First Day of the Bar Convent Berlin

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In an amazing display of organization and efficiency, the gorgeous Bar Convent Berlin (Berlin Bar Convention) started this morning. Since I had the rare wisdom to leave early last night, I was able to be there for the first presentation of the day, Cachaça: The Soul of Brazil, presented by the brilliant Jared Brown and Anastasia Miller, with my good friend John Gakuru, global brand ambassador for Sagatiba Cachaça.

I’d picked up their book, The Soul of Brazil when I was at Tales of the Cocktail this summer, and have been savoring every deliciously historical fact this summer – so I was quite excited to be able to sit in a room and learn more about one of my favorite spirits this morning.

I won’t get into too much of the extensive information that was presented today, but rather share with you some quick facts about cachaça:

Cachaça is the third most-produced spirit in the world – in the world – which might surprise some of you. 1.3 billion liters are produced annually, but only 20 million of those are exported – a mere 1% each year. I’m sure you can figure out what happens to the remainder.

After the presentation, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Mr. Gakuru and sampling some of the Sagatiba Preciosa, a gorgeous 23 year-old spirit that was the result of a very fortuitous accidental find on the grounds of the distillery. If any cane distillate is the heir apparent to the cognac throne, this is certainly it. But grab it while you can, because once this one’s gone we most likely won’t be seeing an overaged cachaça for a long, long time.

I then wandered around the floor sampling spirits without Jay Hepburn, who was lost to the pleasures of Berlin for the morning. There is a huge gap between the American and European markets that I’ve been made very aware of while I’ve been here. Products that we covet back in the States are easily available here in Western Europe, while simple brands that I’d expect to find in any American control-state liquor store are prized for their rarity.

I got into a little Old Tom gin tasting at the GSA booth (my goodness, Old Tom is popular here right now) and was able to set Both’s Old Tom against the Secret Treasures Old Tom, which was a serious tongue-tying exercise in botanical and sugar palate definitions. The best I can describe them both at this late hour is that the Secret Treasures gin relied more heavily on the sweetness of the botanicals (much like the Jensen’s) while the Both’s used sugar to accentuate the more floral botanicals like lavender, rose and orange. Both were quite sippable, most certainly the Both’s, but the Secret Treasures came off as much more mixable in cocktails geared to today’s palate.

I finished off my day by watching the showmanship of Mr. Phillip Duff, Bols Global Brand Ambassador as he demonstrated some simple, yet thoughtful ways to increase sales from behind the bar using a few key strategies. Phil, I’m going to maintain a little grudge for knocking the States’ economy at my expense for the crowd, but applaud you for a great presentation. And I promise I will get you back, sir!

After a full morning of BCB, I headed back to the hotel to wrap up the final touches on my presentation for tomorrow afternoon. I hope to see you all there at 1:45 PM.

6 Replies to “First Day of the Bar Convent Berlin”

  • John Claude – What Mr. Duff fails to mention here is that he didn’t share his Ritz with any of his friends. Just, you know, giving you the complete story here.

  • Philip Duff says:

    Hi John Claude, here it is!

    Just a bit of fun really – the Maxxium Germany firm suggested the title to me and asked if I could come up with something fitting. Because of the reduced emphasis on tipping here, many European bartenders are not as fast as they could be, hence what may look like basic advice is sorely needed in some markets. And at the end of the presentation I made myself a Ritz with Remy XO, Piper Rare and a 38,000 euro diamond-encrusted shaker!

  • Tiare says:

    I reacted to this and would like to get this clear? i have always believed that rhum agricole is made from fresh sugar cane juice.

  • John Claude – Pretty simple stuff, really, mostly talking about increasing efficiency by organizing mise en place, and using the proper ingredients to save on cost.

    Ed – I probably heard it wrong. I don’t have it on me, but have you read their book yet?

  • In Brazil, Cachaca can be made from a cooked or pasteurized sugar cane juice called melado. Rhum agricole on the other hand is never made from a pasteurized or cooked juice.

    Rhum agricole didn’t exist as we know it in 1640 but rum – sugar cane distillates – were made long before 1627.

  • John Claude Esh says:

    What were Mr. Philip Duff’s tips?

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