The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2018

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Page 73 of 112

march 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  73 When Kelley joined Pernod Ricard nearly ten years ago, the education initiative was in its infancy. In the decade since BarSmarts launched in 2008, Kelley says the company has added more than 50,000 participants to its database, with more than 20,000 people earning their official certifica- tion. "We now have four BarSmarts Advanced events per year with an average attendance of 120–140 bartenders," she adds. "The numbers alone show you the success." Bridging the Divide Because brand ambassadors act as liaisons between their respective companies and the industry at-large, they were the first group to recognize the potential that could be unlocked with increased access to education, according to Jamie Gordon, Pernod Ricard USA's Senior Manager of Brand Ambassadors and Brand Advocacy. "The role of the ambas- sadors has always been spreading the gospel of the brand and sharing technical knowledge," says Gordon. "They feed education out there and come back with requests for more." The feedback from these outreach efforts directly informed the early evolution of BarSmarts, with location playing a major role in determining what topics should be incorporated into each course. "All of the success is knowing where to present, what to teach, and when," Gordon continues. "You can't bring old material to New York, but that material might be fresh and neces- sary in a secondary market." For Manager of Brand Advocacy Josh Pearson, this emphasis on education enables Pernod Ricard to not only directly support the people engaging with its portfolio behind the bar, but to "shape the industry the way we want." "Most people at Pernod Ricard came from the on-premise industry," says Pearson, who graduated from one of the first BarSmarts classes in 2009. "We were bartenders, we love bartenders, and we love going to bars. Advocacy and industry go hand in hand." "As teachers we're doing our best to disperse this information, but the new generation is taking it places we never foresaw. Our mission is to make people want to be better bartenders." F. Paul Pacult leads a seminar during BarSmarts Live, the in-person version of Pernod Ricard USA's online course. Pacult and Dave Wondrich, Dave Frost, Dale DeGroff, Steven Olson, and Andy Seymour (pictured in the background) are partners in Beverage Alcohol Resource, a bar education organization that oversees the BarSmarts curriculum. Dave Wondrich, Co-Founder of Beverage Alcohol Resource, watches a student create a cocktail during the testing portion of a BarSmarts Live event. PHOTOS COURTESY OF PERNOD RICARD USA.

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