If you went out to a Chicago cocktail bar this weekend, you may have noticed something missing. Most of the top bartenders in the city were down in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, an annual cocktail festival. The event culminated in the Spirited Awards, which honor bars, bartenders, journalists, and other professionals in the beverage industry and are a huge deal in the liquor community.
Chicago took home two big awards this year: Three Dots and a Dash was named Best New American Cocktail Bar, beating out New York bars Attaboy and ZZ's Clam Bar and Half Step in Austin, while the Aviary went up against New York’s Pouring Ribbons, London’s Night Jar and San Francisco’s Trick Dog and won World's Best Cocktail Menu. Sable Kitchen & Bar was a finalist for Best American Hotel Bar, but lost to Portland’s Clyde Common. Last year, the Aviary’s Charles Joly was named American Bartender of the Year.
Tales also features many other smaller competitions during the festival, including Battle of the Sexes, a contest sponsored by Mandarine Napoleon liqueur. Annemarie Sagoi, formerly of the Dawson, participated on the women’s team along with bartenders from around the country, but they lost to the men.