The second annual Boothby Drink of the Year Awards have announced the top drinks of 2023 from around the country, with Bad Apple from Melbourne bar Byrdi crowned Drink of the Year 2023.
The Top 50 drinks of the year from across the country were announced at a gala awards party at Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern in Sydney.
Presented by Patrón Tequila, Bad Apple (pictured main) – created by Samuel Thornhill (above) at – took out top honours due to explosive flavour and technical, complex recipe, which employs every part of the apple, including an oligosporus-fermented apple.
It’s a challenging drink from both an execution and consumption perspective, as its garnished with a mouldy apple, with guests instructed to eat the apple first and then drink.
The Drinks List of the Year presented by Perrier was awarded to Melbourne bar Caretaker’s Cottage. The Caretaker’s Cottage list changes monthly, with fresh artwork, new drinks, and old favourites (like their number two drink on this Top 50 list, their House Martini). It’s a small menu with big personality, and shows the team’s dedication to details and design — all in service of a good time.
This year saw the introduction of a new award, the Bartender of the Year presented by The Exchange. This was a true bartender’s bartender — each of the bartenders with a drink in the top 50 were invited to vote for the bartender among them they consider to be the best of them. And they got a great result: the bartender and co-owner of Caretaker’s Cottage, Rob Libecans.
“These awards offer us a look at how bartenders across the country are working at the highest levels in 2023,” said drinks writer and founder of Boothby, Sam Bygrave. “And it shows us how we’re drinking in Australia right now. The aim behind the awards is to put a spotlight on the drinks created by our bartenders, who don’t always get the international recognition, but who hold their own with the world’s best. In 2023, Australian bartenders have never been better.”
And after three weeks of voting by the public, the People’s Drink of the Year presented by Orlando was awarded to Loic Mouchelin (above) from Toowoomba bar Sante, for his drink, the Kiwi Slipper. It’s a riff on the retro classic Japanese Slipper, updated for the modern palate.
“It was a clear win for Loic’s drink, with the voting showing just how much community support a small cocktail bar like Sante can get in its hometown,” said Bygrave. “And if you meet Loic and his partner Alexandra, you’ll be impressed by their passion just as much as the people of Toowoomba have.”
The Boothby Drink of the Year Awards is the result of over 250 entries from bartenders across Australia. These drinks must have been served at their bars at some time during the last 12 months, and were judged by a small panel of industry experts to determine the Top 50. The Top 50 was then voted on by a larger, 150-person panel of industry experts to determine the rankings.
Top 10 drinks of the year
- Bad Apple by Sam Thornhill, Byrdi, Melbourne
- House Martini (above) by Rob Libecans, Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
- Blueberry Yoghurt Punch by Andy Chu, One Or Two, Melbourne
- Africola by Michael Chiem, PS40, Melbourne
- Sub Tropical Fuckstorm by Luke Whearty, Byrdi, Melbourne
- HSL by Hayden Lambert, Above Board, Melbourne
- Icebergs Sgroppino by Matty Opai, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Sydney
- Mango Weis Bar by Michael Chiem, PS40, Sydney
- Two In The Pink by Alicia Clarke, Double Deuce Lounge, Sydney
- Fantales by Jack Connor, Rosella’s, Gold Coast
You can see the full list at boothby.com.au/drinkoftheyear.
Photography by Christopher Pearce