The Top Bar Shows in 2019
Every year all over the world the number of 'Cocktail Weeks' or 'Bar Shows' grows exponentially. BUT if you can only attend ONE industry event per year which one should you choose? Travelling to a bar show can end up costing a lot of money & you want to make sure your money goes the distance when it comes to knowledge, networking & inspiration. Cocktails For You breaks it down for you from the bar shows we know & love as well we will definitely be attending in the near future.
Location: New Orleans, USA Why: TOTC as it is usually abbreviated has basically been the front runner for the industry for over 15 years. Established from a small bar crawl to a huge behemoth it is today it attracts the cream of the crop of bartenders, brand ambassadors & bar industry personalities from all over the world. This event is more than a bar show, it is a community that holds the entire industry together, ideas & friendships are born here & it has the most original educational content year on year. It's not just a bar show it is a family. Pros: Networking - Everyone who gets things done will be here. If you're here then you're one of 3 things. 1 - Important enough to be a speaker or exhibitor here. 2 - Successful enough that you're able to afford to visit. 3 - Talented enough that a brand has brought you over. Why:
Historically Important - Home of the Sazerac, Vieux Carre, Grasshopper, Peychauds Bitters etc. Cons: Expensive - From hotels, flights to basic expenses
Name: Berlin Bar Convent Location: Berlin, Germany Why: The most important & biggest event in the European hospitality calendar. Hundreds of brands big & small showcasing something for everyone. New things are launched, everyone from everywhere is here to visit & it has managed to attract bartenders from every corner of the globe in droves. If you want to taste something new & unique you will find it here, if you want to meet a bartender from that tiny country in Europe you cant spell you'll find him here. Pros: Inspiration - Biggest showcasing of products in any bar show globally that is aimed at craft bartenders. Tools, books & products it is all here.
Networking - Europe is home to over 750 million people & this is the only event where everyone from every country will be present. Cons: Too big - Even after being expanded to a 3 day event it is almost impossible to cover the entire show nowadays. Education - The lineup is usually well curated & the talks seem to be on point, however, seminar rooms are hard to find, the sound is bad & most people are too interested in tasting products than attending the seminars.
Name: Moscow Bar Show Location: St Petersburg, Russia Why: The leading bar show in Eastern Europe has gone strength to strength. The only bar show we know where the director actively travels the world search for new ideas, speakers & inspiration personally in order to curate a unique experience year on year. This bar always tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to industry trends as ideas we see here only appear as topics in other countries later. This is your door to the Russian speaking world. Pros:
Inspiration - The Slavic market is treated as an independent think tank with trends that don't usually follow what happens in the West. They have their own designers, trend-setters & approach to Hospitality. Worth for getting out of your comfort zone. Cons: Language & VISA barrier - VISA's cost money & the Russian one is one of the harder ones to obtain properly. Very few people speak adequate English so can be hard to get around without a local guide.
Name: Athens Bar Show Location: Athens, Greece Why: The Athens bar show is the dark horse of bar shows in Europe but it connects both the entire Mediterranean as well as parts of the Middle-Eastern hospitality communities. Athens is unique & irreplaceable with some of the best hospitality globally. The entire city is littered with world class bars all of which have a timeless feeling about them. The educational content is hosted in huge amphitheatres, the organisation is top notch & there is plenty conceptual inspiration in the city. Pros: Affordable - The flights would be the most expensive things you'd have to pay for. This is the best investment in your own career improvement money can buy.
Networking - Athens has a unique soul as a city & those attending are part of the 'underground' club of people who knew about the bar show before it was cool. This is the key to the Southern European community & parts of the Middle-East. Cons: Travel Links - Depending on where you're travelling from this could be a harder location to get to. Popularity - There are more visiting bartenders than there are bars able to host them sometimes. This makes it difficult to see the local bars properly as they try to accommodate everyone.
Name: Lisbon Bar Show Location: Lisbon, Portugal Why: If you're hunger for anything ever produced in the Iberian Peninsula, if you want to get your nerd on Sherry, Spanish Brandies, local Vermouths & unique rare Portuguese liqueurs you won't find anyone else in the world then Lisbon Bar Show is your only big option. This is one of the few bar shows that regularly attracts many speakers from other Latin American countries & for many years has been the go-to point of contact for any access to the communities there. Pros: Unique - You're killing 3 birds with 1 stone by visiting. Hardcore education from the top industry speakers, access to rare products definitely not exported to your country in niche categories & networking with the Latin American bartending community in Europe.
Bars close early - The local laws are strict & bars tend to close early. Not a killer but definitely not great either.
Relatively small - You can cover the entire bar show in a day so unless you're good at meeting new people & establishing connections quickly then you can find yourself with little left to do.