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The Bar & Beverage Awards will be judged by a diverse industry panel. Seniority within the bar industry is not a prerequisite to judging, but familiarity with the national landscape – and integrity – is.


Judges are eligible for awards, but they'll be recused from judging any category they're nominated in.


This preclusion extends to any bars, brands, businesses or organisations that judges have a direct affiliation with, to avoid a conflict of interest.

Image by Crew

Head Judge

2023 Leah[1].jpeg

Leah van Deventer

Independent Drinks Writer, Educator & Consultant


Leah is a distinguished spirits-and-cocktail writer, WSET educator and industry consultant based in Cape Town, and a leading figure in the national bar scene. She’s judged copious competitions over the years, and lends her expertise to multiple worldwide panels, including being the Academy Chair (Africa South) for the World’s 50 Best Bars.


Leah has long been a proponent for gender equality in the local bar industry, and for geographical diversity internationally, and in 2022 her commitment to showcasing and uplifting the African bar community earned her a place among the Bar World 100, as one of the top 100 individuals in the global drinks industry effecting positive change. Find her at

Judging Panel

For 2023, our 32-strong judging panel (which includes our head judge) is made up of 16 women and 16 men from the national industry. Each has disclosed potential conflicts of interest, and has committed themselves to giving all categories they judge equitable consideration.


All judges are eligible for awards, but will be recused from voting where necessary

Aadam Ernest | Bartender at Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen

Aimee May D'onofrio | Co-owner of Smoking Kills Bar, Head of HR & Site Manager at Battalion Bar Services

Alana "AJ" Durow | Bar Director at Life and Brand

Alecs Powrie | Bar Manager at Art of Duplicity

Alex Farnell | Head of Marketing at Inverroche

Ania Odyniecka | Sales & Marketing Manager at S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna 

Brent Perremore | Founder at Lucky Rabbit Consulting

Bruce Dorfling | Assistant GM at WILD Hermanus

Caitlin Hill | AMEI Prestige Brand Ambassador at Rémy Cointreau

Cameron Hawkins | SUBSA Advocacy Manager at Bacardi

Cassandra Eichhoff | Director at European Bartender School 

Chantelle Horn | Photographer & Consultant at Crave Concepts

George Hunter | Director at Copper Monkey & Copper Monkey Ice

Lauren Penny | Global Brand Ambassador at Inverroche

Leighton Rathbone | Head Bartender at Talking to Strangers

Lucy Beard | Co-owner of Hope Distillery & StrangeLove Cocktail Lounge

Ludgero da Cruz | Sales Manager at Arbikie

Marson Strydom | Advocacy Manager at Campari

Misha Cheri Chinnah | Creative Brand Manager at Mix Bar & Mesh Club

Nicholas Crouse | Owner of Talking To Strangers

Nicky Sonderegger | Senior Area Manager at Edrington

Nkuli Khanyile | Trade Ambassador at Bacardi

Paula Lorang-Van Zyl | Training & Events Consultant at PaonxSwing

Pieter Oosthuizen | Head of Product at Kegtails

Raymond Endean | Head of Cape Town Operations at Thirst Bar Services

Roxanne Read | Independent Menu Developer, Staff Trainer & Bar Consultant

Ryan Duvenage | Regional Head Trainer: Africa at Diageo Bar Academy

Sechaba Sello | Brand Ambassador at Edrington

Sivu Nobongoza | Creative Director Yobo Design

Taneale van der Merwe | Brand Ambassador at Pernod Ricard

Tinashe Motsi | Bar Manager at Athletic Club & Social

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