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Engaging the bartender: What the wine world should learn from spirits brands

By Lucy Richardson

With cool bar after cool bar opening each day in and around London, it’s fair to say we have arguably the world’s best bar scene (no matter New York or San Francisco may say…). At the heart of our bar scene is a thriving cocktail culture, driven by a generation of ambitious bartenders eager to make their mark in the industry by coming up with ever-more inventive cocktail serves and perfecting their presenting skills (or ‘swag’ as they’re likely to put it). It wasn’t always this way though; until relatively recently the idea of an ambitious bartender was a contradiction in terms.

But somewhere along the way, a clever marketer realised the obvious – these guys and girls have a huge amount of influence over the discerning drinkers of our city. Being ‘in the know’ has never been more important to consumers so a tip on what you should be drinking from the effortlessly cool, tattooed – and no doubt bearded – chap behind the bar is going to be lapped up and passed on to friends gleefully (and you can bet a photo of the cocktail they buy will make its way on to Instagram that same night too).


Spirits brands cottoned on to the importance of the bartender years ago as the plethora of bartender cocktail competitions today goes to show and largely, they do a great job of engaging the bartender; educating them on the given category and ultimately, giving them the tools to progress in their careers (and some rather jealousy-inducing jaunts around the world at the same time). Ask a bartender about a spirit brand and you’re likely to get an informed reply. Ask them about a wine brand and it’s a different story. If wine brands are to halt declining on trade sales, there needs to be more effort from them to really engage the bartender and turn them into advocates.

 We’re going to be hosting a session for brand owners on this very topic later this summer with a panel of bartenders so if you’re looking to connect with this influential community, you shouldn’t miss it. Contact Lucy Richardson for more details

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