Opinion: A surprising Imbibe Live

Drinks: Drinks
Location: England

When talking about Imbibe Live 2017, it’s tempting to re-reference the famous line about the 1960s, that ‘if you can remember it you weren’t there’. But that would be an odd combination of ‘not inaccurate’ and ‘disingenuous’.

Not inaccurate because the two days seemed to rocket by so fast that it’s hard to remember a damn thing about them.

Disingenuous because it suggests that the entire event was a reality-distorting booze-fuelled lash-up.

And you know what? Much as I’d like to do the whole sardonically raised eyebrow shtick to suggest that we both know that I’m saying one thing but meaning its polar opposite, it really wasn’t.


It wasn’t.

Yes, booze was drunk, and yes I doubt that many – or indeed any – of the people staggering out into the sweltering heat at the end of the day could have got behind the wheel of a car.

But considering that we’d just essentially given thousands of attendees eight hours of access to a free bar, I’d say the behaviour was pretty good.

There was, of course, the odd incident and a couple of people might not have looked back on their behaviour with a great deal of pride the next day.

But I saw some pretty sodden wrecks staggering around the same venue six weeks earlier during London Wine Fair and that’s a supposedly far more serious (translation: boring) event than Imbibe Live.

Where we have tattoos and flip-flops, they have corduroy and brogues, but the old boys, it seems, are at least as likely to get hammered as you guys – and they don’t even look as good doing it.

What struck me most this year was that, even towards the end of the day when most of you were feeling happily fuzzy, you still all genuinely seemed to be interested in what you were trying. I really didn’t see anybody using the show as a means to get uncritically drunk.

Apologies if this sounds a bit Melvin Bragg, but to me it looked like the inebriation was not the goal, but, rather, the bye-product of a search for knowledge.

And that, I think, says a great deal about the Imbibe reader. Put my twenty-something-year-old self in that situation and I’d probably have had to be mopped up rather than escorted out. But you guys mostly got the balance between fun and education spot on. You drink because you care and you want to remember, rather than because you don’t care and you want to forget.

It all augurs well for the next generation of somms, bartenders, GMs and publicans – and it was noticed by the exhibitors who had nothing but praise for the calibre of people who they were seeing.

You guys should be proud of yourselves. We are.

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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