Beers were swilled, ambience was evaluated, and Bartender magazine assured us that a night on the piss could in fact be ‘work’. Wrapping up Bar Week with the Australian Bar Awards last night, the magazine named the best bars, pubs, clubs and music venues to sink a brew at.

As reported by News Ltd, the night was absolutely dominated by Sydney venues, with eight of the twelve awards snatched up by the faux capital. Despite this, five of the country’s states were represented in the nominations, showcasing our nationwide love for a night at the pub. As expected, Canberra was left out of the night’s proceedings.

Taking out top honour for bar of the year was Sydney’s Shady Pines Saloon, where one can experience the charm of the Wild West without the spit, wooden teeth or prostitutes. Shady Pines has injected a touch of the South into Sydney’s bar scene, and the bar manages to straddle the fine line between trendy and kitsch.

However, the true victory of the night came as Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory took the award for Best Music Offering, beating out stiff competition from Melbourne’s live music scene. Pushing the eminent OAF venue over the line was its inspired design, influenced by Andy Warhol’s New York factory in the 60s, and exhibition spaces to compliment the live music on show.

Hosting a diverse range of local and international acts throughout the year which included Ricki Lee, Oliver Tank and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the Oxford Art Factory has wide appeal and managed to impress even the toughest bar snobs to take Bartneder‘s top gong.

The trendy venue snatched the award from Melbourne’s modest Corner Hotel, which consistently hosts the nation’s premier artists and internationally renowned acts such as Mudhoney, Wavves and Nada Surf. As a live music venue the Corner Hotel is everything a punter dreams for; cheap beer, intimate setting, and A-grade acts.

The nominees for this category were heavy on Melbourne and Sydney venues, and unfortunately the thriving music scene surrounding these two cities was not well represented nationally. The only other city to score a nod was Perth for its Ellington Jazz Club, which was included for its inspired ambience and sophisticated food and drinks menu.

A far cry from Melbourne’s Toff in Town, whose modest stage, crammed smokers section and standard drink selection still managed to be tipped for its consistently excellent musical offerings.

Other states were luckier in other categories, as Brisbane showed a touch of sophistication, bagging the Best Wine Bar awards for their vintage luncheonette, Cabiria. Offering fresh oysters, home made pies and the all-important selection of over 300 wines, Cabiria impressed with its self-described “Rome via Paris” atmosphere.

Despite their defeat in musical offering, Melbourne’s big win came in the form of Best New Pub with Collins St’s Bottom End. Self-proclaimed home of “dude food stoner cuisin” in a city obsessed with pretentious fine dining, the menu includes deep fried Mac & Cheese balls, NYC style buffalo wings, and a Shane Warne burger, guaranteed to crave the munchies. Also hosting Melbourne’s most hedonistic disco night, Poof Doof, The Bottom End has been a breakout success.

While Bartender magazine celebrated the pride that makes the Australian drinking culture one of the best in the world, politicians continue to slam down on Sydney’s bar and nightclub scene, proposing lockouts and introducing restrictive new measures to curb violent crime. Adelaide venues have also been hit with a financial assault as the government cracks down as the Australian tradition of cold beer is continuously threatened.

However, with awards such as these showcasing the country’s increasingly sophisticated, refined and celebratory approach to the classic pub, it seems that our nation’s thirst far outweighs our politician’s disapproval.

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