Wow, I can not believe we are about to open the shutters for 2022
A big questions...are we at the end of the pandemic? Who knows. What I do know is that we have had an amazing two years through the pandemic, the business has diversified and without a doubt become more resilient and prosperous than I could have imagined.
A massive thank you to everyone that spent time and money with us over the last two years; whilst many were stuck at home, unable to socialise, businesses were crumbling, we were able to be out meeting people, driving the business forward and taking new opportunities.
So where are we now?
We have a summer full of bookings, we are not only running our own wedding/events bars but we are managing some for venues. We have been very lucky to be asked to work with some fantastic brands this year...it really does look like a summer of celebration.
Last year we continued to spend a great deal of time with our market bottle shop, now I have the challenge of managing our busy market schedule with our even busier bar booking dates. I love the markets, I love working with the other traders and meeting new customers. It will never be a complete stop on the market, but we are for now scaling back for this summer season.
Last May we took the covers off and returned to bar service, whilst the initial weddings were under strict guidelines...guests must be seated, table service only, we still had the best time. Those weddings will always be memorable to us for the restrictions but nonetheless those days were filled with joy and beautiful couples! Good on them for going ahead and focussing on what really mattered.
Through the hard work of all of us we managed to achieve excellent feedback and reviews for our service last year. This feedback led to us winning an award. I was super proud of the team!! We were named 'runner up' in the Best of Welsh Weddings Specialist Supplier. Again I thank my team for their huge efforts and my couples, family and friends for taking the time to provide the feedback and submit them to the awarding body.
So, we kick off this weekend not with a wedding but a 25th wedding anniversary celebration with our new Terrace Bar - Have you seen it? Final plans are underway to include new team members, new systems and a few new premium products to our bar service.
I am super excited for our weddings and events this year, bring on the Summer of 2022!
Luckily for us we get to speak to many couples organising their special day and happily give advice on what to consider for the day.
We have written some of our advice below to help you decide on what its important to you when selecting a bar. Not all bars are the same.
The first consideration to have is.... does the company actually have a bar? There are many 'new' accounts appearing on social media since the pandemic advertising bar services. Consider whether you would prefer to go with a company that has been operating a few years and is experienced in organising a wedding bar.
The Important Documents
All registered Bar Services should have several documents in place in order to operate. If the bar attends regular events these documents are required and are not optional to apply to trade at public events. Whilst your wedding isn't a 'public event' you would still like the same safety measures in place.
These documents should be available upon request.
The serving Bar - Does the style fit in with the day? Can it be customised?
Consider the size of the bar and the volume of guests that will be needing to access it. Think (back before the pandemic) of your local pub, how big is the bar serving area and how big are the queues to get served? Then consider what size area you want your guests to be able to access. The wider the bar serving area, the more staff can be working. The more staff, the faster the service and happier the guests.
Ask the bar company how many staff are going to be working and are they regular staff. All of our staff have as a minimum a Hygiene Level 2 certificate and work on our bars regularly. We vary our number of staff to match the number of guests. One member of staff will be responsible for running the back bar.
Back to the Bar
Consider the physical space of the bar and how guests are going to access it. Depending on whether you are inside or outside you many need to consider the British Weather. What plans do the Bar company have for guests to access an outside bar? Can they offer an inside solution in bad weather? Experience has shown that we need to be prepared for all weathers whatever the forecast says!!
Is there sufficient access for the bar to get into the venue? Consider the location of the bar. If it's an outdoor bar, are there any restrictions for access? Speak with the bar owners and ask what their requirements are. Do they need an electricity supply? Who is going to arrange this?
Setting Up and Packing down the bar can be intrusive on your day. Discuss the logistics of when the bar will be set up. You do not want your bar being set up in full view of your guests whilst they are arriving. You want it to look professional and ready to go. Discuss with the bar company when and how they will pack away. There will be a time arranged to stop serving but what time will they leave? If a mobile bar has to leave the venue that evening then this may impact on the late guests leaving. This should be written int he risk assessment. Consider the Health and Safety of alcohol fuelled guests and dark evenings. One very important question to find out. Who is responsible for the waste removal? Personally, I would say its important to ensure that all bottles etc are recycled. Who is responsible for taking them from the site.
Whist the bar is in operation, will the look change? Consider the bar looking amazing at the start of the day, all very pretty but how will it look when it has bags of recycling waste for all to see. How will the look change in the evening? Discuss this with the bar company. How will they ensure that the look you envisage is maintained throughout the day. And what changes will there be for the evening? How will the bar service accommodate any additional guests arriving? Talk these through so everyone understands what will be happening.
What will the staff look like? Will they be wearing some kind of uniform so that they are easily identified?
TIP:If you are arranging all of the catering etc for the day make sure you work out what staff are responsible for clearing tables etc. Its not nice to see tabes filled with food after they have been finished.
What to serve?
Discuss this carefully with the bar company and take their advice. A professional bar company will be honest with what is a sensible drink choice and not just go with the highest priced drink.
Be careful with cheap prices. Cheap doesn't mean good value. We would advise you to discuss the types of spirits, beers etc that are going to be served. This may not be important to you but at least you need to know what you are buying. The Bar is part of your guest experience - in many peoples opinion it is second to the actual marriage ceremony!! People saying they had a terrible hangover due to the cheap alcohol being sold will not be a memory you want them to have in 20 years time. If you are looking for locally produced drinks, these will not be as cheap as Supermarket brands. They will however be welcomed by your guests and appreciated buy the local industry,
Be wary of a mobile bar service that can serve everything on the day. Everything is difficult. Discuss what is important to you and then see how the bar can help make that happen. The business may be able to select your bar from 'everything' but on the day there is only so much that any bar, mobile or permanent can offer. Mobile bars are limited in how much they can carry (legally) and physically to the event.
If you are considering having drinks waiting for guests maybe just before or after the ceremony here are a few pointers to consider.
(Please note at some venues where the marriage is taking place it may be illegal to serve alcohol prior to the ceremony)
Discuss what additions the bar service will bring to your day. What will they do to make your day special?
Who pays for the drinks? This needs to be clear before the day. How are the payments going to be made. One important consideration is the availability of WIFI at the venue for guests to pay for their drinks. If its a poor signal and therefore cash only this needs to be communicated with all of your guests way in advance of the day.
TIP - Ensure the bar informs you if they don't have Card payment facilities.
How will the drinks be served? This will need to be discussed with the bar, the venue and yourself. Some venues do not allow glass to be taken outside. If you are having an outside bar, how will this be managed? If glasses are being hired, you need to discuss the terms and understand who is responsible for breakages etc. Some bars will charge for this within their price, others it's an addition.
There are lots of things to consider. What I personally feel is most important , is that you trust the bar owner. You need to speak with them, if they don't have your vision then the above is mega essential. If you are both on the same wave length and you feel you can ask them anything then you will trust them to provide the amazing bar service that you want. Stress over!
I hope you've found the above informative. I will keep updating this info as I think of other important things.
I think its important that before you book your bar you consider that cheap is not always what you want. Talk to the bar owners about what you want and see how they can help. I work with lots of bar owners across the UK and we get really frustrated with individuals that want to earn a bit of cash on the side and say they can offer a wedding bar. Sometimes they don't even have a bar, some will build the bar with the money you give them for a deposit... The service and knowledge that you get from a professional bar service really will help your day run smoothly.
Consider the reasons why brides buy wedding dresses from beautiful boutiques and not their regular high street stores. Then apply that to your bar service.
If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact me. I have an experienced team of staff that are consistently wanting to improve our service. We can't wait to get back out to weddings.
Enjoy your planning
Thats pretty much how 2020 ended and 2021 started for us. We had an amazing response to our cocktail boxes. MASSIVE THANKS to everyone that ordered cocktail boxes, gin boxes and bottles from me over the last few months. Your support has been amazing.
So, 2021, here we go again. I had planned a few days/weeks rest after Christmas the boredom soon kicked in, I was back at work in no time. So far this week I have; overhauled the website (let me know your feedback on it), created new information booklets for different clients, spoken with some amazing couples to organise their wedding days and managed to watch Series 1 of Bridgerton on Netflix! Not bad going for someone taking a couple of days off.
We have some new things coming out in the next few weeks. Firstly 'Gin of the Month'. Several people have asked me why I don't set up my own Gin Subscription service...the main answer is I'm not keen on the idea and I don't want to get into the legislation attached to having that responsibility. Plus, I sell the drinks I sell because I like the drinks, I know the owners and believe in their brand and most important to me, I don't sell it because they offer it to me at a low price. So I will be offering Gin of the Month, it's purely optional to purchase it. I will be giving a deadline for orders and we can go from there. Secondly, cocktails. I really miss not being in the bar, making all of the cocktails over the last few weeks has reminded me how much I love the experimenting of flavours and producing nice drinks. So, Im going to continue offering cocktail boxes, not on a subscription. Each cocktail box will be based on a a theme and will be available to order via my social media channels and email. A new box will roughly come out every month, they will be related to a theme of that month.
We are currently in 'engagement season'. Im talking to lots of lovely couples, planning their days, they all sound awesome. I love working on individual plans for weddings to create something truly unique for each couple. I'm also working on a blog post to help couples with their wedding bar service. Wedding Bars are quite complex and take a lot of planning. Hopefully the blog post will help people with this and see why you pay for a wedding bar. Simply put...why do brides spend so much on wedding dresses? Because they want something special, they want a designer to create something for them, they call on professionals for help, respect their knowledge and guidance to ensure they get the perfect dress. ... So why not use a professional when selecting a wedding bar? Hopefully the blog post will help out.
Short and sweet for now. Keep your eyes peeled on the social media to see when things are launched. Ooh, make sure you are following them both @barsofdistinction and @thegintinbar
Happy New Year!!
Has it only been 4 months since I last wrote a blog?
The last 4 months have been awesome!! Who would have thought that during the pandemic we would be in such a good place. The last 4 months have given me the opportunity to learn new things, grow the business and diversify with what we offer.
In the last blog I wrote about our online Gin Tasting events, these have been fantastic. I've met so many new customers/friends through offering this, its been great not only for the business but for me working at home most of the time. The Gin Tasting has led to more business opportunities, learning more about the Gin industry and having great fun at the same time. Why did I wait so long to start my own business?
So here's what's been happening..
Ive got myself a market stall. I absolutely love it. Every weekend my stall is open at The Corporation Yard selling this years award winning Welsh Gins and Rums. I am working amongst some really super talented people. The other stall holders are all independent traders who bring something different to our customers. The market runs from 10-3 Saturday and Sunday, then in the evening it's over to the 'food traders'. I have met the most amazing people, some that have been in business for years, some that have just graduated and have taken the leap of independence straight away. The atmosphere is great, everyone loves being outdoors. The environment is super safe and enjoyed by all that attend. If you want to meet my fellow traders just pop along to the market. For the latest info on opening ....(only writing this as there's a chance of another lockdown) look on my social media or @indiesuperstore to check if its open. Follow the socials and you will get to see who my amazing 'market mates' are. I am determined that every Christmas gift I buy this year will be bought from my 'market mates'.
This leads me on to Christmas.
For Christmas I am offering lots of 'boxes' for people to enjoy at home. The boxes can be pre-ordered online or at the market. The boxes can then be collected/delivered/posted out before Christmas.
Our market has been so popular we are on the move. From October 30th the market will be in 'Ponty' every Friday. We are hoping the success from Canton continues in RCT. Come along and say hello if you are in the area.
So the market has kept me busy, the online Gin Tastings have continued and the development of new cocktails and drinks for our Christmas Boxes have been finalised. So, what else do we do? We continue to develop the brand.
You may be wondering what I am talking, read on.....
When I first started the business the idea was to own and run a mobile Gin bar, introducing Gins to the masses at various events. It soon became obvious to me that yes I had a great looking Gin Bar but what was glaringly obvious was that I had was an amazing bar that worked at lots of styles of events.
During the first year I found that the majority of our bookings were actually for a full bar service and not just gin. Whilst for the larger events we were a designated Gin Bar for many private's events we were a full bar service offering all drinks. Following some research I found out that having Gin in the title really was a double edged sword. We won lots of business because we were Gin specialists but also people felt that they couldn't book the bar because we only offered Gin. We had to change this to reflect all that we offered. Having built both our extensive knowledge and coveted award as a gin bar it was very important that we maintained The Gin Tin Bar.
In February I collected a new bar - The Drinks Tin, the name was used to reflect the situation written above. Our new bar really could offer almost any drinks. By having The Drinks Tin we were now able to offer a cocktail bar, a mixed service for any occasion. It also allowed us to offer a dry hire bar. I could rent out a bar for someone else to use. This offered another stream of income for the business.
In March, just before lockdown I attended an amazing network event where I was able to talk to many event organisers and it became apparent the idea of a pop up bar at their places of work was a popular option. Again another new area of the business to develop.
The next few months look really exciting, we have amazing imaged of the photoshoot to release soon, we have a few 'irons in the fire' with some new bar set ups, possibly having a resident bar next year, watch this space!
With so many potential avenues for the business I need a name to reflect all that we offer:
Private Hire Bars
Gin Tasting Events
No longer did I feel The Gin Tin Bar was the name for it.
Massive thank you to my friends who were drawn in at this point, we spent hours contemplating names and what they signify. Over the last couple of months I have spent hours, researching branding, logos, brand identity, naming a brand, brand longevity.... I've consulted and worked with brand professionals, illustrators, graphic designers to get my head straight. A huge thank you for your input too. It came down to every bar is distinctive, therefore the name Bars of Distinction. That is what we are.
Believe me this is the shortened version of 8 months work...
So moving forward we will still have The Gin Tin Bar, it is a Bar of Distinction. The same will apply to our other bars, they are all Bars of Distinction. There are some changes afoot with regards to documentation and website, these will all happen shortly. All of our wonderful clients that have booked the bars for the next two years have all been made aware of these changes.
On Monday we finally were able to have our 'new' bar in a photoshoot, the new brand name needed to be linked to that shoot. Over the next few months you will see more of the branding coming through with the new website and logos etc. For now, please continue to support the business and follow both the new and existing social media accounts:
@thegintinbar and @barsof distinction
Phew, you've read it all. Thanks for sticking with it!!
It's been a crazy few months but again I write, who would have though that 7 months into a pandemic the business is flourishing, its moving forward in new areas but most of all its being driven by someone that wakes up every morning smiling with excitement about the future.
Stay Safe Everyone
HUGE thank you to our newsletter subscribers for ordering our new product. There are more left if you haven't ordered as yet...
Today we launch our Tasting Box for our social media for general sale. So far, the response has been amazing and certainly indicating that we need to start getting our next one ready... for those that haven't ordered as yet please drop me an email of send us a message on FB or Insta and we can get it sorted asap. The Gins in the box are amazing!
We will be busy!
Sadly may of our couples have had to postpone their weddings to next year, luckily so far we've had no venue changes our couples have been lucky enough to change the date but keep their dream alive. It will happen peeps.....
Also this month, you may have seen it...we had our first TV advert! Thanks to Cardiff TV supporting local businesses we were able to promote our bars for the entire month of June. 20 seconds of The Gin Tin Bars, luckily for us we were able to have the amazing Nerys Hurford voice for the advert. Nerys Hurford Translation Services has been immensely busy throughout lockdown but still had the time to support our business and do our voice over. The voice is amazing!
We have been busy in the office, promoting our new bar without images, that's easy - not! We have many companies interested in using the dry hire for their own events or promoting their own produce. Im really pleased the bar has been welcomed by so many people. It was bought to help others try a mobile unit and thankfully its been popular. Over the last couple of weeks we have reviewed our terms and conditions, created a corporate brochure and started working on a new project - The Tasting Box!
Sadly our Gin Tasting evenings haven't been able to go ahead. Many of our regulars have been asking for recommendations of new gins, therefore working with some of the 2020 award winning distillers in Wales we are able to offer a variety of Gin Tasting Boxes. With many people being keen to #supportlocal and #smallbusinesslove we've decided to help and support local distillers and help promote their Gins. We have had great fun tasting some new gins and now want to share these amazing drinks with you! We really do have some amazing gins, one I have described as drinking velvet. The boxes will be available within the next two weeks. Our first box is very much a trial, we will take feedback on the boxes before we launch further boxes. Please keep an eye on our social media for the release date. There will be a free box available for some lucky person. If you want to be one of the first to know about the boxes sign up to our newsletter, you will be the first to know our news and will be able to buy special bonus gin as a subscriber.
So Gin Tasting Boxes at the ready, a busy diary for next year, what do we do...we buy a new bar! Yes that's right, we continue to make progress and place an order for a new handmade wooden indoor/outdoor bar. The new bar will be able to be decorated to suit any taste. Ive been wanting this additional bar for some time, Ive found an amazing craftsmen to build it for us.
Sadly, this summer hasn't gone as planned, we've missed out on some amazing events, luckily all of our weddings will continue to go ahead net year and we as a business are continuing to make progress. I love working alongside my development plan! We still have dates available for next year, all bars have availability so if you or someone you know is looking for a bar, Gin and Everything please get in touch. I can assure you that we will continue to follow government guidelines and whatever we need to put in place for public safety we will be doing.
Look forward to seeing you all soon.
Of course we are taking part in 'GIN a Day May 2020. A full list of our recommended Gins will be published here at the end of May. To follow our recommendations daily visit us @thegintinbar
We absolutely love being at weddings. Both of our bars look gorgeous at a wedding venue and every time we take them out people comment on how wonderful they look. So, why wouldn't you want us at your wedding?
Below we have highlighted some of what we think our important features for our weddings are. We are totally flexible!. If your venue hasn't worked with us before we are more than happy to speak with them and come to an arrangement for us to be there. We work with a number of wedding venues to offer our bars. Just let us know if there is an issue with your venue.
Unfortunately due to Covid- 19 we will not be attending as many of the weddings as we should be for the year, many of our wonderful couples have had to postpone for next year. Hopefully we will be able to continue with some of the bookings and offer some relief after this difficult time. Please contact us early if you are looking at next year, dates are changing daily.
Every couple we speak to have different plans, we love it! We get so inspired from your plans to tailor our service just for you. We are flexible, speak with us and see how we can help you have the most amazing day ever!
Why shouldn't we? We have been lucky enough to work with some amazing distillers over the last year and built up really good positive relationships. We are now extending our services and offering customers 'Gin Tours of Wales'. We can offer anything from a 2-3 hour tour to an overnight stay visiting some amazing distilleries and seeing some breathtaking views along the way. All of our tours are customised to each party so we really can offer something unique to you. If you would like us to include some other alcohol tours in your visit please let us know. We have some amazing breweries in the area nd they would love to show off their goods too. Below we have included some examples for you but please get in touch to find out what we can offer you. Corporate clients are more than welcome!