On 13 and 14 July 2010 thousands of bartenders, sommeliers, and other drinks professionals descended on the exhibition centre at Earl’s Court for the inaugural Imbibe Bar Show. An extremely wide range of tastings were on offer from all major drinks categories, as well as seminars led by experts from the wine and spirits industry.

One of the highlights of the show was the much anticipated final of the Bartenders vs. Sommeliers challenge. The competition began in January this year, and required each team to first demonstrate their expertise in their own field, before switching roles in an attempt to beat the opposition at their own game. I am pleased to report that for the second year in a row, the team of bartenders, which included UKBG Vice-President Luca Cordiglieri, were victorious! Team captain, Julian de Feral from Lutyens, put the victory down to the “competitive nature of bartenders”, and the practice they get from entering cocktail competitions.

I personally enjoyed a talk by drinks historians Jared Brown and Anastasia Miller. The authors of “Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini” shared their knowledge on techniques for growing and making your own cocktail ingredients. Another interesting discussion was led by Alex Turner, who spoke to bartenders keen to move into a managerial role on how a well-structured and priced drinks list is crucial to optimise a bar’s revenue.

It was a privilege to sample from such a large range of spirits, liqueurs and wines, especially some of the newer brands on the market. The show was also a great chance to network with other bartenders from across the country. Imbibe did not have the selective focus of Simon Difford’s CLASS Bar Show, which will return later this year, but it did have a lot to offer members of UKBG as bartenders from some of the country’s finest hotels and bars. I look forward to next year!

Harry Glockler
Bartender, The Ritz