Editor Hamish Smith introduces this latest edition of CLASS, which is now available to download for digital subscribers, and offers some analysis of the backdrop to which the magazine launches.
The history books will say July 19 was the day hospitality in England was freed from the pandemic and the policies employed in its opposition. But now, as we prepare to live the future’s history, the moment doesn’t feel quite so triumphant. The pandemic isn’t over – far from it.
As Covid cases flare, venue closures and staff absence and welfare are an ongoing and concerning complication. Yet, we can say that this is the first time in 16 months that bars have been able to trade at full capacity. So, if this month marks hospitality’s liberation day in England, and within weeks across the UK, it has to be worth celebrating.
For many bars across the country the recovery is well underway, with trade booming this spring and summer and confidence and liquidity returning to the market. While demand has been strong, new gusts drag on progress. There has been a breakdown – or, put charitably, a slowdown – of the supply of stock, and now, thanks to a perfect marriage of fiascos – Brexit and the pandemic – we face a recruitment crisis. More on this on page 6.
We cannot forget that against our survivalist mindset, social movements have unearthed deep-rooted gender and racial inequity in our industry. Much needs to be done, but within this problem also lies a solution. As we rebuild and replenish the industry’s workforce, we cannot aff ord to think so narrowly – we must widen our lens. That is the goal of Equal Measures, which aims to provide drinks education and opportunities to underprivileged members of BAME communities. On page 12, we hear from founder Deano Moncrieff e and partner at Hacha Bar Emma Murphy on their new venue in Brixton Market, which will provide a working platform for Equal Measures.
For now, with bartenders in short supply, a workers’ revolution appears to be brewing. Wage rises are undoubtedly a long-term cause to support, even if, with bars stricken, this movement has come at the most challenging of times. Edmund Weil balances the employer-employee causes (p16), while Jake O’Brien Murphy argues for worker rights ahead of pandemic profi tability (p20).
Away from planet pandemic, our columns and features have one eye on the post-Covid landscape. Monica Berg (p30) writes about her vision for a local-international hybrid approach to supply, Clinton Cawood has done some digging into (actual) sustainable gins (p42), Laura Foster casts her net narrowly to local vodkas (p46) and Professor Charles Spence discusses whether insects might be the next frontier of cocktail flavour (p36).
News on American single malt brings Dave Broom back into the fold (p44), Ian Burrell makes the case for the maturing of spiced rum (p48), while François Monti has questions about amaro’s role, Mediterranean or not, in mindful drinking (p50). We have Joe Wadsack on the dubious necessity of natural wine (p52) and Pete Brown off ers his analysis of what seems to be beer’s #MeToo moment (p56).
All that, and plenty more liquid prose.