The bar programs of two Birmingham establishments – Automatic Seafood and Oysters and Queen’s Park – have been nominated for national awards.
Cocktail Tales, America’s largest and oldest cocktail conference, named Automatic Seafood and Queen’s Park to its list of regional semi-finalists for its Fiery Price 2022. Founded in 2007, the Spirited Awards honor the craft of the best bars, bartenders, spirits media and bar industry luminaries around the world. Automatic Seafood is nominated for America’s best restaurant and bar. Queen’s Park is nominated for America’s best cocktail bar. Both companies are semi-finalists in the Central Region, which Tales of the Cocktail divides into 18 states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana (the full list of states is available here).
The award for America’s Best Restaurant Bar recognizes a bar-restaurant that “is dedicated to creating a great cocktail experience for its customers,” according to the description on the Cocktai Talesthe website.
Considerations for America’s Best Bar & Restaurant award include pre- and post-dinner beverage selection, a menu of well-integrated food and cocktails, bar service, and excellence in mixology. The establishment must also offer a full dinner menu, as well as high marks for its food and beverage selections.
Coltivare and Rosie Cannonball in Houston, Texas, and Jewel of the South and Saba in New Orleans, Louisiana are other southern contenders for the best bar and restaurant in the middle of the United States. This year, there are 12 restaurants nominated in the US Central category due to a tie.
Award-winning bartender Jose Medina-Camacho has helmed Automatic Seafood’s beverage menu, developing the cocktail and wine programs since Adam Evans and Suzanne Humphries Evans opened Lakeview Restaurant in 2019.
“I really appreciate the partnership that our bar manager, Jose, and I have, which is mostly about working with what comes in from the farms every week,” said Automatic chef Adam Evans. AL.com in an interview that year. “It’s great that the bar and kitchen program complement each other and feature the same ingredients.”
Medina-Camacho has won a number of accolades for his artistry behind the sticks, including winning multiple qualifiers for the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience competition and Alabama Bartender of the Year. He also designed a cocktail for Old Forester Master Taster Jackie Zykan during his trip to Birmingham in 2019.
America’s Best Cocktail Bar recognizes a bar that “sets the highest standards in the industry and has influenced national cocktail trends.” Pricing considerations include the bar menu, bar staff, ambience, and quality of cocktails. Applicants must also be bars that are “standalone bars” and not part of a restaurant, hotel or other business. Other Southern contenders for America’s Best Cocktail Bar include Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 in New Orleans, Julep in Houston, DrinkWell and The Roosevelt Room in Austin, Texas, and Vault in Fayetteville, Ark.
Laura Newman and Larry “Mudd” Townley opened Queen’s Park in Birmingham city center in 2018. Newman is the first woman to win the American section of Diageo’s World Class, one of the most prestigious bartending competitions in the world. She then finished second in the World Finals in Berlin. To prepare for the global competition, Newman was given five weeks to create cocktails and throw a party representing his home and country, using mission spirits and ingredients. In a 2019 interview with Birmingham Magazine, Newman said part of her role as co-owner of Queen’s Park is to mentor the women on her staff, improving skills behind the bar or strategizing to increase the number of women earning degrees by winning bartending competitions. .
“I didn’t have a mentor at the bar,” Newman said. “I had no one to train me during the competitions. So it’s very meaningful to be able to do that for my staff.
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Tales of the Cocktail will announce the top 10 nominees in each category on June 2. The top four finalists in each category will be named on June 21. Winners will be announced and celebrated at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in late July in New Orleans.
After a two-year pivot to virtual programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tales of the Cocktail conference will return for in-person programming This year. Now in their 16th year, the Spirited Awards will take place on July 28.
Birmingham bars are no stranger to Tales of the Cocktail nominations. Atomic Bar & Lounge earned three nominations for Tales of the Cocktail Awards – two for America’s Best High-Volume Cocktail Bar and one for America’s Best Cocktail Bar.