Bars may be open in Australia, but that doesn’t mean that the cocktails are flowing as they were a year ago. A combination of social distancing restrictions and a general public that is gun-shy, after spending months in isolation, have left bars doing a fraction of their normal numbers.
While the bars themselves are doing everything they can to ensure that their patrons are safe, persuading or at least just reminding people of the importance of a well-crafted drink while socialising has become the order of the day.
To this end, spirits PR specialist Penny Sippe has put the weight of her 18 years of industry experience behind her new venture Australian Cocktail Month to be held in May 2021. Intended to champion, and raise the profile of bars, bartenders and brands, the event has been designed to steer the public back to the venues they loved so much.
“Australian hospitality has brought me so much joy, fulfilment and friendship. I am proud to launch Australian Cocktail Month and provide assistance to the industry as they rebuild following the pandemic,” says Sippe.
Sippe explains that the month-long event will be very bar-focused, with consumers able to purchase tickets that will give them access to specially curated cocktail menus within participating venues. “So when you buy a ticket, you might go to bars like Maybe Sammy or The Barber Shop or Burrow Bar and in each venue, there’ll be three hero drinks,” Sippe explained.
“One of the cocktails is going to highlight an international spirit or spirit brand; while the second will have a strong focus on an Australian craft local spirit; the third drink will be a low or no alcoholic option. The special menu will not only have cocktails created specifically for the event but they will also be discounted from what a regular cocktail price will be,” Sippe explained.
Even though the bars she has used as examples are Sydney bars, Sippe is quick to reassure that the events will be happening simultaneously in all markets throughout Australia during the month. “In every city, we want to create precincts of venues. People can then visit a cluster of venues in the one evening or come out a couple of times during the month and revisit their favourites,” she said.
Sippe believes that the event will not only create opportunities for bars and bartenders through the drinks that they create but also the PR opportunities that will flow on from that. “I am going to be working with a national PR company, so there’ll be plenty of PR opportunities, not just in the trade, but also in terms of consumer coverage as well.
“I’m excited to work with the brands and especially with venues to ensure that these drinks are tailored for user-generated content. Ensuring they’re Instagram-able and that kind of thing. I want to simultaneously raise bartender and venue profiles, while also getting the word out there about the wonderful experiences the public can expect.”
Beyond just wonderful cocktail experiences, Sippe is hoping that the event will provide consumers with a key to unlock unique bar experiences and brand activations. She has also said that the event will also have a digital component.
“There will also be some opportunities for the venues and the brands to create activations and experiences live online so if consumers aren’t able to get to these precincts they will still able to participate in some activity.”
“I have also discussed the possibility of bottled or take-away cocktails with a number of venues. That will depend on the permit they hold. I spoke with Kathleen from Courage, as well as some of the craft brands. If the cocktails the bars are creating are shelf-stable they have the warehousing opportunities to fulfil orders.”
Sippe is looking to create as diverse a platform as possible to help the bars and brands mend and move forward. So if you are a bartender, venue, or brand and you want to get involved, or maybe discuss ideas and opportunities, please contact Penny (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss