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UK boom in bartender-led Zoom cocktail parties

Virtual events companies are shaking up the festive social scene with bartender-led cocktail parties, which they believe will last long after government restrictions ease.

There is a rising demand for bartender-led cocktail events on Zoom

“We started running Zoom parties in March in order to survive, it’s now one of the main focuses of our business,” Sebastian Lyall, found of immersive drinks company Lollipop, told db.

Bartender-led Zoom cocktail events, with ingredients and equipment delivered in advance, allow friends and colleagues across the globe to socialise without leaving the comfort of their homes.

It’s a very 2020 way to socialise, and as party season begins, demand is high. Lollipop has received “enquiries from across the world,” said Lyall.

“Bookings are becoming more last-minute than at any other time in the last six months,” explained Boozy Events co-owner and director Gregor Sey. “It’s clear many organisers had hoped things would return to normal in time for Christmas parties.”

Sessions are interactive with bartenders hosting the party and recreating a real-life bar experience, including cocktail making demonstrations or tutorials. All event bookers need do is provide delivery addresses for cocktails, emails for Zoom invites and decide on a drinks quota.

“We’re not just sending the cocktails, we’re also organising the party,” said Lyall. “The bartender hosts, they turn the music on, talk about the drinks and tell jokes.”

Sey explained that with an experienced bartender hosting, the evenings feel like a real party: “Our mixologists spent years behind real bars, so they know how to read a Zoom room and make sure everyone is having a good time.”

Depending on the event format, guests receive a cocktail tutorial and learn a new skill, or simply pour a pre-made drink and relax.

Lollipop delivers pre-made cocktails believing cocktail kits can “create more work and be difficult to manage alongside a laptop,” explained Lyall. Garnishes are included so guests can shake and decorate their cocktails. “All you need is ice,” he said.

Both companies report positive feedback and many return customers. “When staff are working from home it’s great to have something else to talk about that isn’t totally work-related. It also helps us get a lot of word-of-mouth business,” said Sey.

Zoom events organisers are optimistic that online cocktail parties will remain popular after restrictions on socialising ease. “There have been so many interesting virtual experiences created during lockdown that can bring friends, colleagues and family together,” said Sey.

With Lollipop now shipping internationally, Lyall believes habits have changed for good. For organisations with offices spread across the globe, the experiences offer a new way of connection that hadn’t been done before, he explained.

From a business model revised out of necessity Lollipop has found a new direction and is beginning to sell their pre-made cocktails into the on-trade and events companies. Lyall believes the products offer his customers a good profit margin and time-saving solution.

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