So where do you stand on the Bar Vs Imbibe debate?
A month ago, the rumblings and grumblings about admission charges to the Bar show and seminars were reverberating the length and breadth of Facebook. But once there and propping the Inspirit bar, it seemed that very few people had actually had to pay for a ticket… although getting into the theatres may have been a different story.
Speaking to exhibitors on the last day of Bar, it seemed the general feeling was ‘this was ok, but I’ll wait and see how Imbibe goes before I rebook for next year’. I have a feeling most of the visiting bartenders were thinking the same thing when it came to sticking aside £25 for a 2011 ticket.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks and Imbibe rolled around in the familiar surroundings of Earls Court 2. I say familiar because it was a little like going back in time, to the days when Bar was huge and often required visitors to step over a puddle of puke or a passed out kitchen porter.
There was none of that at Imbibe. It was slick, busy and full of what seemed to be the right sort of visitors and exhibitors. And it was nigh on impossible to get a full sized glass of booze anywhere.
If Imbibe’s intent was to show that you can run a drinks-based exhibition without attracting every staggering, drunken student in London, they succeeded (the Tournament pub down the road was full of them however, having been summarily ejected from earls Court).
And yet, as good and as slick as Imbibe was, it felt a little bit ‘sterile’, as if it was on its best behaviour so as not to upset the grown ups (wine clients).
Having said that, full power to them for putting on a good event… a lot of time and effort went into the Imbibe exhibition, and it showed. I wonder what next year will hold, and how Bar will react to the new kid on the block. A monopoly is never good for industry, and ours just got a little more interesting…