Dear Spirits & Hospitality Community,

Back in May, we shared our first open letter, titled Let’s Come Back Stronger, Together. In the months since, our markets across Asia Pacific have seen the worst of the COVID-19 crisis subside, yet had to persevere through serial local lockdowns, alcohol sales curfews, and social distancing restrictions at every turn. In short, a rollercoaster of hope and despair. Yet, here we are on the 31st of December – still standing, certainly wiser, and unexpectedly optimistic about the future.

The 28 HongKong Street team in November 2020. Still together, still strong. Photo Credit: ensofphotography for 28 HongKong Street

So, what has 2020 taught us?

Hospitality is resilient. We – as individuals, as teams, as communities and as an industry – are stronger than we thought. We can adapt more quickly than we believed possible. We can do more to help each other through challenge than we have done in the past. This resilience has been on display all year and across the globe. It can give us comfort for the road ahead.

People are still drinking. If anything, this once-in-a-hundred-year moment has confirmed the value we all place on a good drink, either at home or in a favourite bar or restaurant. Globally, spirits sales have been surprisingly resilient, even if the impact of the crisis has been unevenly distributed. When the pandemic finally subsides, this industry is coming back stronger.

How we serve them is changing. 2020 threw much of what we thought we knew about the industry into a cocktail shaker. How brands and venues reach their audience changed overnight. Home consumption, craft RTD serves, direct-to-consumer channels, online venue marketing, bottled cocktails from bars. Nascent trends became forces of change, and many are here to stay.

This year has been hard. We would be remiss not to mark the toll this year has taken on the industry, and all of us. We have collectively lost millions of jobs, thousands of great venues, and a measure of stability that we previously took for granted. The cost of the crisis has fallen unevenly, most notably on hospitality venues and professionals. We cannot forget this.

Next year will be hard, at least to start. 2021 brings the promise of recovery, but also of continued uncertainty. The first half of the year – at a minimum – will challenge us all. Some markets, such as New Zealand and China, are on the road to recovery. Others, such as Hong Kong SAR and Thailand, remain in the depths of the crisis. Our best hope lies in the lessons of 2020. Plan carefully, adapt quickly, embrace new ideas and take care of each other.

We’re in this together. For all of us at Proof & Company, the unprecedented sense of togetherness, which we wrote about back in May, remains the defining characteristic of 2020. This coming together of the spirits and hospitality industry – brands, suppliers, bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers – is the most powerful tool we take with us into 2021. Let’s all work to make it permanent.

New ideas and the embrace of change offer a pathway to recovery in 2021. Photo Credit: Rum Diary Melbourne

That leaves us at the final task of 2020: a simple, heartfelt thank you. To our team members, our brand partners, our business partners, our clients, our governments and our communities for the remarkable support they have given Proof & Company over the course of this extraordinary year. We are humbled and grateful for everything you have done in the difficult moments. We only hope that Proof & Company has been able to return the favour.

Whatever 2021 has in store, we will be stronger, together.

Spencer Forhart


Paul Gabie

Chief Executive Officer