AcademicsThe Drinks Cabinet: Bringing Cultures Closer

When I first joined the Hotel Institute Montreux more than four years ago the Academic Director suggested that we should offer a wine appreciation club. As a lecturer in Bar and Beverage Management I was the obvious choice to start this initiative. However, there are lots of hospitality schools and many of them offer something similar.

Having travelled considerably around the world I know that the best way to understand the people of different cultures is through their food and drink. As such, I wanted to create something more than just a series of lectures and wine tastings.

I wanted something that would help our students connect with one another and understand where they come from. As an institute we already offer Masterclasses which can sometimes be formal affairs with the main focus being learning about a specific product or developing particular skills. These are led by external industry experts and are of great value to our students.

 

Drink's Cabinet, HIM, hospitality and Management

 

I wanted to do something different. I wanted to start a society where the content was largely facilitated by our students (the logo is actually designed by one of the students). An informal group with the focus being on students with a passion for beverages and a curiosity about different cultures. As an international hospitality institute we can sometimes have students from more than 60 countries. From this the “Drinks Cabinet” was born.

It started off slowly. In our first term only 10 students joined and the content was largely created by myself. In the second term the numbers increased and the students started to bring beverages from their home countries, allowing for discussions about the drinking cultures and beverages they came from.

 

Drink's Cabinet, HIM, hospitality and Management

 

Four years later and the Drinks Cabinet now has a major problem. If students don’t sign up within the first few days of term then all of the places are filled. I regularly have to tell more than twenty students a term that we simply don’t have space for them. Likewise, I have had to get a second storage cabinet as they are now bursting with bottles of exotic spirits and liqueurs from around the world; Pisco from Peru, aged Gin from Finland, Japanese whisky, cachaça from Brazil and far too much rum not to mention the bottles which we have no idea what they are because we don’t understand the language.

The students give amazing presentations, share stories and teach each other the toasts that are given when certain drinks are consumed.

More importantly membership is open to all students, so we have term1 students just starting their undergraduate degree interacting with students about to complete their Masters degree and creating a student body that has become closer, more inclusive and more open minded to different cultures.

As a leading hospitality institute, I feel this is just as important as the degrees they are here to obtain.


Peter Slade, Hotel Institute Montreux

Peter Slade is the Bar and Beverage Management Lecturer at Hotel Institute Montreux.

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