There’s nothing more certain to spark heated debate in pubs and clubs around Canberra than choosing who makes it onto the list of the city’s top bars and restaurants.
The Australian Hotels Association (ACT Branch) bravely took on that task, with expert independent judges sifting through more than 150 nominations across various categories including best pub, burger joint and steakhouse.
The rigorous judging process lasted for months and the results were announced on Monday night (29 March) at the annual AHA ACT Hospitality and Tourism Awards.
The AHA ACT branch hosted the event at Pialligo Estate with more than 450 people from Canberra’s hospitality and tourism industry attending.
Acknowledging the winners, AHA ACT branch general manager Anthony Brierley said this week’s event was also a celebration of survival in a year many would prefer to put behind them.
“For 12 months, in the face of crippling coronavirus restrictions, these venues and their employees have been single-minded in their pursuit of survival,” Mr Brierley said.
“This gala dinner and awards night was a celebration of this industry’s perseverance and its dogged resilience.
“These winners represent the most outstanding product, venues, service and personnel that the local hospitality and tourism industry has to offer … (but) more than any award the AHA could provide, the industry’s survival through the past 12 months is testament to its excellence.”
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Mr Brierley encouraged Canberrans to continue to support the local hospitality industry and the 13,000 jobs its provides.
The 2021 winners were:
- Best Food and Beverage Talent (General Division) – Jeremy Magan – Pialligo Estate.
- Best Food and Beverage Talent (Accommodation Division) – Jocelyn Mustard – The Statesman.
- Best Sales and Marketing Talent – Jess Arena – Lala Hospitality.
- Best Revenue Talent (Accommodation Division) – Rudy Kalele – Iconic Hotels.
- Best Traditional Pub, Inn or Tavern – The Dock.
- Best Wine List – The Braddon Merchant, Midnight Hotel.
- Best Late-Night Entertainment Venue – Molly.
- Best TAB Venue – Olims Bar & Bistro, Mercure Canberra.
- Best Sporting Entertainment Venue – The Dock.
- Best Cocktail, Lounge or Small Bar – The Highball Express.
- Best Conference and Functions Venue – Hotel Realm.
- Best Beer Quality – Draught – Siren Bar and Restaurant and King O’Malleys (joint winners).
- Best Beer Quality – Craft/Local – Bentspoke Brewing Co.
- Bartender of the Year – Cameron Abercrombie, Zaab, and Rohan Walsh, The Highball Express (joint winners).
- Best New or Redeveloped Venue (Accommodation Division) – Midnight Hotel, Autograph Collection.
- Best New or Redeveloped Venue (General Division) – The Inn, Edgar’s.
- Mid-Range Hotel of the Year – Mercure Canberra Belconnen.
- Superior Hotel of the Year – Little National Hotel.
- Apartment/Suite Hotel of the Year – East Hotel.
- Deluxe Hotel of the Year – Hotel Realm.
- Best Casual Dining Venue – 1882 Bar & Grill.
- Chef of the Year – Josh Smith-Thirkell, QT Canberra.
- Best Restaurant – OTIS Dining Hall.
- Best Steak- Capitol Bar & Grill, QT Canberra.
- Best Burger – Grease Monkey Braddon.
- Best Pub Eatery – Siren Bar and Restaurant.
- Accommodation Division Member of the Year – Shannon Craig, QT Canberra.
- General Division Member of the Year – Richard Watkins, Bentspoke Brewing Co.