If there's one thing a pandemic can do, its bring out the best in people. And the bar industry is packed full of ambitious, talented bar revolutionaries who haven't let the global crisis dampen their passion, determination or spirit this last year. That's why on January 25th, a shortlist of 13 awesome drinks biz entrepreneurs will be celebrated at the virtual Bar Entrepreneur Awards ceremony, hosted by Havana Club.
The winner of the Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur of the Year award will be chosen from a shortlist of 13 finalists from across three continents by a bad-ass panel of judges, including Rhys Oldfield, co-Founder at leading bar group Be at One; Juan Valls, owner of El Nino and Sinner Club; Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native Bar in Singapore; Ara Carvallo, co-founder of Barra Mexico, Latin America’s leading spirits tradeshow and the world’s first zero-carbon bar show.
Tess Posthumus, owner of Amsterdam bars Flying Dutchmen Cocktails and Dutch Courage, also joins the jury, alongside Kelsey Ramage, winner of the One to Watch category in 2019, in addition to business educator Cécile Bulle and bar manager Rasmus Lomborg. A pretty bad-ass bunch.
The chosen champ will be the entrepreneur who has impressed the panel with their resilience, innovation and god-damn un-shaken spirit over the last unprecedented year. The prize? A cool €20,000 to invest in their business. Cha-ching!
Last year's winner was Carina Soto Velasquez, a woman whose passion and creativity was shaking up the Paris bar scene through the launch of Quixotic Projects - a creative community that builds soulful idiosyncratic businesses by weaving the passion of their awesome chefs, bartenders, designers, craftsmen and hospitality pros into a killer guest experience.
Carina Soto Velasquez - Image credit: Caleb Krisvoshey / Havana Club
Velasquez wanted to give back to the industry she loves (this girl!) and donated her prize to support Parabere Forum, an annual event that gathers thought leaders in the field of gastronomy, food, and nutrition. Carina’s donation has since created a new programme ‘Parabere Grant’, offering women a voice and a platform to share their stories and continue building strong networks to achieve their goals.
It goes without saying just how much of a big deal winning this award is to the nominees.
When chatting about the impact of winning the 2019 Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur of the Year award, Carina explains: “this recognition not only enhanced my career but provided me with the opportunity to support our friends within the industry. After donating my winning prize to Parabere Forum, this has created a grant inside the forum for women to have a voice on major food issues and has enabled the platform to become more accessible to all walks of life. I am looking forward to celebrating the ambition, love and passion that the shortlisted figures have for the bartending community – good luck!”
L-r: Stephen Hinz, Kelsey Ramage, Rosie Stimpson and Laura Angel, accepting award for Carina Soto Velasquez at the Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur Awards 2019
With last year's standard so high, you know the line-up of finalists is gonna be next level. Here's the list of drinks biz legends hoping to grab the title this year:
Andrew Ho & Bastien Ciocca – Hope and Sesame, China
Claudia Cabrera – Katio Del Valle, Mexico
Diego Cabrera - Salmon Guru, Spain
Igor Zernov – El Copitas / Paloma Catina / Must Have Bar, Russia
James Hopkins – London Cocktail Club, UK
Lucas Groglio – Coctelería Consciente, Argentina
Oliver Margan – Maybe Mae, Australia
Omer Gazit-Shalev – Monkey Business Group, Israel
Ranji Al Raji – Brazzaville, Lebanon
Tato Giovannoni – Floreria Atlantico, Argentina
Yeferson Avila and Jean Trinh – Alquimico, Columbia
Dave Mulligan – Bar 1661, Ireland
Join Havana Club in celebrating the finalists at 1pm GMT on January 25th, 2021. This will be hosted by global rum ambassador, Ian Burrell, featuring a live concert from an international rapper and speeches from key spokespeople.
To find out more visit: @havanaclub_pro