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Drink Trends

Bottle rockets:
Summer cocktails to go

The past year has seen a lot of things change in the world, including the way consumers imbibe. Off-premise booze sales have gone through the roof. Emma Castle speaks to some business owners who are finding creative ways to sell more than just brands to home drinkers.

A Bar Experience Anywhere

There’s off-premise, then there’s from-premise: even when consumers are planning to drink somewhere other than the venue, licensed premises can play a role in providing options that can’t be easily sourced elsewhere. As draught is to beer, so are professionally created cocktails to the humble spirit. 

Kathleen Davies, founder and owner of Nip of Courage and The Aussie Tipple Company says COVID-19 has drastically changed the way Aussies are consuming spirits, with many people making their own cocktails at home or buying pre-batched bottle cocktails from pubs or bottle shops.

“People are much more price conscious at the moment,” says Kathleen.

The price factor has further bolstered the drinking-at-home culture, underpinned by the reduced numbers allowed in venues.

Kathleen says that bars and pubs selling pre-batched bottle cocktails that patrons can pick up or get home delivered are changing the game.

“Classics with high ABVs to ensure shelf stability like negronis and martinis are big, because they keep well,” says Kathleen.


Already there are evolutions in practices, such as the bottle cocktails being sold online from places like The Eveleigh Group – operators of bars such as Black Pearl. “They’re calling it The Mix Tape, and it’s a cocktail pack with a bottle cocktail from each of their venues.”

Kathleen’s Aussie Tipple Company brand has launched a range of cocktail packs that include all-Australian product like vermouth and bitter orange liqueur, as well as glassware and accessories like grain samples in the whiskey pack.

The packs come with a password-protected masterclass video starring a distiller, a bottleshop owner or bartender, so drinkers learn about what they’re drinking, as well as how to make the cocktails.

Jason Jelicich, Director of Customer Experience from Momento Hospitality, a pub group that owns Sydney pubs including The Bella Vista Hotel and Hillside Hotel, says that the group was selling thousands of bottles of pre-mix cocktails a week at $40 each during COVID.

“They are now a key SKU for our to-go services,” says Jelicich. “Momento was in the process of creating a cocktail batching commissary for all venues when COVID struck. We had already made a decision that centralising the cocktail batching would provide cost efficiencies and improved consistency.

“Upon closure we redirected this effort to batching in bulk and bottling into 1-litre plastic containers to make available for purchase as part of our Essentials Express contactless drive-through service. They were an immediate hit with the community, with sales skyrocketing over the initial weeks to over 2,000 bottles per week, or over $80k is cocktail sales per week.

“This allowed us to bring back in casual staff and keep momentum in the business, with the stripped back main bar becoming a hive of batching activity.

“Since reopening we have moved the batching operation into our warehouse, and the ready-to -go cocktails are now distributed via Essential Express and BellaXO (our home delivery service). The sales have slipped back to an average of 200+ per week, which is now incremental revenue,” says Jelicich.