Beverage professionals discuss the industry at Kempinski's 1897 Bar. Beverage professionals discuss the industry at Kempinski's 1897 Bar.

“I’m from the west coast of the US, which is always ahead in terms of technology or anything computer-driven,” Casey continued.

“If you start to implement this you will be well ahead of everyone else. I even had a social media intern — that’s how big it is.”

Russelito Sanchez, vice president of the Mastah Flairtending Club — Dubai Chapter, noted that the growth of online social media had been of major benefit to the growing organisation.

“We’re in the process of developing our social media programme, because from one online post every member will get the required information simultaneous,” he commented.

“But some of the guys are very busy at the moment, so finding time is the biggest problem.”

Dominik Schachtsiek, head bar chef and beverage manager at the Grand Hyatt Dubai, also presented Casey with a common problem found at many hotel properties.

“For us, the issue is that social media crosses the line into sales and marketing,” he pointed out.

“I think it is a big challenge for both the beverage and the marketing sides to get along in regards to this.”

Casey responded by pointing out that marketing departments often wrongly believe social media to be part of their remit.

“When companies do social media they often hire an agency to do it,” she said. “It then becomes fake and they will have about five followers — it must be done by bar people as that’s what it’s all about.”

Juicy business

The burgeoning beverage market in the UAE today is markedly different from the US market, according to Casey.

“The juicy freshness thing here is really great — you don’t see really fresh juices like you do in this region in the US,” she observed. “As a result it was even more fun creating cocktails at the Fairmont, because we had so many wonderful and different products to work with.

“In future, I hope to expand to my business in the Midde East,” she added. “We want to work here to develop drinks and train staff with real passion for the industry.”

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About Kathy Casey

Kathy Casey is a celebrity chef, mixologist and media personality based in the north-west US city of Seattle. She founded Kathy Casey Food Studios and Liquid Kitchen, a food and beverage consultancy firm with an R&D department, and was recently involved in training the service team at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi’s F&B outlets.

What the participants said:

Monin MEI sales and marketing director Jeremy Coulbeck
“For me she is bringing over the trends. American tends to drive trends forward in terms of recipes and flavours.

“This region can lag behind America; especially if you look at the market for smoothies and shakes, which has not been as quick to catch on here as it has in the US.”

MMI bar development and training manager Rebecca Sturt
“I think anyone who can come over will help move us forward.

“Events like this always give the industry a boost and outside influences are always good.

“They come in and are often surprised to see how Dubai works.”

Fresh Express beverage sales manager Ghaith Zeidan
“Having professional visitors from different markets helps brings in different trends.

“There were Mexican influences in the drinks she made for us and she brings with her excellent knowledge for the region’s bar industry.

“It is always good to get people from other markets coming over to share their ideas.”

Kathy Casey
“It was really fun and great to hear what other people have to say. I think it’s great to have something like this where people can share and I’d love to see more of this type of thing in the US.”