On Monday June 5, London's biggest and boldest bar personalities will gather in one boozy room to find out the winners of the Time Out London Bar Awards 2017 in association with Southern Comfort. To help us decide which of London's finest drinking establishments deserve recognition for their work in tip top tipples, we pulled in a panel of experts from the industry. All members of the panel nominated their favourite bars and then voted to create shortlists across six categories (and don't worry, they couldn't vote for their own bars in the running!). They'll be voting again to decide the winners and runners-up in each category before they're announced at the awards in June. But in the meantime, let’s meet the Time Out London Bar Awards 2017 panel.
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Meet the panel
UK Food & Drink Editor, Time Out London
Tania’s life in bars Tania has spent a decade drinking professionally, having already had a decade of drinking unprofessionally. Her first job out of school was as a bartender in a dodgy US-style cocktail bar in Zone 6 (it wasn’t a total waste: she learned how to make long island ice teas by the pitcher). Later, she worked for Diageo North America, where one job involved showcasing the ‘fire’ in Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps by visiting various US ski bars dressed as a sparkly firefighter. Complete with a sparkly hat.
Fave drink? A sidecar, a blood and sand, or just a really good margarita.
Follow her at @TaniaBallantine
Deputy editor, Just-Drinks.com
Lucy’s life in bars Lucy has been writing about all things booze for ten years. She helped create the World’s 50 Best Bars, which meant selflessly travelling to bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries all over the world. She also holds a diploma in wine and spirits. Yes, it’s really a thing. Honest.
Fave drink? For being ladylike, a gin martini with a twist. If it’s party time, make it a boilermaker.
Follow her at @Britner
Global rum ambassador and founder of Rumfest
Ian’s life in bars Ian only intended to work in a cocktail bar for six months before starting drama school. But after realising that it was a real job and having so much fun making cocktails, he decided to carry on. Twenty-five years later he’s still having fun, travelling around the world, judging cocktail competitions, working in some of the best bars on the planet and teaching people about the wonders of rum as the world’s only global rum ambassador.
Fave drink? A rum manhattan, a daiquiri or a mai tai.
Follow him at @Rum_Ambassador
Mr Lyan, founder of Dandelyan and Super Lyan
Ryan’s life in bars Ryan has been meddling in the world of drinks for some 14 years – initially starting from the food side, then making a full switch to all things booze. He’s usually found polishing glasses when on the bar these days (less to break that way). He loves most things edible (but still attempts working with things seemingly inedible), except spicy food (fire) and oysters (snotty waves).
Fave drink? A scotch and soda, a martini (extra everything) or a manhattan.
Follow him at @MrLyan
Founder of Gin Journey
Leon’s life in bars Leon discovered cocktail bars aged 18, when he first set foot in Dos Hermanos, a neighbourhood Cuban bar in Leicester (yeah you heard). It was love at first sight: the buzz, the bevvies and the beats. From there he travelled the world in search of the best drinks, until Gin Journey was born, combining a love of fun, education and good service (and gin, of course). The Gin Journey currently rolls in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh, with more to come.
Fave drink? A Gibson, with fresh vermouth, good ice and crisp service. Or a negroni.
Follow him at @TheGinBoss
Bartender and columnist (previously head bartender at The Artesian)
Alex’s life in bars Alex started working at ‘a shitty café’ in Brno (his home town in the Czech Republic) after his mum kicked him out, aged 16. After a string of international odd jobs including driving delivery vans in the US, collecting glasses in Spain and working for a nightclub in Japan, he ended up at the Langham’s Artesian bar. During his time as head bartender, the Artesian was named the ‘world’s best bar’ for four years on the trot. Alex and his team left in November 2015 to work on a new project and can now mostly be found on planes.
Fave drink? A negroni, a saison or an orange wine.
Follow him at @Alex_Kratena
Time Out London Food & Drink team
Laura’s life in bars After working for a parenting and pregnancy mag, Laura needed a bloody big drink. She moved over to bar journalism and has felt right at home ever since, spending her London years hopping from bar to bar. Having lived in Spain, she’s pretty sure there’s nothing a strong sangria can’t cure… Although she’s glad London has a hell of a lot more to offer.
Fave drink? A pisco sour or anything with a Latino slant and a big boozy kick.
Follow her at @Lala_Richards
Bar Manager at the Beaufort Bar
Anna's life in bars After leaving school, Anna threw herself into the London party scene organising parties and running the doors of some of London's top clubs (most of which no longer exist). After hearing about the relaunch of The Savoy hotel, she knew she wanted to be a part of something special and applied for a job. She’s worked her way from hostess in the American Bar to running the Beaufort Bar, where she now creates a unique and glitzy experience for guests through drinks, service and creativity.
Fave drink? Anything with tequila in.
Follow her at @AnnaSebastian
Bar Manager at Punch Room at the London Edition
Davide’s life in bars Davide learnt his trade in some of London’s most illustrious establishments, starting at the Connaught Bar under the likes of Brian Silva, Angela Hartnett and Gordon Ramsay. This is where he learnt the classical art of bartending – mainly how to mix a martini and flirt with your girlfriend while you’re in the bathroom. After a ‘working holiday’ in Miami, he returned to work at Green and Red, Hawksmoor, The Bulgari Hotel and then the London Edition where he devised the award-winning Punch Room menu. He will talk forever about pizza – especially if you suggest that Hawaiian is a legitimate topping – and he occasionally likes to refer to himself in the third person.
Fave drink? Agave-based cocktails.
Follow him at @DavideSegat
Operations Director and Wine Buyer for JKS Restaurants
Sunaina’s life in bars After finishing her studies, a career in finance led Sunaina to Germany, but she soon returned to the UK to pursue her love of wine and to enter the family business, JKS Restaurants, with her brothers Jyotin and Karam Sethi. Sunaina is an expert sommelier championing wines from lesser known regions, such as Greece, Germany and the nascent wine industry of India. Find her passion brought to life on the wine lists at Trishna and Gymkhana, showcasing bottles from all over the world. She is also responsible for overseeing the drinks lists at Hoppers, Lyle’s and Bao.
Fave drink? Nothing quite hits the spot like a negroni. Or a chilled white from the Jura.
Follow her at @SunainaSethi