Belfast hotel bar wins new AA award for spirits


merchant hotel belfast

The Merchant Hotel in Belfast has won a new award from The AA for service and the quality and range of spirits and cocktails in its bar.

The AA Spirit Award, sponsored by The Balvenie whisky, was given to the hotel in recognition of the skills of staff in its cocktail bar, service standards and the quality of recruitment and training.

The award, introduced this year, was one of 24 announced at the AA Hospitality Awards ceremony last night at Grosvenor House in London.

They are based on the knowledge and expertise of the AA inspectorate and other industry professionals, recognising significant improvement in the preceding 12 to 18 months and dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing guest and diner experiences.

Gavin Caroll, general manager at The Merchant Hotel, said: “We are delighted to have won the first AA Spirit Award. We believe The Cocktail Bar at The Merchant Hotel offers a truly unique experience with perfectly poured drinks and outstanding service but to be recognised by the AA is such an honour.

“We are very proud of this achievement. It always means so much to the hotel and to our staff when we are recognised by our customers, the industry and our peers.”

The former headquarters of the Ulster Bank was transformed in 2006 to become the luxury five-star Merchant Hotel. The cocktail bar, now under the management of Michael Patterson, has over 100 drinks on its list and has been regularly named as one of the best bars in the world.

merchant hotel Spirit-Award

From top hotels and restaurants to the best of British pubs, the AA Hospitality Awards celebrate everything that is great in British hospitality. All the winners will appear in the latest edition of the 2015 AA Hotel, Restaurant and Pub Guides which were launched at the event.

Other winners last night were:

  • AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year 2014 (sponsored by Caterer.com): Nathan Outlaw
  • AA Lifetime Achievement Award: Ruth Rogers, founder of The River Café
  • AA Hotel of the Year, England (sponsored by Temple Spa): Dormy House, Broadway
  • AA Hotel of the Year, Wales: Ynyshir Hall, Eglwys Fach
  • AA Hotel of the Year, Scotland: Meldrum House Country Hotel, Aberdeen
  • AA Hotel of the Year, London (sponsored by BriefYourMarket): Rosewood London, London
  • AA Hotel of the Year, Northern Ireland: The Bushmills Inn Hotel, Bushmills
  • AA Restaurant of the Year, England: Sticky Walnut, Chester
  • AA Restaurant of the Year, Wales: Bully’s, Cardiff
  • AA Restaurant of the Year, Scotland: Timberyard, Edinburgh
  • AA Restaurant of the Year, London (sponsored by Food & Travel Magazine): Berners Tavern, London
  • AA Wine Award (all categories sponsored by Matthew Clark): The Queensberry Hotel, Bath
  • AA Wine Award, England: The Queensberry Hotel, Bath
  • AA Wine Award, Wales: The Grove, Narbeth
  • AA Wine Award, Scotland: The Peat Inn, St Andrews
  • AA Pub of the Year, England: The Pheasant, Gestingthorpe
  • AA Pub of the Year, Wales: Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd
  • AA Pub of the Year, Scotland: The Bridge Inn, Ratho
  • AA Small Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by Beacon): Eden Hotel Collection
  • AA Hotel Group of the Year: QHotels
  • AA Eco Hotel (sponsored by D-ENERGi): Waterton Park Hotel, West Yorkshire
  • AA Eco Hotel Group of the Year: Red Carnation Hotels
  • AA Food Service Award: Galvin at Windows, London
  • AA Housekeeper of the Year Award (sponsored by Northmace & Hendon): Geraldine Maursy, The Landmark, London

The AA also announced which of the country’s top restaurants had achieved the higher AA Rosettes awards. Seven restaurants were awarded four AA Rosettes while 28 saw their ratings rise to three AA Rosettes.

New four rosettes
Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, St Helier, Jersey
The French, By Simon Rogan, Manchester
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Rock, Cornwall
Restaurant Story, London
Texture, London
Le Gavroche, London
The Greenhouse, London

New three rosettes
Stovells, Chobham
Cannizaro House, Wimbledon, London
Sixtyone Restaurant, London
Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford
Llangoed Hall, Llyswen
Yorebridge House, Bainbridge
La Belle Époque, Sofitel Heathrow
Red Lion, Pewsey
Cliveden, Taplow
The Hambrough, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow
Cotswolds88 Hotel, Painswick
Caxton Grill, St Ermins Hotel, London
Kitchen Table, London
The Packhorse Inn, Moulton
Manchester House Bar and Restaurant, Manchester
Hell Bay, Bryher
Turners, Birmingham
Amberley Castle, Amberley
Buckland Manor, Buckland
Ynyshir Hall, Eglwysfach
The Crown at Whitebrook, Whitebrook
Lainston House, Spartsholt
Chiltern Firehouse, London
Roka, London
The Clove Club, London
The Hinds Head, Bray
Mark Greenaway, Edinburgh

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