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LCW founders unveil Michelin-style system for bars

Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne, co-founders of London Cocktail Week, have partnered with Global Bartending’s Dan Dove to create The Pinnacle Guide, a bar rating system ‘equivalent’ to the restaurant industry’s Michelin stars.

Pinnacle Guide co-founders
The Pinnacle Guide co-founders Siobhan Payne, Hannah Sharman-Cox and Dan Dove

Like The Michelin Guide, The Pinnacle Guide will operate on a three-level system, offering one, two or three ‘Pins’ to recognise the world’s best bars.

Venues will be graded by anonymous local reviewers against a published set of criteria, with the goal of making the awards process ‘clear and visible’.

“We truly believe that the creation of such a system will help advance the interests of the bar industry and bring luxury drinking experiences to a wider consumer audience,” Sharman-Cox and Payne said in a joint statement.

“We have been championing and promoting hospitality to the general public for well over a decade and believe we can continue this work on an even bigger scale.”

The duo founded London Cocktail Week (LCW) in 2010, and have since built it into a month-long celebration of the UK capital’s on-trade. In 2014, LCW was purchased by Speciality Drinks; last year, when Speciality was acquired by Pernod Ricard, the event was included in the sale.

Sharman-Cox and Payne said they have been working on the guide “for many years”, and tapped Dove, the owner and operator of the Global Bartending talent agency, to join them on the project. “Through his most recent work – Global Bartending – he will provide a solid foundation and infrastructure – ensuring this project is a real success for the whole bar community,” Sharman-Cox and Payne commented.

In keeping with the co-founders’ emphasis on transparency, The Pinnacle Guide is kicking off with a six-month consultancy process. Sharman-Cox, Payne and Dove will host fortnightly meetings over Zoom to discuss different aspects of the guide, and have invited the public to attend; interested parties can get involved at

“What has become abundantly clear as we’ve brought this project to life is the importance of conceptualising a system that is both fair and relevant across all territories and all styles of bars – which gives real opportunity to venues outside of capital cities,” Dove explained.

“This is why the six-month consultancy phase is vital. Creating The Pinnacle Guide is a unique opportunity – one which we all take extremely seriously and one we hope the entire industry feels united by and inspired to be part of.”

After the consultancy period is complete, Dove said, the final criteria and reviewer training programmes will be formalised. The first Pins will be awarded in 2023 across eight markets, with an eye to expanding the system to 50 more markets by 2025.

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