The Blend, Beam Suntory’s trade advocacy programme, has launched an online photography exhibition on its community platform, theblend.world, to celebrate World Bartenders Day.
The global campaign – spanning Europe, Australia, Asia and the USA – aims to shine a light on bartending professionals, while honouring the talent, creativity and skill at the heart of the profession.
Collaborating with internationally-renowned photographer Jennifer McCord, who shot the UK images and acted as Creative Director for the project, The Blend sought to tell unique stories on how different industry members started their careers. The bartenders, who come from various backgrounds and experiences, embody everything The Blend wanted to celebrate with World Bartender Day – professionalism, talent, creativity, and a strong connection with their local community.
“The Blend by Beam Suntory is our global community trade platform, created to inspire, educate and connect the hospitality industry and we live by our ethos of ‘By Hospitality, For Hospitality,” explained Meimi Sanchez, Senior Brand Advocacy Manager, The Blend Global . “That’s why this World Bartender Day we’re creating an exhibition of intimate stories and photographs of the unsung heroes behind the special moments we celebrate in bars.
Even though The Blend only shone a light on a select number of bartenders in the exhibition, those five names are intended to represent the many more stories there are to tell. “Bartenders all over the globe have unique creativity and talent that deserves to be showcased and celebrated. Here’s to our bartending community across the globe,” Sanchez continued.
Utilising the photographic skill of Nicole Mago (USA), Oli Sansom (Australia), Aparna Nori (India) and Maria Irl (Germany), the images are designed to show a raw, unfiltered approach, stripping back the showmanship that’s often commonplace in photographs of bartenders.
“We had some great conversations with the bartenders/bar owners pre-shoot and it really helped us to get a sense of who they were as people outside of the bar and how that informs their work and their ‘why’,” explained McCord. “It was super great to be able to ask both bartenders and photographers to just bring themselves to the commission.”
While the images and stories are now live on The blend’s website, the images will also be part of a physical exhibition, touring the UK, USA, Germany, India and Australia in a series of one-of-a-kind exhibitions later this year.
Sarah Proietti, Maybe Sammy, Sydney:
“The customer interaction and opportunities for growth and advancement in the industry are unmatched in my opinion. It’s the buzz that I get when I’m serving customers cocktails. Whether connecting with guests, crafting unforgettable experiences through impeccable crafts and ambiance or building a harmonious and uplifting team, it’s all ignited in my passion and motivation as a bartender. That’s exactly why I have no regrets about my decision to stop working in finance and to pursue a career in hospitality”.
Sly Augustin, Trailer Happiness, London:
“When I was younger I always wanted to pursue a career in comic books and having worked as a freelance graphic designer and web developer for a few years you can see where my creative passions were born from. Having worked in the industry for 11 years now, I can honestly say it’s the responsibility of owning someone’s happiness and enjoyment for a night, is what makes me want to continue working in this industry for the rest of my life. Trailer Happiness is an inclusive space where everyone is welcome, even when I used to visit the bar as a consumer myself I always felt that the space was special and helped to craft special moments for me and my friends.”
Emma Alexander, Freelance, Denver:
“I had no idea I could make a living or even a career from making drinks. It’s deeper than that for me. It’s a creative outlet, it’s culinary, it’s chemistry, it is a way to communicate without words. It’s my love language. I’ve been in the industry for 26 years now, wild I know. Working through various stages of management, from a coat check attendant, to a shot girl and then a bartender. If you’ve been in the industry as long as I have you will understand how it feels. Once a bartender… always a bartender. You will always find me behind the bar.”
Magdalena Karkosz, Schumann’s, Munich:
“For me I always had a feeling that I would become a bartender. I’ve always had a passion inside me to make people happy. All I want is for people to feel at home and happy in my bar. To me it’s more about making drinks, it’s all about the people. It’s an amazing feeling that every night the guests have decided to come to your bar to spend their time and to create special moments.”
Sarath Nair, Copitas Four Seasons, Bangalore:
“My love for hospitality started since I was a kid, serving water in the temple during special occasions. The joy I used to get when people looked at me and smiled. It gave me immense happiness and satisfaction. Now working in the hospitality industry, I still enjoy sharing positivity, stories and optimism with my customers. I do see my role as more than a bartender. I am a part time creator and a full-time narrator, who is aiming to create a beautiful experience and moment in someone’s life journey.”