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2016 Highlights & Reasons to be Cheerful in 2017

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2016 Highlights & Reasons to be Cheerful in 2017
January 06
18:46 2017

(Drinking Trends) I sat next to Jamie Jones, holding a glowing globe of Ciroc and Soda. Miami was this year’s location and as we awaited the announcements of Diageo’s 2016 World’s Best Bartender, I reflected on an incredible week I spent aiding British champ Aidan Bowie do weird and wonderful things in his room. We had everything from wheelbarrows to butterfly cannons to homemade edible sun cream. It was a tough competition and the biggest so far.

I’m happy for this year’s winner, Jennifer Le Nechet. She was polite, charming, and her drinks were fantastic. I don’t like the chat about girls not having a fair shout in this ‘male dominated industry’ but I know from the incredible efforts I witnessed from Lauren Mote and Tess Posthumous the year before that Jennifer’s triumph is simply a fantastic thing to happen for female bartenders across the globe. Lauren and Tess both commented that they wanted to see themselves in the final but it would have been great to see any lady win. It most certainly finishes in my top 3 moments of 2016. Also, because it included watching Snoop Dogg after the awards and seeing the sheer delight as 2016’s winner strolled into the club and Snoop announced her name and success over the club. ‘Strong’, is the most apt word I can think to describe that situation. Perhaps ‘ridiculous’ would work as well but then it would need ‘absolutely’ in front of it.

world class

Another of my top 2016 moments was visiting New York in January. It was bitterly cold and I had the wonderful task of stopping into bars every other block to keep warm. I found myself in The NoMad Hotel on day three having incredible bar food, delicious cocktails, and fantastic wine, chatting to remarkable strangers and kissing a beautiful girl. Best hotel ever!!! Nathan O’Neil invited me in and shown me some secrets whilst I was there, (ask him; I’m not telling). The hospitality truly is second to none. Two years prior both Joshua Reynolds (my younger brother) and I competed in the Chivas Masters competition on the rooftop of the NoMad. A fantastic competition held on top of a fantastic hotel, hosted by the fantastic Max Warner. None of this happened in 2016 but watching my brother (who was then head bartender at the bar I ran) excel in his career during 2016 with the support of Chivas was a true highlight for me. It goes to show how much brands really can help bartenders.

My final top moment of 2016 has to be winning Best International Restaurant Bar at Tales of the Cocktail. It was a fantastic stint I had at Hawksmoor Spitalfields, and some great souls worked at that bar and still do. I will miss it dearly. I do miss it dearly.

These top three moments include competitions and awards and I truly look forward to the next set in 2017. They get bad press sometimes and there is a constant stream of; ‘it’s all politics’ and ‘how is every bar or bartender judged fairly?’ I for one just don’t care. I’ve won awards and won competitions but most importantly I have lost them and learned the most from that experience.

We all strive to be better. Awards and competitions are a platform for us to set a gauge, a standard that we collectively aim for, whether we are conscious of it or not. Through hard work and shared inspiration day in day out, month after month for years gone by we make this industry an amazing place for all to be.

Let us not worry who is placed where, but appreciate the fact that we are all somewhere. Somewhere, in an ever growing, heavily supported and creative industry that brings people pleasure day in, day out. It rests solely on us and our focus the word ‘hospitality’.

In other news from sunny London a couple of other things to check out more in 2017: Swift, The Distillery and Disrepute have opened. They are all are ‘Absolutely, Ridiculously Strong.’ Things are getting interesting.

 

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Industry Expert

Ali Reynolds

Ali Reynolds

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