Bar and Restaurant culture around the world over the past 10 months has been hit. Whether it has been due to Corona Virus lock downs, liquor bans and the limited number of guests per venue, globally the bar and restaurant has had to deal with very rough times, and this has definitely shaped the way drinking trends are going. From local and sustainable products to being able to pre-batch and sell bottled cocktails to consumers, the world will have a very different bar culture when the global pandemic starts to ease.
We need to be honest and say that unfortunately a lot of hospitality venues will simply not make it through the pandemic. In my homeland of Scotland, local government decisions to continue lockdown and then allowing bars to open with no music and alcohol sales has frustrated bar and restaurant operators for months. The fact more cases are traced to schools, university students returning and supermarkets has been ignored and bars and restaurants seem to be an easy scape goat although their track and trace precautions are amongst the strongest in the nation.
The number of staff who have been laid off as well as musicians, DJ’s and festival organisers who can no longer make a living will change the industry. Will this also determine young people to stay away from the industry in future?
All over the globe bars and restaurants are closing. From New York to London, Singapore to Seoul, award winning operators have had to close down some of the most famous establishments in global culture. Milk and Honey and Pegu Club spring to mind, but the bigger story is the suppliers of food, fruit and produce that keep our venues running are also closing at an alarming rate. Make no doubt, the way hospitality you remember will not return for a long time, and we will need to support our local venues through these troubling times, even if our governments do not.
The days of international bartenders travelling the globe and making cocktails is probably gone. Drinks companies are going to have to look for and foster local talent and put more resources into promoting in markets instead of flying ‘startenders’ around the world. This could well actually mean a higher development of local talent and also encourage owners and managers to spend more time training staff and promoting their good work.
Sustainability has been a buzz word around hospitality for the last few years. With air freight at a premium and higher restrictions in transport internally in countries then hopefully more businesses will be encouraged to use local herbs, spices and fruits and also foster closer relationships with their local suppliers. Global travel is going to be hugely effected for the next 12 months, Europe and the US have been promoting internal travel and the numbers are huge, so where people will be visiting on their holidays will be very different and may also lead to people drinking local wines and spirits as they explore closer to home, and may also may mean rural bars and restaurants may see a surge in more local clientele.
As restrictive as Covid has been, it can also lead to innovative business ideas and routes to consumer. One thing that increased hugely is the availability of bottled cocktails and sharing serves of your favourite drinks from your favourite bars. Many bars and bartenders are working on new ways to get liquid on lips of their consumers. From canned Negroni’s and espresso martini’s to DIY cocktail kits and party packages, it has been amazing to see the inventive and innovative ways to engage with their clients that have been fast tracked during these difficult times. I have even seen my old friends at stranger & Son’s gins have a bottled cocktail serves out in Singapore and in Bombay, exciting times!
Finally, the zoom party.
Whether its quiz nights, tasting sessions, Pictionary or just a catch up with friends and family on the other side of the world, or the other side of town. People all over the globe have found a way to connect together and have fun.
We are social creatures, and food and drinks play a huge part in that. Alcohol sales are staying pretty steady, although the route to consumer is drastically changing. Whether it’s a beer in front of the cricket, wine parties with friends or supporting your local bar by ordering cocktails and food, there are still ways to meet your friends and have fun. Wine and whisky investments are going up with more people looking at alternative ways to spend savings and although it has been a dark year, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Take time to think of the venues that will not make it through. They will have tried to do everything that they can to survive, but also champion your local bars, restaurants and hotels. They need you more than ever to come back stronger so you can meet your friends there in the future.
Stay safe and look out for each other.