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SA journo appointed academy regional chair of The World's 50 Best Bars

The World's 50 Best Bars has appointed South African journalist and drinks writer Leah van Deventer as its first academy regional chair for southern Africa. The World's 50 Best Bars recognises the world's leading bars with an annual list.
Leah van Deventer, academy regional chair of The World’s 50 Best Bars
Leah van Deventer, academy regional chair of The World’s 50 Best Bars

The academy chairs are appointed for their in-depth knowledge of the bar world in their region, as well as their appreciation of international trends. Van Deventer has been writing about the South African bar and spirits scene for several years. In recognition of her insight into the industry, in 2019 she was voted Media Contributor of the Year in the Bartender Accolades and Recognition (BAR) Awards, and she is a finalist for the 2020 awards as well.

In addition to being a journalist, Van Deventer is a convenor of the SA Rum Awards and SA Sparkling Wine Championships, and she regularly judges cocktail and spirits competitions.

Said Van Deventer on her appointment: “I’m thrilled to be part of such a celebrated awards programme, and delighted to play my part in ensuring southern Africa has a voice in determining The World's 50 Best Bars.”

Role of the regional academy chairs


To ensure The World's 50 Best Bars Academy – the mechanism used to create the list – fully represents the international bar landscape, it was decided in 2020 to divide the world into 20 geographical regions, and assign academy chairs for each.

Every academy chair is responsible for selecting a voting panel from their region, encompassing a balanced selection of drinks writers, bartenders and cocktail aficionados. These panellists, which total some 540 and are updated annually, are invited to cast their votes for The World's 50 Best Bars.

Each voter casts seven votes, based on their best bar experiences of the previous 18 months. At least three of their votes must be for bars located outside their country of residence. To secure authentic experiences when visiting bars, voters are required to remain anonymous, and voting is confidential and secure.

To date, South Africa has featured five times in The World's 50 Best Bars: Planet Bar (43) and Asoka (45) in 2009 – the inaugural year of the awards; Café Caprice (27) and Planet Bar (29) in 2010; and Asoka (50) in 2012. As of 2019, The 50 Best Discovery was implemented, accounting for bars that rank from 51–100. That same year, Sin+Tax made the cut at number 88.

Voting for 2020 is underway, and the results will be announced in October.

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