One of the many excellent events taking place at the Bacardi Hub during LCW was the inaugural St Germain Ladies Bartender Club ‘Les Femmes du bar’ competition.
As the heavens opened 5 competitors, 4 judges and dozens of supporters crammed into the converted shop front to watch the action. This was the culmination of the first year of this fantastic innovation started by Camille Vidal.
To find out more BarLifeUK decided to sit down with everyone’s favourite French lady to find out more about the group, it’s aims and plans for the future.
Despite Camille being a very well-known presence in the London bar scene she arrived only 13 months ago and when she stepped off the plane she only knew one person, Lee Potter Cavanagh and that was only from a chance meeting at Tales of Cocktail earlier in the year. Originally from France and having been based down in Melbourne, Australia before visa issues saw an end to that adventure she had never worked in the UK before.
She quickly set about making friends and travelling bars with her new job as the St Germain Brand Ambassador but it was these early experiences that led her to start the Ladies Bartender Club.
The idea was simple, to help female bartenders learn, help each other and build a big international family. This would in turn give them all a sense of community and ultimately make it easier to move between cities and countries if desired.
The first person Camille turned to with her idea was, unsurprisingly, Andrea Montague then of Callooh Callay. Andrea’s first question was a simple one – ‘How can I help?’
A couple of months later they held their first event, a Christmas dinner which 10 ladies from the bartending industry attended. The group now also contains the likes of Nicci Stringfellow, Kate Jackson, Sophie Mackay and Salome Duringer.
One accusation that has been thrown at Camille and the Club is that it’s sexist. Camille has a very simple answer to that criticism
‘Anyone who says it’s sexist doesn’t know me.’
BarLifeUK would also like to defend any accusations of sexist criticism towards this innovative. In an industry where still to this day such a high percentage of the bartenders are of the male variety anything that can encourage more women to get behind the stick, stay there, enter competitions and raise their collective profiles can surely only be encouraged and applauded.
Back to the Bacardi Hub and the competition. To perfectly reiterate what this whole group is about the five competitors on the day consisted of 2 bartenders who are used to being involved in competitions (Sophie Mackay and Clotilde Lataille) and 3 rookies facing the bright lights and judges stares for the first time (Kendyl Parr, Caroline Hoskins and Salome Duringer).
The judges on the day consisted of Esther Medina from Opium, Carina Soto Velasquez from Candelaria in Paris and Ian Cameron plus of course Camille herself.
The eventual winner was Clotilde Lataille from Callooh Callay who will be guest bartending at both Opium and Candelaria in the coming months.
Moving forward the UK group hopes to continue to grow, Paris has recently started a group, Germany is next on the list and onwards and upwards from there (Camille wouldn’t let us say ‘World Domination’).
It was a great comp for what is a fantastic and pioneering movement that BarLifeUK for one, hopes to see grow and grow over the coming months and years.
Huge congratulations to Clotilde on the win and you can check out her winning cocktail below as well as Camille for all her work. If you would like to get involved in the group speak to Camille, any other members of the group or check out their Facebook page here
25ml St Germain
20ml Lillet Rouge
15ml freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
Shake and double strain into a coupette. Top up with Ruinard Brut Champagne and garnish with grapefruit twist.