Global Bartending Talent Agency launches with 16 clients

10 July, 2020

A former Diageo marketing executive has launched the world’s first dedicated talent agency for influential bartenders.

Dan Dove managed a team of brand ambassadors and ran the World Class bartending competition during his 10-year stint at Diageo. He said he noticed “a disconnect between brand owners and bartenders, leading to a global inconsistency of valuing talent”, so he set up Global Bartending Talent Agency.

The agency handles bookings, contract negotiations and payments, providing a liaison between brand owners and bartenders. It has already signed 16 clients, spanning a number of different countries and featuring some of the industry’s biggest names.

Dove told Drinks International: “The majority of bartenders that have worked their careers in bars do not have the marketing background of working for global drinks business. There was always that disconnect between the two, and that’s why Global Bartending exists.

“From a brand perspective, it was very complicated to understand what a brand ambassador or bartender is worth to a business. They are often undervalued. It’s no fault of anyone specifically. It’s just because their attributes are difficult to measure. I believe with my expertise in this area we can bridge the gap on behalf of both the brands and our talent.”

He believes the agency can help bartenders grow their personal brands, and bring a level of consistency and professionalism to proceedings. “Having a global lens gives us an oversight of what brands are paying bartenders for specific campaigns or activities,” said Dove. “We are then able to see where certain bartenders sit. There is currently a real global inconsistency on rates paid to industry talent. There was no reason why they should or shouldn’t be doing that. We are seeing disjoined websites appearing from bartenders. Some of them are great on social media, and some lack that little bit of magic.”

He wants to see bartenders move away from the concept of charging a day rate for their services, and focusing instead on the overall value they can bring to each project. “We are looking at the broader needs of each campaign, and whether the bartender offer more than just to bartend,” he said. “It’s all about driving value and a deeper understanding of the campaign, and not to focus on a day rate for a bartender.”

Dove has spent the past two-and-a-half years creating the agency, and it is now ready to launch online, with 16 different clients: Lynnette Marrero, David Rios, Matt Whiley, Camille Vidal, Remy Savage, Vasilis Kyritsis, Nikos Bakoulis, Deano Moncrieffe, Joe Schofield, Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn, Pritesh Mody, Merlin Griffiths, Tess Posthumus, Daniel Schofield, Kenji Jessw, and London Cocktail Week founders Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne.

The plan is to increase the talent pool to 20 by the end of the year, and there will be scope for further growth in future. “We will be heavily focused on managing the talent we have,” said Dove. “We can’t grow our talent pool at too quick a pace.

“The top end of the drinks industry is growing. The size of the pool will grow over the coming years. There is every opportunity for more global talent to come on board over the next five to 10 years. I would never want to put a number on it, because that’s not realistic. We will grow with the industry, and make sure that diversity through every lens is being looked at.”

Dove’s team has identified around 40 different skills, ranging from public seminars and competition judging to liquid development, food & drink pairing and health & wellness. The talent he represents covers all of these areas of expertise, which allows Global Bartending to nominate the right individuals for specific projects. “We are looking for diversity,” said Dove. “Our goal is to make it very clear what our talent specialises in and enjoys doing.”

Global Bartending is divided into three departments: talent management, events, and strategy. It has already hosted events and offered strategic advice to various clients – including liquid development and brand ambassador training – but the plan is now to focus heavily on building up the talent department.

It will initially focus on serving as a liaison between bartending talent and drinks brands, but the plan is then to target luxury consumer brands in other sectors, such as sport and fashion, and work on direct to consumer projects. First it will bring bartenders into consumers’ homes via digital platforms, and then it will host physical events.

“Digital platforms are the first major step to enabling the general consumer at home to recognise these bartenders’ names,” said Dove. “That’s the easiest and most direct route. We will also deliver experiences at people’s homes on behalf of a number of luxury drink brands, using the world’s best bartending talent and executing the event with Global Bartending’s event expertise.”

The top bartenders have not quite reached the level of fame enjoyed by celebrity chefs, but Global Bartending can help its clients boost their profiles. “The drinks trade has evolved so much in the last few years and with proper representation and professionalism there is an opportunity for bartenders to begin to reach the notoriety of top chefs – as they rightly deserve to,” said Hannah & Siobhan. “We think Global Bartending will become the industry go-to and provide a benchmark for those searching for talent across the world.”

Rios, the 2013 World Class Bartender of the Year, said: “The team behind Global Bartending perfectly understand the luxury beverage business. That is very important to be able to manage the steps and scope of works for the benefit of the brands that hire our services. For me it is an honour to be part of the first professional bartending agency.”

Global Bartending adds an agency fee and then offers its talent maximum 30-day payment terms. “That’s a massive positive we give to our bartenders: they are legally secure and they get paid within 30 days every time once they have completed their assignment,” said Dove. “We eliminate that whole waiting time and manage cash flow internally.”

His ultimate ambition is for Global Bartending to “become the most trusted source for delivering the best bartending talent across the world”. Whiley, who owns Scout bars in London and Sydney, said: “Global bartending will play a massive role for trade, consumer and bartender. In the current climate it’s vital to place the right people in the right places and Dan and the team are incredible at this.”

Dove believes the world’s best bartenders are finally starting to earn the recognition they deserve. “Over the last two years, the industry has made a big leap. In the UK specifically, we represent Merlin Griffiths from Channel 4’s First Dates. We have Pritesh Mody and Camille Vidal, who are regulars on Sunday Brunch. We have Lynnette Marrero on our books, who with Ryan [Chetiyawardana] is becoming a household name through masterclasses.”

It is a difficult time to launch a global bartending talent agency, as the on-trade has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as has the events industry. Yet Dove believes Global Bartending can communicate a positive message about the versatility of bartenders, who can use their talent in other ways during times of crisis.

“We are able to offer a very positive message to the drinks industry,” he said. “We are able to package up and market many different avenues for bartenders outside of working just in a bar. We have many bars closing sadly, and bartenders losing their jobs, so we are showing that there are other ways to use their skill sets, that they have built for years, in other directions in the drinks industry, and we are here to help them do that.”

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