The Spirits Business Awards 2019 winners

13th January, 2020 by admin

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Mark Ridgwell

This award recognises an outstanding and inspirational figure in the world of spirits, whose enduring contribution spans a whole career. The panel unanimously agreed that the award should be given to the late Mark Ridgwell, a renowned spirits educator whose influence moulded a generation of bartending talent. Sadly, Mark died at the end of 2018, leaving behind the legacy of a rich career that spanned many decades at IDV and Hiram Walker.

He was an ambassador for American whiskey, and from this illustrious career extolling the virtues of spirits he became a spirits educator, founding his own company, Taste and Flavour, to provide structured spirits learning. He became the education partner for the Match Group, creating an education programme that enabled bartenders to become truly expert in their field.

Jonathan Downey, who founded London Union, enlisted the help of industry greats such as Mark, Sasha Petraske and Dale Degroff to train his teams, inspiring life‐long fascinations with education.

Mark was instrumental in recognising the need for education exclusively for spirits, and he pressed the WSET to create courses that catered solely to this. The Level 1 and Level 2 Award in spirits was subsequently launched, followed by Level 3 only this year. As an author he wrote Spirits Distilled, which became an essential companion to the WSET courses he also taught.

Hannah Lanfear, director of The Mixing Class and one of Mark’s former students, presented the award to his wife, Jenny, daughter, Annabel, and son, Simon.

Lanfear said: “I can say from the bottom of my heart that, as one of the bartenders taught by Mark while at Milk & Honey, without this immersive education I wouldn’t be standing here before you, as a spirits educator and with 20 wonderful years in the cocktail and spirits industry behind me. I know that I speak for hundreds if not thousands when I say that Mark left an indelible mark on the path of my life.

“Many of the bartenders who learned with Mark are at the top of the game. The owners of award‐winning bars like Happiness Forgets, Swift, Dead Ringer, Jungle Bird, Mint Gun Club, High Water, Original Sin – I could go on – credit Mark with transforming their relationship with spirits.

“He gave our trade an incredible wealth of knowledge and an appreciation for learning, and on behalf of all who he taught I can say we will be forever grateful.”

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter