Pictured, l-r: Siobhan Payne, Hannah Sharman-Cox and Dan Dove, founders of The Pinnacle Guide
It’s one thing wondering why there isn’t the equivalent of a Michelin Guide or Michelin-starred system for cocktail bars, quite another having the cajones to do something about it. Step forward drinks industry dames Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne, co-founders of the behemoth that is London Cocktail Week, who have joined forces with the don and mastermind behind Global Bartending, Mr Dan Dove. Together this mighty triumvirate are about to put this important matter right.
Called The Pinnacle Guide, the brand new, very exciting and long awaited initiative launched today (24 February). No coincidence there – it also happens to be World Bartender Day. What better time to unleash a much needed system destined to give bars and bartenders around the world the recognition they deserve?
Taking inspiration from said Michelin Guide, once up-and-running, bars that meet the criteria will be rewarded with a one, two or three ‘pin’ (details tbc). For the bars, it’s not just recognition but also validation for their hard work; for consumers, the symbol will signal at a glance that they’re drinking in one of the best bars in the world.
“It’s an overwhelming task but the three of us have the confidence to do overwhelming things,” says Siobhan. “Taking on something like this doesn’t phase us.” That said, they know that they can’t do it alone. In order to end up with a system that everyone is happy with – consumers and bars – they need input from those in the drinks industry to shape the how, what and why’s of the Guide. “Every time we sat down to talk about it, everyone had a different opinion about how it should work,” Hannah tells us. “We have an idea of how it will end up but we decided that the best thing we could do is to put the question out there as an open letter to the industry.”
So how is it going to work?
“To be totally honest, the details aren’t quite set in stone. But that’s a good thing. It means drinks industry bods from around the world have a chance to put their thoughts forward,” Hannah admits. Siobhan concurs. “We’re calling on those in the industry to be part of the consultancy stage. That way we can get take everyone’s viewpoints on board.”
It starts with…
The Consultancy Phase
“What’s become abundantly clear as we’ve brought this project to life is the importance of conceptualising a system that is both fair and relevant across all territories and all styles of bars – which gives real opportunity to venues outside of capital cities,” Dan states. “This is why the six month Consultancy Phase is vital.”
And that’s why they’re inviting everyone in the industry to have their say. “We want everyone to have ownership – it’s a drink industry project and we want people to have a chance to tell us what they want to get out of it. The only way that it will be credible is if we’re all united.”
The sessions will be led by a panel of global experts over a six month period. “We’ll keep the sessions tight, covering a different topic each fortnight. These will take in key criteria such as the markers of quality, service and hospitality; measuring a world-leading drinks programme, reviewer attributes and how we go about recruitment,” says Siobhan. “We’ll have recordings available for anyone who wants to watch after the sessions take place and we’re also inviting people to book one-to-one calls with us if they prefer airing their thoughts that way. Alternatively, they can submit their suggestions anonymously.”
With the blueprint in place, The Pinnacle Guide is aiming to be up and running in 2023. “It’s important to say that we’re not in competition with anybody or any of the awards systems already in place,” adds Hannah. “Everything we do is aimed at reinforcing the excellence in this industry and as a result, benefits consumers and bars.” Now, what’s not to love about that?
The first round table discussion for The Pinnacle Guide will be held on 3 March 2022.
To be part of it, find out more and to register early interest in becoming a reviewer, have your bar reviewed or have a chat with the founders, see thepinnacleguide.com