Pubs urged to enter industry awards
Northern Ireland's best watering holes have been urged to step forward and enter the Pub of the Year Awards.
Industry body Pubs of Ulster officially launched its annual awards ceremony this week, and called on licensees to take part in the only industry-recognised awards.
There are 10 categories which have been developed to showcase the industry. They include best barperson, best entertainment, best food, best new or improved and best hotel bar.
Mark Stewart, chairman of Pubs of Ulster, said: "The Pub of the Year Awards celebrate all that is great about our Northern Ireland's pub industry and the awards are hotly contested each year.
"We have some of the best pubs in the world right on our doorstep and many of these are setting industry standards when it comes to their customer offering and service as well as innovation."
He said Pubs of Ulster itself recognised the need to keep improving, and had held the first Great Ulster Pub Week earlier this year to celebrate the trade.
The awards would include the 'best Ulster pub week event' to celebrate pubs which had thrown themselves into the event.
Mr Stewart said: "I would encourage all publicans to get involved and enter this year's awards, as we strive to celebrate the real heroes of Northern Ireland's pub industry."
One award category, barperson of the year, is voted for by the general public. Members of the public are invited to write to the Sunday Life to nominate their favourite bartender.
All entries are judged by an independent panel of industry experts, before being visited by 'mystery drinkers' to make sure they meet industry standards.
The closing date for entries is September 16 and a shortlist will be announced around the end of October.
Winners of the various award categories will be revealed at the Pub of the Year Gala on November 12 at La Mon Hotel and Country Club.
Last year's overall winner of the Pub of the Year Award was the Harbour Bar in Portrush, Co Londonderry, which is led by Willie Gregg.