Glenfiddich is searching for the world’s most experimental bartender and this couldn’t have come at a better time. Earlier this year during the Las Vegas stop of the global CES tech fair, attendees were treated to some cocktails. But these weren’t your usual end-of-day networking at a trade fair and getting drunk around people you probably shouldn’t get drunk around type of cocktails, but cocktails made by robots.
This being 2016 and that being a globally important tech fair, maybe we should expect this by now. And, apparently, the results weren’t too bad either (or at least not as bad as you’d expect a cocktail from a robot to be).
But now that our mixologists could potentially be machines, it does raise a question: how far can bartending, from the industry right down to the individual, really continue to innovate?
Through Glenfiddich’s search, the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky is attempting to answer this question. The goal is to find people in the industry who are pairing up with masters from other creative fields in order to push the boundaries of barkeeping. If they create a sensory experience that hits the mark, they and their partner will be invited to the inaugural Glenfiddich Experimental Bartender Academy at Glenfiddich’s distillery in Scotland, where they will then compete to win the priceless opportunity of bringing their idea to life, supported by Glenfiddich. The winner will earn a reputation as the World’s Most Experimental Bartender, with their creativity and their creation showcased and experienced across the globe.
As a profession, bartending has arguably come full circle: from a respected career in its early days to then, in Britain at least, being viewed for a significant amount of time as only a secondary form of income (most of us have had that student bar job, after all), before then looping back round to become practically an art form in itself. The 'renaissance' of cocktail culture and the 'rediscovering' of the classics (Whisky Sours, Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, among others) has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of mixologists who take a molecular approach to getting turnt that’s unashamedly scientific.
Apart from this though, bartending has changed little since its early days: a bartender can’t make a drink any faster than he could 30 or 40 years ago. The profession is both 'limited’ at the same time as it's being constantly 'reinvented' by us humans.
That’s why what Glenfiddich is doing is so important, not only for the future of the industry and the creativity of individuals, but for all of us. Bartending is ripe for a fresh injection of innovation - especially in the field of whisky bartending. The libation lends itself to any number of collaborations from about as diverse a field as you could wish for. From, as Glenfiddich suggest in their film, poets, writers, botanists, glassblowers, chocolatiers and beer brewers to turophiles and affineurs (those are cheese lovers to you and me), chefs, and even chemists (if you want to get down to the molecular level).
For more info on Glenfiddich’s hunt for the World’s Most Experimental Whisky Bartender and to find out how to apply, check out their site.