Four hundred people packed into the warehouse-style waterfront bar the Woolshed on a surprisingly mild Melbourne evening, complete with sunset, to celebrate the 2018 Time Out Melbourne Bar Awards.
Guests arrived to the sweet sounds of the the Horns of Leroy; fueled for the coming party on boudin sausage on dirty rice, jambalaya, fried chicken, fried shrimp, po’ boys and gumbo; and washed it down with Southern Comfort, Yenda beers, Monteith's Crushed Cider cider and wines from Reverie by Debussy.
Then it was time to announce the winners of its 2018 Bar Awards, celebrating Melbourne’s best bars across 11 categories.
Fitzroy wine bar Bar Liberty was named Bar of the Year during the lively awards event, held at the Woolshed in Docklands and hosted by comedian Matt Okine.
As well as the top gong, Bar Liberty, took out the award for Best Wine Bar for the second year running.
“Bar Liberty exemplifies the best of what Melbourne bars have to offer in 2018, from service to wine to spirits, to cocktails to food,” said Time Out writer and bars professional, Fred Siggins. “Everything they do is incredibly high quality, and really good fun. They're pushing the boundaries of what a bar can be more than any other venue in town right now.”
Another Fitzroy establishment, Japanese-influenced the the Elysian Whisky Bar, also made a splash at the awards, firstly by taking out the reader-voted People’s Choice award, then by winning Best Bar Team for its dynamic duo of Kelvin Low and Yeo Wong.
Bartender of the Year went to Trish Brew, manager of Gin Palace, for her talent at making everyone feel like they’re the most important person in the room at the longstanding city juniper joint.
Best Cocktail Bar went to Hayden Lambert’s tiny operation Above Board in Collingwood.
The Time Out Legend Award was given to Gerald’s Bar in Carlton North in recognition of more than ten years as a cosy, convivial wine bar made for locals that also happens to be a destination bar.
Time Out Food and Drink writer Jess Ho paid tribute to Gerald’s Bar for “opening our minds up to different styles” of wine and playing “host to some of our best after parties and worst hangovers”.
Among the bars to open in Melbourne in the past year, Collingwood’s Paradise Alley was named Best New Bar. The Spanish-influenced Bar Tini in Hosier Lane took out the award for Best Bar Food.
Melbourne is a 24-hour city, and the award for Best Late Night Venue went to the Italian bar Arlechin.
Designed to pinpoint a future star of the Melbourne bar scene, the Hot Talent Award, nominated by an industry panel, was given to the the Everleigh’s Cameron Parish.
Once DJ Flex Mami started dropping the bangers it was party time, with people dancing late into the evening.
Guests also took home photos and gifs from FotoBox in case those memories got hazy, and a brand new copy of the bumper autumn issue of Time Out Melbourne magazine, hot off the presses.
Big thanks to Southern Comfort, Yenda, Monteith's Crushed Cider and Reverie by Debussy Wines for the drinks, and to the Woolshed for hosting the event, but most of all, thank you to everyone who showed up and partied hard.