Updated: Mar 29
Moscow Bar Show (MBS for short) was back again in St. Petersburg (Yes it's funny) the beginning of September bigger, better & with a completely new theme. As the world fills up with new bar shows, bar events & cocktail week's every other month it is always interesting to see how those who've been around for longer stay up-to-date & competitive in the hospitality scene. Cocktails For You was again the media partner for the Moscow Bar Show & we think it is potentially not only a great show in its own right but maybe even a leader in bar show organisation & content. This year's theme was "DECONSTRUCTED' & the official statement from MBS was the following: Deconstruction -
An art and philosophy movement that is aimed at object or phenomenon comprehension through fragmentation and deformation of each of its components in detail to find new ways of implementation. We suggest using what professionals all over the world have given us working with design, art, architecture. We need this experience to understand and analyze all the steps you take in your job - from coming up with a new cocktail taste to the strategic planning of a project. Once we have broken down every phenomenon into the smallest of parts, we can subtract the superfluous and find new combinations and plans for aims that we set.
Cocktails For You was again a public speaker at MBS with Eddie Rudzinskas, the founder of the platform, with the help of Arina Nikolskaya & a bottle of champagne debuted a new seminar at the bar event dubbed "Travelling Bartender" that 'deconstructs' everything & anything about what it is like to be travel the world bartending all over the place. The seminar specifically for MBS for over 7 months & finished just before the MBS. Shout out to Teeling Whiskey for sponsoring the shots to bring the atmosphere in our seminar. We also head the world's most at famed St. Petersburg bar - Gypsies & Jews - serving shots & listening to ACDC. When Arina Nikolskaya, the organiser of the Moscow Bar Show, is your bartender-in-arms you know its going to go well!
- The Big Moments -
For Cocktails For You this was our 5th bar show this year & possible the best one we attended. The new space was outside of the main city centre of St Petersburg but provided a lot more space for all attendees, stands & visitors. Over 5000 people attended the bar show with over 180 brands representing from all over the world. Theres a lot to cover so we'd like to break down the biggest 3 moments for us at the event:
- Stand & Brand Rivalry - We'll say it now & say it again - stands should be an experience & not al alcohol depository - if you're a visiting bartender to a bar show & you didn't learn anything because you were too shit-faced the whole time. This has been a completely wasted trip for you as a professional. When we say 'rivalry' we don't necessarily mean any bad blood between any of the competing companies but rather they all want to show off the best of their offering & abilities to those attending. Moét Hennessy has been a standout figure with their 'Assemblage' project where they've assembled a family of international bartenders from all corners of the world. The bartenders all visit the house of Moét to learn about their products & then they work with Moét as part of the project at leading bar shows all over the world. A chance to visit places you've never seen before & work with bartenders from all over the world. This was our daily meeting point every day to have a glass of Champagne handed to us by Jan Van Ongevalle from Belgium. Barmaglot from Kazakhstan couldn't bring all the bartenders of Russia home so they brought Kazakhstan to Russia. With a traditional Kazakh cultural tent setup where they served bartenders in their traditional Kazakh robes. If there was a way to get immersed in a different culture while still enjoying a delicious cocktail this would be it! Jack Daniels & William Grants came back swinging this year with both a Kentucky distillery experience & a mad party with a DJ that blew all others out of the water. What's great about MBS is that companies have the opportunity to create a whole atmosphere for their brands thanks to the setup of the location. If you can control the music, lights & space you have full control over how you want your brand presented. So the responsibility of the success of your brand at MBS if completely in your own hands.
- Real Education - We believe in Cocktails For You if you host a seminar & an international speaker the education must be useful to the bartender/bar manager/bar owner. It has to be practical information that they can actively use in their professional work. Even as an international speaker ourselves we always attend educational seminars from other speakers to further our own professional knowledge. This year MBS brought some real professionals to the table with our top seminars being from - Iain Bell of Bartenders Manifesto - Iain McPherson from Panda & Sons - Bek Narzi from Pachamama Group.
Iain Bell - Bartender Health - This man has been working with drugs addicts & alcoholics in Scotland for his entire career & is a certified & accredited expert in health & wellness. His seminar talks about drinking & alcohol as well as how to sustain this dangerous lifestyle as a professional bartenders. Instead of just giving - tips & life hacks - he gives specific dietary instructions, actual detox regime & vitamin supplement information that can help you get through that self-induced hangover.
- Andrey Bolshakov & Emilio Di Salvo - Bringing the Artesian & their minimalistic approach to cocktails all the way to the MBS. All about the methodology, the ideology, the working process & how to achieve the flavour based results that they're looking for. A how-to for all bartenders!
Iain McPherson - The Switching Technique -
We've covered this topic before in an article about this new technique utilised by Iain in his bar Panda & Sons in Scotland. You can find detailed information regarding the technique in our blog HERE as we were privileged enough to debut it on Cocktails For You exclusively. Iain gave a full step by step masterclass on how to implement this technique in your own venue as well as a general approach to techniques & how to use them/approach them in your bar. Tangible advice from a bar owner for tangible ROI as opposed to gimmicks for magazine headlines.
Bek Narzi - Codex of the Hospitality Pro - This man is the Conor McGregor of bartending in a way because as a showman he doesn't mind shitting on everyone else in the process. You don't have to agree with the method but the man is definitely a marketing machine. There was little girls singing, there were bodyguards all around & his ability to keep a crowd interested if out of this world. We could argue that he might be one of the best bartending industry showmen with regards to holding a seminar in the world. We attended his seminar last year & again this year especially after he released his book about the industry earlier this year in Eastern Europe. The seminar spoke about Bek's life in this industry, spoke about mistakes & victories as well as his personal journey. Completely transparent, at times brash & wholly in-your-face in both delivery & execution. We saw his seminar last year also & that being said the only thing we managed to take away from this is that Bek Narzi promises to solve all your problems but all the answers are in his book. Luckily for the attendees of his seminar received a copy free of charge after the seminar pre-signed by Bek himself. Although we personally couldn't take much away for the seminar ourselves & we haven't read the book yet either so we don't have the answers to the hospitality industry yet.
For all our observations though this seminar was the only one with a separate charge for attendance. Based on what we saw it was a full house & it is always better to look at results rather than opinion.
- The bars & the city -
Visiting a country such as Russia & a beautiful city such as St. Petersburg without visiting the many amazing bars in the city would be a travesty. With such a rich history & active bar scene there were quite a few places that stood out to us on this trip: Bar 1/2 Room - Tiny bar with amazing cocktails & infusions especially 'hrenovukha' - Bar Architect - Come in but you won't remember why it was so good after you left - Fiddlers Green - Come in for a beer & a shot then come out a a horse is waiting for you - Gypsies & Jews - ACDC, shots, fantastic atmosphere & this is what a dive bar should be like -
- Special Shout Out - - Slava Lankin for showing us waht its truly like being a real bartender & how to make a good Martini. Jokes for all ages! - Mr. Murka from bringing a full brass band to the Moscow Bar Show & playing catchy & upbeat music all day to keep everyone happy. - Laura Schacht from the DeKuyper stand that brought multi-sensory mixology & energy - Allison Bartrop from Banks Rums for hiring a boat on the river & hosting all the seminar speakers as we watched the sun go down - El Copitas family dinner as well as their new venue Paloma Cantina. They know real hospitality & how to host people properly. Delicious drinks & great company! - Oisin Davis as he carries the flag for non-alcoholic bars all over the world as well as singing in Russian at random bars - Big shout out to Joia for providing 6 different Gin & Tonics at all times! - Julia from Yellow Room in Moscow. She might be mad & crazy but its never sad with her around.
- Anton Martoplyas & his wife with Bulbash vodka. If you want to learn how to how to host a stand see him in person! - Evgeniy Shashin in his new role as global Russian cocktail correspondent. Delivery all the best news from around the world! - Denis Temny for welcome us international guests with the biggest smile in the country. - Michal Minchovsky from 1883 syrups for his constant support, educational wisdom & willingness to share
- Summary -
They say you should never make a sequel to a hit movie but we believe that MBS is the only place that grows organically & in a smart way. The new location is bigger & there are more people attending but in no way does it feel uncomfortable or obnoxious. The energy of the Moscow Bar Show is fantastic & the Russian bar scene is definitely coming to visit to network & educate themselves. It is probably the most education hungry bar scene we've met so far! The thing that makes MBS unique is their artistic & fluid approach to the bar industry, in the same way that the hospitality industry has to change & adapt to the times. MBS listens to the industry & you can see that reflected in everything that MBS does. In our eyes MBS stands as its own brand & with its own distinct identity amongst all the many bar shows around the world. It doesn't copy existing events globally to try to 'profit' at large from the industry. It does something unique & irreplaceable.
We have to give a special shout out Arina Nikolskaya & her team that make these amazing things possible & continue to strive for improvement every year with both their event as well as how they push the industry forward. For anyone organising bar events or a bar show around the world in the current era you need to take a leaf out of MBS book. Arina is the only bar show organiser constantly travelling around the world searching for the best ideas, techniques & trends to bring back to Russia. Instead of just inviting people that someone writes about in a magazine article. Moscow Bar Show has the opportunity to become the best show in the world with their new venue & fearless leader. Let's see what happens next year! P.S. For all the other photos check them out below: