They’ve got Spirit, how about you? 2009 Spirit Awards honor the best in mixology

Cocktail heaven: Belfast’s Merchant Hotel.
Photo: Mark Kenny / Flickr

Whether you already know everything there is to know about cocktails or you are simply a rabid fan of them, the 2009 Spirits Awards winners will keep you informed about everything cocktail you need to know right now and everywhere you need to visit for a drink.

* Now, we wouldn’t want to spoil it for you but no, Vegas didn't win anything. All the more reason for us to catch up with New York, Ireland and the UK!

Best American Cocktail Bar: Pegu Club, NYC

The digs: “The house cocktails, made with all fresh juices and ingredients, reflect a master of the craft at play, beginning with the Gin-Gin Mule, spiced with homemade ginger beer, all the way to The Old Cuban, a champagne mojito.” -- New York Magazine Link:

World’s Best Hotel Bar: The Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Ireland

The digs: “From the elegance and opulence of The Bar, to the relaxed and comfortable Cloth Ear. From the glamour and sophistication of Ollie's Club, to the retro chic of The Private Resident's and Member's Bar, The Merchant Hotel offers entertainment to suit your every mood.” Link:


Best Cocktail Writing: David Wondrich

The deets: “A former English professor with a Ph.D. in comparative literature, Wondrich is known among friends for his obsession with “old man” drinks and brewing his own absinthe.” – Imbibe magazine Link:

Best New Product: Bols Genever

The deets: “Though new to Americans, it's a fairly time-tested product: The Lucas Bols family distillery was established in 1575 and its recipe dates back to 1820. Further street cred: Legendary bartender Jerry Thomas featured the spirit in his 1862 ‘Bar-Tender’s Guide’” – Link:

Best American Brand Ambassador: Simon Ford, London, UK

The man: From running a wine shop to opening some of England's most lauded cocktail bars, judging spirits in competition and marketing some of the biggest brands on the planet have made Mr. Ford a highly respected voice in the spirits industry. Link:

World’s Best Drink Selection: The Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Ireland

The bevies: Possessing one of only four bottles of J Wray & Nephew 17 yr rum known to still exist, and the only to actually serve it (at ₤750), The Merchant Hotel is the only place you can have an original Mai Tai as Trader Vic would have served it the very day it was created. Link:

American Bartender of the Year: James Meehan

The man: He currently runs PDT, a hidden cocktail lounge in the East Village where his work has been recognized by rising star awards from Star Chefs in 2007 and Cheers magazine in 2009. Link:

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: “The Essential Cocktail,” by Dale Degroff

The book: “Degroff (The Craft of the Cocktail) likes to be referred to as the King of Cocktails, and it is hard to argue the point. During his stint as bartender at Manhattan's Rainbow Room, he shunned packaged mixes and ushered in the use of fresh ingredients for classic drinks as well as potables of his own device. In this book, he offers 100 popular whistle-wetters and 100 variations thereof—martinis, sours, highballs and punches are all well represented.” – Publisher’s Weekly Link:

World’s Best Cocktail Menu: The Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Oreland

The deets: Get the picture? The place is spot-on. Link:

International Bartender of the Year: Tony Conigliaro, UK

The man: Throughout his career Tony has worked in many major bars within the London bar scene, and is acknowledged as one of the UK’s pioneering drinks creators. Link:

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: PDT, NYC

The digs: “PDT (short for Please Don’t Tell) is a snug, sexy speakeasy with a twist: Along with its high-quality classic cocktails and a well-chosen selection of beer and wine, patrons can order food from Crif’s kitchen next door. Oddly, it works…” – New York Magazine Link:

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Dorelli, London, UK

The man: During his illustrious career, Peter has been a member and president of the Bartender’s Guild, won numerous awards and is constantly running training courses and education programs for the new breed of budding Peter Dorellis. Link:


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