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Last year was the debut of Bar Convent Brooklyn, the U.S. offshoot of the Berlin-based convention for the bar industry. So what’s in store when BCB returns to the Brooklyn Expo Center June 11 and 12? We spoke with the event organizers, global director Angus Winchester and event vice president Paula November, to find out.
1. Bigger Is Better
In general, BCB 2019 will be very similar to the 2018 event, the organizers say. However, the footprint will expand by about 35 percent, says November. The space will be used to incorporate more exhibitors and encompass more than 300 brands. Look for trade associations such as PromPerú (the trade association of Peru), The Spirit of Italy, a Bacardi-sponsored food court and a High West whiskey train.
2. All About Education
The main stage will feature 12 panels, each running 45 minutes long. Two demo bars will include talks by exhibitors, and taste forums will be based entirely around master-class-style sampling and “tutored tastings.” And the WSET area will be managed by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, focusing on educational and accreditation sessions, and Park Street University, where you can expect seminars on such topics as packaging design, marketing and brand management.
3. More Diversity and Inclusivity
“There were some rumblings last year that the speakers, particularly on the main stage, were a little bit ... white,” says Winchester. In response, BCB assembled a panel of local experts to be part of the seminar selection, including Don Lee, Lynnette Marrero, Shannon Mustipher, Claire Sprouse and Jackie Summers.
4. Social Issues in the Spotlight
Winchester lauds Sprouse’s description of the main-stage seminars as “a suitable mix of bartender nerdiness and social issues.” Topics scheduled include activism, with Paul Clark of “Imbibe” and activist Ashtin Berry; inclusion in the bartending community, with Jackie Summers; bartenders’ fraught relationship with alcohol; and preventing sexual assault in the community.
This is in addition to more traditional topics such as hospitality, led by Franky Marshall, and geeky deep dives like the role of élevage in rum, led by distiller Maggie Campbell.
5. Now Available, Spanish-Language Sessions
New this year, one session each morning will be offered in Spanish. Bar owners will be able to purchase a ticket and apply for additional passes so employees can attend the sessions without paying a separate entrance fee.
6. Introducing the Matching Game
Also new this year is an opportunity for attendees to be matched and paired with different exhibitors. Attendees and exhibitors will be asked a series of questions, and based on responses, an algorithm will be used to find matches. At registration, attendees will receive a list of specific brands/exhibitors to meet during the show. (Note: For those who prefer serendipity, these “brand recommendations” are optional.)
7. Next Stop: São Paulo
On the heels of BCB Berlin and a second year of BCB Brooklyn, the conference then heads to São Paulo for BCB Brazil (June 17 and 18). “We think the conditions are right to do a show [in this market],” says Winchester. “The guys from São Paolo said there isn’t enough [networking and education] for South America,” and this conference will continue the BCB tradition of bringing the event to “small, tight, cool areas.” Most of the talks will be in Portuguese, with translators for international guests.