Beginner’s Luck: Valentino Longo’s Shōshin Art Club

By Neat Pour Staff |

Over the last year, the major players in the drink industry scrambled to embrace streaming video and multimedia platforms. Ironically, with lockdowns coming to an end, the elusive door to a comprehensive digital outlet may be opening—and the gateway was unlocked by a bartender, not a corporation.

Meet Valentino Longo’s Shōshin Art Club.

Longo’s creation is a sleek platform populated by a sprawling collection of video tutorials tackling all aspects of elevating one’s bartending craft to an art.

“‘Shōshin’ means ‘beginner’s mind’ in Japanese. I learned that during a Tokyo trip. That moment was crucial for me in the industry,” explains the Miami based bartender. “I really committed to my work as I learned this word’s deep meaning.”

In keeping with the deep Japanese devotion to the art of bartending, Shōshin offers a different editorial focus than most industry education outlets. While many peers are focused on cocktail histories or larger, societal issues manifest in the greater industry, Longo’s videos provide an in-depth exploration of the skill sets required in drink creation as well as leadership and mentorship techniques.

“For example, writer Sandra Lawrence talks about the importance storytelling—a very important skill for a competition or creating a menu. Then, you also have more technical stuff,” noted the founder.

The impressive array of knowledge for working bartenders is delivered by an all-star lineup. Both Julios (Cabrera and Bermejo) are on the roster. Jacques Bezuidenhout offers a series of ‘Product Knowledge’ seminars tackling just about every spirit one can imagine. American Bar at The Savoy OG’s Declan McGurk and Erik Lorincz. Consultant Laura Cullen and Edinburgh bar legend Iain McPherson are also on the list.

“These people were like mentors for me.” Longo quips, “I paid so much money to see their seminars [when I was coming up in the industry.]”

Despite Shōshin’s current membership model, Longo hopes that visitors will not have to pay the fees that he did. “Honestly, I don’t want to charge bartenders. We just launched scholarships are to get more people involved, build a larger community.”

The financial aid program features two type of scholarships. The ‘Artistic Scholarship’ is a merit based program covering one year’s membership for “any hospitality professional based on their artistic approach to their job.” The “Relief Scholarship” is also a yearlong program, but the aid is intended for industry employees who are still unable to work due to the pandemic.

Details on the application process can be found here. The deadline for submissions is 5pm on April 30, 2021.

In the future, Longo hopes that the program will be be free for all—but he will need some help for that. “The goal is to give it for free,” he states. “But, we need to pay the mentors. So, we need brands to get involved.”

However, the site still offers dozens of important sessions to soak in now. “Beginner’s mind is such an important attitude,” urges Longo.

Check it out here.

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