Firstly, a big applause for the organisers: with over 10000 visitors and 250 exhibitors, it was amazing to see how smoothly everything went. Secondly, it was great to see so many people from Switzerland visiting the fair – we may still be behind, but we’re catching up! Thirdly, sadly, it was embarrassing to see how many ill-dressed kids used this event to get drunk and freebies. I’d gladly pay higher ticket prices if that means that we can keep them out.
Mixology Bar Awards 2015
This was the first time for me to attend the Mixology Awards night. We were nominated as Best Bar in Switzerland; but in the end (after some confusion), the prize went to Widder Bar in Zurich. They really deserve it, too; congratulations to them and all the other winners!
My Highlights at BCB 2015
- An extra-ordinary talk by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, which was funny, honest and educative. He’s started making videos for the Small Screen Network again, by the way!
- Wax-sealing a bottled Hudson Manhattan yourself! What a good feeling!
- Mastic Tears, a liqueur which is made from the resin of the Mastica tree. I have never tasted anything like this before,woody, foresty, pine-like, but still a bit tamed citrus greenery. Can’t wait to play around with this!
Great Products at BCB 2015
Talks at BCB 2015
Being bored by the hundreds of true frontier small-batch Bourbon and historically authentic gins at the fair, I spend a fair bit at the talks, most of which were truly inspiring!
- Jared Brown gave an overview of the history of throwing drinks (people in South America were throwing their chocolate drink in pre-Columbian times, and possibly much earlier than that, even), and explained a little bit about what it does to the drink (maximal aeriation, which is good for drinks that contain fortified wines; and very slow, controlled dilution).
- There was an interesting talk about the different kinds of sherry and their production; and then a reminder of some sherry-based cocktails. The Dunhill seems especially worth being brought up.
- An extremely informative talk about the barrels at Jim Beam. The casks consist of 44% cellulose and 22% hemicellulose. Both are a sugars, so they caramelise when toasted and chared. There’s also 25% lingines, which is a complex molecule that will break down into vanillins when heated. 1% tannins, giving a woody taste, and some lactones, which can add a coconut-note. There you have it!
- Normally, Ian Burrel‘s presentations are hilarious, but sadly this year he was merely showing the videos we’ve already seen again.
- Shervene Shahbazkhani, Jacob Briars and Ivy Mix talked about how to build your career as a bartender: Training (you can’t do much if you don’t know your products), Networking, Competitions (as a means of learning more) and Mentoring (both seeking good mentors, and find people to mentor).
- Mr Lyan presented his bars White Lyan and Dandelyan, which has the prettiest bar menu I have ever seen.
- Jim Meehan and Dan Searing gave an excruciatingly extensive report of the history of the punch, with very little advise how to make a good punch yourself, unfortunately. But they brought up the idea of greeting your customer with a little glas of punch, calling it an amouse booze, which was quite cool.
- Jeffrey Morgenthaler‘s talk Things I’ve Learned was very inspiring. He made a big point out of how important it is for bartenders to share their knowledge freely, and to blanch mint first before using it to make a syrup.
There was a discussion about bar trends in different parts of the world. I didn’t attend it all, but there was an interesting point being made by Josh Harris: If you want to be taken seriously as a drinking establishment, not just a cocktail bar, you need to offer a few options for people who aren’t drinking alcohol.
- Finally there was Jürg Meier’s presentation about How To Build Your First Bar. This was quite disappointing, because he spent the time basking in his fame and coming across as quite arrogant, instead of giving any useful tips for how to actually do it.
- Actually, finally finally there was a tasting of vintage spirits. We tasted the difference between a 1960s Drambuie and a current bottling, which was quite amazing. The older variant has more wood, some sherry notes, is drier, has more saffron and feels much rounder. There was also a very, very detailed part about Drambuie’s marketing campaign in the last 100 years, which, since this was the last lecture of the second day, may have overstretched the patience of the audience.