Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Business of Booze: Hire a Cocktail Bar at Home

In this new series, Becky Milford from Social and Cocktail takes a look at some of the people behind the new alcohol trends that have been emerging over the last year or so. Whether it’s taking a love of home brewing to commercial levels, creating a botanical gin, or deciding to open a fresh take on a bar, we chat to some of the people who have turned an idea into reality.

First up, OBVIOUSLY, we wanted to talk about Social and Cocktail, the website and cocktail service we've been having fun collaborating with over the past few months. We've been wanting to tell you about them properly for ages.

So Becky has asked Damien Higgins - Social and Cocktail's creator - to fill us in on why his cocktail parties are becoming increasingly popular.

* So Damien, what inspired you to feel there was a gap in the market for home cocktail parties?

Well, it’s no breaking news that cocktail culture has exploded all across the UK over the last 5 years. I noticed that there was a change in social habits - people gravitating towards quality house parties, with good company, less hassle and more intimacy. 

I realised that many people, especially the 30 -50 year old crowd, were finding it more and more of a hassle to head out at the weekend into crowded bars, what with the queuing, exorbitant club entrance fees, loud noise and general sense there wasn’t the chance to catch up with friends properly!

They do, however, still expect and enjoy excellent mixed drinks, hence the idea was born to bring a premium bar experience into the home. The idea of their own cocktail bartender and bar means that customers don’t have to worry about the set-up hassle plus it frees them up to mix with their guests and friends as the Social and Cocktail bartender mixes and serves their drinks.

* And how long as SoCo been going for?

The website was created in 2011. The events side of the business was set-up in the summer of 2013.

* After speaking to people who hire you, what is their main reason for wanting to have a party at home rather than in a bar?

Customers love the novelty and uniqueness of having their own cocktail bar at home. People are always looking for something new and something better, and the cocktail package from Social and Cocktail Events ticks both these boxes.

From a value point of view, the Social and Cocktail package beats going to a cocktail bar in town hands-down, as the cost of each cocktail on the Popular Menu works out at only £5 per cocktail, plus you get your own bar, bartender, glassware and masterclass on top of all this. The cocktail package creates a much more personal and intimate experience than you would ever get at most cocktail bars.

* How has people’s increased knowledge of cocktail culture been reflected in how you started compared to these days? Did they start by always wanting mojitos and now they want more complicated drinks?

To be honest, the popular cocktails, like the Mojito, French Martini and the Strawberry Daiquiri are still consistently popular, even with seasoned cocktail drinkers. However, we have seen a trend towards people enjoying twists on these popular drinks, such as the Passion Fruit Daiquiri, the Raspberry Mojito and the Red Chilli Old-Fashioned.

* What are your most popular events?

At the moment, Hen Parties are still the most popular event, however, milestone birthdays (such as 21st and 50th), wedding receptions and cocktail master classes designed to improve team-building in the workplace are becoming more and more in-demand.

* Do you get quite a lot of repeat custom/people recommending the service?

About 15% of our business is now repeat custom, which we are delighted with, plus word of mouth is now our second biggest marketing channel, after web advertising.

* Do you have a time of year that is busier than others?

We find that all of the year is now busy, as obviously people’s birthdays etc. can be at any time of the year. The main peaks would be May and June, particularly for Hen Parties, plus the month of December is manic with Christmas Parties requiring cocktails.

* What do people say they enjoy most about the evenings?

People love the fact that they have a cocktail bar in their home. It creates a fantastic centre-piece for any party plus the added theatre that the cocktail bartender brings to the party only lends to this further. The response to the cocktails has been incredible, no doubt helped by the fact that we only hire the very best cocktail bartenders in Scotland, plus we only use the very finest and freshest ingredients.

You can follow Social and Cocktail on @SoCocktail

Well, we can see why it’s a popular service! Let us know if you’re a budding bartender and have had ideas to be an entrepreneur - we’re always interested in new stories so tweet us @VinspireUK. Next time - Becky is talking to the creators of Naked Beer, who turned a love of brewing into growing business in Sussex.

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