Blog: Andy MortonBar Convent Berlin - Day one: A bigger beginning

Andy Morton | 6 October 2015

just-drinks is in Berlin this week for Bar Convent Berlin. Here's the first part of Andy Morton's daily blog, which will keep you up-to-date at one of Europe's most important dates in the alcohol industry's calendar.

  • It was a new-look Bar Convent that opened its doors in Berlin this morning. New partners Reed Exhibitions, the international events organiser that also runs shows such as New York Comic Con and the The London Book Fair, has added beef to proceedings. This year, there are 60% more exhibitors, an increased focus on beer and even a coffee section. The new scale has meant more floor space and more visitors, with thousands streaming through the door this morning. It is, as Funkin Cocktail's sales director Simon Little told me, the place to be for the on-trade in Europe. “We can come here and meet all our clients in the one spot,” Little said. “It's great.”
  • It is my first time here, but there's a real buzz on the show floor, and not just because of the seemingly free-flowing cocktails. Germany already has the premier wine trade exhibition in Prowein - Bar Convent Berlin is cementing a reputation as the on-trade equivalent.
  • If you're looking for a cocktail in Central Europe right now, you might be out of luck as it seems all the bartenders are here. Competition winners are out in force, manning bars on behalf of whichever company hosted their award. Diageo has a bar with a rotating roster of its World Class winners, while Campari and Bacardi have also roped in the winners of their respective bartender awards.
  • Indeed, Campari announced the winner of its summer Negroni competition this afternoon, with Daniel Mai from Berlin's Bar Ravel taking first place. I had a word with him expecting to hear a story of hard graft and endless hours of preparation in pursuit of bartending glory. It turns out this was the first competition he'd ever entered. That's a 100% win ratio, and likely to stay that way as Daniel says he's throwing in his metaphorical bar towel. No more competitions, he says. Daniel is a trained chef and a proponent of the Japanese style of bartending, which is to keep a low profile. As these competitions are a vital way for spirits companies to reach the bartending community, they must be hoping Daniel's ethos doesn't catch on.
  • Bar Convent's beer section is even bigger this year, and reflects Germany's burgeoning craft scene. But, according to Danish microbrewer Mikkeller, the craft industry still lags the rest of Europe by about five years. The reason? German beer conservatism and returnable bottle laws that price out smaller operators, according to Mikkeller's operations manager, Jacob Gram Alsing. But, says Alsing, things are slowly turning around, thanks largely to a core of craft beer consumers who are demanding more than the traditional pils, koelsch and weiss styles. “There's a lot of potential in Germany,” he said.
  • I've seen a few new products today, but none as eye-catching as Kabumm Vodka from Destillerie Farthofer. It was launched this week, and as the video shows, comes in a completely round bottle. Fun, until it rolls off the shelf and smashes on the floor.

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