Bulletin Place’s Evan Stroeve: What Sydney can learn from Berlin

Evan Stroeve, Bulletin Place.

Jägermeister’s Hubertus Circle members ventured over to the world’s wildest party city for BCB. Upon their return, we sat down the guys to see what it’s all about. In the second instalment; Evan Stroeve – Bulletin Place – discusses trends we should keep an eye out for, and what Sydney could learn from Berlin’s nightlife scene.

So, how was BCB, what did you take from it?
BCB was wicked. So, essentially it’s the biggest bartending convention in Europe— it’s over 3 days with 14,000 bartenders through the gates. There’s nothing on that scale in the northern hemisphere, which is super cool. There’re more brand and product stalls than you can poke a stick at, and the industry’s kind of brightest and finest doing talks and chats and seminars. Also, the creativity of some of the bartenders in Europe is pretty impressive, and you got to see that on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to present a seminar on Bulletin Place, too, so yeah, something there for everyone.

Did you see any trends at BCB that you think we should keep an eye out for?
I think the biggest thing I saw was the rise of these kind of artisan, small-scale craft distillers and producers entering a market that’s always been dominated by the big dogs. Just seeing the investment into everyone’s stalls and everyone’s products and signature serves. That’s a global trend—I think that’s happening in Aus as much as it is in Europe. You’ve got lots of people entering an industry off the back of maybe experience as a bartender or a bar owner moving into craft distilling. In terms of trends specific to Jägermeister and amaros, there’s a big shift towards that flavour profile of sort of bitter, sweet, botanical. There’s a shift away from your typical kind of cosmopolitan, margarita, and daiquiri.

What about Berlin’s nightlife scene and its ‘anything goes’ reputation—did it ring true for you?
Berlin’s the epitome of a 24-hour city. At the same time as having world-class cocktail bars, you’ve got nightclubs that are open for 72+ hours. You’ve got little corner pubs that stay open for 24-hours… it just doesn’t sleep. So for us, we got the best of both worlds because we got to go to the world-class cocktail bars and then we spent nights where we didn’t sleep.

Is there anything you think Australia could learn from the nightlife scene over there, and vice versa?
Staying open and trusting the citizens is where Australia, and Sydney in particular, could start. For all of its craziness and how mental the nightlife is in Berlin, not once did we see an issue with violence or drug-fuelled anything. It felt peaceful at the same time as feeling mental, if you know what I mean. I think investing in that kind of nightlife culture is where Australia needs to start. What I got out of it is that you’ve got a city that’s entirely unrepressed but has gone through a history of significant oppression. Maybe it’s a reverberation from their past and their history, so whether you’d be able to replicate Berlin anywhere else in the world, I don’t think so. But we can go a long way towards that kind of mentality.

How was it experiencing Jägermeister over in the country that it all started? Much different to here in Australia?
Yeah, it’s a lot different, and I think that’s why Hubertus Circle is such a big thing here at the moment because unfortunately, Jägermeister has suffered a stigma for a very long time as the party drink/ Jägerbomb kind of thing. There’s a legitimacy over there for Jäger that I think is just beginning to become a bigger deal over here as well. That’s what Hubertus Circle is about: investing in bartenders to legitimise a product that deserves it, but that would otherwise still suffer from that stigma.

How was catching up with all the other members of Hubertus Circle?
Yeah, it was cool. Over here, we’ve only five people and we’ve all known each other for a very, very long time so going overseas and meeting people who have a similar mentality and a similar approach who really value the brand is cool. Whenever you’ve got the opportunity to spend time with like-minded people, it’s never a bad thing. And there’s nothing competitive about it. We were probably the most competitive, actually! We had to do a pop-up that we thought was a competition but it was like, a collaboration. So we’re sitting there over a dinner and we’re like, ‘We’re gonna smash Russia!’ and then the Russians come up to us and say, ‘It’s such a honour to be working with you!’ and we’re like, ‘Dammit!’