A quick recap: on January 25th, Collectif 1806 and Bruichladdich hosted a virtual Burns Night event, toasting to the life of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, lyricist and pioneer of the Romantic movement. Admired for his love of verse and love songs, his most famous works include A Red, Red Rose and Auld Lang Syne which live on. After his death, he became something of a cultural icon and is celebrated yearly on his birthday with family-style suppers, song, drink, haggis and spoken word.
We toasted Burns with the Bobby Burns cocktail, made with Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch, sweet vermouth and Benedictine served up in a coupe and garnished with an lemon peel.
We asked the participants about their experience with the Bruichladdich Burns Night virtual event and got to find out a bit more about their inspiration and excitement about being able to connect with community—something we are all very much missing these days.
For a recap on the event, please visit this link and check out the Bruichladdich Burns Night commemorative ‘zine for the full works by participants.
Sarah Long, Los Angeles
My poem was inspired by heartache and the somewhat ironic tendency for old loves to pop up out of nowhere just as you’ve moved on. Not the most cheerful topic, but relatable, at least? I was so honored to be included in the poetry slam! Those of us in the hospitality world have really missed the daily ritual of connecting with friends over drinks and stories, so it was a lovely opportunity to spend some time with new friends and a couple old work buddies, too!
Julia Gordon, Chicago
I don’t think it’s a stretch for any of us to see the similarities between a cult and the hospitality industry—we so deeply immerse ourselves in our work, our schedules limit us to interacting almost exclusively with those of the same profession, we have inside jokes and knowledge, we have access to different levels of experience when we ourselves are guests of bars and restaurants, and it is often challenging for folks outside of our industry to understand why we dedicate ourselves to food and beverage. This piece was originally written as a delectable display of why we do what we do, but with the onset of the pandemic, our community was dealt irreparable blows (that just keep comin’) and the piece instead became a reminder of the world we once walked (and hope that we will walk it again).
I didn’t expect to be as nervous as I was when presenting my piece! I think that having personal attachment to writing means that any format of presentation, whether in-person or on the good ol’ world wide web, can possess a great deal of vulnerability and intimacy, the latter of which I think we’ve all been craving for nearly a year.
I write almost every day and often get carried away. Example: my beloved Lost Lake said goodbye to their mascot (Monster the piranha). I was asked to write a haiku eulogizing her and instead wrote an enormous rhyming ode. To a dead fish.
Sabrina Minks, Los Angeles
Being an emotive and empathetic person I would say that energy and emotions play a huge role in my work and inspiration. I tend to write based on feelings and work off of memorable recollections, or energy I pick up on from the world around me. My process with writing usually feels very visceral and in the moment.
Presenting alongside other writers specifically in the F&B industry was a unique experience compared to other virtual poetry readings I have participated in. Having the connective perspective of folks affected by the industries downfall in light of Covid-19 and the varied expression that comes with that felt touching. Despite being located all over the country, and not knowing other participants there was a distinctive connection between us in having this shared passion and experience at this time in history.
Some days are very hard to muster energy to step forward or to imagine was a few months from now might even look like. Having a creative escape and pushing yourself to express through it (however frequently or infrequently) seems to be a therapeutic and important release for many. That and remembering to take deep breathes are a few pieces of advice I like to remind myself and those I care about through this time.
Pamela Vachon, NYC
When I wrote “Magic and Mayhem” back in 2019, visiting a new country each month, I couldn’t imagine a future where meaningful international travel would be all but impossible, even if for a temporary period. It was thrilling to get to relive a moment from 2019, in Glasgow, with an assembly of like-minded spirits enthusiasts. I was taken right back to the bench at The Pot Still, not even 2 years ago, but it seems like a lifetime. It’s a good reminder to seize what opportunities we have. Meanwhile, I’ll go and seize a wee dram, now that you mention it
Emma Roberts, Agoura Hills, CA
I was inspired to write this poem after the October 2017 Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort shooting in Las Vegas. It was at a concert and the guy was shooting from a window on the 32nd (I believe?) floor… can’t imagine what the guests and staff went through during this painful time.
I was very nervous beforehand because I have rarely shared my poetry with anyone. The response was strong and I felt safe and empowered. It was great and inspiring to hear the amazing artists preform by me!
I’ve been keeping myself busy (well, busier, I should say- I am the general manager of Porta Via Restaurant in Calabasas) during quarantine by teaching myself how to make cocktails! I started a fun YouTube Channel called 100 Proof Emma and would love more subscribers :)
Jena Ellenwood, NYC
Immediately after we were shut down here in NY, I picked up an old notebook and started to write. Every morning with my coffee I would make myself write something—sometimes it was a fluid poem, sometimes it was a rambling journal entry, a lot of them are a little blurry because for the first few months I cried with my coffee and those tears landed on the page. The Day Before My Birthday (3/27/20) is one of those entries—it’s part of a larger piece where I also write about the “hungry pages of my passport” and try to wrap my head around spending my 35th birthday physically alone in my apartment, in my city that was suddenly devoid of all of its normal sounds and the sounds that were there instead. I had planned on traveling for my birthday, I wanted to be in a new place, sitting at a bar I’d never been to before, experiencing a different culture. The poem touches on all of those feelings and also the tiny victory of mastering snapping and folding a newspaper without making a mess, something I had really never been able to do before.
‘Burns Night’ was my first public poetry reading in probably about four years (the last one was in a bar) and it was so special to be with a bar community for this. I’m a performer by nature, so being able to whip out the beret I’ve had since high school and incorporate the sounds from my bongos was also a lot of fun. I really liked seeing people react to my words in the chat, having people post phrases that resonated with them was awesome.
I love being able to showcase cocktail skills and spirit knowledge, but it is so special to be part of events like this that celebrate other aspects of our industry and the talented people that work in it. There is a lot of emotional and creative energy in everyone who chooses to work in hospitality and bringing that energy to the forefront is truly fantastic.
Briana Volk, Portland
I was inspired by the past year and watching some of my favorite bars and restaurants close around the country and especially in my community. I wanted to share that beyond places we love closing we have also lost the experience of sitting inside our favorite places to celebrate, grieve or just shed the day.
I have never read pieces aloud to the public before. I generally keep such personal writing private, but everyone was incredibly supportive and made me feel really comfortable. Every other writer was so inspiring to hear too.
I have a newsletter with more writing and recipes! I would love it if people subscribed.
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