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THE WEIGH IN W
e asked two influential bartenders for their thoughts on the ‘drinkstagram’ cocktail movement.
DRINKS WORLD: Instagram is now a key part of the consumer experience. Do you take this into account in the process of creating the drinks menus at your venue? JAMES WHEELER: Drinks definitely need to look good visually and yes, we do take it into account, but it’s certainly one of the lowest priorities when we create our new drinks.
James Wheeler, General Manager at Dandelyan, London
PATRICK TULLY: The answer is yes, but very carefully. At Christopher Hanna, we put a lot of energy into considering all of the aspects of a drink. This certainly means creating beautifully presented drinks, but how it tastes and smells is equally important. What we definitely avoid is creating tacky, viral kinds of drinks that are just there to look over the top and forsake flavour. Our guiding principle is, ‘elegance through simplicity’. DW: Do you think there is a danger of bartenders placing too much focus on the look of a drink at the expense of other parts of the service experience? JW: Yes, 100%. Around the time that we opened Dandelyan, almost four years ago, many of the bars in London were focused on making their drinks look as incredible as possible and it seemed like they were all forgetting that a drink should taste good too. PT: This is definitely one of the biggest dangers of social media in regards to
a lot of things, not just cocktails. The experience a venue offers is so much more than just what a drink looks like. There are so many different factors that come into play. What a drink smells like, what it tastes like, what it looks like, how it’s served, the furniture in the venue, the music and the customer service... Social media holds a magnifying glass to just one of those factors and blows its importance out of proportion. This in turn over exaggerates the importance of this one factor in bartenders’ minds. DW: Do you see the Instagram movement as a ‘trend’ or something that’s here to stay and should be considered as part of a bar’s drink strategy? JW: I can’t see Instagram becoming any less important to people any time soon, and I’m sure it will be equally as important, if not more so, in the future. As long as people remember that it’s not the only thing. I actually think it’s more productive to create a menu that’s aesthetically beautiful, so it ends up on Instagram a lot. PT: I think it’s here to stay, but I also think that how we approach it can and will change. We’ve really just replaced the word beautiful with ‘instagramable’, so when we are writing a new menu, we aim to create drinks that fulfil all of the requirements of a great drink, including being beautiful. Social media genuinely does push bartenders to create more