By Sacha Delfosse

Thousands of visitors were exposed to and educated on cocktails at inaugural Cocktail Island hospitality exhibition that was last weekend (November 19-20) at Sydney's Cockatoo Island.

The event involved tasting and training sessions, seminars and presentations as well as the various drinks available at the dozens of supplier stands set up.

“The main focus was to bring as much as we could about cocktails to the consumers and there was a lot of interest from the public in what we do, how it’s done, what to drink and what’s a good spirit,”  organiser, Marco Faraone, says.

“I don’t think there’s ever been this type of event for consumers before and the interest was huge. For example, all the seminars where absolutely fully booked.”

And despite close to 4000 tickets being sold and more than 80,000 cocktails served Faraone says there were no issues with drunken behaviour, which he attributed to suppliers selling drinks rather than giving them away for free.

“Everyone had the opportunity to sell their brands and no product was given away for free, which was a better way to control the issue of RSA. The suppliers were supportive and they really liked the interaction with the consumers.”

Suppliers ranged from larger companies such as Pernod Ricard, Diageo, CCA, William Grant & Sons and Suntory, to niche operators such as SouthTrade, Think Spirits, Vanguard Luxury Brands, West Winds Gin, island2island and 666 Pure Tasmanian Vodka.

The range of topics and the quality of the presenters also ensured that consumers were able to hear from some of the leading experts in the industry on topics covering the history of key spirit categories and classic cocktails.

“Bartenders receive a lot of training throughout the year but for the consumers this is all new, for them to have the opportunity to try different drinks and listen to professional speakers gave them a chance to learn about the customs and the traditions, and gave them a better idea on how to be a better drinker,” Faraone explains.

“If we raise the bar of the knowledge of the consumer ultimately you raise the bar of the bartender and a venue’s service because now the consumer is going to be more aware of what they are ordering and drinking and that’s the ultimate goal of this event.”


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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