Elevating the industry through knowledge
Elevating the industry through knowledge

Elevating the industry through knowledge

Words by The Pinnacle Guide founders

An important element of the longevity of The Pinnacle Guide is taking all the information we'll be gathering in order to award PINs, and creating meaningful, insightful market reports.

Perhaps surprisingly to some, the information about the top 1% of the global drinks industry is in pretty short supply. This may be because the people currently gathering this information are disconnected from the upper echelons of the industry or because the bars in question don't feel compelled to share. Regardless - we're here to fix it.

The perceived mistrust between bars and brands can often leave both sides feeling disenchanted with the other and perhaps lead to less fruitful partnerships both ways.

Our opinion is that knowledge is power. More than that - we believe sharing is the only way forward to improve standards across the world. If your venue has a great way of doing something - show it off! Imitation is well known to be the sincerest form of flattery after all - so why not share the love? Inspiring bars that nominate themselves for a PIN and becoming the catalyst that makes them want to show off their hard work is a vital part of this process going forward.

And while we often discuss the top 1% - the information that comes via The Pinnacle Guide application process will be useful to bars across the industry. Ensuring relevant information is also available to all bars that have applied is an important element of transparency but will also raise standards globally. This week's panellists, all of whom have worked for both major global drinks brands but also owned, managed or overseen world-leading venues, felt this was potentially one of the most exciting outcomes of this project.

The more obvious outcome of market reports is in regards to brand innovation and their support and spend with bars. It makes sense that if brands have better intel on what bars across the globe are really up to, and more than that - what they really want and need when it comes to support - surely this will make for relationships that are more lucrative, more visible and therefore more successful. We just all have to lean in.

An element that the panel were optimistic about was the opportunity to start to see data from outside of capital cities - a key pillar of The Pinnacle Guide is to champion excellence across the board - not just in the major markets. The point was made that perhaps these smaller cities could become test markets for global activation strategies - once there was an established PINNED status in some of the lesser awarded cities - where brand spend could go further and be tested in a less saturated market. Yet another opportunity for good information to be used for good causes.

What is clear is that these reports and findings, in whatever form they end up in, are not only thought-provoking but truly challenge people on both sides of the bar to be more curious.

It was discussed that much of the data currently available to big brands can be very self-serving, backing up trends that are already established - rather than focussing with laser sharpness on what is coming next. Case studies perhaps felt more appropriate than cold hard data, though we all know both have a place when making global commercial decisions.

Ultimately though - bridging the gap, sharing the knowledge and working in a more unified way is the dream scenario way forward - and one that we find very exciting.

As always - we're here to put your opinions on record as we shape and formulate The Pinnacle Guide. If you have any feedback on this conversation, please email hello@thepinnacleguide and we'll come straight back to you.

Session panellists

Claire Warner

Claire has worked in the drinks industry for over 20 years, and throughout that time has worn many hats – an award-winning bartender, ambassador, consultant, writer, and spirits judge, and finally, brand and spirit innovator. Today, she is best known as the co-founder of Æcorn, a range of British non-alcoholic aperitifs and sister brand to Seedlip, the non-alcoholic category pioneer.

Claire is a respected speaker, educator, mentor and industry advocate, whose reach extends well beyond the bar. In 2010 Claire was inducted into the 'Dames Hall of Fame' She also won International Brand Ambassador of the Year in 2015. She was the Tales of the Cocktail Co-Chair for the Culture and Co-Chair of the Spirited Awards for many years, before accepting a seat on the board of directors for the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation in 2022.

Gareth Evans

Gareth is an award-winning bartender and operator also with over twenty years of experience at the top of the hospitality industry. After a successful stint up behind bars in the north of England, he joined the opening team at Jason Atherton's Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social in May 2011 and took the reins as Executive Group Bar Manager for the Social Group and was part of Jason's 'Executive Team' just six months later. In this role he oversaw the design, operations and drinks programs at eighteen sites globally over four years: in New York, Dubai, Sydney, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and seven sites in London.

He then joined Absolut Elyx as their Global Brand Ambassador in October 2015 leading their trade advocacy program around the world. During his tenure he travelled to more than sixty countries, presenting and creating events at the Cannes film festival, the Oscars, the Grammys, Hong Kong Formula E, and Miami Art Basel.

Gareth is currently the Global F&B Development Director for Ennismore, the world's largest lifestyle hotel group. Heading up the beverage development for their F&B concept studio Carte Blanched along with a team of industry-leading operators and creatives, Gareth is responsible for designing the bars and beverage concepts for all new Ennismore hotels globally.

Laura Cullen

Originally from New York City, Laura grew up in the restaurant business; as her father was an owner-operator in Greenwich Village for 42 years before retiring in 2006.

Laura spent nine years as an owner-operator of Clarke's in Miami Beach, a project that started as an MBA thesis, and a lifelong dream. Laura's restaurant, Clarke's - received local and national acclaim. Laura sold her bar in Miami Beach in 2013 and moved to San Francisco to accept the position of Vice President Sales Manager Northern California On-Premise for Coastal Pacific Wine and Spirits.

In 2016 she moved back to Miami where she spent three years travelling the country as the Vice President of National accounts.

In January of 2020, Laura founded Liberty Consulting driven by the idea that core values including work ethic, inclusion and the desire to affect meaningful change in the hospitality industry should be an integral part of any business strategy.