Oliver Margan Takes Out The 2020 Havana Club Entrepreneur Awards

From a global field of 13 outstanding bar owners, Oliver Margan has been chosen as the winner of the 2020 Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur Awards

By: Tiff Christie|January 27,2021

Bartender, bar owner, and entrepreneur, Oliver Margan, from Australian bar Maybe Mae has been crowned the Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur Award winner for 2020. Selected for his determination, passion, optimism, and drive, Margan will be awarded a €20,000 cash prize to invest in his business.


Chosen from an impressive list of 13 global finalists, Margan was honestly surprised to have won the award. “I am blown away to be named Havana Club’s Bar Entrepreneur of the Year, it is a true honour.”

Margan started his success with the Maybe Mae venue, a hidden cocktail bar in the heart of Adelaide’s west end, which he opened when he was just 22 years old. Six years on, Maybe Mae has been credited for establishing the city’s cocktail culture, and Oliver’s success has continued, with him jointly opening six more venues.

“This recognition and investment will have a huge impact as we continue to establish Adelaide’s cocktail and cuisine scene,” he continued.


The True Grit Award – Rani al Raji

Employing more than 150 staff at venues including West at Henley and Shobosho, Margan is not only recognised for his skills behind the bar with his sustainably focused cocktails, but also his business acumen, his support for gender equality within the industry and the mentoring he conducts with his staff.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing work of my team who have worked tirelessly in such a difficult climate to make our bars a success,” Margan continued, “so I would personally like to thank them for their dedication and motivation. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us, and I’m looking forward to growing our community. Thank you, Havana Club!”

Anne Martin, Global Marketing Director at Havana Club International, said: “We would like to congratulate Oliver for being crowned Havana Club’s Entrepreneur of the Year. The ambition and vision Oliver demonstrated for his venues and team stood out to the panel. He is a true testament to the hard work and dedication that continues to prevail in the bar industry.”

But Margen wasn’t the only winner on the night, as three other awards, each with a €10,000 prize for the winners to invest in their bars and communities, were also up for grabs.


Social and Eco Entrepreneurship – Yeferson Avila and Jean Trinh

This year’s True Grit award was presented to Rani Al Raji, owner of Beirut’s Brazzaville, a neighbourhood bar that has continued to serve the community and remain a hub of positivity through the challenges of 2020. As well as the difficulties presented by Covid-19, Rani and his team contended with economic struggles, electricity shortages, and the fallout of the devastating explosion in the country’s capital, pulling out all the stops to not only survive but thrive.

Columbia’s Yeferson Avila and Jean Trinh, co-owners of Alquímico in Cartagena, were presented with the Social and Eco Entrepreneurship prize for their commitment to keeping in business their staff, small producers, and local farmers. Faced with closing their three-story mansion bar, Yeferson and Jean put their team to work at the Alquímico Farm where they grow organic produce to use in their cocktail programme. The farm has become an educational space for the local agricultural community and professionals from the drinks industry who want to learn more about vegetables, fruits, and spices, from planting to harvest.


One to Watch Award – Omer Gazit-Shalev

The winner of the final category, One to Watch, was presented to Omer Gazit-Shalev, a rising star in the global bar community. Omer impressed the panel with the diversity and variety of projects he has taken on at a young age as the CEO of Monkey Business, a unique hospitality group operating several of Israel’s foremost food and drink venues and redefining the bar experience across the country.

“We would also like to congratulate Rani, Yeferson, Jean, and Omer for winning our special recognition awards,” continued Martin. “They all demonstrated incredible passion and determination in what has been one of the most challenging periods for the hospitality industry. We have been truly moved by your stories of ambition, resilience, and courage, and we look forward to seeing the legacy of the Bar Entrepreneur Awards grow in the coming years.”

The ceremony was, of course, virtual this year, led by the incomparable global rum ambassador Ian Burrell and featured a showstopping live concert from international rapper Kelvyn Colt.

The judges for the event included: Rhys Oldfield, co-founder of Be at One; Juan Valls, founder of FIBAR; Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native Bar in Singapore; and Ara Carvallo, co-founder Barra Mexico; Kelsey Ramage, owner of Trash Tiki and successful business entrepreneurs Tess Posthumus, Cécile Bulle‬ , and Rasmus Lomborg.

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Oliver Margan Takes Out The 2020 Havana Club Entrepreneur Awards

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