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‘What a feeling!’ as Scotland’s bars scoop top awards

04/09/2023
Billy Lowe with his Lifetime Achievement Award

EDINBURGH pub entrepreneur Billy Lowe got an extra birthday present when he scooped the Lifetime Achievement Award at Tuesday’s Scottish Bar and Pub Awards, formerly known as the DRAM Awards, on his actual birthday! The award recognised his 35 years at the top of the licensed trade. 

DRAM publisher Susan Young commented: “Billy Lowe is arguably Scotland’s most successful licensed trade entrepreneur. Having created three very successful pub companies and operated more than 30 pubs over the decades, he still remains at the helm of Caledonia Inns, which includes the award-winning Black Ivy.”

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The latter also won the Drinks Express Best Outdoor Area award.

He received his award in front of more than 600 industry peers at a glittering 80s Film themed awards ceremony at the Doubletree Hilton in Glasgow.

Following his win, Billy said: “It was a complete surprise, and I was delighted that the whole family was there to see it! For me, to be recognised alongside the deserving people who have won this award before, people that I truly admire, was such an honour.”

The event saw 30 awards presented to both venues and individuals from all around Scotland spanning from Our Place in Annan which picked up the Media World Casual Dining Award, to Inverness-based Prime which grabbed the ARO Procurement Customer Service Award. 

Organiser Susan Young said:

“The Scottish licensed trade is full of successful entrepreneurs and as a result we have some of the best pubs and venues in the UK.  These awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of the owners and their employees that give Scotland a hospitality industry that is worth shouting about. I take my hat off to all of them.” 

Now in their 28th year, the awards are a highlight in the hospitality industry calendar and this year over 100 finalists attended the ceremony at the Double Tree Hilton Glasgow Central – making it the biggest event yet!

Aberdeen were big winners on the night as Malones scooped the Pub of the Year award! The celebrations continued for the city as Scott Anderson of Siberia Bar & Hotel won THE DRUM Digital Innovator of the Year, Adrian Gomes of The Tippling House won Campari Mixologist of the Year and Bryony Baxter of Meraki Bar and Restaurant was named as William Grant & Sons Bar Apprentice of the Year.

In Edinburgh there was a double celebration for the Tipsy Midgie and owner Colin Hinds who took home both Benromach’s Whisky Bar of the Year and the Deanston Whisky Guru gongs!

Hey Palu was named the Makers Mark Cocktail Bar of the Year, Stramash as Pernod Ricard Best Late-Night Venue and Brewhemia as Molson Coors Scottish Bar of the Year!

A special mention went to The Original Rosslyn Inn who were honoured with the Golden Jubilee Award for Hospitality to celebrate their 50th year of business.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow winners included local favourites St Lukes & The Winged Ox for Hi-Spirits Best Live Music Venue, the WORQ Group for Premier Card Services Independent Operator of the Year and Graham Chalmers of Radisson RED who won the inaugural Edrington UK Giving More Award for his amazing charitable contributions.

Gillian Kirkland of The Piper Whisky Bar was deservedly crowned Inspirational Woman of the Year, Rory McGinley of Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery was named HOSPO Manager of the Year and Sportsterz Pete Harvey was stunned to receive his Bar Personality of the Year award!

A special ‘Heart of Hospitality’ award was also given to Bucks Bar owner Michael Bergson for being such a great voice for the licensed trade industry.

The Lisini Pub Company were recognized for their amazing sustainability work, winning the Flor de Cana Rum Sustainability Award and Baillieston’s The East End Fox snapped up the trophy for Kopparbergs New Bar of the Year. 

In Ayrshire, industry giants Buzzworks took home the Hospitality Employer of the Year gong, the Fox and Willow won Inverarity Morton Scotland’s Best Drinks Offering and Brandon Van Rensburg, owner of the Tempura chain, walked away as Buzzworks & Montpeliers Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

Other winners from the west included Great Scots Bar in the Cameron House that were awarded Molinari’s Hotel Bar of the Year, The Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha that won Hotel Scotland Family Business of the Year, and Aberfoyle’s The Forth Inn that scooped the prize for Sheep Dog Whisky Dog Friendly Pub of the Year.

Falkirk’s Brian Flynn, owner of Behind The Wall, was named Licensee of the Year and The Scottish Hospitality Group awarded its Special Recognition Award to Caroline Louden of TLT LLP. 

The full list of winners is below:

Lifetime Achievement Award 

Billy Lowe – Caledonia Inns 

Heart of Hospitality Award

Michael Bergson – Bucks Bar 

ARO Procurement Customer Service Award

Prime Steak & Seafood – Inverness 

Benromach Whisky Bar of the Year

Tipsie Midgie – Edinburgh 

Buzzworks & Montpeliers Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year

Brandon Van Rensburg – Tempura, Ayr

Campari Mixologist of the Year 

Adrian Gomes – The Tippling House, Aberdeen

Deanston Whisky Guru of the Year

Colin Hinds – Tipsy Midgie, Edinburgh 

Hospitality Employer of the Year

Buzzworks – Ayrshire

Drinks Express Best Outdoor Area 

Black Ivy – Edinburgh

THE DRUM Digital Innovator of the Year

Siberia Bar & Hotel – Aberdeen 

‘Giving More’ Award in partnership with Edrington UK 

Graham Chalmers – Radisson RED, Glasgow

Flor de Cana Rum Sustainability Award 

Lisini Pub Company – Uddingston 

Golden Jubilee Award for Hospitality Excellence

The Original Rosslyn Inn – Roslin

HI-SPIRITS Best Live Music Venue 

St Lukes & The Winged Ox  – Glasgow 

HOSPO Manager of the Year

Rory McGinley – Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery, Glasgow 

Hotel Scotland Family Business of the Year 

The Oak Tree Inn – Balmaha

Inspirational Woman of the Year 

Gillian Kirkland – The Piper Whisky Bar,Glasgow

Inverarity Morton Scotland’s Best Drinks Offering 

The Fox and Willow – Ayr

Kopparberg New Bar of the Year

The East End Fox – Baillieston

Makers Mark Cocktail Bar of the Year

Hey Palu – Edinburgh

Mediaworld Casual Dining Award 

Our Place – Annan

Molinari Hotel Bar of the Year

Great Scots’ Bar – Cameron House 

Molson Coors Scottish Bar of the Year

Brewhemia – Edinburgh

Pernod Ricard Best Late-Night Venue

Stramash – Edinburgh

Premier Card Services Independent Operator of the Year 

WORQ Group – Glasgow 

Bar Personality of the Year

Pete Harvey – Sportsterz 

Sheep Dog Whisky Dog Friendly Pub of the Year

The Forth Inn – Aberfoyle

Scottish Hospitality Group Contribution to the Industry Award 

Caroline Loudon – TLT LLP

DRAM Licensee of the Year 2023 

Brian Flynn – Behind the Wall, Falkirk 

William Grant & Sons Bar Apprentices

Bryony Baxter – Meraki Bar & Restaurant, Bridge of Don

Pub of the Year 

Malones – Aberdeen

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