Balancing Learning and Fun: Portland Cocktail Week Recap

For the fourth year in a row, bartenders descended on Portland, Oregon for Portland Cocktail Week in October. An event that is “for bartenders, by bartenders,”  270 students from across the country went back to school. Split into four majors: Advanced Craft Cocktail Bartending, Beyond the Bar, Bar Ownership and Product Development, each student was required to fulfill a core curriculum, classes in his/her major and electives.

With my media pass in hand, I was able to audit the classes that interested me so I attended a number of courses under the Beyond the Bar major.  Here are some of the highlights of what was covered:

Staying True to Yourself When Interacting With the Press: Karen Foley of Imbibe Magazine moderated a panel with Rachel Ford of Diageo, Jeffery Morganthaler of Clyde Common and Steve Schneider of Hey Bartender and Employees Only.

  • 3 rules to live by: 1) dress for the job you want, decide who you are, 2) remember you are what you represent, 3) never bash another brand as you never know where you next paycheck is coming from
  • don’t pretend to be something else
  • never chime in negatively about a topic
  • reading and understanding your audience is very important

From Bartender to Brand Ambassador…and back again: Lynn Howse, National Brand Ambassador for Pama moderated a panel with former brand ambassadors Jacob Grier, Eric Castro and Jon Santer

  • as a brand ambassador, we are the face of the brand when we are out there but the job is more intense than that
  • the job challenges both your physical and mental health with brand ambassadors traveling as much as 220 days per year or 3-3 1/2 week per month

Sponsorship Magic – Kristin Weitzel of William Grant & Sons shared some inside tips to land sponsors

  • attract – know your concept and know who you are targeting
  • engage -show intention, gain attraction, and captivate your potential sponsor
  • nuture – “no” is rarely forever
  • sell – show potential partners the ROI they ask for
  • deliver – execute contract details, include client in activations
  • make a great pitch – know your audience, be authentic, engage

Becoming a ConsultantJordan Bushell moderated a panel of expert consultants – John LermayerKathy Casey and Danny Ronen – who gave advice on how to build your consulting career.

  • know what the client wants and needs
  • evaluate the client and know what they need – remove your ego form the equation
  • be responsible – be on time, be responsive, know your craft, don’t stretch yourself too thin, don’t over-promise, be professional

Portland Cocktail Week offered a lot of great learning. And, once school was finished, it was time for the “after school activities”.