Forward-looking: BCB shows Diversity of the Bar Industry
© BCB / FRBMedia
For three days the German capital was again all about top-class drinks. From 9 to 11 October, Bar Convent Berlin again saw plenty of networking and exciting products being launched. Alongside great cocktail creations visitors were also served up pooled expert knowledge. The so far biggest Education Programme ever presented at BCB, catered to just about every wish.
BCB – also affectionately known in the industry as “Bartender's Christmas” – once again lived up to its nickname this year. For three days, a total of around 15,000 visitors from 91 countries tasted high-quality drinks, did business and took advantage of the varied education programme in the Berlin exhibition halls. Needless to say, exchange within the community did not fall by the wayside either. “Every year it’s incredibly nice to see how much our visitors enjoy coming to BCB time and again. You see happy faces everywhere and people from all over the world toasting with each other. BCB is a place where the industry focuses on itself and makes its community a better one – for itself and for the benefit of its guests,” enthuses Petra Lassahn, Director of BCB. A total of 544 exhibitors and partners participated in this year’s edition of BCB. In addition to the numerous visitors from Germany, many others travelled from the United Kingdom, Italy and Poland. The Netherlands and Denmark were also strongly represented.
Biggest BCB education range on seven areas
The most diverse continuing education programme BCB has ever seen inspired the inquisitive visitors. Whether exciting impulse lectures, panel talks, tastings or workshops – there was something for everyone. Like last year, the BCB Education Board, consisting of Director of Education Angus Winchester, bar expert Eleni Nikoloulia and BCB Brand Ambassador Damien Guichard, was in charge of the Main Stage programme.
“The sessions were not only informative and entertaining but also addressed many important social themes in the industry and provided important impulses,” says a delighted BCB Director Petra Lassahn.
Female Empowerment: promoting equality in the bar sector
Women are still significantly underrepresented in the bar community. It is high time for a change – something made clear on Tuesday by the Female Panel Talk on the Main Stage, moderated by BCB Education Board member Eleni Nikoloulia. The internationally renowned bar experts Kaitlin Wilkes, Gina Barbachano and Margarita Sader openly shared their experiences as women in the industry, and pointed out the problems in the male-dominated bar scene – a panel discussion that delivered both inspiration and encouragement.
The DBU also provided a reality check with a German panel on the same day, which underlined this: “Unfortunately, feminism has still not arrived in the bar scene in 2023,” said Maren Meyer, CEO of the German Bartenders Union e.V. and the first woman in this position. She chaired the panel which also took a closer look at the realities and future prospects for women in the bar industry. The conclusion: “We still have a long way to go, but things are already happening. Communication is the most important thing here. We women may and must dare to openly address problems and occupy the space. The fact is, we can work just as well in the bar as men.” Moreover, the best example that a talent for good drinks does not depend on gender were this year’s BCB guest shifts. This year, the evening events had more top female bartenders on hand to showcase their bar craft and mix great drinks.
Agave Hotspot – a hands-on opportunity to witness the trend
Whether already agave lovers or newcomers: only few could escape the charm of the “BCB Agave Embassy”, hosted by Barro Negro Athens. This meant scarcely a visitor left the exhibition grounds without having learned at least one new characteristic of agave spirits or had a taste of what this year’s ‘Spirit of Honour’ has to offer in terms of taste. This was ensured not only by the famous Greek bar team but also by ‘Club Cantina’, which jointly put together an extensive education programme for the ‘Agave Camp’. Gernot Allnoch, co-founder of Mezcal San Cosme and Club Cantina, was very pleased with the results: “The response to the Agave Camp was excellent. The lectures were always extremely well attended, and we can see it’s a topic of interest. There are now over 100 agave spirits represented at BCB 2023. It’s clear the trend around mezcal and tequila has arrived on the bar scene.”
Great honor: Mexican ambassador at BCB
Mexico’s ambassador to Germany, Francisco Quiroga, also took a look at BCB in person: “Bar Convent Berlin has proven to be an exceptional platform for networking and showcasing the different nuances of the vibrant spirits industry. It was an invaluable opportunity for our Mexican exhibitors, and I could feel their pride in representing our country’s rich heritage in spirits. BCB is an ally of Mexican spirits, and for that I am very grateful.”
On the eve of BCB, there was already an official reception at the Mexican Embassy for all producers who presented agave spirits at BCB, some of whom had travelled especially from Mexico to Berlin for BCB.
Low & No-Alcohol trend set to rise further
The Low & No Bar was considerably less alcoholic, but by no means less exciting. The team from “The Cambridge Public House” in Paris conjured up delicious drinks for the visitors, both with little and no alcohol, and showed that taste highlights don’t always have to contain high-proof spirits. Thanks to the charming team and the pleasant cocktail pub atmosphere, the pop-up bar quickly developed into a meeting point for many visitors and showed once again why the low & no trend is becoming increasingly popular.
Product innovations and potential bar trends
As usual, many exhibitors also used the event this year to introduce their new products to the industry.
Furthermore, the winner of the Mixology Award in the category “New Spirit of the Year 2024” was available to taste: Discarded Banana Peel Rum from William Grant & Sons. The spirit made from Caribbean rum was awarded the prize in a ceremony in the presence of the German-speaking bar industry on Sunday evening and staged in the entrance area of BCB.
In addition to the many agave spirits that whisked visitors away on a journey to Mexico in terms of taste, products from the Asian region also attracted attention. For example, visitors were won over by the traditional Chinese drink baijiu as well as sake from Japan: “Sake has a real potential to be the next big thing in hospitality. As it’s very diverse, ranging from fruity and aromatic to dry and earthy, you can pair the different styles with different kinds of food, including French, Italian and other European cuisines. It’s a really fun new playground for everyone from the wine and spirits world,” says Liam Amilhastre-Yoshida, Business Developer Saké, La Maison Du Whisky / La Maison du Saké.
Those taking a closer look also noticed that the bottle designs are becoming increasingly elaborate and creative. Padre Azul, for example, had their artist directly at the exhibition stand as a testimonial: “We want to tell a story with our bottles because we are firmly convinced that the enjoyment of the spirit is an overall experience in which haptics and appearance play a major role in addition to taste. That’s why we also look for new artists from Mexico every year to create our new bottle designs,” says Hans-Peter Eder, co-founder of Padre Azul.
Three days that whet the appetite for more
“Wow, what a trade show! This year’s BCB was definitely a highlight for us, and we are thrilled that so many from the community visited us,” said Claudia Eichler, Trade Marketing Manager Fairs & Events at Beam Suntory. “We are very grateful we were able to share our passion for the art of Japanese hospitality and delighted at the many messages of positive feedback we received. A big thank you to everyone who stopped by our stand and to our great team and mentors. 5 stars, happy to do it again!”
The past few days at the trade show are already generating a buzz of anticipation for next year, when we will toast together again from October 14 to 16, 2024.
BCB is one of the leading international trade shows for the bar and beverage industry. Every year, this is where a veritable who’s who of the German and European bar and beverage industry gets together to make new contacts, find out about the latest product innovations and attend educational seminars.
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