October 11, 2013
Looking at tractors in Berlin
Bottles of booze forcing their way into the light through peaty ground, rocking chairs on cool verandas and icy cold copper mugs.
Even when some of the worlds largest sellers of booze target their most knowledgeable costumers - cocktail bartenders - it involves quiet a bit of theater.
Marketing gurus will call it storytelling - but it's clichés and stagecraft.
Not that it is not enjoyable wandering around and ogling bottles of Campari frozen into a giant ice ball or mixing your own Lynchburg Lemonade in a mason jar with a handle.
But what really worked for me at the Bar Convent Berlin was meeting producers and tasting their products - evaluating a taste against what the producer wants to accomplish.
And perhaps strangely - or maybe not - at a European bar show American craft distillers did this best. I tasted Aviation Gin and gin from St. George Spirits and loved both of them.
And I got to taste both the creme de menthe and the creme de cacao from Tempus Fugit that I hadn't imagined would be there. The creme de menthe is amazing and now commences the quest to buy a bottle.
The big brands so often got lost in their own gimmicks and/or the use of starlets.
Imagine that: Even i 2013 women are hired solely for their looks. I mean how hard would it be to train them to be able to answer the simple question of: What am I tasting? Apparently their pretty little heads couldn't contain complex answers like: Russian Vodka.
So was it boring or a waste of time? Not at all - at each of the three seminars I attended I picked up interesting facts, but they were not of the same quality as the seminars at Tales of the Cocktail or at Copenhagen Spirits and Cocktails.
It seams that in New Orleans and Copenhagen you start with choosing interesting subjects and then find sponsors, where as it's done the other way around in Berlin.
Thats why the seminar on the perfect Martini - sponsored by a vodka company - was a sales presentation for that particular product and nothing more. And why the tasting tray did not contain even a badly mixed gin based Martini for comparison - which would seem essential to such a seminar.
Will I be back? Absolutely - if nothing else to check out the tableaus the big brands come up with for 2014.