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Tag: william grant

10 rules for running a successful bar

On the blog today we have UK brand ambassador for Disaronno Rod Eslamieh, a man who has had a chequered career in the drinks industry. He gives us the benefit…

On the blog today we have UK brand ambassador for Disaronno Rod Eslamieh, a man who has had a chequered career in the drinks industry. He gives us the benefit of his hard-won wisdom…

Eslamieh began working in drinks when his father bought an old fire station in Brentford, west London, which they turned into a bar and restaurant. It was an odd career move because up to this point Eslamieh didn’t drink alcohol. But he quickly fell in love with the bar culture, and the venue became very successful:

“We opened in 2003. In 2006, within three years, we won the Best Bar Team in the whole UK at the Class Bar Awards. In 2007 and 2008, I was shortlisted for Best Bar Manager at Class Awards. In 2009, I actually won the London heat of the Jack Daniel’s cocktail competition to go and represent (the bar) in Tennessee”, he said.

Rod Eslamieh

Rod Eslamieh!

Not everything went so smoothly, however. Eslamieh had to leave the Old Fire Station after problems with local residents (more on this below). Since 2014, he’s been a brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons looking after Disaronno Amaretto. With his wife Ellie, he runs Chapter 72, a coffee and cocktail bar near London Bridge. So, from a man who has tasted the highs but also felt the lows, here are some top tips for the budding bar owner:

Connect with the community

At the Old Fire Station, Eslamieh had problems when a small group of residents who didn’t like having a late bar in their neighbourhood concocted a case against him. They accused him of harassment and aggressive behaviour. Even though there was no evidence, Eslamieh ended up having to walk away from his own bar. He told me what he’d learned from what must have been a bruising experience, “I’d say the two top mistakes that people will make when opening up a bar is not understanding their community and engaging with them.” For his new bar in Bermondsey Street he made sure that this didn’t happen again by talking to local residents and businesses, and getting them on side.

Don’t try to be too perfect

Eslamieh said: “I think too many people wait for everything to be perfect, for the stars to align. Sometimes you should just get on with it rather than just think all the time. Because if you think a lot then you can easily talk your way out of something.”

Location, location, location

It was a complete accident finding the space that became Chapter 72 in Southwark. He was visiting his friend Simon Difford (from Difford’s Guide) and thought: “‘God, this is a really nice street’. So I called my wife and said, ‘there’s a lot of nice restaurants and bars here’. And then just outside I saw this shop with a To Let sign. I called the agent up and I said, ‘can I come and see it?’ and they said, ‘someone’s just pulled out, do you want to come and see it tomorrow?’.” The bar opened six weeks later (see rule above on not making it too perfect).

Rod Eslamieh Chapter 72

Rod Eslamieh at Chapter 72 in Bermondsey Street

Get the vibe right

This is perhaps a hard one to teach but we’ve all walked into bars and restaurants which you know just aren’t working. Eslamieh said, “I’m a great believer that sometimes you can go into somewhere and there’s a real positive feel and a real good connect, and sometimes there isn’t. And I think you can just see by the way the bartenders and the team move around, how the back bar looks, are the tables messy…”

Don’t micromanage

“Learning to step back and let your team have ownership of the business. Not micromanaging. But also finding out where their strengths and weaknesses are and how you can work on it,” Eslamieh told me.

Don’t let it go to your head

It’s not all glamour running a bar, according to Eslamieh. “So you’ve won Bacardi Legacy, you’ve won World Class, you’ve won Glenfiddich Experimental, you’re on the shoulders of bartenders, you’re on the magazines, you’re a superstar. Now I’m going to take this pin and I’m going to burst your bubble. Do you know who doesn’t care that you make the best Old Fashioned in the world? Your landlord. They want to get paid! Who doesn’t care that you make the best Mojito? The local council. If you’re going into opening up a bar thinking it’s all fun and glamorous then you’ve got to think again because at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. You’re the one that has to make sure everyone’s paid, everything is up to date, all licenses are compiled by, all health and safety. Make sure you have a good handyman!”

Look after your mental health

“When I first started in the industry I think there was this real kind of understanding that as a brand ambassador or a bartender you worked ten to 15 hours and then you’d go out drinking until four in the morning, you sleep all day and then you come out. I think that kind of lifestyle is starting to change. We’re seeing programmes like Healthy Hospo coming out. You’ve got more bartenders talking about how they’ve had to deal with alcohol issues and depression,” Eslamieh told me.


Making a Disaronno amaretto sour

Making a Disaronno amaretto sour

Have a USP

For Chapter 72, it’s coffee and cocktails. He said, “I always say that we’re a coffee shop that sells alcohol rather than a bar that sells coffee. So we’re trying to really demonstrate to people that as well as good coffee, we can do great cocktails here as well.  We’re the only place, I think, in London that does Espresso Martini masterclasses.”

Put out an A board

In all the noise about the importance of social media, it can be easy to forget that the old marketing methods can be the best. Eslamieh filled me in, “when we first opened, the coffee side was really busy for us, it was going really well, and the drinks side was a little bit quieter and we didn’t really understand it. So I spoke to a member of staff and said to her ‘just put on the blackboard ‘Best Espresso Martini in town right here’. . . that weekend we were full, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”

People like fun drinks

Finally, I asked Eslamieh about his predictions for the future: “I think nostalgia will come back. I think people just want something that brings them back to where they were happy, whether it was a disco drink but a disco drink made well. In my next cocktail list, I’m going to put the Screaming Orgasm. It’s a fun drink, it brings back memories! I go to so many bars now where I look at the menu and I don’t even know what those ingredients are, they’re so complicated. There’s all these infusions, there’s all these complicated drinks. Why is LCC knocking out 88,000 Pornstar Martinis a year? Because it’s got a fun name, it’s got vanilla vodka, it’s got passionfruit, people like it.. . . 95% of people out there in the world don’t really care, they just want to have a nice time and have a nice drink.” Amen to that!

So there you have, follow these simple rules, and with a little luck and some money, you could have a successful bar on your hands.

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Master of Malt’s most read stories of 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the news and features that caught your eye the most this year. Well, we’ve reached the end of another year. The…

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the news and features that caught your eye the most this year.

Well, we’ve reached the end of another year. The Earth has put in another hell of a shift in its orbit around the Sun. Now is the time where we reflect on all that happened in 2018.

It has been another 12 months filled with standout stories, all manner of incidents, and of course highs and lows. Among the articles you read most on our award-winning blog were round-ups of great booze, limited-edition whisky launches, and a sorry tale of a collapsing warehouse. We shed a tear for all that bourbon.

Without further delay, these are the top 10 stories that you read, shared and talked about the most in 2018.

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The Nightcap: 14 December

Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing…

Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing novelty reindeer antlers. It’s up to you. But first, the Nightcap!

A great way to make those winter days go a bit quicker is with a Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar. We’ve been counting down the days and this week we had a surfeit of K sounds in our whiskies: Kilchoman, Kirkwall Bay, Kavalan, Cotswold, Cardhu and Nikka. Plus Glenrothes standing aloof refusing to have anything to do with all those noisy Cs and Ks. For the Super Wish on Monday, #WhiskySanta was giving away a bottle of The Macallan M worth £3,300. And there was an opportunity to win £250 to spend at Master of Malt by finding #WhiskySanta in a Where’s Wally-style game. Head on over to our YouTube page to join in!

And that’s not all. Round 3 of the Master of Malt Auctions is under way; Annie talked to the people behind the Port of Leith distillery, Edinburgh’s first single malt distillery in more than 100 years; Henry wrote a bit about his favourite cocktail, the Negroni; and picked the best booze books of the year. Some excellent stocking fillers there.

Now on with the news!

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The Nightcap: 16 November

It wouldn’t be Friday without our weekly round-up of all the booze news – you’ve tuned in to another edition of The Nightcap! For many people, the work week is…

It wouldn’t be Friday without our weekly round-up of all the booze news – you’ve tuned in to another edition of The Nightcap!

For many people, the work week is coming to a close, meaning there’s a well-earned weekend incoming. As you get ready to dig in to whatever glorious weekend-y plans you’ve got lined up, we’ve compiled yet another buffet of news from all over the drinks world in one handy blog post. Welcome to The Nightcap, folks!

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The Nightcap: 26 October

It’s (probably) the spookiest weekend of the year, but before you cover yourself in fake blood and wander around with a plastic hatchet “lodged” in your head, fill that noggin…

It’s (probably) the spookiest weekend of the year, but before you cover yourself in fake blood and wander around with a plastic hatchet “lodged” in your head, fill that noggin with news from The Nightcap.

Halloween is awkwardly on a Wednesday this year, meaning if you’re not getting spooky on the actual day, you have to make a choice whether to celebrate it this weekend or next weekend. However, since there would be a clash with Bonfire Night (and no one wants to mix pretend spookiness with actual explosions), we expect many of you will be donning your costumes this weekend. Before you do so, we’ve got the low-down on this week’s booze news all here in The Nightcap.

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The Hendrick’s Gin Palace: a new home for Hendrick’s Gin

Hendrick’s Gin producer William Grant & Sons has unveiled The Hendrick’s Gin Palace – a £13 million expansion to its site in Girvan said to be a “…playground for experimentation,…

Hendrick’s Gin producer William Grant & Sons has unveiled The Hendrick’s Gin Palace – a £13 million expansion to its site in Girvan said to be a “…playground for experimentation, invention and curiosity”.

The new base for Hendrick’s Gin not only doubles its capacity to meet demand, but houses an array of habitats for flora, machines and humans alike. This includes a wall garden, a Victorian-inspired palm house, two botanical hot houses, two still houses, a laboratory for master distiller Lesley Grace and a lecture theatre. Oh, and a bar. Obviously.

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Talking trends: What we’ll be drinking in 2019 and beyond

Last week, we joined William Grant & Sons UK to future gaze as the Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Reyka and Sailor Jerry-owner unpacked its 2018 Market Report. What will we be drinking…

Last week, we joined William Grant & Sons UK to future gaze as the Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Reyka and Sailor Jerry-owner unpacked its 2018 Market Report. What will we be drinking over the next 18 months and why? The trends brainiacs behind the scenes reckon they have the answer…

We’d all love to see into the future. Honestly, who among us would pass up the chance to gaze into a crystal ball in the search for answers: what are next week’s lottery numbers? How long until there are flying cars? When will the ‘gin bubble’ burst?

The UK drinks industry would certainly love the chance. With rampant technological advances, a difficult geo-political climate and economic uncertainty, the pace of change has never felt quite as fast as it does today. Keeping up is tough, never mind being one step ahead.

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Kininvie Special Release To Mark Distillery’s 25th Anniversary

Almost exactly a year after we told you about Kininvie single malt’s UK launch (along with some information on the distillery and too many 12 Monkeys references), we have some…

Kininvie Special Release

Almost exactly a year after we told you about Kininvie single malt’s UK launch (along with some information on the distillery and too many 12 Monkeys references), we have some news of further releases for you.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary at the weekend, three casks that were filled on day one, quarter of a century ago, were selected by Brian Kinsman. Three casks for three markets: the UK, Europe and Taiwan. Collectively named “Special Release #1” or “the first drops”, three unique single cask, cask strength Kininvie bottlings are planned for release between November 2015 and February 2016. This continues the theme of keeping the distillery’s single malt output limited and ‘special’, however we don’t yet know whether these will be in the half-sized 35cl bottles. We’ll keep you posted.

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Get 20% Off Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Final Tickets!

The 2015 Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Championship Final is being held this Thursday (4th June), and after last year’s excitement, we can’t wait! This is an annual bartender competition with…

The Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Challenge

The 2015 Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Championship Final is being held this Thursday (4th June), and after last year’s excitement, we can’t wait! This is an annual bartender competition with a difference: they want the best team of three bartenders, with amazing drinks, great service and top chat, who aren’t too proud to do the stock take and clean up at the end of the night! This is, quite simply, a Monkey Comp.

And the power to decide the winning team is in your hands! If you can, come along to the final in London for a great night, some top whisky cocktails and to vote for your favourite team.

Tickets are just £10, including four drinks tokens, and we’re then able to offer you a discount code for 20% off – Kapow!

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Glenfiddich 18 Year Old’s New Packaging and the 12-Pointed Antlers

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old will soon be getting some new threads in the form of a new bottle, label and tin, thus differentiating it from the 12 and 15 year…

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old New Bottle Launch

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old will soon be getting some new threads in the form of a new bottle, label and tin, thus differentiating it from the 12 and 15 year old offerings in the core range. Present at the unveiling of the new packaging, created with Here Design, we can confirm that the changes aren’t drastic or overblown – it still feels very much like the 18yo rather than being anywhere near as grand as the 21yo, whilst nevertheless providing more of a bridge to the the older, more expensive offering. This approach is clear right from seeing the new square tin. (The price, by the way, isn’t changing.)

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