Winyl, Manningtree, Essex
In a nutshell: It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a fully-stocked and primed cocktail bar of your own when there are an emerging number of indie-friendly specialists on hand. Steve worked with a local RTD cocktail company to give his customers a masterclass.
Ready-to-drink cocktails? Tell us more.
“We went to Imbibe Live in September and I realised there was a noticeable amount of pre-mixed drinks, including cocktails. RTD products do well for us because there’s a lovely beach at Manningtree, so we sell a lot of our tinned wines during the summer as people prefer to take those to the beach rather than a bottle.
“We’re not really set up in the shop to do our own cocktails – you need a lot of ingredients to do it properly. We’re very much about wine by the bottle and by the glass, and tinned and bottled beer. Plus, there is a bar in town that stays open very late and does the whole cocktail thing. But when I saw the pre-mixed options, I thought this was something we could offer.”
How did you find the right partner?
“We only sell vegan drinks, so that was an important factor, and we’re very keen on being eco-friendly, so the tins appeal to us for that reason too. We are a plastic-free store and the whole town has plastic-free community status. We started talking to a local company called Niche Cocktails in Framlingham, Suffolk. Their drinks are made using fresh ingredients, are sulphate-free and certified vegan.
“Theo, the owner, had previously done a few trade shows and that kind of thing but he hadn’t done an indie tasting.”
Tell us about the evening.
“We used to do wine tastings in the shop but we recently bought the flat next door and converted it into the Winyl Lounge. It has a downstairs cellar, which was the clincher for me because it means I can take on and store more wine! It also came with a fully-fitted kitchen and bathroom upstairs. It’s a really great space and you can comfortably get 15 seated in there.
“We sold tickets for £15 per head, provided the cocktail glasses and garnishes, and Theo came along with his cocktail shaker. He talked through each one and showed how to prepare each cocktail properly with the correct garnishes using the shaker, but of course the hard work of measuring out the ingredients and mixing them has already been done. You’re just adding the final flourish.”
What did your customers think?
“If you’ve got friends around for cocktails you don’t really want to spend all that money on the different juices and condiments required, it’s a big investment to buy full bottles of spirits as well. So we wanted to get across how achievable it is to have these great tasting cocktails at home without the hassle and expense.
“Although our guests said their preconceptions were that tinned drinks would not be very nice, as they had tried mass-produced supermarket versions in the past, everyone said the Niche cocktails tasted freshly made and just like ones they would drink in a bar. The event completely changed perceptions about what a pre-mixed cocktail could be.”
What about pricing?
“We retail them at £3.80 in the shop and we charge £5 to drink in. On the night we did boxes of six for £20, which is the same as Niche do direct from their website. Most people bought six and then came back and made repeat purchases. We had other people coming in who’d heard about it. We regularly stock six from the full range and we’ll definitely do another masterclass with them in the spring or summer.”
Steve wins a WBC gift box containing some premium drinks and a box of chocolates.
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