Twenty-eight thousand bar pros. Four nights. Three days. One Show. The Show.
In mid-March, more than 28,000 people traveled to Las Vegas to check out the one place where sipping on spirits, playing the newest video games and hitting up the hottest clubs and bars is considered research: the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show. The Show was a mixture of education, networking and, let’s be honest, partying, which made for a successful and memorable event unlike any other, and one that would make attendees of each of the Show’s 25 years proud.
During the day, the conference program and trade show floor kept attendees busy, with educational session highlights including:
—Crystal Head Vodka’s Dan Aykroyd giving the keynote address and discussing everything from otherworldly spirits to plans to expand his beverage alcohol portfolio.
—The 2010 Top 100 Panel, with Larry Murphy of Vegas’ Blush Boutique Nightclub, James Brennan of San Diego’s Stingaree and Sam Sameni of Dallas’ Wish Ultra Lounge dishing on the challenges of 2009 and their visions for 2010.
—Nightclub & Bar’s Donna Hood Crecca and BarMedia’s Robert Plotkin presenting “50 Moneymaking Ideas in 50 Minutes” to a standing-room-only crowd. (Missed the session? Check NCB First Round and nightclub.com for the tips.)
—Nightclub & Bar President Jon Taffer, Cuba Libre President Barry Gutin and Overtime Management Group President Shane Young on the “Champion’s Panel: Maximizing Beverage Sales.” One suggestion for increasing sales? Be inclusive, not exclusive. Bottle service is a big seller, and the best real estate is the bottle service tables. But not everyone can afford it, so don’t make those people who aren’t sitting in VIP areas feel left out.
—The United States Bartenders’ Guild’s “Mastering the Fine Art of Bartending with Style,” focusing on proper techniques, appealing garnishes, the right bar tools and bartender etiquette. (Turn to p. 10 for a primer on bar tools.)
—Spirits writer F. Paul Pacult, Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, Aria Resort’s Heidi Hinkle and King Cocktail Dale DeGroff on “Boosting Business with Better Bar Skills,” providing practical ways to increase profit margins. Their number one rule: Educate your staff.
—George Reisch, brewmaster for Anheuser-Busch, explaining how to create a “Powerful Food and Beer Pairing Program.” Some delicious pairing suggestions: Beck’s Pilsner with steak topped with alpine gruyere, Michelob Amber Bock and crème brulee or Michelob Ultra and raspberry symphony cheesecake.
Energy on the Show floor was high, and educational displays — like mixology lessons at the ABSOLUT and Beam Global booths and a tutorial on draft beer execution at the Center for Draught Excellence from Anheuser-Busch, NUCO2, Micro Matic and TapDynamics — added a new, improved twist. Monstrous booths, interactive and educational displays, giveaways like Vacation Adventures International’s trip drawing at the Nightclub & Bar booth and celebrity sightings, ranging from pop star/901 Tequila founder and CEO Justin Timberlake and Crystal Head’s Aykroyd to rapper Lil Jon and TV personality Madison Hildebrand, kept everyone’s attention. The floor was also packed with industry heavyweights, as 25 mixologists took part in the Shake It Up! Cocktail Competition (see results here) and a select few walked the red carpet as winners of the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Awards.
But once the Show floor closed and the sun set, the fun was just getting started, as evening events this year were hotter than ever. The festivities began Sunday night at brand-new Vanity Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel, where hundreds of NCB attendees partied with industry locals. The next night, thousands of attendees came dressed in their best for the Cocktail & Dreams 25th Anniversary Party at Light Group’s HAZE Nightclub at CityCenter. Seattle spinster DJ Scene and hip-hop artist Jay Electronica provided the soundtrack for the evening. Thanks to Tito’s Handmade Vodka, 901 Tequila and Anheuser-Busch for keeping the bar flowing (and to 901’s Timberlake for his 25th anniversary video toast). Tuesday night, XS Nightclub once again hosted the now legendary Top 100 party, with a special, impromptu performance by multi-platinum rapper Too Short from inside Victor Drai’s owner’s table. A special thanks to the entire crew at XS Nightclub, and to ABSOLUT Vodka, which hosted the sponsored bar and served some delectable cocktails. Last but certainly not least, TAO hosted the 10th DJ Spin-Off with a blowout closing party packed with entertainment from Canadian newcomers Keys N’ Krates, old-school master DJ Kid Capri and Vegas’ own Crystal Method. A big thank you to the team at TAO, who helped make the event such a huge success as well as sponsors 901 Silver Tequila, EFFEN Vodka and MillerCoors.
The success of the 25th anniversary of the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show proved this is an energy-packed industry, where everyone works hard but plays hard too. And because we’re always striving to work (and play) harder, plans are already in the works to make 2011 even bigger and better. See you then! NCB