritage Radio Network 
  • Back Bar on Heritage Radio Network
  • Brown & Balanced
  • Life Behind Bars with Noah Rothbaum & David Wondrich
  • Radio Imbibe
  • Shōshin Art Club
  • The Liquid Antiquarian
  • The Modern Bar Cart Podcast
  • The Right to Drink
  • The Speakeasy on Heritage Radio Network

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • “A Black Bourbon Writer Reflects on Representation in the Whiskey Industry” by Gabrielle Nicole Pharms, UPROXX 
  • “A (Non-)History of Jamaica in British Navy Rum” by Matt Pietrek, Cocktail Wonk
  • “Becky Paskin On Sexism In Spirits And The ‘Whisky Bible’ Controversy” by Gabrielle Nicole Pharms, UPROXX 
  • “El Futuro” by François Monti, JAIBOL
  • “Fuck you, Pay Me” by Alex Kratena, Discard the Zine
  • “Montana’s Great Lost Barman” by Robert Simonson, PUNCH
  • “The Anti-Semites Who Pushed Prohibition on America” by Brad Japhe, Half Full
  • “The Myth of the Peaceful Plantation” by Wayne Curtis, Half Full
  • “The Night the Neon Went Dark” by Brad Thomas Parsons, PUNCH
  • “The True Cost of a Cocktail” by John deBary, PUNCH

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Difford’s Guide to Cocktails Fifteenth Edition by Simon Difford
  • Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails by John deBary
  • Drinking French: The Iconic Cocktails, Apéritifs, and Café Traditions of France, with 160 Recipes by David Lebovitz
  • Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival with 60 Recipes by Chloe Frechette
  • Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason by Julia Bainbridge
  • Happy Hour Handbook by Fiona Arnold and Jeffrey Knott
  • Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics) 3rd Edition by Dave Stolte and Jason Schiffer
  • Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World by Adrienne Stillman Krausz
  • The New Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
  • The United States of Cocktails: Recipes, Tales, and Traditions from All 50 States (and the District of Columbia) by Brian Bartels

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • A Long Stride: The Story of the World’s No. 1 Scotch Whisky by Nicholas Morgan
  • Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktail Recipes from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels by Alia Akkam
  • Gin: How to Drink It: 125 Gins, 4 Ways by Dave Broom
  • Give Me Liberty and Give Me a Drink! by C. Jarrett Dieterle
  • Soju: A Global History by Hyunhee Park
  • Spirits of Latin America by Ivy Mix with James Carpenter
  • The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries by Davin de Kergommeaux and Blair Phillips
  • The Distiller of London, edited by Anistatia R. Miller and Jared M. Brown
  • Unvarnished: A Gimlet-Eyed Look at Life Behind the Bar by Eric Alperin and Deborah Stoll
  • Whisky: It’s Not Rocket Science by Mickaël Guidot

2021 Spirited Awards® Chairs and Judging Criteria

Below is a list of Spirited Awards Chairs for 2021:

Overall Chair — Charlotte Voisey 

International Chair — Jacob Briars

Central U.S. Co-Chairs —  Bridget Albert, Steva Casey

West U.S. Co-Chairs — Kiowa Bryan, Mary Palac

East U.S. Co-Chairs — Laura Cullen, Andy Seymour

Europe Co-Chairs — Guiseppe Gallo, Nicola Riske

Canada Co-Chairs — Evelyn Chick, Sabrine Dhaliwal

Middle East & Africa Co-Chairs — Oyindamola C. de-Medeiros, Richard Neil Irwin

Latin America & Caribbean Co-Chairs — Camille Austin, Tato Giovannoni, Jean Trinh

Asia Pacific Co-Chairs — Pankaj Balachandran, Yao Lu, Hayley Morison, Charmaine Thio

Writing & Media Co-Chairs — Paul Clarke, Sandrae Lawrence, François Monti, Matthew Rowley

Spirited Awards® judges are a collective of revered bartenders, bar owners, educators, and writers from across the globe entrusted with the meaningful decision of evaluating nominees based on a set of structured criteria. Drawing on their years of experience and their knowledge of the current work being done locally, nationally, and internationally, together the judges evaluate nominees from far and wide to ensure that the Spirited Awards represents the range and magnitude of the global drinks industry. The Spirited Awards is not based on popular vote and all nominations are evaluated by their respective judging committees. 

To learn more about the Spirited Awards judging committee and awards criteria, please visit the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards page.

The 15th Annual Spirited Awards Ceremony

The 15th annual Spirited Awards Ceremony will be broadcast LIVE via a closed, invite-only format from Jewel of the South in New Orleans on September 23, 2021 at 4:00 PM CT. The ceremony will be available for global viewing on the Tales of the Cocktail® 2021 digital platform. With hosts ms. franky marshall and J’Nai Angelle leading the celebration, this year’s ceremony will commemorate the Spirited Awards winners from the following categories:

  • Helen David Lifetime Achievement presented by William Grant & Sons
  • Pioneer Award presented by The Blend
  • Timeless U.S. Award presented by Q Mixers
  • Timeless International Award presented by Perrier 
  • Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Diageo Bar Academy
  • Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Diageo Bar Academy
  • Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Diageo Bar Academy
  • Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Diageo Bar Academy
  • Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by Diageo Bar Academy

2021 Spirited Awards®  Digital Playbill 

In conjunction with the top 10 Writing and Media Spirited Awards nominees, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is thrilled to share the release of the official Digital Playbill which further outlines changes to this year’s awards, nominee highlights, insights on the judging process from Spirited Awards Co-Chairs, and a comprehensive look at this year’s generous sponsors. For more information, please visit www.tocstaging.wpengine.com

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Spirited Awards® and Forbes 

Tales of the Cocktail is pleased to share that Forbes is the official media partner for this year’s Spirited Awards and will partner with the organization on editorial exploration of the interactive Spirited Awards directory as well as key themes and industry trends for 2021 leading up to and beyond the Spirited Awards. 

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards® Directory

For the first time ever, Tales of the Cocktail announces the Spirited Awards® Directory in partnership with Marquee sponsor Diageo Bar Academy with support from Angostura, Bacardi Limited, CAMPARI, Elijah Craig, Hendricks Gin, Tequila Fortaleza, and The Blend. Giving discerning imbibers a comprehensive compendium of all 900+ Spirited Awards winners, nominees, and honorees from the past 15 years, the Directory is an interactive, global map created to easily guide guests to officially recognized Spirited Awards establishments. 

This resource will be updated year over year, making it an easy-to-use tool to plan which bars to visit at home or when traveling. Use the Spirited Awards Directory today to explore the award winning bars. 

“The Diageo Bar Academy is proud to be a part of the Spirited Awards®, particularly during a time when the community has shown nothing but strength, poise, and innovative spirit in a period of uncertainty,” shares Cassandra Ericson, Manager of On Premise at Diageo North America. “As the destination for information, inspiration and networking for bar professionals, it’s our mission at the Diageo Bar Academy to be a useful tool in continuously raising the bar and your career, and recognizing these world renowned professionals alongside Tales of the Cocktail is one of the biggest joys as a part of this ongoing work.”

2021 Spirited Awards Regional Roundtable Discussions

As an addition to Tales of the Cocktail’s stellar 2021 programming agenda, members of the Spirited Awards Regional Committee identified voices in each Spirited Awards region that have shaped the way the industry has adapted from COVID-19 and created emerging themes poised to push the spirits community forward. These themes will be shared at this year’s digital conference during a special series of Spirited Awards Regional Roundtable Discussions. 

Interested participants may register for the free Tales of the Cocktail conference and visit the official Tales of the Cocktail 2021 agenda to access this special Spirited Awards programming. Spirited Awards Roundtable Discussions include: 

  • Community presented by Pernod Ricard
  • Digital Experiences presented by Pernod Ricard
  • Drinks Culture presented by Perrier
  • Industry Advocacy presented by Pernod Ricard
  • Innovative Pivots presented by CAMPARI



Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events. 

About Diageo North America 

Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands including

Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit and Buchanan’s whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One

vodkas, Casamigos, DeLeon and Don Julio tequilas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Tanqueray and


Diageo is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: DEO) and the London Stock

Exchange (LSE: DGE) and their products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world. 

For more information about Diageo, their people, brands, and performance, visit  www.diageo.com .

Visit Diageo’s global responsible drinking resource,  www.DRINKiQ.com , for information,

initiatives, and ways to share best practice. Follow at Twitter and Instagram for news and

information about Diageo North America: @Diageo_NA.

About Forbes

Forbes champions success by celebrating those who have made it, and those who aspire to make it. Forbes convenes and curates the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change, transforming business and making a significant impact on the world. The Forbes brand today reaches more than 140 million people worldwide through its trusted journalism, signature LIVE and Forbes Virtual events, custom marketing programs and 32 licensed local editions in 71 countries. Forbes Media’s brand extensions include real estate, education and financial services license agreements. For more information, visit the Forbes News Hub or Forbes Connect.

Media Inquiries:

Gia Vecchio, [email protected], 917.280.5043

Hunter Smith, [email protected], 803.397.8878

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