Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Announces Changes to the Spirited Awards® for 2021

Posted on: May. 10, 2021 | | By: Gia Vecchio

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (May 10, 2021) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is pleased to celebrate the 15th annual Spirited Awards® through the lens of the organization’s 2021 theme, Community. This year’s 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. Due to bar closures, differing timelines of COVID government shutdowns, global travel restrictions in 2020, and given that a majority of Spirited Awards categories are judged annually based on the nominee’s body of work for the year prior, there was no fair opportunity for judges to experience and evaluate bars, individuals and teams for this year’s awards. 

Additional Spirited Awards programming will be celebrated by exploring global trends in the industry in a Spirited Awards track of education at Tales of the Cocktail 2021. The Regional Spirited Awards Committees will identify both existing trends over the past year that have shaped the way the industry has adapted from COVID-19, and emerging trends poised to push the spirits community forward. The Committees will also select people and organizations regionally who exemplify these trends to share their knowledge and experience. This content will be focused on identifying the ways in which the industry has diversified business as usual and how these trends will propel the industry in the years to come. 

Through this programming, the Foundation is taking this opportunity to look ahead; to provide a platform for veteran experts and new voices alike to opine on the future of the industry and share new, lesser told narratives. 

“This has been a year of great loss but also meaningful gains,” shared Neal Bodenheimer, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. “2021 marks a time of global perseverance and contributions that deserve to be recognized. It is our responsibility and great honor to acknowledge those doing the meaningful work to carve a path forward for our industry and we look forward to celebrating our colleagues this September.”

2021 Awards Format:

The categories that could be fairly judged will be awarded for 2021 include the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award; Pioneer Award; Timeless U.S. Award; Timeless International Award; Writing and Media award categories – Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication, Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing, Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book, Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits, and Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series.  

The public nomination period for the Pioneer Award and the five Writing and Media awards begins on Monday, May 10 at 10:00am CST and concludes at 11:59pm CST on Wednesday, June 2. Spirits professionals and enthusiasts can nominate anyone (self-nominations included) so long as the candidates meet eligibility criteria for their respective categories. The full list of 2021 categories and eligibility requirements can be found here.

The award recipient of the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award is selected by a committee composed of luminaries from the drinks industry, and has representation from both prior winners of the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award along with Dame Hall of Fame Pioneer recipients.

The award recipients of the Timeless U.S. Award and Timeless International Award are selected by a renowned committee composed of leading authorities on the drinks industry. Their collective insights and global reach work in tandem to help identify the best establishments eligible for these awards.

The Top 10 nominees for each of the five Writing and Media categories will be released via the Spirited Awards Playbill in August. Winners of these five categories, as well as the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Pioneer Award, Timeless U.S. Award, and Timeless International Award will be announced during the Spirited Awards Ceremony on September 23, 2021. The ceremony will be available live in a digital format and will be live streamed from bars in key markets, wherever it is safe and feasible to host in-person happy hours.

In light of the unprecedented travel and operational restrictions in place throughout the majority of 2020, anyone (bar, spirit/cocktail ingredient, etc.) who is unable to be considered for a “Best New” or comparable category in 2021 will remain eligible for that same category in 2022 to ensure an equitable process and opportunity for recognition.  

“We are glad to be able to present a selection of awards this year and we are grateful to have the help and guidance of our regional committees to identify emerging trends and share the stories of grit, ingenuity, community spirit and strength shown by so many bars, bartenders and hospitality workers around the world in the face of unprecedented challenge,” shared Overall Chair, Charlotte Voisey. 

2021 Spirited Awards Chairs:

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

Committee Members:

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards® Committee, including Co-Chairs, Regional Committee Members, and Writing & Media Judges, is composed of respected bartenders, bar owners, educators and writers from across the globe. Drawing on their years of experience and their knowledge of the current work being done locally, nationally and internationally, together the Co-Chairs and Committee Members can evaluate individuals and establishments from within their region, and Writing & Media Judges can evaluate nominations from far and wide, to ensure that the Spirited Awards are inclusive and represent the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry.

Over the past several months TOTCF has worked with the Regional Co-Chairs to ensure this year’s committees and judging panels would be more geographically diverse by focusing on recruiting more committee members from mid-sized markets to better represent the range of the industry on a global scale. The Spirited Awards are not based on popular vote and all nominations are evaluated by their respective judging committees. 

Tales of the Cocktail’s 2021 conference will be held in a primarily digital format, with in-person activations wherever feasible and safe, from September 20 – 23, 2021. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation would like to extend gratitude to its 2021 partners that help make Tales of the Cocktail possible. Bacardi, Beam Suntory, and William Grant & Sons are underwriting partners for 2021. Perrier is the festival’s Official Water and Q Mixers is the Official Mixer for the year.  For more information, please visit https://talesofthecocktail.org/



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. Tales of the Cocktail® 2021 will be held digitally from September 20 – 23, 2021. For more information on Tales of the Cocktail, please visit talesofthecocktail.org

Media Inquiries: Gia Vecchio, [email protected], 917.280.5043

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