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What to expect at this year’s Bar Convent Brooklyn

Today (11 June) is the first day of Bar Convent Brooklyn, the bartending and beverage trade show, with tastings and education at the top of the agenda.

Bar Convent Brooklyn
This year’s show will be the largest BCB to date

*This feature was originally published in the May 2024 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

Springtime in New York brings with it one of the beverage industry’s biggest conventions. Bar Convent Brooklyn (BCB) will again take over Industry City on 11 and 12 June, as the bartending and drinks community gathers in record numbers this year. With 230 brands exhibiting, it will be the largest BCB ever held.

“We continue to offer a welcoming and collaborative culture with the bar and beverage community,” event vice-president Jackie Williams says. “Every aspect of BCB Brooklyn is carefully curated.”

Now entering its sixth in-person year, BCB provides two jam-packed days in which participants can attend educational seminars, discover new brands and products, and meet friends in a lively, laid-back setting. With 46 states and 53 countries represented, it has become a global attraction and a not-to-be-missed networking opportunity for those in and around the trade. “It’s not just a New York show,” Williams says. “New York’s at our heart, but it really is growing domestically and internationally.”

To facilitate that growth, the show moved in 2022, from the Brooklyn Expo Center in Williamsburg to Industry City’s 35-acre waterfront campus. Last year’s gathering was roughly 25% larger than the team was able to achieve at the previous venue, the move facilitating more outdoor space and an additional education stage. This year, things are bigger still, as BCB extends out to nearby 34th Street, offering even more brand activations, sponsored bars, and local food trucks. “It’s such a cool venue. Williams says. “The more outside experiences we’re able to add the better.”

As grand as the show has become, it finds ways such as this to bring the focus back to the city. “We want to highlight the trends, but we also still want to have that hometown feel,” Williams says. “Each of the four BCBs [Berlin, São Paolo, and Singapore are the other three] have their own sense of hometown pride, and that’s what we really strive for with Bar Convent Brooklyn, and Industry City’s a really nice home for us to be able to do that.”

Bar Convent Brooklyn (1)Education sessions

The education sessions start off with a dose of New York as well, as Sienna Jevremov, head blender and distiller of Brooklyn’s Widow Jane, discusses the links between distillation and blending. This is one of BCB’s many Liquid Lounge sessions, with others focused on Calvados, Cognac and mezcal.

In total, 56 sessions are being offered. Some touch on industry issues, such as The Impact of Producers of Colour on Tuesday at 5.45pm, and Mixing in Mental Health as a Bartender on Wednesday at 2.45pm, both taking place on the Main Stage. Other sessions will discuss spirits trends and culture; like whether terroir can exist in gin; the history, production and mixology of Japanese sweet potato shochu; and the miseducation surrounding molasses.

NA Everywhere: Bringing Non-Alcoholic (NA) Drinks to Pop-ups, Classes and Events is a panel discussion that will examine practical strategies for incorporating NA beverages, tailoring event content and beverage selections to audiences and occasions, effective marketing approaches, and easy NA serves and batched cocktails.

Overall, Williams says there is greater representation for no- and low-alcohol options at this year’s event. “The number of no-and-low brands that we have exhibiting is significantly higher than last year,” she adds. “It’s something that we put an increased emphasis on this year knowing that it is important to the trade.”

It’s all a part of the bigger BCB experience, what Williams calls “a really fun two days” that remains about moving business forward, be it personal brands or larger ends. It’s an opportunity to see people and products in person, sometimes for the first time. As the show becomes bigger, it reflects the industry’s growth and evolution following uncertain times, while providing a reminder of the joy that working in it brings.

“The growth of BCB has been exciting to watch,” Williams adds. “The past few years coming out of the pandemic have seen the resurgence and the continued growth, and we’re trying to focus on the next generation of the industry, the new trends, the new members of the team, the new friends in the industry that you’ll see.”

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