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The Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur of the Year has been announced...

In its inaugural year, the Havana Club Bar Entrepreneur Awards have sought out those who have given everything to follow their dream of owning their own establishment. The Awards aspire to shine a spotlight on the risk-takers in the industry, the resilient, and the creatives behind the bars.

During stage two of the Awards, the 11 bar entrepreneur finalists were invited to submit a personal video so that judges could virtually meet each bar entrepreneur.

Following this last round of judging, the 11 finalists from around the world gathered in Cuba, the home of Havana Club rum, in May 2019. Here, they celebrated Cuban culture, while also coming together as united entrepreneurs. The trip culminated on 23 May 2019 at the grand finale where the Bar Entrepreneur of the Year was announced. Take a look below at who won the crown.

Bar Entrepreneur of the Year

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Congratulations to Carina Soto Velasquez, the champion of Havana Club's inaugural Bar Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Carina's story demonstrated passion, determination, resilience and creativity in the industry.

"Being an entrepreneur is already difficult, being an immigrant entrepreneur is much harder. I admire Carina as she has not only manged to create a successful partnership with two other partners - which in itself is quite hard - but she has created five successful venues, all very different and of high quality." – Judge

Carina's tailor-made prize package of profile building and support will be provided in the coming months. Keep your eye on this space!

Special recognition was also awarded to the three entrepreneurs who excelled in the following categories.

Best Innovator

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Stephan Hinz, the individual who has delivered the most exciting and successful innovations in their business.

"Amazing development of all aspects of the bar industry: Books, equipment, training. Stephan pushes the boundaries." - Judge

One to Watch

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Kelsey Ramage, the emerging entrepreneur who is clearly on their way to greater success.

"Kelsey started this whole new take on things and shares her research and knowledge for free though her blog. She has an active take on education for future bars and sees the value of classic cocktails in training, next to the Trash Tiki concept." - Judge

Against All Odds

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Rosie Stimpson, the entrepreneur who has overcome significant challenges and grown their business to be stronger as a result.

"Successfully runs three places without any hospitality background. Managed to find the right people, keep them with her for a long time and help them grow, all the while also being a mother." – Judge

Congratulations to all the remarkable bar entrepreneurs in this year's Awards. Each of you had a story that went above and beyond, a testament to your achievements and passion for the industry. We wish you the best of luck for your future endeavours and hope to discover your next chapter in the 2020 Bar Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

We'd also like to thank the esteemed panel of entrepreneurial judges and their insightful decision-making they've brought to the Awards.