by David Klemt

3rd Annual TAG Global Spirits Awards Hit Las Vegas

by David Klemt

The third annual TAG Global Spirits Awards, created by industry icon Tony Abou-Ganim, is about more than ranking spirits and handing out awards.

Clearly, the awards are the main focus. However, the multi-day happening hosts an important event: the Pink Tie Gala.

We had the honor of attending the Gala this year. Each year, the party brings industry professionals together to socialize, taste awards entrants in creative cocktails, and support the Helen David Relief Fund. You’ll find more information about the Fund below.


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A post shared by HENDRICK’S GIN (@hendricksgin)

One of the standout spirits we sampled at the Pink Tie Gala was Hendrick’s Gin’s latest expression. Bold but bright, Grand Cabaret is my favorite Hendrick’s to date. Along with delivering stone fruit notes, I detected complex aromas and flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon and other bold red wines.

Walking the floor, we also ran into and saw several Bar Hacks podcast guests. You’ll find descriptions and links to episodes with Tony Abou-Ganim, Lynn House, Vance Henderson, and Tim Rita toward the end of this article.

In case you’re wondering, yes, consumers can purchase tickets to attend select events, like the Pink Tie Gala. Something for people to consider for 2025.


TAG Global Spirits Awards

While these awards are the brainchild of Tony Abou-Ganim, he doesn’t go it alone. Julio Bermejo, David Graphsi, and Sean Ludford help execute TAG each year, along with a panel of judges.

Speaking of judges, they included Dale DeGroff, Lynn House, Charlotte Voisey, and Francesco Lafranconi this year.


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A post shared by Tony Abou Ganim (@mdrnmixologist)

It’s no small feat to be a TAG judge, as they’re tasked with evaluating entrants across more than 100 spirits categories. Luckily, the judges are up to the challenge.

Interestingly, they have some assistance in the form of specialized glassware. TAG has partnered with Steelite International and RONA to create the Ultimate Universal Spirits Glass. Not only is the glass exclusive to TAG, its usage ensures fair judging for every entrant.

Helen David Relief Fund

TAG Global Spirits Awards Pink Tie Gala ice sculpture

If any party needs an ice sculpture…

Named for Abou-Ganim’s cousin, the Helen David Relief Fund pays homage to its namesake while serving bartenders who need help.

Helen and her mother opened the Brass Rail in Port Huron, Michigan, in the 1930s. As women owning and operating a bar in the ’30s, the duo were true pioneers in the industry. Abou-Ganim credits Helen with teaching him the spirit of hospitality.

To celebrate Helen and give back to the industry, Abou-Ganim created the HDRF. The Fund provides assistance via grants to bartenders fighting breast cancer, or other forms of cancer.

In just the first two years of operation, the TAG Global Spirits Awards and its partners have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the HDRF. To learn more about the Fund, donate, or apply for a grant, click here.

Episode 47 with Tony Abou-Ganim

The legend, the icon, the one and only Tony Abou-Ganim stops by Bar Hacks to chat with co-host David Klemt. The two discuss this year’s Helen David Relief Fund at the USBG Foundation fundraising events, Helen David and the Brass Rail’s legacy, current drink trends, and more. On September 13, Bally’s Atlantic City is hosting a 25-mile bike ride to benefit the Helen David Relief Fund that culminates in a complimentary Team Negroni Lunch and happy hour at Bally’s Beach Bar.

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Episode 52 with Lynn House

Lynn House, national spirits specialist and portfolio mixologist for Heaven Hill, drops by Bar Hacks to speak with host David Klemt about the second annual Old Fashioned Week. Elijah Craig is seeking to raise at least $100,000 for the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, an advocacy and action nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers.

Lynn and David also discuss bourbon, rye, hospitality, building balanced cocktails, and how trust plays a role in educating guests so you and your team can introduce them to new drinks and experiences.

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Episode 28 with Tim Rita

Lyre’s Spirits crafts alcohol-free spirits that masterfully mimic their full-proof counterparts. Host David Klemt sits down with Lyre’s brand ambassador, bartender and buddy Tim Rita to chat about the brand. In this episode you’ll learn about one of the fastest-growing brands in one of the fastest-growing beverage categories.

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Episode 20 with Vance Henderson

Host David Klemt kicks back and talks with Vance Henderson, national brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin. Before joining William Grant & Sons, Vance tended, managed and operated bars for several years. He proved himself at WG&S with Drambuie and then moved to Monkey Shoulder before taking on his role at Hendrick’s. He shares details of the brand-new Hendrick’s Lunar, his thoughts on branding, his best tips for hiring, and much more.

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Images provided by CURICH|WEISS

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