Charles Schumann returns Industry Icon award

09 October, 2019 by Brydie Allen

The World’s 50 Best Bars recently named their 2019 award recipients, with Charles Schumann taking out the title of Industry Icon. Less than a week later, the icon award has been returned.

Schumann was announced as the 2019 Industry Icon at an awards ceremony in London on 3 October, with a large part of the industry reacting negatively. The backlash was driven by comments Schumann has made in the past, infamously including that there’s “no place for a woman behind the bar after 3pm.”

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Responding to the controversy, Schumann yesterday attempted to issue an apology via his Munich based bar’s Facebook page, Schumann’s Bar Am Hofgarten. In the post, he claimed his historical comments had been misunderstood.

“It hurts me very much that my statements were so misunderstood. I value good bartenders – completely independent of gender, origin and age. Anyone who has already sat with me on a jury can testify to this,” the post read.

“I have never doubted that women could be bartenders. Of course women belong in front of and behind the bar.”

“I am truly sorry that my statements were misleading and insulting to members of our bar community. I hereby formally apologise to them. But I also ask for an open dialogue so that these misinterpretations can be eliminated.”

The comments below the post, as well as elsewhere on social media, were largely negative reactions to Schumann’s receipt of the award and the apology itself.

Speed Rack, the international cocktail competition that celebrates female bartenders, were one organisation that reacted with a social media statement.

“To us, an industry icon paves the way forward for our community, fostering inclusivity and making waves that drive ripples of change in its wake. Schumann’s actions certainly have not demonstrated that,” co-founders Lynette Marrero and Ivy Mix said in Speed Rack’s post.

Back home, Sydney’s The Lobo Plantation wrote a post on Facebook featuring a picture of one of their female bartenders.

It read: “How scandalous! Mary is behind the bar after 3PM! No one tell Charles Schumann!”

“Such archaic views don’t sit well with us here at Lobo, ladies lead this team and ladies lead the charge on the future of this industry.”

Just hours after issuing the apology, Schumann posted again announcing that he will return the award, stating “I don’t want it anymore.”

The World’s 50 Best Bars confirmed they will accept the return of the award, and said that there will now be no Industry Icon Award winner for 2019.

The organisation issued a statement via their social media channels, saying that the icon title was awarded to Schumann based on votes from the 50 Best Academy, including bartenders, bar owners and drinks aficionados.

The statement read: “50 Best takes final responsibility for awarding the winner based on the number of votes cast. It does have a vetting process in place for its awardees, although on this occasion it was unaware of these historical comments made by Mr Schumann.”

“50 Best continues to encourage voters to look beyond the current list, and to take representation, reputation and diversity into consideration in their voting choices, ensuring the positive celebration of bars and bartenders that The World’s 50 Best Bars seeks to promote.”