Seasoned bar folk all know the horror of being trapped at an event talking to someone whose conversation exists purely in the realms of abv and rare Pappy Van Winkle expressions. We might all work in booze, but having a life and interests outside of it is as important to our conversation as it is to our mental health.
Not to mention it can make us better bar professionals.
As an industry that talks a lot about creativity and inspiration, we have a tendency to look inwards rather than to the wider world for talks, seminars and lessons – something Tim Etherington-Judge wanted to change.
Launching under his Healthy Hospo umbrella, Etherington-Judge decided to organise BarTalk, sessions in cities across the UK that don’t revolve around booze or drinking. Instead you’re more likely to be entertained by a cabaret artist, given advice from a nutritionist or sleep expert, or schooled in saving from a financial adviser.
‘The reason we’re doing it is because so many talks and seminars revolve around another bartender talking about how they make their oleo saccharum or a master distiller explaining why their gin is the best. I wanted something outside of that. I want to generate thoughts and inspiration – so let’s look outside and get a comedian in, sports people, those from the fields of health, art, botany. Bartending is such a creative industry we should be as creative as possible and throw the net far and wide,’ said Etherington-Judge.
Kicking off a first session in London’s Bar Three in collaboration with The East India Company, cabaret act Reuben Kaye was simultaneously hilarious and offered some brilliant insights linking his performances to bartending.
London isn’t the only city to benefit from the new project, however. BarTalk Birmingham will launch on 9 May and there are plans to start up in Edinburgh as well.
‘BarTalk is the main platform which we thought would be a great overall brand, and then each city is free to get own speakers and do what’s right for them,’ explained Etherington-Judge.
The idea for the project was inspired by Conor Myers, an Irish bartender currently working in New York who used to run a similar series of talks in Dublin.
‘There are so many amazing people I would love to go and listen to, from artists to financial advisors helping bartenders understand how to sort their own personal money, and invest tips in the future rather than blowing it all on cocaine and strippers. This is a chance to bring those outside influences into the industry,’ said Etherington-Judge.