Updated: Mar 29
Hospitality is arguably in the blood of the Italian people with many of the best bars in the world staffed by Italians. It was almost strange that the NEW bar show on the European scene is hosted in one of its's OLDEST cities & probably the biggest bartending community. You have to take your hat off, salute & applaud the organisers of the Roma Bar Show because if the FIRST year is ANYTHING to go by we at Cocktails For You believe that the Roma Bar Show is a on its way to becoming one of the most important shows in the annual hospitality industry calendar - GLOBALLY! Cocktails For You were privileged to be the social media partner for Roma Bar Show in its first edition.
Let us explain...
A successful bar show in our humble opinion always needs to nail a few basic principles in order to function & eventually grow: 1 - Great educational content 2 - Organised logistics at the event 3 - Support of the local industry community 4 - Fun 5 - Visitors
It feels like that on the 23rd & 24th of September 2019 all the planets aligned for Roma Bar Show & miracles happened in every way possible because I've never seen a bar show in its 1st year excel in all of the 5 principles above. Usually a bar show is organised on a small scale to 'test the market' then expands over time but the Italians have decided to 'GO BIG OR GO HOME' as the entire hospitality world watched at what would unfold.
The venue held by the Roma Bar Show is a sight to behold & fitting of an event held in the grand city of Rome. As you enter the event you're faced with a huge courtyard & banners of events, supporting brands & the bar show itself. You cannot help but feel this is what a bar show should really look like considering that over 16.6 million people are employed in Hospitality in Europe alone(7.8% of the total workforce). It is time that our events represent the strength of our chosen profession & that we can be proud to pursue a career in Hospitality. It is events such as the Roma Bar Show that help to develop the 'face' of hospitality & bartending. The show itself is divided in different sections with the likes of a 'Mexican Village' & 'Gin House' to give an area for a full category to explore. This made it easier for any bartenders to navigate around the show to find exactly what they were looking for. In general the show contained 28 tasting rooms, 8 Academy labs, 10 main seminars and 2 cocktail competition finals over the course of the 2 days.
There was definitely something for everyone & we pleasantly surprised about the huge amount of creativity displayed especially in the Mexican Village. There were Mariachi bands going around, every stand seemed 'alive' with the spirit of Latin America & it felt like a permanent carnival that you were constantly drawn to even if you were only walking past.
Education First As the bar industry expands & bar shows get bigger & bigger worldwide one of the biggest draws becomes the seminars & educational content available to the young bartender. The constant hunt for new ideas, techniques & trends is almost like a drug but very often the execution isn't always there. Roma Bar Show was there to prove them all wrong as their main stage feels like it was designed to host a TED talk.
There was enough space for around 400 people (based on my counting with a Paloma in my hand) with some truly global headliners: SEMINAR THE MEXICAN SPIRITS CULTURE
Hipocrates Nolasco Cancino, Ulises Torrentera & Roberto Artusio
AMERICAN COCKTAIL CULTURE
Francesco Lanfranconi & Toby Cecchini
TALK ABOUT "MEEHAN'S BARTENDER MANUAL"
Jim Meehan & Gian Paolo Di Pierro
Ian Burrell & Luca Gargano
GIN GIN GIN...PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
Dasmond Payne & Anistatia Miller COCKTAIL TRENDS & INNOVATION
Simone Caporale & Marian Beke
Dre Masso & Paolo Guasco WELLBEING & MODERATION
Camille Vidal, Roberta Mariani & Iain Bell What is refreshing to see that instead of following the latest trends that the Roma Bar Show focused on quality of content when it came to the seminars. Every single speaker was a professional in their specific field with years of experience in their chosen topic. They say that you should 'learn the classics' if you want to be a good bartender & believe the same can be said for education of the foundations of our chosen careers - Knowledge of Spirits, Production & History.
The entire country of Italy came out to support the Roma Bar Show & this was evident from the brands present, the visitors to the atmosphere in the entire event. We're used to seeing Italian brand stands at other bar shows globally packed full of Italian bartenders. For a long time they've supported each other globally so I'm sure it feels great to bring them all home. It feels like every single spirit, amaro, vermouth, beer & wine every made in Italy was present at the show featuring 200 exhibitors and over 2000 brands. According to the official statistics 9628 visitors walked through the doors of The Palazzo dei Congressi & this is JUST THE FIRST YEAR. Aside from a little trouble processing so many people on the first day it never felt too busy during the event with everyone getting a drink, a taster & some knowledge.
The Roma Bar Show also happened to be hosted at the same time as the Worlds 50 Best Bars 51 - 100 list was being dropped with 2 bars from Rome making the cut - Baccano & Drink Kong. This most definitely added to the celebrations being held all over the city over the two nights almost 40 vibrant events, guest bartending and brand activations were hosted around the best bars in Rome.
Guest Bartending + Fun & Games We at Cocktails For You believe that at the soul of the bartending profession is 'Fun'. People need to have a good time & bars are often an escape from the daily routine of most people. The same can be said of bar shows where the huge amount of educational content, the masterclasses & stands can occasionally be overwhelming. One of the best aspects of the location for the Roma Bar Show is that there is a rooftop terrace available with delicious G&T's being served, champagne & cabana's for you to lie down & rest in between seminars. For those who needed a more adrenaline related distraction the Fernet Branca Barback games were also being held in the front yard of the bar show. The whole event is fantastic as it supports those usually overlooked in our industry & in a weird way it is quite pleasant to watch people run around like gladiators in an arena attempting basic bartending tasks!
Cocktails For You ALSO needs to give a specific shout out to our friends at Freni E Frezioni cocktail bar in Rome guided by none other than Riccardo Rossi. They alongside Grey Goose hosted a Cocktails For You guest-shift in their bar during the show. To give a little insight in what a Cocktails For You guest-shift looks like imagine a whole of Bohemian Rhapsody, shows & delicious cocktails! Photos of the event are 'missing' & it is probably for the best. Here's a photo of us posing with hangovers the day after though!
P.S. The guys have a killer Paloma on draft. MUST TRY if you're ever in Rome!
That was our take on the Roma Bar Show 2019 as their partners in crime. If you're planning on visiting any bar event next year I would highly suggest that it is Roma Bar Show the one you visit. So just to leave you with the following: There's a saying that - ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME... The modern version is - ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROMA BAR SHOW!
Find the video below for a small insight & some additional photos