Hang on to those healthy habits of lockdown, says La Maison Wellness’ Camille Vidal. It’s time for Bartender 2.0 to emerge
As we emerge from this global pandemic, albeit with the threat of another wave, and venues reopen, trying to find balance in the new normal made of masks, temperature checks and gallons of hand sanitiser can feel like a job in itself. When Covid-19 has so undeniably affected the lives of millions around the globe, and posed greater challenges than we could ever have imagined, it’s important to look at the lessons learned and maybe even find the sliver linings along the way. Many of us have come out of lockdown stronger, with healthier habits. It’s important we hang on to some of this new lifestyle as we step behind the bar again.
While shaking cocktails or waiting tables on a busy night might feel like a workout, we need more than that to get the happy hormones kicking in. It’s important not to let life take over and forget how active we were in lockdown. Nicole Sykes, general manager of Satan’s Whiskers, discovered her love for cycling, setting a goal of cycling 200km and running 25km a week. “It clears my mind and is a great way to explore and see nature,” she says. Now back at work, Sykes is keeping up with her cycling, aiming for around 100km a week. Meanwhile, Amber Blood, founder of the community platform Bartenders of London and bartender at Artesian, discovered yoga in lockdown, showing herself how to be more present in the moment. “Getting on the mat clears my mind and makes my soul shine, reinforcing the idea that happiness comes from within,” she says.
Another thing many of us rediscovered during lockdown is sleep, building better sleeping habits and experiencing the positive impact that a good sleep pattern has on the body and the mind. Giulia Cuccurullo - also from the Artesian – explains how taking control of her sleep helped her learn about herself and stay positive. “I’ve never been a morning person, but building a good morning routine helped me feel much more productive”. Sykes had the same positive experience and says: “I realised the importance of sleep and how it truly changes little things like my skin, when I want to eat and obviously how much energy I have.” Though the timings may change when you’re back on shift, a regular sleeping pattern doesn’t have to.
“You are what you eat” is something we have grown to understand on a deeper level. With more time to experiment, many of us discovered a passion for cooking (not so different from making drinks is it?) and how much what we put on our plate can affect how we feel. Many of us seized the opportunity to clean up our diet, to learn more and see the positive results on our wellbeing gained from eating better. I myself enrolled on a year-long programme on healing nutrition, learning about the power of food as medicine and sourcing ingredients with a weekly trip to the farmers market (which supports ethical, local businesses). Luke Condell, bartender and chef in London, created a platform called Cook Hook to help and support the industry by sharing quarantine- friendly recipes that are cheap, easy and delicious, and making himself available to answer questions and walk through recipes step-by-step for those who find cooking a challenge. An inspiring project.
Drink better (and probably less)
Too often in our industry alcohol is the answer to everything: from celebration to a coping mechanism when sh*t hits the fan and everything in between. Maybe the first few weeks in lockdown with the stress and anxiety created by the uncertainty of the world (as well as a wellstocked home bar) you found yourself drinking more and at all times of the day. Isolation was an opportunity to reassess and restructure our relationship with alcohol to ultimately live better. Claire Best, brand development ambassador at Pernod Ricard, shares her lockdown journey. At first, like many people, she found herself drinking too much, then evolved her intake to no booze on weekdays and binge-drinking on the weekend – that didn't work for her either. Finally, by introducing non-alcoholic and low-abv drinks, Best found her balance, which has become part of her lifestyle today, back at work, as she starts to revisit accounts. This new lifestyle makes her role at Pernod Ricard more enjoyable and sustainable in the long run. Similarly, Desmond Yatigammana (known as Desi – designated party starter) also recognised the need for a new balance, going sober for 114 days as well as exercising with 30 push-ups a day for 100 days to raise awareness for PTSD and money for the Drinks Trust. He is coming out of lockdown stronger and feeling better than ever. What’s important here is learning what balance works for you – not for your colleagues or your friends, but what allows YOU to feel good when you wake up.
Creativity and new skills
Perhaps as a was a way to avoid boredom or maybe because we finally had the time, many of us learned new skills and expanded out creativity, coming back to the world with extra strings to our bows. Giulia from the Artesian started learning photography, as I did myself, while Kaitlyn Wilkes Back from the Blue Bar became an amateur baker. Carl Anthony Brown, founder of Bar Tincture, took cocktails on the road by cycling miles a week to hand-deliver them, while London Edition French bartender team Yoan Tarditi and Arnaud Volte took lockdown as an opportunity to create Cocktail des Camarades in support of ‘modern heroes’ working in hospitals.
All this is just to name a few of the many amazing projects launched in these trying times. Now it’s time to welcome Bartender 2.0. A new way of being a bartender with more knowledge, more skills and definitely more balance for a happier community and a more sustainable career in the hospitality industry.