Bittered Sling Bitters | Think globally and act locally, or so they say.
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Think globally and act locally, or so they say.

Bodega du Cap Cocktail on top of a stack of books

Think globally and act locally, or so they say.

By Kate Boushel

It’s a daunting task, one that can lead to feeling overwhelmed, even defeated. That “think big” attitude often prevents us from seeing how small changes promote significant positive shifts, especially when most of our industry is in survival mode. In this sense, perhaps we should be approaching it from the opposite direction.

In business, as in our personal lives, we tend to measure our success against others. From the top 10s to the world’s best lists and all the awards that were initially created to help showcase and celebrate excellence, it’s easy to get lost in the dream. In truth, it’s always been the small things that have made a real difference. Just remember the impact of picking up a napkin from the floor or catching a guest’s glance and smiling at them from across the room.

Over the past few years, we have seen many wonderful professionals and entrepreneurs focus on sustainable business’s environmental aspect. It is, assuredly, the way of the future. However, one of the pillars of sustainable development remains quite elusive for most of our industry: human development.

Our industry’s personnel management track record has been underwhelming at best. Gruelling hours, mismanaged communications and expectations, lack of effective human resource framework and management, difficulties in providing safe spaces, every institutionalized “ism” from race to sex, able to ageā€¦ and let’s not even get into discrepancies with regards to compensation and social benefits. But something tells me that now is our time!

More than ever, we have a chance to act on it. In the same way that many establishment owners have chosen to put this time to use and freshen up decor or update physical structures, there is an upswell of inspiring initiatives that could very well be our saving grace in the long run.

Some of the most valued support thus far has been financial and has come directly from brands; direct financial contributions to organizations such as the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association and the Bartenders Benevolent Fund, and Another Round Another Rally, to donations made through the sale of limited edition bottles, such as Smooth Ambler. We are grateful to know that we can count on their support in this time of need.

That said, investing in people isn’t just about the money. As we collectively find ways to tend to ours and our neighbour’s subsistence, we also have an opportunity to level the playing field, share knowledge and experience. It’s essentially the perfect time to focus on education. On the brand front, an example of this is Pernod Ricard that has funded hundreds of WSET Level 1 and Level 2 in Spirits certificates for professionals from around the world. Countless restaurant groups have chosen to focus on providing continued education for their furloughed staff as a way to keep them engaged and active, even if there are no guarantees of rehiring.

An excellent example of this is my employer, Barroco Group in Montreal. Even though we’ve been forced to operate solely as take-out establishments since October 2020, I have been kept on to continue developing and carry out our education program. All staff – both front and back of house – can stock up on knowledge and stay sharp while we all wait for our government to reopen the industry.

That said, it’s not always just about education in the traditional sense. Look at Josh Davis in Chicago. A few years ago, he launched Brown & Balanced, which set out to highlight the achievements and impact of black bartenders in our industry while also raising money for charity and offering one heck of a party via popup events around the United States. Despite the global pandemic, he has found ways to make this inspiring project live online. I would even venture to say that the platform’s temporary change has allowed for greater exposure and broader reach. It will enable more people worldwide to see and hear from these talented bartenders and chefs of colour, which is likely to guarantee even greater success once these events can once again live in real life.

As he puts it, “when everyone is involved in pushing the culture forward, then the entire industry as a whole gets stronger!”. And I couldn’t agree more.

The same goes for the forthcoming Speed Rack Advisory Squad mentorship program. Pairing industry veterans across the globe with mentees – prioritizing BIPOC womxn – looking to build specific, industry-related skills and, over six months, forge a meaningful bond that will set the mentees up to meet and exceed their professional goals.

All in all, research shows that should we actively choose to nurture and foster engagement and appreciation within our spheres, we will reap the rewards by experiencing less absenteeism, turnover, theft and defects. All in all, that’s a win-win! Increased engagement, higher performance and productivity, more profitability and better quality – isn’t that just what we’ll be most needing as we move into recovery mode? Not to mention, it’s this kind of attitude, openness and foresight that promotes long-term sustainable growth from within.

If we play our cards right, we will build more trust, inspire people, and support the next generation of hospitality leaders more effectively. And that, dear friends, will be the ultimate show of success, prosperity and our capacity to evolve as an industry.

Cocktail Recipe

Bodega du Cap
A decadent, voluptuous twist on a classic Bamboo.

1.50 oz | 45 mL La Guita Manzanilla Sherry
1.50 oz | 45 mL Cocchi Rosa Vermouth
2 dashes Bittered Sling Grapefruit & Hops Bitters

Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.