Following the launch of Global Bartending Talent Agency, we caught up with founder Dan Dove to discuss diversity, introducing sommeliers and new project Experiences at Home
In July, former Diageo World Class manager Dan Dove launched Global Bartending Talent Agency. Global Bartending has been trading as an events and strategy business since 2018, but last month’s announcement introduced the company’s talent branch, which seeks to represent ‘the most influential bartenders on the planet’ – 16 well-known industry figures are already on the roster. Kate Malczewski spoke with Dove to learn more about his plans for the business.
Malczewski: Why launch a talent agency for the drinks industry?
Dan Dove: One of the main reasons is that there’s miscommunication [with brands] on what bartenders’ skill sets are – something I experienced first-hand working at Diageo. There wasn’t a platform that made each bartender’s skill set clear, so brands weren’t able to pick the correct person for their projects. The second reason was based on payment. We made a point at the beginning to say rates have got to be project led and not day-rate led. We’re the negotiators sitting between bartenders and project owners, whether that’s a drinks brand, or a fashion brand, or whoever it might be.
How do the other aspects of the business – events and strategy – work with the talent side of things?
If we understand from a strategic level what a brand wants to achieve, we can create it, from ideation through to production. The talent, on the correct event, will then work in partnership with us to look at design of the bars, design of the menu, and even guest bartend at those events if it fits.
Are you considering expanding your pool of represented talent to include people in other drinks professions?
Yes, we really are. We want to showcase that we’re not just working with people with a bartending background, but anybody within the top end of the drinks industry that are specialists in their field. We’ll also be looking for people who have specialities outside of cocktails – into sommelier territory.
What feedback have you received about the launch?
What’s been really exciting is that we’ve had such an array of different people contact us outside of the drinks industry. The real opportunity, the only way for us to grow our talent into the consumer world and truly get them the fame that chefs have, is to work in partnership with companies outside the drinks industry.
Your website says that Global Bartending emphasises diversity, stating ‘we feel it’s important to champion an all-inclusive team’. How are you prioritising diversity in action?
We believe that from a diversity perspective, the most important part is to identify skill set first… [so that] we’re able to make better business decisions about how a partner can work with [our talent]. I understand how important diversity is, but that’s the first thing we look at – what skills they have – and if we have a portfolio of talent that covers the majority of skill sets we’ve identified. Then, once we go through the skill set filter, we ensure that – hopefully you can see from our current talent roster – we do champion diversity in every sense.
Some of the feedback I’ve read around the launch expresses concern that the agency focuses exclusively on bartenders who already get many opportunities and are well known, which could contribute to a divide in the industry. What is your response to that?
I guess our response is, there’s probably a misunderstanding that the talent we have are fully open to opportunity. The first job for us is to make the skill sets of these bartenders very clear on one platform. As everybody is seeing across the talent that we’ve launched with, we are truly global, we are truly diverse – and diverse in skill set, most of all. Then, moving forward, we will absolutely be championing up-and-coming talent.
How do you find that talent?
We have such a tight network in the drinks industry that we have a very good view of what’s going on around the world. Also, social media helps everybody, not just us, to understand who’s doing cool stuff in the drinks trade. Our aim is to grow to 20 [represented bartenders] by the end of 2020, so we’re looking for an additional four, and then next year we’ll accept more.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
We’re about to launch a platform called Experiences at Home by Global Bartending. We’ve identified 10 experiences, [such as] gin & tonic [and] whisky tastings. The idea is that consumers will be able to select one of these experiences, catered to what they’d like to have at home with their guests. Global Bartending will be able to not only provide the bartender, but also logistically run the event and provide the necessary equipment, communications, etc. If we’re the catalyst to drive great drink experiences into people’s homes, it will benefit the industry on the whole.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.