Assessing both the Basics and the Business
Words by The Pinnacle Guide founders
Why is there not even a minimum?
In discussing the basics of running a bar - taking into account safety, cleanliness, hygiene, facilities - seemingly everyone has an opinion on what is considered "enough". And following our third round table discussion for The Pinnacle Guide, it was fairly unanimous amongst the viewers what "enough" means. Generally safe and hygienically clean was the consensus.
But - when talking about recognising the very best bars in the world - is "enough", ENOUGH?
Within the creation of The Pinnacle Guide, what we're hoping for first and foremost is a matrix of criteria that can be non-subjectively measured and assessed by our anonymous reviewers. Surely such things as hygiene, cleanliness and accessibility should be easily graded. We then asked the question - within this new matrix should extra points be awarded for those venues that excel at the basics, or are simply achieving the basics where the consideration should end? Many were of the opinion that reaching the base level actually was "enough" and a great bar shouldn't or couldn't be judged on the ply of its loo roll. Which is fair enough. Glad we asked the question though!
However, what became clear is that these minimum efforts of 'good basics' are currently not actively considered when judging the world's best bars and certainly are not set out clearly as an industry standard of "acceptable" - let alone over and above. There are some bars that are currently widely considered to be some of the best in the world where these minimum requirements are, at times, not met. What a privilege if we can articulate the minimum requirements to be awarded a PIN - and that the base level of expectation and therefore guest experience might improve in some cases.
As per our previous session, the question of how you measure a feeling came up. This is an extremely valid point and one that we will address in time - but the crux of right now is to get into the nitty-gritty of what is, or is not a qualifier of excellence.
One thing that united our panel was whether commerciality or business acumen should be considered when awarding a PIN. It was a resounding NO from all three, who argued well that if this has no bearing on customer experience, then it should not be taken into account.
However - we as a united industry should certainly not be rewarding bad operators be that ethically (coming up in a future Round Table) or commercially.
Many viewers added to the comments that a bar could be asked to agree to a predetermined code of conduct before applying for a PIN. This would definitely add some clarity, though the question arises as to whether we can be sure that applicants are telling the truth. Easy enough to say "yes yes" via an online form.
What is encouraging and clear from our Back To Basics chat today is that people are ready and willing to be held accountable to minimum standards. If nothing else - this would be an enormous win for the global industry as a whole.
As always - we're here to put your opinions on record as we shape and formulate The Pinnacle Guide. If you have any feedback to this conversation, please email hello@thepinnacleguide and we'll come back to you.
Panelists in this session
As a leading voice of the bar & cocktail scene for over 20 years, Simon has travelled the globe working with & learning from some of the best brands, bars, and professionals on the planet. He has led numerous educational spirit programs, judged global cocktail competitions and delivered seminars at international conferences plus was chairman and co-host for the Spirited Awards for many, many years. Most recently he created the 86 Co - offering the industry a true bartenders' portfolio of brands - and his eponymous product - Fords Gin now sits within the Brown Forman portfolio.
Since 2020, Rusty has held the position of Bar Manager at Manhattan Bar in Singapore. He started out back in 2005 in Slovakia before moving to London and taking roles at The Connaught and then The Gibson. In Singapore, he has also headed up the Stamford and The Fairmont. A hefty CV!
Chris joined Dante as Beverage Director in 2020. In this role, Chris oversees the bar's award-winning cocktail program and utilizes his extensive background working in some exceptional bars - most notably in London at The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy and also his own venture - Coupette in East London.