For the first time ever, the International Bartenders Association (IBA) held its European Presidents Meeting in Yerevan.
GastroVino has talked to the members of the association during their visit to Yerevan Brandy Company.
The European presidents of International Bartenders Association (IBA) convene annual meetings to sum up the year, and three years ago, the Armenian Bartenders’ Association suggested Yerevan as the host for the 2019 session.
“The guests are key decision makers from the association. After the meeting, our goal is to convince the association to reconsider Armenia as the host for World Cocktail Competition 2022,” said head of the Armenian association Tigran Avetisyan.
IBA Vice President for Europe Giorgio Fadda has confirmed to GastroVino that it is a possibility.
“Certainly, our association is mostly divided between Asia and Europe, where our biggest part of bartenders are, so Armenia is exactly in the middle. It could be a very good opportunity, why not? We already know where to go next year, Armenian can be considered for future events,” he said.
According to Tigran Avetisyan, there were plenty of reservations about Armenia, as the presidents were used to more convenient direct flights and most of them knew nothing about Armenia, so they had no idea where they were going. The Armenian hospitality dispersed those reservations quite quickly.
“This was the most expensive flight I had to purchase, but it was worth every euro,” said IBA President for Ireland Declan Byrne. “We had a fantastic experience and opportunity to learn about Armenia, the “pink city” – Yerevan, which I knew nothing about before.”
Armenian brandy and history as key ingredients for a cocktail
Declan Byrne was unfamiliar with Armenian spirits as well, so he tasted local wines before visiting Yerevan Brandy Company to try several varieties of ARARAT.
“7 or 3-year-old brandies are very mixable. Any drink that you would use bourbon or whisky for, you can just substitute for brandy. It would be luxurious to use older cognac in a cocktail.
The bartenders making a cocktail want to sell to customers, and it is the story that was often sells. The visual appearance of the cocktail does too, of course, but also when you have an interaction with a customer, it is the story that sells the product,” explained Byrne.
Giorgio Fadda has a different opinion about using ARARAT in cocktails.
“I prefer it pure because such a good cognac probably it is not the right ingredient to mix with lemon juice or sugar, although if we are talking about very young cognacs, they can be easily used.
We consider good cognacs, good brandies like whisky a kind of noble spirit which is preferred to be drunk the way it is instead of blending or mixing, but if we mix it, we do it with only one ingredient,” said Fadda.
Contrary to other members of the association, Giorgio Fadda is familiar with Armenia. He tried Armenian cognac before: it was given to him by a student coming from Armenia.
“I have many Armenian friends, and every song by Charles Aznavour is a particular memory of my life. You can always recognize the Armenian person by their eyes: there is a particular light in them,” added Giorgio Fadda.
Armenia on the world spirits map
Declam Byrne believes events of this kind can promote Armenian spirits globally. “You take the experience of these people back home and tell about it, share it on the social media,” he said.
“At the general meeting in China, in November, we will also review the meeting we had in Armenia. We are going to tell them about the pink city, how beautiful people are, very unique-looking, with dark hair, eyes and skin. We are going to tell them Armenians are very hospitable people, like the Irish, everybody is happy and welcoming.
If you want to raise the profile of Armenia, people here should consider joining IBA, because we are looking for support from the drinks companies around the world. We have 62 member countries, so what is a cheaper and better way to get your message about Armenia to the world except by being a part of the IBA? Besides, you already have a great Armenian Bartender’s Association, which represents the country very well at the world cocktail championships,” added Byrne.
Head of the Armenian association Tigran Avetisyan pointed out that IBA mainly works in Europe with popular brands. Contestants are only allowed to use products by IBA sponsors during the World Cocktail Competition, and Avetisyan believes it might be the reason why many people are unaware of Armenia beverages.