Much is being said recently about competitions in the bar industry.
Individual opinions rises concerning competition, such as if there is a slight confusion over the grand picture of competing?
I am a strong believe in competitions, big or small, you name it. Some people are competitive people, and others are observing from distance. Both types have very solid strategies when striving for what we all want; more knowledge and experience.
I think that the only concern we have right now, is the fact that there is a lack of interest in competing compared to previous years. That is why the topic has risen. So, is there any harm in this decay of interest?
Yes, but only if you see things from far. These winning triumphs when entering a competition not only provides marketing for yourself as a person, but it also promotes your workplace and more important, your location – Copenhagen, Denmark.
It benefits us all, if Copenhagen would have a strong place on the international map of great places to have a cocktail. We would have more interesting tourists and trade travellers. We have already converted our local populationJ
We should also think of the next generation of bartenders. Some of my finest memories I´ve had being a rookie bartenders was to see greater bartenders showcase themselves on stage. I wanted to become as charming and as confident as them, and acquire the same passion and skill they had for mixing drinks. By observing others I grew to become a better bartender, and today I know how important that is, to have a form of mentor, role model or motivator to look up to. We owe the industry that kind of support.
When competing today compared to earlier years, there is much more on stake. You can choose to take as much out of the experience as you can, or you could completely destroy yourself if your strategy backfires.
From personal experience, I have gained alot more by entering competition then I would have if I watched from distance. I like to put myself outside of the comfort zone in front of a lot of strangers in a foreign country. Because that is NOT who I am, and therefor it excites me. It’s about who you are as a person, and who you would like to become. In my case – fearless.
(Havana Club cocktail competition which Andreas has also competed in)
So far I have been lucky enough to travel to over 15 new countries because of this beautiful trade I’m in. And most of my trips are from competitions. I have met so many interesting people around the world that I keep in contact with. I experienced so many different cultures, and seen some of the most breath-taking bars around the world. All for free. What have I given in return? Hardly enough. Yes I have promoted a drink with a special brand in my bar. Would I have done it if the drink tasted bad and gave my guest a bad experience? No.
Yes I have supported some of the massive companies out there, but they have also supported this trade long before me. I choose very carefully when I give someone support.
Touching this subject, makes me wonder why words such as Corporate/Big brand/Diageo/Bacardi/Commercial/Marketing tool and advertisement often is being mentioned when we talk about competitions?
Have you ever seen a football game not being advertised and supported by brands?
Have you ever seen a one coloured Formula 1 car?
Do they arrange the Olympic Games for their own interest (Yes, many would say) but I would like to think that to some extend it would be to drive the athletes and the countries they represent further. This also implies to the bar industry. Corporations think of themselves, about their own gain, but they are also responsible for the growth of the industry itself. They educate the common people on a much larger scale then we do behind the stick.
What most of us hate is when a company becomes too massive and has the power to both change a brand and inflict on its value and price.
But from day one of alcohol consumption, larger companies have bought smaller producers products to make them internationally knows. No one has forced anyone to sign contracts at gunpoint. Many of these arrangements have probably been as beneficial for the founder as for the distributer or stockholder. There are plenty of smaller brands that have experienced happy days using someone else’s thick checkbook to gain their own fame. But of course there are many examples where this has not been the case, but more often then not there is something more behind the scene. As for smaller producers I could be need of extra finance to expand, just to be able to supply its demand. In other cases it could be a very niched brand that needs a larger network to reach clients on the other side of the world. We also seen idiots wanting their own brand to show off at the nightclub, I simply hope the farmer/producer of this produce laugh all the way to the bank.
We must remember that we are the ones who have created these “big companies” while we sit and sip exotic booze in our cold backyards. Just because we become more aware in the older days, does not mean that we should forget what got us into this business, and I am sure it was not the bottle of small batch triple distilled gin made by a one-legged bearded man from Isle of Man, that caught our attention. It was probably a commercial brand.
I am smart enough to understand that everyone wants the best for themselves, whether its a lot of money or originality, everyone has a choice. Shamefully we are in an industry that is completely controlled by money and marketing. We are salesmen and we sell a product. This patch often stretches all the way from back to the producer, or it might start at the feet of the bar owner.
These are my views on competitions (and on brands), and why I believe its both good and fun to support competitions. The size of the company does not matter. It would be ideal for local brands to arrange such large events, but it is not realistic. I am through with romanticizing who is really in control of this industry. The day when it becomes too much, I will find a farm and become entirely self-sufficient. In the meanwhile I will give and take, with an equal balance to support our trade. I’m not in this trade to save the world; only to improve it, by providing a service that is being payed for. Call me selfish.