After surviving the gauntlet of Autumn’s International Bar Shows it’s fondly we look back on the Moscow Bar Show as one of the very best industry shows the globe has to offer.
We caught up with one of the founders of the show to pose the question: “How does a guy from Manchester end up running a bar show in Moscow?” Meet Andy Bishop:
BarLifeUK: Andy your experience in the industry publishing business is immense, can you tell us how you came to be at this point?
Andy Bishop: I published a magazine (way back in the days when print publishing was a viable business!) called Theme – bar openings, design, the people behind the bars and latterly drinks. It was early on, the beginning of bar culture. Atlantic featured in one of the first issues and we had contributors like Dale Degroff, Angus Winchester and Cairbury Hill. Launching an event was a natural progression so we launched the London Bar Show, in 2000 I think. It started small, grew very big, then went a bit wrong. It closed in 2010 and other events took over where we left off.
BLUK: Can you tell us how you came to be involved with Russia and then with the Moscow Bar Show (MBS)?
AB: I learned from a lot of mistakes in London, and after a few years doing other things I missed the bar business, so I started looking for another opportunity. Russia seemed like a good prospect and wasn’t too far away. I visited Moscow a few times to have a look around and by chance found Russian partners who were thinking along the same lines.
BLUK: Who comes to the Moscow Bar Show?
AB: This year 9,500 visitors came to the show, and only 50% of them from the Moscow region, so the rest made quite an effort to get there. You can fly over 11 hours in Russia without crossing another border, it’s an almighty place! In total this year we had representatives from 18 countries. Visitors are everyone from owners of multiple bars and restaurants, to newbie bartenders.
BLUK: How has the MBS evolved over the years? We witnessed the level of design in the stands was just superb this year.
AB: It has grown in every way. In 2010 we ran a trial event within my partners hospitality show PIR, just a demo bar and 50 seats, to trial our idea. It was really successful with a packed house all day for five days. We brought some great names over including Jared & Anistatia, Ueno San, Ricardo Sporkslede, Andy Pearson, Joerg Meyer. Our first real event was 2011 and it was a good solid start, by the following year booths got bigger, brands invited their international ambassadors and it all began to take shape. 2013 was a big step up again, a 30% increase in visitors and some serious business being done.
BLUK: It must be quite an unusual experience organising something so involved in a country as different as Russia. How have you found it?
AB: To be honest, my partners at PIR do all the Russian stuff (and the hard work), Moscow Bar Show has a great team over there. My efforts are more focused on making sure the event has an international influence, in the education programme, in exhibitors and visitors. Everyone seems interested to come to Russia, to find out what its like and fortunately so far everyone has loved it. There is an amazing enthusiasm in the Russian business that I’ve not seen since the early days in London, but in Russia it’s on a much bigger scale of course.
BLUK: How do you see the Russia bar industry measure up or compare against the rest of the world?
AB: Russians have a spirit culture (they know their vodka of course) but as they begin to travel more they are finding new spirits and flavours. They are happy to learn from the rest of the world but always put a little Russian twist on things to make it their own. Already we see increasing numbers of Russians at other international events and numbers will grow and grow. We ran an event in Siberia last summer, in Novosibirsk and while there are only a handful of bars there, the turn out for our event was amazing, and again great enthusiasm for the event.
BLUK: What do you see in the future for MBS?
AB: We are looking at more regional events for 2014, taking what we know to more people across Russia. Next year’s Moscow Bar Show will continue to bring the best international bartending talent to Russia, and to help international brands connect with the Russian market. I’d recommend to anyone interested to come and have a look – easyjet fly to Moscow now so it’s cheap to get there, and there’s a really warm welcome waiting for you. Dates are 23rd to the 25th September. See you there!