Martini denies ‘stealing’ Tony Conigliaro’s Italian charity cycling event

Mixologist and entrepreneur Tony Conigliaro has delisted Martini from his London bars in a public spat with the vermouth-maker over a charity bike ride.

Conigliaro published a lengthy Instagram post to his profile on Wednesday morning, accusing Martini of co-opting an Italian charity cycling event he first launched with the brand in 2016, causing him to remove himself from the 2018 event and remove Martini’s products from his bars in protest.

In an open letter to the media, the influential bartender said he approached Martini in 2016 to sponsor a bike ride from Milan to Turin to raise money for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The ride saw Conigliaro and other bartenders in London making the slog between the two cities, in a bid to promote physical and mental health in hospitality.

The event was a ‘truly outstanding occasion,” according to the mixologist, who teamed up with Martini again the following year to host a second event which included more bartenders. This year, however, Conigliaro said the drinks brand were “taking” concept and turning it into a global cycling event, with only a few spaces reserved for his team at Soho’s Bar Termini, “turning it into a marketing event for Martini,” as well as removing the charity aspect of the race.

In addition, the bartender also claimed that Martini had “frustrated” his attempts to host an alternative event on the same route.

“We have not taken these actions lightly or without considerable thought and we are very disappointed that this outcome has been necessary.”

The reaction on social media has largely been in support of Conigliaro. The staff at 41 Art of Drinks, a community-funded cocktail bar in Tbilisi, Georgia, said the issue “relates to everyone of us in the industry.

“You should have written this before the race, letting the participants know it, I hope many of them would express their attitude to it.”

Later that day, Martini hit back at Conigliaro in a statement of its own which had painted a very different picture. Jacob Briars, Martini’s global head of advocacy, called his accusations “just plain false”, adding that a cycling event between Milan and Turin has already been a tradition in the area for 140 years. Conigliaro, according to the vermouth-maker, asked Martini to sponsor the event “as a marketing opportunity for his bars while also raising money for charity.”

The brand said that, while planning the 2018 ride, “it became clear we had differing views about how to move forward.” Martini made plans to host an event which included bartenders around the world to mark its 50th anniversary, adding that the two sides “wished each other well” and parted amicably.

The brand also denied preventing Conigliaro hosting his own event.

“They were able to hold their ride on the same route, the same time and with the same name as the original Bar Termini ride in 2016. They were also successful in securing sponsorship support and raising funds for charity.”

“There is certainly room for both events to continue to thrive and grow.”

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