In October, I was invited for the first time by my old friend Bastian Heuser to speak on the mainstage at the most high profile Bar Show in Europe today: Berlin’s Bar Convent. The show has been running since 2007, when it started as a modest gathering over only 1000 people and 16 exhibitors. Also behind the show’s success are the founders of Mixology Magazine: Helmut Adam and Jens Hasenbein.
I was extremely excited to be speaking at this year’s show as it is the most talked-about bar expo on the global calender (second only to Tales of the Cocktail) and many of my good friends and mentors were there to espouse their own knowledge. My main presentation was titled ‘The World’s Best Restaurant Bar’, where I was speaking about my time at New York’s highly lauded Saxon + Parole restaurant and the finer details that went into that establishment being given this title at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in 2013.
At my current digs, Bacchanal (located only three blocks south of Saxon + Parole), we are aiming for similar lofty aspirations and I went into some of the very cool things that we’re doing there as well. The talk was only 45 minutes long, which means there was less time for people to fall asleep, I suppose. If people actually turn up to my presentations, I always consider that a bonus.
I popped by the main stage on the first day to get a feel for the room and was shocked at how big it was. At least 250 seats and room for another 150 crammed in when standing and this is exactly what happened at my friend Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s seminar, where he gave a typically humorous and impassioned seminar to a packed house on Day 1. Kudos buddy! I had a fairly packed house myself and it was definitely the biggest crowd I’ve ever spoken in front of.
I was also bartending on the Bar USA stand, presenting some of my favorite, iconic drinks from the US of A. Plus you could also find me mixing up some drinks and giving a couple of small presentations for my good friends at Havana Club at the Pernod Ricard stand, with special thanks to Martin Zum Felde and Christian Balke, two legends in the German Bar Scene. Also presenting at that stand were luminaries such as Alex Kratena, Max Warner, Ago Perrone, Alistair Burgess and Stephan Berg.
Wow, what an amazing show. The quality of stands was extremely high, there were no energy drinks and the like, so there were only premium products on show. And I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the event. It was mind boggling how big it was, with almost 10, 000 people coming through the doors over the two days. One thing I was really impressed with is that they didn’t allow any stands to play loud music or to even have loud PA systems for their speakers. This allowed all the attendees to actually be able to hear what was being said, which never happens at other shows of this nature.
I will definitely be back again next year. What an amazing show and filled with some of the biggest names in the global community and what could be more inspiring than that?