A little rant on Cocktail Competitions! oh wait - its more about us, the bartenders.

A few days ago I posted on Twitter:

" If you think you have TALENTO,want to become WORLD CLASS or create your LEGACY, proof it in your bar every night & stop doing competitions"

Jacob Briars, Global Trade Advocacy Director of Bacardi, a person I highly respect in our Industry,  responded to me on twitter and it become quite a discussion.

But I like to roll out my thoughts behind this tweet also here on my blog, cause I felt uncomfortable with a 140 character discussion on twitter. Because, first of all, I don't want to be unfair. To Bacardi (LEGACY), Diageo (WORLD CLASS) or Pernod Ricard ( Havana Club) with (TALENTO and their Global Cocktail Competition).

First of all, this is not a critic on this three competitions. There are many in our Industry. These are the most famous ones. We have so many. International and Global ones. But also National ones like the German GSA Competition from MIXOLOGY Magazin. etc. Dozens. Hundreds?

Second of all, my tweet is not "a critic" the people they set up these competitions. If you ever have been part of one, especially a big international one, it will be the experience of your life. These companies are very generous in setting this up, and we will find many positive aspects of these competitions. For sure - I do not like some developments of most of them. But in general: Thank you to the Sponsor.

Me tweet is finally a critic on us - the bartenders. Something has changed. I don't like it. What I have spotted over years is: We Bartenders started to take this cocktail competitions serious. That is  a mistake.

Competitions - mostly developed from people who are bartenders or are very much connected to them - used to be a big fun. A generous party, a great come together, added more and more with also some inspiring training aspects, a superlative network event, generously paid - merci !

For sure, over the years, marketing toke over. Marketing is fucking up everything. Always. Competing bartenders had to spam their social networks with marketing activities and other stupid marketing stuff. But hey - finally also ok. Our "friends in the brands" had to prove the bosses why they every year needed more money for a bartender event. Finally, if you commit to be part of it, you should go all in. Nothing to complain. Thats the deal Mr. Bartender.

So, do not get me wrong: It is nothing wrong with the brands and the people who set up these competitions. They put a lot of money, work and love into it. Thanks again.

My critics in my tweet is not against the brands. Its about the competing bartenders. Not all of them. Some. And on other bartenders. Finally on all bartender who really think these competitions make you a better bartender. I disagree. They do not!  And in the moment I have the feeling that they make some bartender even more poorly bartenders.

Because they start to think that it really means something to win these competitions. If you expect to become a great bartender with winning a competition - I think you are wrong.

Winning a competition does not make you a good bartender and does not proof that you are one. For sure, some people who won competitions ARE great and good bartenders. But they became it before they won these nice entertainment events.

Getting a great bartenders will take you several years behind bars, working all positions, working 4,5 sometimes 6 nights a week, 8-14 hours a shift. Dealing with thousands of guests and dozen's of colleagues, building a real team - That makes you a great bartender.

For sure, there are bartenders, who did also all these and are not so great bartenders at all. Some are more talented than others. Finally hours is just numbers.  But I think you cannot become a good bartender without hours. Today I spotted that more and more bartenders think that competitions are the shortcut to become a great bartender. They are not. They are a big party, nice to be part of it, which have not much to do with the daily routine in our profession. Competions can make you kind of famous. In a very small world. But they never make you experienced. Hours and sweat do. To not mix short "fame" with "experience".

If you want to become real WORLD CLASS - start working your asses of, be a great host, give all your passion to your bar and your team. And you will grow. Be clever, travel, network, give seminars, take effort and hours, you do not need a brand for this.

And if you want to create your LEGACY - you have to build it step by step, every night. Share you passions, write about it, communicate. Build relations ships to press and media, have real content and again: work your asses of.

There are no short cuts to become WORLD CLASS and create your own LEGACY !

You don't need competitions for it. Competitions are great fun - but please, don't take them serious.


P.S.  If you like the idea of working 50 hours a week, long nights, all positions, dirty hands, no competitions, no extra jobs by side for the industry,  - just 100% bartending  ( and +100 Basil Smashes per night...)  I have 2 positions I hire for for our new upcoming second floor at LE LION • BAR DE PARIS . And also 1 position we hire for at our second bar THE BOILERMAN BAR.

Send your CV to joerg @ lelion.net


  1. Jesus Mr. Meyer, I instantly want to apply after a text that makes me shout out "JAA, genau das, genau das!" several times, reading it!

    Very well played.

    And the critic is channeled in the right direction. It's the right of brands to target their marketing at us bartenders - but sometimes we or some of us are making ourselves way too easy targets.

    I would extend the same logic to pouring contracts and spirit selection - don't dance at all the weddings, don't be everybody's darling, just because someone is waving a couple of bank notes at you. Instead, choose your future groom/wife in the form of a bottle for your pouring rack based on the fact that you love him/her dearly. You can be polyamourous here. Then, and only then, if the wedding comes with a couple of presents attached, accept them and be all the more happy.

    If the very act of what you are happy to sell to your customers is buyable, how is there any base for your customer to trust your integrity as a professional dealer of spirited liquids at all? In the long run, your guest will notice wether your love is true love.

    Of course, this is an idealistic point of view as the money required to start and run a bar can not come from nothing. But don't go down that road just because it seems the easiest.

  2. Agree... I just want to add this:
    Bartenders spending time and efforts for these competitons - I saw to many of them not taking it really serious:
    - drunk on stage at competition
    - not well prepared
    - not willing to win just happy with participating
    - not being able to selfreflect to improve
    Last but not least:
    I saw to many times barowners not taking care of the level of presentation of their competitors! But these guys are representing your bars! How can you let this happen!
    Its not the competition thats wrong - cause bartenders sign up themself. If it wouldnt be interesting they wouldnt enter. Its the attitude that's wrong!

  3. Very good job advertisement Mr Meyer! 😉


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