SB Voices: A celebration of collaboration

10th February, 2017 by Amy Hopkins

Amy Hopkins reflects on the wonderful ethos of collaboration among international members of the on-trade, which is being exemplified by a growing trend of bartender ‘residencies’.

SB‘s deputy editor Amy Hopkins believes a celebration of bartender collaboration is in order

Despite the competitive nature of bars, one could hardly doubt the genuine interest, enthusiasm and respect bartenders have for the work of their peers. Speak to almost any bartender who takes their craft seriously, and they will give their own ventures the briefest of mentions before swiftly moving on to which watering holes they frequent once their shift is finished, who inspires them in the industry, and which bar they believe is working on the most cutting-edge concepts.

This sense of community among the on-trade was one of the things that struck me most when I first started writing about spirits in 2013.

Since then, bars and bartenders seem to be embracing collaboration more than ever. Renowned mixologists are temporarily switching stations and taking up residencies in different bars around the world, while, on occasion, the bars themselves are launching dedicated pop-ups within foreign establishments.

Just this week, I attended a press preview of the first ever residency of New York City’s BlackTail, brainchild of the team behind world-famous The Dead Rabbit. The bar – which is inspired by the American rum joints set up in Havana during Prohibition – launched in the Big Apple last August and is now bringing a taste of Cuba to the timelessly elegant Bloomsbury Club Bar. From Thursday to Saturday this week, BlackTail’s Jesse Vida and Harrison Ginsberg will mix a selection of the bar’s finest concoctions, while Bloomsbury will serve BlackTail twists on its own cocktail menu.

The Bloomsbury Club Bar is hosting BlackTail for four days this week

The event is the second to take place under the Bloomsbury’s Club Residencies Project, following a takeover by Athens-based haunt The Clumsies in November – and there are more to follow. The team from The Dead Rabbit is also prone to a spot of international bar hopping, having debuted its cocktail menu in the UK for the first time in June through a partnership with London’s Big Easy. In September, Simone Caporale, of Artesian fame, took part in a residency at Sartoria’s Libare Bar in London, while The Connaught has hosted a number of esteemed guest bartenders in recent years.

Clearly, these short-term partnerships are an excellent way for bars and bartenders to expand their own brands internationally. Meanwhile, venues that host these residencies can reap serious kudos points. But, beyond any calculated and cynical benefits, I like to think they are indicative of the friendship and admiration within the on-trade the world over.

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