Cocktail Parties at Home – Interview with the “Cocktail Shaker Boys”
The last few years has seen the emergence of several companies in the UK offering a service to create bespoke cocktail parties at home. With people now becoming a lot more money savvy due to the economic climate, cocktail parties at home have become very fashionable and there are many specialised companies now equipped to provide professional mixologists, cocktail waiters, mobile cocktail bars, bespoke cocktail menus and other additional cocktail-related services. One of the most successful of these is a company called the Cocktail Shaker Boys. The company was established three years ago by friends Andrew Seaward and Steve Loxton and is based primarily in the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire area, providing everything you need for cocktail parties at home or locally hired venues across the greater Midlands area. We caught up with co-owner and head mixologist Andrew for a quick chat:
How did Cocktail Shaker Boys begin?
Having sat in people’s homes having brought-in party food, I decided that there might be a need for cocktails supplied at home too. As someone who’d been keen on a little cocktail making / mixology at home for over 20 years, I saw what i thought was a gap in the market. Traditionally, of course, if you want cocktails, you have to go out for them, so I thought, why not take them to the party? Many people are keen to have their special event or cocktail parties at home, they don’t necessarily want to spend lots on hiring a venue. Nevertheless they still want to offer and enjoy great food and drink. And cocktails add a bit of glamour and a certain WOW factor! Guests simply don’t expect to be served cocktails at the host’s home.
How do you promote the business?
The business is marketed in a number of different ways, including attending business networking meetings, and local press advertising, but the main source of business comes through the website www.cocktailshakerboys.co.uk and through personal contacts. My partner Steve and myself also do talks and presentations on cocktail making and the history of cocktail making to groups, clubs and associations.
What gives the Cocktail Shake Boys an edge in the current market?
The Cocktail Shaker Boys have refined their offering and the package over time, now owning cocktail glassware which is included in the fee and a wholesale account means we can source lots of the unusual and bizarre ingredients – meaning the client doesn’t have to find them. And equally importantly the client doesn’t have lots of bottles and ingredients left over that they have no use for.
We are supported by other keen mixologists and trained bar staff who appear when needed. This flexibility means we can cope with any event from a dinner party for 12, medium-sized cocktail parties at home, right up to pre-dinner gala evening cocktails for 250 – which was our first ever event.
Do you think people are much more educated about cocktails than they were 5 years ago?
We recognise that cocktails are a fashion item, and I’ve seen them come and go over the last 25 years. But they’re certainly in vogue at the moment. And I also think they’ve become a more grown up choice with sophisticated flavours and ingredients over the last few years. Gone are the parasols and straws and furry dragonflies that used to adorn the glass and stop you actually being able to get to your drink! Now we spend time experimenting with new flavours – including lavender, liquorice, basil, cardamom, and black walnut bitters! I think it is a great time to be into mixology and cocktail making.
Do you think people are turning to cocktail making more at home or are there still too many obstacles?
The Cocktail Shaker Boys whole proposition is about encouraging people to make cocktails at home, but they do recognise that mixology is largely seen as a bit of a black art. The number of ingredients you need to get started and the books, recipes and glassware can put some people off. But it is a great hobby if you want to get into it. And you certainly will find you have lots of friends. There will definitely be plenty of people willing to help you drink your concoctions, and it’s certainly something a bit different. Your friends will be impressed!
What Cocktails prove continually popular?
Typically we offer a standard menu at a party – 7 cocktails and mocktails, but the well-known classics tend to be the most popular : The Mojito with its clean and simple combination of rum, lime, sugar and mint is always a winner and appeals to men & women alike. The Cosmopolitan is another popular choice. Clients will often want what they know, but it doesn’t us offering party guests new cocktails and new combinations that they won’t have tried before.
I remember we offered our own creation the St. Louis at Christmas 2010 at a party which was majority men. It is short and spirity combining Brandy, Southern Comfort and a little Monin peach syrup, and it was a roaring success. We served more of them than anything. This new cocktail achieved cult status within the group, and proves that if a cocktail is good – suits the mood and is well balanced, it will sell itself.
What is the future for the Cocktail Shaker Boys?
We are heading from our base in the Midlands to London soon, specifically to do a tour of some of the most highly regarded cocktail bars the capital has to offer. Obviously we’re really looking forward to it and we`re sure we’ll learn lots and meet some interesting bartenders.