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[Live Blog] Cocktail Spirits & P(OUR) Symposium in Paris 2016

Paris currently sees the ninth edition of renowned barshow Cocktail Spirits. At the same time the inaugural P(OUR) symposium takes place. MIXOLOGY Publisher Helmut Adam (HA) and editor-in-chief Nils Wrage are giving live updates from the event in this article. Please scroll down for latest updates!

Back in 2008 Thierry Daniel and Eric Fossard started Cocktail Spirits in order to give the progressive French bar community and spirits producers a networking and business platform. While the trade show kept it’s boutique frame, it’s reputation has grown exponentially over the years. The reason for this is the excellent program and speaker line-up the organizers come up with every year. At Cocktail Spirits‘ „Bar Rouge“ stage you could see the leading bar operators from New York, Sydney, London or Hamburg. For bartenders aiming to own their own place at some point this was always the perfect place to soak up insider knowledge.

This year Thierry Daniel, Eric Fossard and Xavier Padovani, who’s been supporting the show in the background since day one, are again proving how well-connected they are in the bar community. They let Alex Kratena, Jörg Meyer und Jim Meehan take over a stage with  their new non-profit symposium project P(our). Scroll down for the latest updates from the two events.


[June 19, 2016 11.30] The Chartreuse Rule

Off we go with our live ticker. Nils is covering the events of the days and nights in Paris over at our German website. And I will try to quench our readers‘ thirst for information from the heart of the French and European barscene in my second language – (bad) English. So all you native speakers out there – if you see a spelling or grammar mistake you’re allowed to down a shot of Chartreuse verte. 🙂 Enjoy! HA

[June 19, 2016 13.00] The Kick-Off

Thierry Daniel, Eric Fossard, and Alex Kratena start P(our) with a glass of champagne in hand. And it’s not only them. Simone Caporale, Jörg Meyer, and Jim Meehan were handing out bubbly glasses to the audience. Interesting sentence from Alex Kratena: „I stopped working at the Artesian because I had the feeling it was not my project anymore.“ So that’s what led to founding P(our) pretty soon after. HA

[June 19, 2016 13.25] Bars in Paris

Our time in Paris actually started yesterday night. And although we got into town pretty late, to our own surprise  we managed to see four bars. I hadn’t been to Paris for the last couple of years, so it was great to tick some boxes. One of them was Calendaria, where I had a great Mezcal Sour and – as the bar was super-packed – a ‚quick‘ beer which was probably the worst I had in a number of years. Is there an importer for Mexican Craft Beer in Europe? Is there such a thing as Mexican craft beer? There must be! Sent me a note to helmut@mixology.eu if you know more. Thnx! If your spirits and cocktail program is premium your beer offering should live up to it. Apart from that Calendaria is a lovely place with lots of soul. HA

[June 19, 2016 14.45] The Cocktail Revolution Was Not Televised

Just tasted the new Fever Tree Cola that’s available in Spain, France, and soon in Britain. Then headed back to P(our) Stage to listen to Nick Strangeway’s talk. Nick compared 1990s bartending to today’s bartending world. He told the audience about Dick Bradsell and the generations of bartenders he inspired. Back then they had no centrifuges, shitty ice, no proper cocktail stations, only there bar books to work with, and they were lucky if they found a couple of Limes, Nick said. Today’s bartender generation in comparison has more products at their disposal than everyone ever had: „We were lucky if we had a Boston tin and a pint glass.“

To become a bartender one had to work as a barback for at least one to two years. Today you work as a barback up to six months and then step behind the stick. Nick’s message at P(our) was that the bar trade has the best opportunities, but has become too obsessed with itself. In remembering the early days of bartending, bartenders should instead look elsewhere for inspiration: „Find somethings else. Everything outside bartending you talk and think about will make you a better bartender. Don’t spend your time on Facebook discussing and analysing the latest cocktail  bitters.“ The room was packed to the rim. And the audience erupted into long-lasting applause. Now, let’s get this message out on Facebook. 😉 HA

[June 19, 2016 14:55] Nico De Soto and Danico

It’s always exciting to be able to see a bar when it’s just has opened its doors. „Danico“ launched only this week. And yesterday this Place was our first stop. The restaurant part of the new establishment was full of happy diners and it took us some time to realize that the bar is situated at the back. There we bumped into Hendrick’s ambassador and former Experimental Group employee Konstantin Prochorowski, Greg Boehm from Cocktail Kingdom, and a couple of other bar luminaries. Nico de Soto gave us a tour through his latest project and we tried a couple of drinks from the beautifully illustrated menu. The most balanced mix we had was „The Mustard Seed“ served in – you guessed it – a little French mustard jar.

Nico gave a talk at Cocktail Spirits Bar Rouge today, jumping in for Matthew Biancaniello from Los Angeles, who couldn’t make it. He explained how he developed his bar concepts. He never brought an existing idea to a new city, but rather explored what a city he wanted to open in needed. What kind of tastes resonate with the local crowd? What kind of atmosphere works in Paris? What works in New York? Very interesting was the story of  the christmas pop-up bar „Miracle On 9th Street“. Together with his partner Greg from Cocktail Kingdom this project went so well, that it actually payed for 80% of the construction costs of „Mace“. Inspired by this succes they opened four christmas pop-ups in the second year, and will even step up their game in the coming could season with 40 franchises! At least that seems to be the plan. As this talk was mostly held in French I stole this Information from my colleague Nils Wrage, who’s blogging at our German website. HA

[June 19, 2016 19.00] The Networking

We’re slowly letting the trade show date fade out with a Gin & tonic at the Thomas Henry booth. They’re now in 50 markets says their International Junior Brand Manager Linda Wedemeier. I didn’t attend any more talks today but our editor-in-chief Nils told me that Jim Meehan gave a strong talk on the P(our) stage lambasting the sexism, drug abuse, and unhealthy lifestyle of today’s bartending world.

Over the last two or so hours I’ve checked out the exhibitor booths, bumping into people from allover Europe. Ian Burrell’s straw hat is dancing above the crowd, Vincent de Groote from Venuez magazine and barshow has made the trip to Paris, too. Then you walk into award winning bartender Mario Kappes who’s recently left Hamburg’s Le Lion bar to do educational jobs for German spirits producer and distributor Borco. As on my last trip here Cocktail Spirits is a great networking hub. Let’s wait and see what the Parisian night has waiting for us. Rumours have it Dan Priseman is holding court behind the bar at infamous Glass bar, while former Glass member Christina Schneider will be in charge of the playlist. HA

[June 20, 2016 12.00] Getting Glassed

Good morning and welcome to another day of live blogging Cocktail Spirits and P(our) Symposium. Yesterday I was told at the show that „glassed“ has become a slang word in the Parisian and European barscene. So if you bump into someone who looks like he had some heavy partying at infamous Glass bar going on, you might look at him and tease him with the words: „You got glassed again?“ Glass is the go to place, when all other Parisian bars have closed. It’s THE dive bar in the French capital. But one with a very decent spirits, cocktail, and craft beer offering. It even has a Negroni variation on tap. The latter came in handy yesterday, as I managed to „redivert“ a couple of shot invitations from brown spirits to this well-made concoction.

Where did you end up yesterday?

Well, doing Negroni shots at Glass.

Another box ticked. The hard-partying bunch at Glass with Four Roses’s Dan Priseman behind the counter and Som Saa’s Christina Schneider on the decks didn’t really follow Jim Meehan’s P(our) message from the first day. On the other hand a trade show is the time where an industry celebrates itself. A bartenders‘ christmas. A couple of years ago Jim Meehan was rushing past me on the second day of Bar Convent Berlin and heading straight to the Maxlrainer beer booth to down a „Konterbier“ – apparently „hair of the dog“ is the correct translation for this wonderful German word. You could argue that Jim’s attitude has changed since becoming a father and progressing in business. I personally think that he is absolutely right in that this partying thing shouldn’t become a daily or weekly habit for bar professionals. But there’s nothing wrong celebrating with friends from the trade that you only see once or twice a year.

Alright, that was my intro for the day. Now I’ll head over to the Cartron booth to taste their new eau de vie range, while my taste buds are still receptive.

[June 21, 2016 12.00] The Power of Intention

It’s a writers nightmare. Working on a text for an hour and then uploading it to the website. Realizing in that moment that the WiFi is gone and the content managment system won’t save the article. That’s what happend to me yesterday.

Cocktail Spirits was absolutely packed on the second day. And all bartenders present seemed to constantly upload images on Facebok and Instagram, so that even a regular mobile connection wasn’t possible. I tried and tried and then gave up on it and spent the rest of my day listening to talks and testing new products.

A talk I really enjoyed was the one by Connaught head concierge Corrado Bogni on the power of intention. Bogni first discovered his talents for his job when he was attending catering school in 1979. There he was in charge of the telephone switch board amonst other tasks. As it was a boarding school there was only a limited amount of time in the evenings when students could call their parents and vice versa. So knowing who was in the building and where was crucial. Bogni realized that he pretty much always knew where everyone was and that he could be useful for other people in helping them connect.

He then went on to tell a story about helping a customer. Working in London as head concierge for the first time in 1991 at the age of 25 he was approached by a gentleman who was not a hotel guest, but a regular at the hotel’s restaurant. This man asked him if it was possible to produce photo copies in the hotel as he urgently needed them for meeting with his lawyers the next morning, while all copyshops had already closed.

„Apart from soliciting prostitution and selling drugs we’re supposed to help people with everything.“ Bogni explained. Accordingly he put off his tie and shoes and started photo copying at ten o clock in the evening making 10 copies of each document as the regular requested. Supported by the hotel’s night manager he ended up producing 20.000 photo copies. He was filling out several office floors with stacks of paper. When the general Manager turned up in the morning, he couldn’t access his office desk.

Two transit vans finally picked up everything with two secretaries and several hotel employees doing multiple walks with boxes and boxes of photo copies. With the help of these documents the regular wen’t on to win his court case with a compensation of 3.5 million British pounds.

Bogni then told another story about serving as a diamond courier. Working as concierge in the Intercontinetal hotel Park Lane in 2006 he was supposed to pick up a 370.000 US dollar stone in Antwerp. Arriving at the Sitting at the airport at seven in the morning he discovered that all flights had been cancelled due to heavy fog. And he was supposed to take a flight Hongkong at 8 o’clock in the evening to deliver the diamond.

Therefore he decided to do the trip by taxi. For that he needed a driver with a passport and car documents. After calling multiple offices he finally found one. Taxi driver „John“ drove him to Antwerp and back. They barely made it in time for the Hongkong flight. Arriving in the airport he was told, that Hongkong got cancelled as well. He then called British Airways special services and manged to get booked on the last flight to Hongkong that day. Only two flights went out from London that evening. And he was on one of them. The little stone in his pocket. He succesfully delivered the stone to a happy man who wanted to surprise his fiancé and then climbed back onto the next airplane heading to London. „If you really want to achieve something, there are powers out there that will support you.“ Bogni described the magic moment of achieving his goal.

He then gave advice on how to be successful:

– Support your intent with absolute attentention.
– Build your personal standards and never compromise
– Listen to your inner voice and reflect over things, allow for solutions to come to you
– Approach everything you do with enthusiasm, just like your first day at work
– Tirelessly work on details

If you follow all these rules „the universe will be on your side“, he ended his inspiring talk.

To summarize the 2016 Cocktail Spirits and P(OUR) experience – we definitely had a blast in Paris. The crowd at the Paris barshow is always great. A high concentration of influential and progressive bar professionals from France and abroad. As with Bar Convent Berlin the environment of CS – a stunning city with many great bars – gives even more reason to return in the next year. À bientôt! HA

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