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CLASS editor Hamish Smith introduces the Spring 2024 magazine

Here at CLASS mission control, winter is an unseasonably busy period. You see, it’s during the magazine’s mid-winter hibernation that The CLASS Bar Awards reawaken – with both the nationwide Industry Vote and our Submission Entries judging straddling 2023 and 2024. Now we have the small matter of the ceremony to plan.

Winter for us also means The Bartenders’ Brand Awards, our annual spirits competition by bartenders for bartenders. Thanks so much to all those who took part in the judging sessions – you’ll find the results highlights in the centre pages of this magazine.

Sandwiching them is your usual quarterly measure of analysis and features, which this issue is led by the news that Noel and Max Venning are opening a sequel to Three Sheets – which is days away as you read this – in London’s Soho.

We headed to the West End to photograph the brothers and ask how they – and Three Sheets – might adapt to their new surroundings.

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Our columnists are on tip top form too. Edmund Weil’s advice on harnessing customer data is required reading for any bar operator, while Kevin Armstrong throws light on the practice of ‘nerfing’ and why you need to keep an eye on the products you sell. Anna Sebastian, meanwhile, is on a mission to make brand trips safer and more productive, while Ellen Manning tries to unpick why hospitality continues to suffer from a shortage of homegrown talent.

You might need a drink after all that. Our resident cocktail-minded gardeners Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown are at hand with their homemade rhubarb gin, Tyler Zielinksi is heavy into carb-laden cocktails, and Professor Charles Spence asks why customers are trusted to season their food but not their drinks. Then there’s Dariush Afshar Haghighi of The Watermark and Cool Cats Ice, who comes with his complete guide to the cold stuff.

And, of course, we have lots of new takes on liquids, with features on Scotch and Irish whiskey, aquavit and naturally low-abv wine. As ever there’s much, much more.

Until next time – or, even sooner, see you for the CLASS Bar Awards in April.