Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur Award Finalists

The Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur Awards celebrates key figures and visionaries throughout the global bartending community

By: Tiff Christie|January 22,2021

Celebrating its second year, the Havana Club 2020 Bar Entrepreneur Awards shines a spotlight on the creativity, passion, and innovation amongst key figures behind the world’s most successful bars.

Seeking to crown one entrepreneur from among the most ambitious and talented bar revolutionaries across four continents, the Awards this year will look a little different as the ceremony goes virtual.


Chosen from a shortlist of 13 finalists by an esteemed panel of judges, the winner will be the entrepreneur who has impressed most with passion, determination and spirit in what has been a year of extraordinary challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The winner will be awarded a €20,000 cash prize to invest in his or her business during the virtual event hosted by global rum ambassador Ian Burrell on January 25th

As Havana Club seeks to recognise and celebrate exceptional entrepreneurs, the panel will also give special recognition, and a €10,000 cash prize, to stand-out entrants in the following categories:

  • The True Grit Award, honouring strength, resilience and bravery during the most challenging period of modern-day hospitality.
  • One to Watch, focusing on emerging talent and achievements of those under age 30.
  • Social and Eco Entrepreneurship, recognising a commitment to improving the environment or a local community while achieving business success.

The judging panel consists of distinguished figures across the world in drinks and business including – Rhys Oldfield, co-Founder at leading bar group Be at One and a leading adviser to food and drink businesses; Juan Valls, owner of El Nino and Sinner Club and a key figure behind Spain’s leading bar show FIBAR; Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native Bar in Singapore, which focuses on exploring the region’s diverse cultural landscape through the lens of drinks; and Ara Carvallo, co-founder of Barra Mexico, Latin America’s leading spirits tradeshow and the world’s first zero-carbon bar show.

Tess Posthumus, owner of Amsterdam bars Flying Dutchmen Cocktails and Dutch Courage, which celebrate building cocktail culture in the Netherlands by focusing on Dutch spirits and their heritage, also joins the jury, alongside Kelsey Ramage, winner of the One to Watch category in 2019 and owner of Trash Tiki, an online sustainable platform and touring pop-up bar that creates cocktails from waste.

In addition, business educator Cécile Bulle will use her knowledge leading a mentoring programme at Paris Dauphine University that helps a network of students and alumni to turn their ideas into successful businesses. Last, but by no means least, Rasmus Lomborg, having specialised in opening new bars across the UK and Copenhagen, will utilise his experience as a bartender and bar manager to recognise classic entrepreneurship.


Carina Soto Velasquez

This year’s awards follow the success of winner Carina Soto Velasquez, who impressed judges with her passion and creativity in shaking up the Paris bar scene through the launch of Quixotic Projects. Velasquez donated her prize to support Parabere Forum, an annual event that gathers thought leaders in the fields of gastronomy, food, and nutrition.

Carina’s donation has created a new programme ‘Parabere Grant,’ offering women a voice and platform to share their stories and continue building strong networks to achieve their goals.

Anne Martin, Global Marketing Director at Havana Club International, comments: “I am incredibly proud of Havana Club’s commitment in supporting bar owners, who are the driving force behind our favourite bars. As a brand, we have been committed to supporting the community throughout the pandemic through various initiatives such as the Entrepreneur Frontline and Havana Club Hangouts, and we are continuing to recognise and award these key players by celebrating their entrepreneurship.

“The Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur Awards acknowledge their passion and offer a fantastic opportunity to expand their status in the community even further. We wish all our finalists the very best of luck at the grand finale,” Martin continued.

Reflecting on the impact of winning the 2019 Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur of the Year award, Carina Soto Velasquez explains: “I am extremely grateful to Havana Club for this recognition which not only enhanced my career but also provided me with the opportunity to support our friends within the industry.

“After donating my prize to Parabere Forum, this has created a grant inside the forum for women to have a voice on major food issues and has enabled the platform to become more accessible to all walks of life. I am looking forward to celebrating the ambition, love and passion that the shortlisted figures have for the bartending community – good luck!”

The 2020 finalists are –

  • Andrew Ho & Bastien Ciocca – Hope and Sesame, China
  • Claudia Cabrera – Katio Del Valle, Mexico
  • Dave Mulligan – Bar 1661, Ireland
  • Diego Cabrera – Salmon Guru, Spain
  • Igor Zernov – El Copitas Bar / Paloma Cantina / Must Have Bar, Russia
  • James Hopkins – London Cocktail Club, UK
  • Lucas Groglio  – Coctelería Consciente, Argentina
  • Monica Berg – Tayer + Elementary, UK
  • Oliver Margan – Maybe Mae, Australia
  • Omer Gazit-Shalev – Monkey Business Group, Israel
  • Rani Al Raji – Brazzaville, Lebanon
  • Tato Giovannoni  – Floreria Atlantico, Argentina
  • Yeferson Avila and Jean Trinh – Alquímico, Colombia

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