It is approaching a decade since Lauren McIntosh started her first role in the food and drink industry at the age of 14.
She was an employee at the Hopeman chip shop, serving customers for seven years and being no stranger to handling a fryer, preparing food, and hearing the words “haddock supper, please”.
But the now 23-year-old always knew that bartending and alcohol was where her passion lay, the latter of which was ignited whilst working at Speyside Distillery.
“This was a huge achievement for me,” says Lauren, who was born in Elgin but grew up in Hopeman.
She has also been bartending for more than five years now. Despite her young age, Lauren has spent the past 11 months surrounded by flamboyant cocktails at her very own bar, The Cocktail Joint.
The Cocktail Joint
The business was originally launched as Cocktails with Lauren back in 2020 as a mobile cocktail bar offering post-Covid garden parties and delivery cocktails.
Following an “immense response from customers”, it transpired that the passionate entrepreneur required her own space. This was not only to provide the takeaway and delivery cocktail service but also to present a cocktail bar experience.
The Cocktail Joint was then born in March 2022 and is located on Lossie Wynd in Elgin.
Lauren describes its look as “speakeasy, rustic, timeless, cordial, and unique“.
“The refurbishment took seven months in total which I enjoyed thoroughly,” she added.
“I feel as though the bar has been brought to life by its journey so far, my customers help to create a different atmosphere every weekend.”
A creative flair
The Cocktail Joint boasts a seated capacity of 30, a standing capacity of 50, and a team of four. This includes Gillan Thomson, Steven Bain, Cameron Strathdee, and Lauren.
Each member has contributed greatly to recent menus, which are designed to be diverse.
The menu, which rotates, is split into three sections – classic culprits, the weird and wonderful, and signature serves.
Cocktails include the Mother of Dragons, Bees Knees, Spiced Rum Punch, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eton Mess, Negroni, Raspberry Ripple French Martini, and The Kraken.
Customers can also go off the menu and request their own custom concoctions.
Lauren said: “Up until now, the majority of the recipes were from myself so it’s refreshing to reflect on a variety of ideas.
“I take a lot of inspiration from history in general, however, the prohibition period interested me greatly so to build a bar based on that is like a dream come true.”
The Cocktail Joint also offers professional cocktail and gin masterclasses to allow customers the opportunity to take the shakers and make the magic happen themselves.
‘The whole journey has been surreal’
The Elgin community was thrilled with the addition of The Cocktail Joint, and it made this known.
“We certainly did get a warm welcome from the people of Elgin and with endless support from customers and the team, the business has grown phenomenally,” Lauren said.
“The team are passionate, exceptionally talented individuals with ample experience which has contributed to achieving the atmosphere hoped for.”
The business owner says that every weekend at the bar is different. The only similarity is the positive feedback with customers praising the relaxed ambiance, cocktails, and overall drinking experience.
Lauren went on to say: “Another favorite is when customers feel as though they are geographically elsewhere when sitting in the bar because of its character and vibe.
“I couldn’t picture anything any other way, the whole journey up until right now has been surreal and a real learning experience.
“Being able to combine a passion with business is so fortunate and I am forever grateful to my customers for supporting me in doing so.”
Looking ahead, The Cocktail Joint has some local collaborations planned for spring as well as themed events.
The cocktail bar is open from 5pm to 11pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and 2.30pm to 11pm on Saturdays. For more information, visit www.thecocktailjoint.co.uk