George Restrepo is the co-founder and director of Coctelería Creativa, as well as the co-organiser of Barcelona Cocktail Art. This space will be held within the framework of Barcelona Wine Week, the benchmark show for Spanish wine organised by Fira de Barcelona through its company Alimentaria Exhibitions, and which will take place in Palace 8 of Fira de Barcelona’s Montjuïc exhibition centre from 3 to 5 February 2020. Businessman, bartender, writer and lecturer Restrepo has been selected to opt for the IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year award, which recognises a person or organisation whose communication skills have made an exceptional contribution to promoting and raising public awareness of distillates over the past 12 months.
For the sector, what does it mean that Barcelona Wine Week includes Barcelona Cocktail Art, a specific event dedicated to cocktails and distillates?
The great wine and distillate fairs in the world are monographic. In our vision to lead a space focused on distillates and cocktails, we think that going hand in hand with a sector as strong as that of Spanish wines can generate greater synergies, joining forces and resources. Barcelona Cocktail Art can gain strength and relevance over the years, since cocktail is a sector in full growth, and also Barcelona Wine Week relies on a strong and well-established industry such as wine. In this sense, a wine buyer can also be a great customer of the distillates, and vice versa. Having the support of a consolidated sector can be very useful for one that is in the process of expansion.
What differential value will exhibitors and visitors find in Barcelona Cocktail Art with respect to other events in its field?
Barcelona Cocktail Art is a show that is committed to quality content, with a strong concept – this year, sustainability – and with a vision of the future. We have a clear thought and that is that we do not follow trends, we create them. The basic content is proposed by us from an editorial point of view, through a spun DNA that forms a script in which all the parts add up to a discourse. This discourse is our vision of where the industry can go in the next few years, or what aspects brands go deeper into or where they should bet in the next few years.
Visitors to Barcelona Cocktail Art will find fresh and personalized content, thanks to the individualized work we do with each of the speakers, to focus their knowledge so that it fits the central theme. We expect professional visitors, mainly buyers and distributors, people who make purchasing decisions. It is not a fair focused on the casual encounter of people waiting to be photographed. Above all, we value and support the professional encounter to create business.
Can you reveal something about the programme? Which experts have already confirmed their participation in Barcelona Cocktail Art?
The program revolves around a great concept, sustainability, and this, in turn, is divided into three major themes, which respond to each day of the fair. On the first day, 3 February, the theme is Sustainability and Territory, on the second day, 4 February, Trends and New Paths, and on the third day, 5 February, The future is green.
Within Sustainability and Territory, we will have speakers who will explain how territory, products, customs and cultural wealth, among other aspects, can contribute to the value of products and the possibility of building a historical story linked to them. Good examples of this are wine applied to cocktails, the world of Japanese and Mediterranean sake, ethnic products in different regions of the world, the value of the landscape and its ingredients carried in a bottle or the complexity of being sustainable even on a Pacific island that is a biosphere reserve protected by UNESCO.
For its part, Trends and New Paths will show examples of how to apply creativity and sustainability in a disruptive way, with an eye on the past or the future, or even through all available technology. Big ideas do not always come from the biggest capitals, and the world of distillates is increasingly democratic. It will be a day to enjoy great discoveries and to celebrate what many people are consciously doing: thinking about the industry in a more conscious and sustainable way. In addition, the BCA Sustainability Spirits Awards will be presented during this day.
Finally, The Future is Green will show the different points of view of businessmen, entrepreneurs and experts in the sector who will share round tables focusing on three major themes: artisanal distillates, the importance of the container in cocktails and distillates without alcohol.
How would you define the current situation of cocktails in Spain? What are the latest trends in this respect in our country?
We live in a time of change. Humanity’s urgency to lessen the effects of climate change has moved from important to priority. The distillates sector, both at the production level and in bars and cocktail bars, is no stranger to this imperative call for action. Barcelona Cocktail Art is a salon that, for the second time, starts from this concept as its central axis, with the aim of bringing together and giving a global and transversal vision of it through expert voices. In this way, El Futuro es verde is a call to action. From our position as the industry’s meeting point, we have a responsibility as a platform for communication and support for the initiatives that we have detected and that deserve to be seen and heard.
What does the sector expect for the next 2020?
A decline in consumption is expected, driven by several factors. On the one hand, the moment of consumption is changing -something that has been announced by the Spanish Federation of Spirits (FEBE) for a couple of years-, there is also the growth of the afternoon, where lower alcoholic distillates are consumed, as well as alternatives to beverages, cocktails and non-alcoholic distillates. On the other hand, there will be a slowdown in the global economy, which will end up affecting the consumption of standard products and boosting those of higher quality. The industry is also beginning to prepare for new labelling standards and for the entry into force of laws prohibiting the use of single-use plastics. This will energize the sector, generating new presentations and redesigns of bottles and labels.
What does it mean to you to have been shortlisted for the IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year Award?
The IWSC is an institution in the distillates sector. Also, the award for best communicator of the year is a recent recognition, which means that the industry is not only valuing the production of the distillate, but also the way in which it influences, through communication, the public who consumes it or the professional who buys it.
On the other hand, we are not used to receiving nominations from strong markets such as the English or North American, especially when our communication channels target a Spanish-speaking audience. In this way, knowing that our work is being taken into account even beyond the language barrier, perhaps speaks very well of our work. We are very proud to have received this nomination, as well as a motivation to continue working for our market.