Late-night cocktail bar Orchid has sent out thousands of cocktails to customers across the UK after it redeveloped its offering to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on Langstane Place in Aberdeen city centre, the team at the venue have been working for the past nine months, getting more than 15,000 high-quality drinks out to the masses.
Having launched the service at the end of April last year, the bar quickly adapted its delivery and collection service to cater for the UK market, revealing its cocktails by post service just weeks later.
Martin Farmer, operations director of Monkey Bars Ltd, the group which is responsible for both Orchid and 99 Bar and Kitchen on Back Wynd, says the move has helped keep 11 members of staff employed during what has been a terrible time for Scottish hospitality.
Easy to send to as far as Northern Ireland, Martin is astonished the team has managed to produce so many drinks given the current climate.
He said: “We’ve done around 15,000 cocktails in total, with corporate sales and deals we’ve done with Wowcher and Itison. It may even be more than that which is incredible.
“While the two bars between them do a lot more in the year, myself and managing director Ben Iravani always like to dream big with projects like this and we are so proud of how busy it has been and how far it has gone.
“We’ve been sending cocktails from Shetland to London to Cornwall and we’ve also sent some to Northern Ireland for corporate customers. We’ve also managed to work with some brands like Glenfiddich and we’ve got other stuff lined up, too.”
With a real focus on supporting local of importance to consumers right now, the fact so many people across the country who don’t even know about Orchid is humbling to the team.
However, it has been those local customers rallying to support the bar which has been the biggest motivator for them.
“The nice thing about it, with our orders being online you can see where (location-wise) people are purchasing the drinks and where they are sending them,” said Martin.
“A lot of people who live in the north-east are buying drinks for people who live further away, so that whole support local ethos has really been big. Around 80% of our orders are from people who are Aberdeen-based or used to live here and then sending them out to friends who don’t live in the area. It is amazing to see, the city has really got behind us so much.
“We’ve had people who have become friends of the bar over the years and there’s this couple who live in Glasgow and used to travel to Aberdeen just to come to Orchid. They are ordering cocktails every three or four weeks to their home, it really is class.
“We’re now reaching people who may never have heard of Orchid because of the delivery service and we’ve managed to explore the demographic of cocktail drinkers. We’re really into our drinks at Orchid and 99 and we like to have fun with the customers and the drinks. We love getting to know people and this has been a great way to keep in touch with customers and new friends of the bar.”
‘Labour of love’
Launching the service around a month after the first national lockdown was announced back in March last year, Martin and the team at Orchid and 99 had to spring into action to ensure the longevity of both bars’ survival and finally bring an idea that had been brewing away for years to life.
He said: “We have around 11 people working on this. It has been good to get people back to work and focus on something. It has been really hard for those working in the hospitality industry and being on furlough etc., but I think they are enjoying being back and around people.
“It has been a real labour of love and it is such a catch-22 as obviously we want the bars open as that’s our bread and butter, what we love and our passion, but we’re not able to do that. Even when we got 99 Bar & Kitchen open for a bit and Orchid for the one night, they were good, but just under restrictions and it didn’t make the bars as appealing as you couldn’t play music, and it was just really different.
“A bar is pure escapism so to create a product that is something we’ve spoken about for years and launching during a pandemic is pretty crazy. We’ve wanted to always do ready-to-drink cocktails for people to buy but we never had the time to really focus on what that would look like. We went live on April 23 so we’d turned something around in about a month.”
Service to stay
And even when hospitality reopens its doors once again, Martin says the service will stay as a concrete part of Orchid and 99’s offering, with a whole new market out there now aware of their service and regular deliveries being sent across the country.
He added: “We will absolutely continue this service. If you think about it, even when we could all go out for dinner freely, you’d still have a takeaway and at times didn’t want to go out, but wanted to have good drinks and good food. If you can still provide that service for people, I definitely think they will still use it.
“We have cut off times as we can’t be delivering at all hours of the night, but once people know the service they understand how it works. We want to bring a service to the masses that people will find easy to use and will want to treat themselves every few weeks. I know how to make cocktails really well but even I like the simplicity of it. It is so nice not having to make a mess to make drinks and just pour them into the glassware you fancy when they arrive and you’re ready to drink them.
“We have some things in the pipeline which we think people will really love. We can’t thank those who have supported us throughout this, and I hope the support local feeling stays for good.”