Charles Schumann was announced as the 2019 Industry Icon at The World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony in London on 3 October, sparking backlash from the industry on a global scale.

The negative reactions are largely driven by comments Schumann has made in the past, with the German bartender infamously claiming there’s “no place for a woman behind the bar after 3pm”.

Schumann responded to the controversy on his bar’s Facebook page, claiming his comments from 2009 had been taken out of context.

“It hurts me very much that my statements were so misunderstood,” reads the post. “I value good bartenders – completely independent of gender, origin and age. 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.”

Public reaction to the apology has been met with disbelief, with a number of industry personnel speaking out on social media.

Speed Rack, the international cocktail competition that celebrates female bartenders, posted a statement on Schumann receiving the award.

“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 Lobo Plantation posted a photo of a female employee with the following caption: “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 saying the title was awarded to Schumann based on votes from the 50 Best Academy, including bartenders, bar owners and drinks aficionados.

“50 Best takes final responsibility for awarding the winner based on the number of votes cast,” reads the statement. “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.”

This story originally appeared on TheShout and has been reproduced with minor Hospitality style guide changes.

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