The World’s 50 Best Bars Celebrates 10 years #50BestTalks

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(Source: William Reed Business Media)
(Source: William Reed Business Media)

The World’s 50 Best Bars celebrated its 10th anniversary in New York City this week with a #50BestTalks event presented by elit Vodka. Legendary bartenders and bar owners from the list’s No. 1 were brought together for a series of inspirational talks. The speakers included Declan McGurk of American Bar at The Savoy in London; Jim Meehan of PDT in New York; Jillian Vose of The Dead Rabbit in NYC; Alex Kratena, the former head bartender at Artesian in London; Ryan Chetiyawardana of Dandelyan in London and Jonathan Downey of London’s Milk & Honey.

The World's 50 Best Bars Celebrates 10 Years (Source: William Reed Business Media)
The World’s 50 Best Bars Celebrates 10 Years (Source: William Reed Business Media)

There were six individual talks and a panel discussion moderated by David Wondrich about bar trends over the past decade and what is to come in the next decade.

Storytelling is a part of the very start of a human’s appreciation of enjoyment. You are not selling drinks, you are selling service”

Declan McGurk of American Bar at The Savoy in London (The World’s Best Bar 2017) speaking of escapism as one of the most passionate human instincts, with storytelling and engagement imperative to transporting guests when the enter a bar. Storytelling is used to shape the narrative of bar with elements incorporating all aspects from the menu, to the artwork, and most importantly the staff.

Jim Meehan and Jillian Vose spoke on leadership and empowerment where “the balance in the bar makes or breaks the experience as a whole”. A commitment to inclusivity and culture within the workplace is important. Having a system in place that trains and incentivises each employee’s loyalty and ability to grow with the bar. Jim Meehan feels that a leader should step away and remove oneself to where you lose the opportunity to be overly critical to nurture a team.

“Education is at the center of a great bar”

Alex Kratena

Alex Kratena commented on the issues faced when creating and operating a bar coming from not being able to understand why things are done. Great staff comes from managers who offer their team the tools to think about the ‘whys’ and make decisions for themselves.

Ryan Chetiyawardana of Dandelyan in London spoke about creative sustainability and how “innovation is crucial” without losing the things we already have. Chetiyawardana advocates an approach that does not start with any restriction, or ‘what you should not do. Reconsider why a bar operates the way it does and how that can be more sustainable.

“The most important thing about a great bar is the people that work there and the people that go there”

Jonathan Downey from London’s Milk & Honey on Service First.
A great bar has a commitment to offering customers both a unique experience and a good time. Locality was also a strong agent for good service, with the rise of the neighbourhood bars in unheralded areas of a major city offering service that reflects the specific location.

The World’s 50 Best Bars organisation overseas a body of 500 experts from around the world. The next annual list for the World’s 50 Best Bars is expected to be revealed in October this year.

Photo credit: Sara Beth Turner Photography

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