Drinks Fest finishes up but Bar Week lives on!


After thinking long and hard, I have made the decision to bring to a close the Drinks Fest exhibition side of this year’s Sydney Bar Week. Sydney Bar Week will continue with our amazing trade parties and the influential Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards. Unfortunately, we have just reached a point where the exhibition is no longer profitable enough to stage.

The exhibition ran for 12 years and was responsible for bringing out such drinks legends as Dale De Groff, Gary Regan, Dave Wondrich, Angus Winchester, Julio Bermejo, Tony Conigliaro and Sasha Petraske to name just a few. It’s also helped educate thousands of passionate professionals from around the country year on year. But times change and we need to adapt with them, so we will say a fond farewell to what has been a great run of trade industry exhibitions. Thank you to all the suppliers who have continued to support the event over the years and most of all thank you to all the trade who have made the effort to come down and support the exhibition.

On a positive note, it gives the Spanton Media team a chance to refocus their energies on the things that the trade and the suppliers are more excited about – the Bar Week trade parties, the Bartender Magazine Bartender of the Year Competition and the Australian Bartender Magazine Bar Awards. All these events are 110% happening. For three days this September, Sydney will come alive with bar industry professionals ready to have fun. And let’s face it – this way no one will have to get up early!! And with the support of preferred Spanton Media suppliers we plan to make this event bigger and better. So stay tuned for more information and remember to mark your diary for Sydney Bar Week 22nd -24th September.



David Spanton


  1. drinks fest was the whole reason i went to Sydney (twice) for bar week, the trade parties were a fun after thought. such a shame that its all come down to money. hopefully one day soon it can make a triumphant return.

  2. Yeah that is a shame. The seminars and talks (and to a lesser degree the exhibition floor with the ability to taste new products) were the big reason for going to barshow for me. The parties didn’t really do much for me in terms of professional development and learning.

    I went to The Manhattan Cocktail Classic last year and they had a pretty good model – a few key sponsors cycling through a limited number of tasting booths on the floor (it was in a hotel), a few sponsored rooms with longer term tenancies from brands willing to splash out more, a few sponsored competitions and various talks ranging from free to paid. All the talks needed to be pre-booked, so that numbers were already set.

    Maybe the local industry doesn’t have as many people willing to shell out to see seminars, but the model worked in New York.

  3. totally a shame.
    Taking away events like this would be supporting the decline of the alcohol industry in Australia rather than educating its workers in how to support it, and network to places in need of support.
    As an import, living in Newcastle NSW (a town killed by legislation affecting this trade), the annual pilgrimage to the Drinks Fest/industry days was one of the few ways for myself and a small group of enthusiasts representing outside of the main-city clic to feel a part of the national industry. Almost every year it would be guaranteed that every “industry party” event would already be fully booked or we wouldn’t know the right people to even stand a chance of being part of something outside of the exhibition.
    I for one don’t think that expanding the industry into smaller cities should mean hassling our local reps into a guest-list spot for a workshop or event we’d never see in our towns, just for a chance to get out there.
    If this is the way it is set to continue, surely an industry staple in the calendar such as the Bar Show to become is more about who you know rather than furthering what you know.
    Bartenders are not exactly in it for the money anyway are they?

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