The Bartenders' Brand Awards 2023 results are in but how does the competition work? Hamish Smith takes us through the bartender-led judging process. 

You’ll know better than I that when it comes to the purchasing decision, the taste of the product is key – but not total.

You’ll look over the packaging, the prowess of the branding, how much the bottle stands out on the back bar, and you’ll picture the product in the midst of service, shadow-pouring to test its functionality. Lastly, you’ll look at the price and the financial particulars surrounding it. When all is said and done, you’re running a business that won’t be a business much longer if the numbers don’t add up.

At the BBAs we try to mimic this three-step thinking in our judging so we can provide the best possible guide to the best brands in the bar channel. First comes the blind tasting, which our panels of bartenders score out of 50, considering aroma, complexity, taste and versatility in cocktails (where appropriate).

Then the packaging is revealed and scored out of 25, and finally – taking into account the taste and design, coupled with abv and price – a value-for-money score is given, once again out of 25. Here, for ease and consistency, we work off rrps. We then total up the scores to give an overall number out of 100, but we split out what each product received for each of our three assessments. That way, if you’re a bar that prizes value for money over design, or taste over everything else, you can quickly see what works best for you.

But it is the overall number – not the medals – that is the basis for our top-five lists, with the highest-scoring brand in each category given the not-too shabby moniker of Category Champion and, the best of the best, the even loftier title of Supreme Champion.

So, who are the BBA judges? Well, they’re all pretty big names in the United Bar-dom, but they are also skills appropriate to each category, chosen for their experience or specialism. We invite six bartenders to join each Zoom session, with a host and scorer from Class umpiring proceedings. The sessions are lively affairs, with no quarter given to products deemed short of the mark.

Indeed, when you look at the BBAs scoring versus other competitions, it’s clear that our bartender judges are pretty hard to please – medals are hard won. By way of example, only one brand scored more than 90 points out of 100 and the median score across all products was 63/100. Only five received gold medals across our three measures and, drilled down, 11% of products received a gold medal in taste, 19% got gold for design, and 12% took top honours for value for money. In other words, medals mean more at the BBAs.

The results serialised on are a highlights package of the best five products in each of our 14 major categories, but for a more extensive view of the products judged this year, visit 


Alice Wakley, Caprice

Angèle Grinda, Henrietta Hotel

Anistatia Miller, Freelance

Ashley Haines, Botanist

Ben Alcock, HMSS

Cai Anderson, Hubertus Circle UK

Cameron Attfield, Ester

Camille Vidal, La Maison Wellness

Carlos Fernando, Café Pacifico

Connie Cain, Milk

Courtney Francis, Couch

Daniel Crowther, Hedonist

Dilynn Walker, Homeboy

Ellie Ireland, Eve Bar

Emmy Pip Knight, The Savoy

Ewan Grieve, Lab 22

Fredrik Olsson, Kosmopol

Georgi Radev, Laki Kane

Graham Suttle, Khole

Hamish Smith, Jake’s Bar

Helen Anne Smith, Bacareto

Iain McPherson, Nauticus

Imogen Barwick, Jake’s Bar

Jake Burger, The Distillery

James Aspell, 400 Rabbits

Jenny Griffiths, Distill & Fill

John Ennis, Graffiti Spirits Group

Josh Linfitt, Ugly Butterfly

Kat Stanley-Whyte, The Savoy

Liam O'Brien, Brass Monkey

Loic Cretel, Hampton Manor

Lorenzo Gavelli, Disrepute

Luca Cordiglieri, Two Spoons

Matthias Ingelmann, Kol

Michael Dylan Edwards, Aether

Michal Maziarz, Scotland Yard Hotel

Mike Baxter, Gonzo’s

Patrick Fogarty, Dr Inks

Philip David, Distill & Fill

Samuel Boulton, freelance

Sian Buchan, Uno Mas

Sly Augustin, Trailer Happiness

Sophie Bratt, Nobu Portman Square

Steve The Barman, Freelance

Tiago Mira, The Goring Hotel

Tiago Oliveira, Merchant House