Speakers 2016

Speakers will come just not from the world of drinks, but from other specialist fields – including retail, design and luxury – offering a new way of thinking to our business.



Simon Ford

Simon Ford Profile Picture_rund

When it comes to the spirits industry, Simon Ford is one of the most well-known persons of the world. During the last 15 years, Simon has travelled the globe as one of the cocktail industry’s leading voices working with and learning from the best brands, bars, and professionals, e.g. functioned as a juror for several competitions and held seminars at international conferences as Tales of the Cocktail, London Cocktail Week, NY Food & Wine Festival, the Sydney Bar Show. Simon is the co-founder and president of “The 86 Co”. Creating a unique portfolio for bartenders together with Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric.

In 2012, Simon presented their first spirits line: Caña Brava Rum, Fords Gin, Tequila Cabeza and Aylesbury Duck Vodka. He started his career working in the wine industry  and earned a diploma in  Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Afterwards he opened Brighton’s first high-end cocktail bar, Koba, with his friend Jake Kempston. Later, Simon was recruited into spirits marketing, working with some of the world’s largest brands like Plymouth Gin, Absolut Vodka or other myriad of brands, including Jameson,  Chivas, and The Glenlivet. He acted as a Director of Trade Marketing and Brand Education for Pernod Ricard that Simon became known for throwing blowout brand parties, organising cutting-edge education programmes such as the sensory analysis programme he developed with famed chef Grant Achatz.

Furthermore Simon was handpicked by the White House to be part of the Next Generation Leaders Group; a collection of individuals organized to promote positive social change nationally and internationally, and was one of the few spirits professionals to speak at the Smithsonian. Furthermore he has been awarded as a “Best International Brand Ambassador” in 2007 and “Best U.S. Brand Ambassador” in 2009 for his work on Plymouth Gin by Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards, the Oscars of the spirits industry.





Jonathan Downey 


Since leaving his career as an corporate lawyer to open his first bar in 1997, Downey has become a highly influential voice in the food and drink industry. Downey’s portfolio has included cocktail bars, nightclubs, restaurants, an Alpine hotel and private members clubs in London and New York, including the award-winning Milk & Honey and Danger of Death, both part of The Rushmore Group.

In 2015 Debrett’s named Downey one of the 20 most influential Brits in food and drink, as part of their annual ‘500 Most Influential’ list and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Spirited Awards, part of the Tales of the Cocktail drinks festival.

In 2012 Downey brought his drinks expertise to Street Feast, a street food night market founded in east London. Since then, Downey has organised a number of events under the Street Feast brand all over London, taking derelict and disused spaces and filled them with great food, brilliant booze, music and vibes. From Dalston to Canary Wharf, Bermondsey to Lewisham, Downey’s events have included Street Feast, Truck Stop, Model Market, Riverside Feast and Hawker House as well as one-off competitions Rumstock, Taco Wars, Craft Beer Battle, National Burger Day, Chilli Chilli Bang Bang, Pork Life, Ribstock and Ginstock.

In 2014, Downey became partner with chef and writer Stevie Parle in Rotorino, a Southern-Italian inspired restaurant and wine bar on Kingsland Road, Dalston, London.






Jacob Briars

Speaker-rund-4Jacob Briars is one of the leading figures in the global cocktail and spirits community, and the Head of Training and Education for Bacardi, the world’s largest family-owned drinks company. He is recognised as one of the industry’s experts on drinks trends, as well as an award winning speaker and educator, culminating in awards for World’s Best Brand Ambassador and Best Presenter at Tales of the Cocktail Awards.

In 2013 he was judged ‘Mixologist of the Year’ by leading industry bible Wine Enthusiast Magazine. He began his career in the drinks business filling in weekend shifts whilst working as a lawyer in his native country New Zealand. After several years his passion for the bar and restaurant business became all encompassing, and he ran several world acclaimed bars in Wellington, becoming an award winning bartender in the process. At Bacardi Jacob leads one of the largest training programmes in the industry, creating thousands of professional young bartenders, and of course creating fans of some of the world’s most iconic brands including Bacardi, Martini and Grey Goose. Prior to Bacardi, Jacob was one of the first ‘global’ Brand Ambassadors on behalf of upstart Kiwi Vodka brand 42 Below, which used the power of Ambassadors around the world to make up for a traditional media budget it didn’t have.

He then moved to Brazilian Cachaça brand Leblon, where the company’s Ambassadors were promoting a country and a drink as well as a spirit brand. Jacob is a Judge for Drinks International’s ‘Worlds 50 Best Bars’, appears regularly as a keynote speaker at major industry festivals such as Tales of the Cocktail, London Cocktail Week, and Bar Convent Berlin, and contributes to drinks publications including Bar Life, CLASS and Australian Bartender. His cocktails have graced menus in such famed bars as PDT (NYC) Callooh Callay (London) 28 Hong Kong St (Singapore) and the Copacabana Palace (Rio) among many more.





Mark de Witte



Mark de Witte is an energetic business leader, with over 19 years of multi-cultural General Management experience, held with global blue chip companies. Managed 11 different European countries and for 8 years he was member of the European Leadership Team of Bacardi, the 3rd largest global premium spirits company, selling, marketing and distributing around 20 premium and super premium brands like Bacardi, Grey Goose, Bombay Saphire, Dewars, Patron and Martini.

He has successfully reorganised and turned around various companies in various countries and has substantial experience in Business Transformation. His last role at Bacardi was Managing Director of Business Unit DACH & Nordics; one of the global 5 largest and most complex and diverse Business Units of Bacardi, composed of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. Leading a management team of 12 Country-and functional Directors.

Mark is CEO of  De Kuyper Royal Distillers since July 2015; a global operating well respected and since 1695 family owned Premium Liqueurs and Premium Spirits company; selling, marketing and distributing amongst others De Kuyper liqeuers, Mandarine Napoleon, Rutte premium Gin and Genever, Peachtree and Warninks to over 100 countries. De Kuyper liqeuers are the global leading brand of range liqeuers.





Alex Kratena





Alex is the founder of P(OUR) and former Head Bartender of Artesian, London, where he has led the bar and his team to win multiple UK and international awards. In October 2015 Artesian was recognized as Number 1, for the fourth consecutive year, in the World’s 50 Best Bar Awards by Drinks International. Alex has also collected several personal awards including “Best International Bartender” (2012), at Tales of the Cocktail and “Bar Personality of the Year 2013” by Imbibe Magazine. In November 2015, Alex left Artesian to pursue a new joint project with Simone Caporale.

When not tending bar, Alex travels the globe developing new products, cocktails and marketing strategies for some of the most recognized brands in the industry, and also regularly presents seminars at various cocktail conventions and trains bartenders around the world.  Alex writes for drinks, design & lifestyle magazines and has made guest appearances bartending on Virgin Atlantic flights and various international TV channels.







Dan Gasper

Dan Gasper_rund



Co-founder of Distill Ventures, Dan started his career in the corporate drinks world working for Allied Domecq, Beam Global and Jose Cuervo International.

In 2008, he recognized that the start up drinks scene was where his passion really lay, so he started his own business and began to work with start up businesses both inside and outside of drinks, helping founders launch and scale many of Europe’s most successful food and drinks businesses. Hugely passionate about all aspects of the drinks business, Dan spends his days at Distill Ventures supporting many of the invested brands as well as searching the world for the next generation of successful drinks brands, giving him a unique perspective on the global start up scene.











Iván Saldaña Oyarzábal

ivan saldana_rundIván Saldaña Oyarzábal is a Mexican plant biologist, product developer, brand co-owner and entrepreneur.  He is also a well-respected spirits educator.  During the last 15 years of his career, Iván has obtained a rare and unique combination of experience and knowledge that integrates various sides of the spirit business.

While he has a deep understanding on technical and operative aspects he has also been involved in conceptualising, creating and selling new brands into the market. By a combination of research, care for tradition and respect for the agricultural raw materials utilised, Iván and his partners have been working to create “farm-to-bottle” spirit propositions that are able to communicate relevant attributes for todays consumers, such as place of origin, sustainability, original method of productions, and at the same time offering premium liquids with sensorial uniqueness.

In 2011 and 2013, Ivan co-founded Montelobos Mezcal and Ancho Reyes Liquor. Hear Iván’s unique story at Global Drinks Forum 10.10.16 in Berlin.











Dr. Harald Kohlmann

harald kohlmannDr. Harald (Harry) Kohlmann is the founder and CEO of Miami (FL)-based Park Street, the leading provider of productivity-enhancing and cost-saving back-office solutions, advisory services, and working capital solutions for alcoholic beverage brands in the U.S.  At its core, Park Street serves as an importer and national distributor and provides access to the U.S. alcoholic beverage market for thousands of alcoholic beverage brands from the U.S. and around the world.  The company’s clients range from entrepreneurs to multi-brand global suppliers and include craft distillers, centuries-old family businesses, award-winning wineries, contract producers, innovation brands, and more.

Formerly, Dr. Kohlmann was a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company where he worked extensively in the fast moving consumer goods sector in North America and Europe with a specialty in alcoholic beverages. Dr. Kohlmann has advised leading global beverage companies on topics ranging from new product initiatives, operational effectiveness, and growth strategies to acquisitions and portfolio management. Dr. Kohlmann holds an M.B.A. and Ph.D. (Economics) from Germany’s University of Cologne. He is fluent in English and German.












PrintWith a focus on drinks and alcohol, Protein will dissect the Early Adopter; what is driving them, what their key values are, and the emerging cultural trends shaping their lifestyles, behaviours and attitudes towards brands. This session will leave you with clear, actionable insights into how brands can effectively target and communicate with The Early Adopter.

Protein is an independent global Audience agency. We work with brands and businesses to Understand and Connect with Early Adopter Audiences.

We create bespoke consumer research, trend reports, brand strategies, activation campaigns, communication strategies, influencer programs and media plans for global brands such as Nike, Microsoft, Sonos, Pernod Ricard and PepsiCo.

Annually we create a global study of 5000 Early Adopters which gives us insight into this audiences macro shifts, new attitudes and behaviours.

More speakers will be announced soon.