This October 9th and 10th will see the annual Irish Pubs Global Awards taking place, culminating in a gala awards ceremony on the 10th at The Mansion House in the centre of Dublin city. Since its inception following a conversation at the Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle in 2010, Irish Pubs Global has been hard at work connecting the estimated 24,000 Irish pubs across the globe and providing a meeting point for the country's infamous, and significant, diaspora.
It's well known that following the recession of 2008, Ireland was hit hugely with unemployment, especially for those under the age of 30. Many chose to emigrate, taking their skills, culture and talents to every part of the globe - from Canada to New Zealand, Australia to Dubai, there's scarcely a country in the world that lacks a vibrant Irish community.
Irish Pubs Global sees this diaspora as Ireland's only true global export, and therefore has singled out the Irish pub as a vital link between countries and cultures. Many potential visitors to Ireland have their first Irish experience, as authentic as it may or may not be, in a local Irish pub, and eagerly seek out the real deal as soon as they land in Ireland.
For pub owners, it can be a huge challenge to deliver what patrons expect of an Irish pub. Delivering authenticity, connecting that to the homeland, while also catering to local tastes is a tricky balancing act. Food is massively important as is of course a great pint.
It’s with all this in mind then that the Irish Pubs Global Awards seek to recognise, and champion, operators who are excelling at their trade on a variety of levels, in markets across the world. The numerous categories bare out this objective - broadly broken down into Ireland, UK, Europe, North America, and Rest of World (with separate categories for Supplier Awards). The awards highlight those at the top of their game in areas such as Best Chef, Best Gastro Pub, Best Irish Whiskey Experience, Best Sports Experience and More.
At the gala awards ceremony, the fruits of seven months of hard work will be put on display. The black tie occasion will see over 400 owners, managers, suppliers and investors in the global Irish hospitality industry enjoy a four course dinner, while the awards are handed out - the end result of a judging process which included over 16,000 public nominations, an international judging panel and a shortlist of dozens of the best Irish pubs on the planet.
This year’s keynote speech will be delivered by Kilkenny hurling legend Brian Cody. There will be live entertainment from Irish band The Gossip, and the celebrations will continue on into the wee hours with an aftershow party in a top Dublin nightclub.
While the night of the 10th is reserved for dinner, drinks and celebrations, there are plenty more activities planned during the run-up. Starting at 10.30am on the 9th, there will be a registration morning in the Davenport Hotel with a welcome address and discussion on 2018 strategies, followed by a
lunch in the four star hotel. A tour of the Irish Whiskey Museum follows at 2.30pm, followed by a mixology masterclass in Zozimus which will be hosted by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits. The evening sees a tasting event and dinner with matched beers in the Porterhouse Central, rounded off by a unique walking pub crawl organised by the Hibernian Pub Company.
Day two, the 10th, is no less jam packed - kicking off with a tour of the Guinness Storehouse in the morning and a visit to the Guinness Open Gate Brewery shortly afterwards. Lunch, along with a drink or two, is being handled by BG Architectural Salvage Ltd, a reclamation and salvage specialist that has built a bar on-site just for the event. Many of the essential, charming and even quirky pieces that make their way into Irish pubs can be attributed to BG Salvage, such as reclaimed doors, flooring, back bars, light fixtures and the myriad of glasses, fittings and fixtures that come together to make an Irish pub such a unique prospect. Their warehouse is a practical Aladdin’s cave of delights and a perfect location to soak up ideas and discussion for the sector. Later on, a tour of the recently opened Pearse Lyons distillery preempts that evening’s gala awards.
It can be difficult to say what the expected makeup of an Irish pub will be in ten, twenty or even thirty years from now. Trends change and what was once popular has fallen by the wayside. This will of course continue, and owners must be aware of this at all times. Operators, whether they be independents or part of a chain, must be constantly evolving and creating new experiences for patrons. The Irish Pubs Global Awards is a chance to convene, discuss, reflect and better understand how to continue to push forward without losing that signature hospitality that has put Irish people the world over to the forefront of their local communities.