P(our) Symposium explores modern bartending

16th August, 2016 by admin

What makes a modern bartender? Alice Lascelles travelled to Paris for the first ever P(our) Symposium, where the question sparked some lively debate.

_p(our)“You’re not going to like what I’m about to say, but…” was a common refrain among speakers at the inaugural P(our) Symposium in Paris last month, which saw professionals from the drinks industry and beyond tackle issues including sustainability, alcohol dependency and social responsibility in pursuit of an answer to the question: what is a modern bartender?

The two-day programme of talks, which took place in a space donated by Paris’s annual bar-fest, Cocktails Spirits, was the first for the not-for-profit think-tank P(our). The bartender collective was launched earlier this year by a committee of industry luminaries including Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale, formerly of Artesian, Monica Berg of Himkok, Oslo, Ryan Chetiywardana of Dandelyan, Joerg Meyer of Le Lion, Hamburg, and ECC’s Xavier Padovani.

The topics represented a radical opening salvo, made possible in part by the fact that P(our) is funded by donations rather than sponsorship – Whitley Neill, Fever-Tree, Moët Hennessy and De Kuyper all gave £10,000 towards the launch with no strings attached, but P(our)’s website also lists numerous other individuals, law firms, design agencies and brands that have given money or time so that P(our) can pursue an agenda that’s resolutely un-commercial.

“Some of these topics may be uncomfortable but we needed to start to talk about them,” says Kratena who, like all P(our) founders, runs the collective for free. “Up to now most of us have only been enjoying all the exciting things that have been happening in the industry, but now we need to realise that it’s not only about taking but also about giving something back and taking responsibility for our actions.”

Sustainability featured heavily in a number of the TED-style talks. Tracy Ging, a sustainability consultant for one of the US’s biggest coffee roasters, made a persuasive call for incremental change by demonstrating how an increase of just one-tenth of a cent in the price of a cup of coffee had allowed clients including Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds to finance dramatic improvements in the sourcing of their beans and quality of the life of their suppliers.

Chef Douglas McMaster, founder of the world’s first zero-waste restaurant, Silo in Brighton, also challenged the notion that luxury and sustainability were incompatible by showing how his restaurant produced award-winning food (and clean surfaces) with minimal impact on the environment.

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