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SB Voices: Crucible is what the cocktail world needs

On the back of the opening of London’s Crucible, Melita Kiely weighs in on its potential to unlock some super talents in the bar industry.

Crucible is thought to the first creative hub of its kind in the bar industry

“If you wanted to record an album, you wouldn’t buy a whole music studio – you would go to a music studio and rent the space,” Stuart Bale tells me as we’re discussing his new venture Crucible.

The idea is simple, but brilliant. Crucible houses pretty much every gadget you could hope to get your hands on in a bar. Rotavap? Bale’s got you covered. Dehydrator? It’s there. Ice-cream maker? Photography studio? Hot desk to tackle that stack of emails you’ve been avoiding? It’s all available to you, at a very reasonable price.

His analogy makes you scratch your head and go: “Ah, yes, of course. Why has nobody thought of this before?” But while Bale says he’s been contacted by a couple of people from overseas who have dabbled in similar feats, he’s unaware of anything that’s been done to the same scale as Crucible. Similar hubs are already common practice in other creative industries, be they art or music or sport, so why should food and drinks be any different?

Stuart Bale is offering use of Crucible for free throughout August 2017

The bar industry is thriving, and London’s talent is leading the way for future growth and success. You only need to look at the stack of accolades brought home from the Spirited Awards at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail festival for proof of its shimmering success. And a makerspace like Crucible is just what the cocktail industry needs to continue its upward trajectory – and it’s great to see it start in London.

Imagine how much further we can push the boundaries of cocktail innovation if some of the best bartenders in the business put their heads together in a collaborative space like Crucible; or the potential talent that could be unlocked in bartenders who otherwise would be unable to access particular pieces of high-tech equipment if it weren’t for a venue like Bale’s. The drinks industry is brilliant at championing its peers to fulfil their creative potential ­– and Crucible can only drive this even further.

A flurry of excitement has already ignited online, much of which has been trickling through my social media feed these past few days, with some already declaring how they’d love to achieve something similar in other markets around the world. It’s a great example of how a single concept can inspire a chain reaction of ideas – the exact notion Bale built his business on.

Crucible may only be a few days off the ground, but it’s already clear there’s never been more reason to sit up and pay attention to the London bar scene.

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