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DRAM MAGAZINE January 2021 ISSN 1470-241X



Where versatility, usability and individuality count

The new X10

Coffee pleasure – freshly ground, not capsuled ƒ Customised coffee via 4.3" colour display thanks to One-Touch function for 31 programmable specialities ƒ Professional Aroma Grinder for ideal grinding results over the entire service life ƒ One-Touch Lungo function for delicious, aromatic barista specialities

Ideal areas of use: pubs, bars, hotels, restaurants, private clubs, coffee lounges, private function areas Recommended maximum daily output: 80 cups

JURA – If you love coffee

JURA Products Ltd., Vivary Mill, Vivary Way, Colne, Lancashire, BB8 9NW, Tel: 01282 868266, Fax: 01282 863411,,




ell hello there 2021- I don’t think we have ever had a quieter start to the New Year, but hopefully it can only get better. This issue Mairi Clark caught up with John Burns the man behind Bloc+ which celebrated its 20th anniversary at the end of last year with the publication of a book which is a great look back at all the great times over the years. This month it is all about Burns - and many restaurateurs have come up with the alternative Burns night. See the Burns focus from P13. Our 2021 Gong recipients are on Page 9 remember it is all tongue in cheek. Nikki Oji our Commercial Manager, who is a former Trends analyst with O2, also takes us through the Wm Grant & Sons trend report. What will your consumers be looking for over the next year or so? Find out on page 20. Phil and Gio McDonald have just opened The Marlborough - and it is looking great. See it on page 33. Hopefully by next month we will have a clearer idea of when the trade can open up. But until then, as Burns perhaps would have said Lang may yer lum reek! Susan Young, Publisher




15 16 33



Susan Young doles out her annual awards.


Fun facts on the Bard plus some whisky category stats.


Mairi Clark speaks to John Burns of Bloc+




4 8





All the news on pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels.


The latest brand news.


Straight talking from our very own Publisher. DRAM JANUARY 2021 3

NEW RUM PORTFOLIO FROM SCOTS ENTREPRENEURS Scots duo Richard Dixon and Claire Kinloch have unveiled a new rum portfolio from Scotland which will launch later this year. Entrepreneur Richard Dixon (who sold his successful Vets Now chain in 2018) is the Chairman, and is led by Chief Executive Claire Kinloch, also CEO of strategy consultancy Genoa Black. Together the pair plan to unveil their first release – a premium spirit comprising five aged rums naturally finished in Speyside – to on-trade, off-trade and online channels in March, with more exclusive products to follow. Commenting on the venture Kinloch says,“Richard has a real knowledge and passion for rum and last year he approached Genoa Black to carry out a feasibility and strategy project looking at the spirit sector worldwide. We quickly uncovered

a strong and unmet demand for a high quality ‘sipping’ rum. So we decided to establish our own company – Harpalion Spirits – to create the premium sprits we understand consumers desire.” Their first release comprises single source rums from the Caribbean, Guyana, Guatemala, Trinidad and Panama, naturally finished in Scotland in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. It is uncoloured, non-chill filtered and comes in at 43% ABV. Richard Dixon commented, “The spirits sector is fascinating – it constantly needs to reflect the changing nature of consumer behaviour and is always innovating. Never more so than in the current climate where despite a real shift in consumer behaviour and the obvious current challenges in the sector, this brings real opportunities to think differently.”

SUCCESS FOR ULLAPOOL COMPANY The Highland Liquor Company has revealed a seven-fold increase in turnover over the last twelve months, despite turbulent trading conditions. The Highland Liquor Company, owned by Robert Hicks and Helen Chalmers, is best known for its batch distilled Seven Crofts and Fisherman’s Strength gins, and has gained recognition from some of this country’s most high profile bars. With the arrival of the coronavirus and closure of the hospitality industry, Robert and Helen were able to increase their direct to consumer online sales and through stockists like Harvey Nichols and a strong range of distributors. In September Highland Liquor Company opened their own Bottle Shop on Ullapool’s 26 West Argyle Street with tourists and locals alike enjoying the opportunity to buy unique bottlings, local beers and food. Such developments have meant that the company’s employees have doubled from three members of staff in 2019 to six full time equivalent positions. Helen Chalmers said, “This has been an incredibly challenging year for so many businesses. We really value our work with the on-trade and it has been particularly dreadful to see the closures in what is such a creative and energetic industry.”



CAFÉZIQUE REBRANDED AS ZIQUE’S Owner Mhairi Taylor has given Glasgow’s Cafézique on Hyndland Road a £50,000 refurbishment and a new name - Zique’s. Architect Mark Brunjes, the man behind the design of Paesano Pizza, The Anchor Line, and most recently Ralph & Finns, is responsible for the sleek new interior design which is grey with pops of colour. Until Zique’s opens its doors fully once restrictions are lifted, sister venue Bakery by Zique will continue to offer a takeaway service. Head Chef Girin Barua helped Mhairi develop the menu. He moved to the UK to work with Michelin Star Chef Atul Kochar at Benares in 2006 before moving to Scotland to work in Stravaigin six years ago.

Dundee licensee gets the thumbs up from the ‘spirit’ world Dundee licensee Wayne O’Hare of the Bowbridge bar got a boost and a laugh when a video message from clairvoyant, medium, and psychic Clinton Baptiste, played by Alex Lowe in the Channel 4 show Phoenix Nights arrived via social media predicting great things for the pub which only opened three weeks before the first lockdown. Clinton told them “not to worry” after receiving messages from beyond from Coronation Street barmaid, Betty Turpin. He said, “The spirits are very, very, optimistic and when I get up to Scotland to come to Glasgow for a show, I’m going to come to Dundee and come into the Bowbridge Bar for a stiff one.”

NEWS Highland restaurateur starts up layby takeaways

Diageo debuts new bar Johnnie Walker Princes Street has revealed a tantalising firstglimpse of the stunning new whisky visitor experience that will open in Edinburgh in the summer of 2021. The eagerly anticipated attraction will feature rooftop bars, private dining areas, modern sensory tasting rooms, personalised tour and tasting experiences, and live performance areas. The interior of the landmark building, which has been under meticulous transformation over the past 18 months, has been kept a closely-guarded secret until today, with the release of select design renderings that give a tantalising taste of what is to come. It will have a 1820 cocktail bar and outdoor terrace The Explorers’ Bothy: a whisky bar, a flexible performance space The Johnnie Walker Label Studio: Barbara Smith, Managing Director of Diageo’s Brand Homes across Scotland, said, “We are delighted to be able to offer people a first small taste of what is to come at Johnnie Walker Princes Street.”

Stephen Smith, the owner of The Bears Den restaurant in Brora, has launched a layby takeaway service for HGV drivers to “keep drivers fed, and keep the local roads clear and safe”. He put a call out to HGV and large lorry drivers via social media to allow them to order hot food straight to their cabins while pulled up in local laybys. His restaurant lies just off of the A9 which runs through the village and is a popular pit-stop for delivery drivers and workers travelling north

BREWDOG VACCINATION CENTRES? BrewDog’s CEO and co-founder James Watt offered his 50-strong UK pub estate to the UK government for vaccinations at the start of the year and is now in talks with both the UK and Scottish government Since their offer other many other hospitality operators have put forward their venues for use too.

GIN BOTHY CREATORS INTRODUCE NEW BRAND A brand-new spirit range from Gin Bothy, called Hipflask Spirits, has launched. Under the Bothy trading label. Hipflask is a separate brand with a Sloe Bramble liqueur and a full strength Golden Spiced Rum and there are plans for a blended whisky in 2022. Gin Bothy was founded in 2015 by drinks entrepreneur Kim Cameron and is now one of Scotland’s premium gin brands, producing 60,000 units in 2020. She trademarked the new venture years ago looking to introduce it to the Bothy portfolio but hadn’t had the time until 2020 presented the opportunity amidst the chaos. Kim said, “The challenges of 2020 gave me a little bit of space for new projects that had been on the back burner but now had time to flourish. “Throughout 2020 I was inspired by the way in which people found joy in the outdoors and in pursuits that nourished the soul. This helped drive forward the creation of the brand with the idea of Hipflask Spirts coming from a portable, lighter weight 20cl bottle that can be easily carried in an inside pocket or bag. Hipflask is the spirit of 2021, the spirit of adventure.”

n Brad Stevens, the operator behind Pizza Punks and Mamasan, has added online operation Veganizza to his Glasgow portfolio - an exclusively plant-based kitchen which is now open for takeaway and delivery of artisan pizzas and bake-at-home kits UK wide. n Agnes Flett, the legendary barmaid who worked for almost 40 years at Aberdeen pub The Grill and who was known as ‘the heart of The Grill’ passed away on Christmas Eve aged 82 after a long battle with cancer. n Work is now underway on burger restaurant Frkn Delicious at 33 Clarence Drive in Glasgow in a former Subway unit. It is owned by Agha Khan.

Inverness restaurateurs expand into Aviemore Inverness restaurateurs Lisa and Tim Allan have taken over the former Mountain Cafe site in Aviemore to expand their restaurant business Cheese & Tomatin. The couple, who specialise in sourdough pizzas and are originally from Fife, started a mobile catering business in 2016 before opening Cheese & Tomatin Inverness two years later.





Auld Special Edition is a new range of three blended malt Scotch whiskies produced in the South of Scotland by Moffat-based Sky Spirits who launched The Moffat® blended malt in 2018. The new whiskies were chosen to represent different aspects of Scotch flavour, with one spicy 13-year-old blend, one fruity 15-year-old and one smoky 16-year-old. Dark Sky Spirits Managing Director Nick Bullard says, “Auld Special Edition explores the landscape of Scotch flavour by choosing single casks, so there will be a limited release of just a few hundred bottles of each expression. “The focus is on flavour and by exploring the range, people will learn something about their own whisky preferences. We hope they will encourage people to think and talk about their experience of whisky.” Auld Special Edition whiskies have the hallmarks of single-cask expressions, including no added colour, non-chill filtered and bottled at a minimum of 46% ABV. Dark Sky Spirits also has a new website featuring whisky cocktail recipes and gifts including The Moffat whisky fudge and tablet, and tasting glasses, as well as The Moffat and Auld Special Edition Scotch whiskies. The company is also hoping to start building its distillery and visitor centre this year with an opening date projected for next year. Excited about the company’s expansion, including his new range, Nick said: “2020 has reminded us of the healing power of human interaction. If these thought provoking whiskies can bring people back together again - either in person or virtually – to chat about them, then that would be mission accomplished.”



Ballantine’s Light launched Scotch whisky brand Ballantine’s has unveiled Ballantine’s Light with an ABV of 20%. Ballantine’s Light has been crafted by the blending team led by Ballantine’s Master Blender Sandy Hyslop, after months of experimentation with different whisky bases and additional flavours. The new spirit drink is specially designed to deliver on taste even at a lower ABV, with the result being a high-quality, lower-alcohol alternative with distinct citrussy aromas and all the depth of character of the Ballantine’s range. Sandy Hyslop, Ballantine’s Master Blender, commented, “We wanted to offer Scotch fans an alternative, more mindful drinking option, and were inspired by our founder George Ballantine who, as early as 1827, was innovating and breaking conventional codes of whisky.” However UK drinkers may have to wait a bit longer as at the moment it is exclusively for the Spanish market.

NEW BRAND SETS OUT TO PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF IRISH WHISKEY Sailor’s Home, a contemporary and premium new Irish whiskey brand hailing from Limerick, from Highball Spirits, has launched its first range of three truly unique expressions in the UK; The Haven, The Journey and The Horizon. Crafted by legendary master whiskey maker Dr. Jack Ó’Sé; Sailor’s Home’s distinct flavours have been shaped by an adventurous approach to blending, ageing and finishing. The Journey Irish Whiskey (The Explorer Series) is the goto whiskey for adventurers. The Haven Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is Sailor’s Home first release of the unique single pot still Irish Whiskey style. The Horizon 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey (The Islands Series) is crafted from exceptional Irish malt and grain whiskeys that have been matured for at least 10 years in American bourbon barrels.


Small Spirits Company takes root


Founder of Good Brothers natural wine bar in Edinburgh, Graeme Sutherland has launched a brand new non-alcoholic drinks company called – ‘the Small Spirits Company’. With the rise in tee-total awareness in the 18-25 year bracket and growing demand, the Small Spirits Company aims to offer good quality non-alcoholic drinks with a new way of drinking. However the company says it is not on a crusade to turn people tee-total. Saying, “We love amazing wines and spirits. We just don’t always want to have to drink them when we are out with friends.” It currently offering a range of non-alcoholic light spirits, dark spirits, wine, beer, soft drinks & mixers, and liqueurs.

Coca-Cola has announced the launch of ‘Open To Better’, a campaign to inspire people to embrace change and pledge to do things differently in 2021. To celebrate the launch, the iconic CocaCola packs feature a series of inspiring resolutions to encourage consumers to reflect on 2020 and look ahead to how we can be ‘Open To Better’ in 2021. People will also be given the unique opportunity to purchase a personalised can via a new online-store in Great Britain from this month. Lending their support to the campaign, Premier League ambassadors Marcus Rashford MBE and Alex Scott MBE as well as Laura Whitmore and AJ & Curtis Pritchard have shared positive pledges for the new year which are available on the cans and complement further pledges that are available, including: I will never take my friends for granted I promise to listen more, just for you I will never take us for granted No more excuses: our idea is happening Bryony Lester, Marketing Manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain, explained, “For more than 136 years, Coca-Cola has used its voice to help unite people across the world. We have launched the ‘Open’ platform, a campaign highlighting how the world has changed and to appreciate what perhaps was previously taken for granted.”


McGuigan Wines has kicked off 2021 with a partnership with The Three Drinkers and their ‘Mind, Sense & Soul: Life Hacks for a Calmer 2021’ campaign, with focus on their alcoholfree range, McGuigan Zero. The campaign features a series of videos hosted by awardwinning TV presenters and drinks writers, Aidy Smith and Helena Nicklin. The duo showcase tips and coping mechanisms that have helped them to diminish anxiety and face 2021 in the most positive light. The duo offered tips through a series of 12 videos with each video delving into a variety of coping mechanisms people can utilise across topics such as Light, Scent, Write, Move, Sound, Breathe, Green, CBD, Compassion, Happiness, Gut and Mood. Aidy Smith at The Three Drinkers, said, “We’re incredibly thankful to McGuigan for helping us push this campaign further. As someone who has lived with Tourette Syndrome since the age of 7, coping mechanisms have had a colossal impact on my life, I’m humbled to be able to share these with people at a time when they need them the most.” Julian Dyer, Chief Operating Officer at AVL, added, “At McGuigan we have always strived to provide a variety of wines giving our consumers choice. Zero is an extension of this for consumers who choose to drink less or no alcohol as part of making better life choices, which fits perfectly with this campaign. “McGuigan Zero is now the 3rd largest no alcohol wine brand in the UK* after only 12 months in market.”


Thomas Lowndes, the food and licensing division of EdringtonBeam Suntory UK, have launched a new 1826 range of handcrafted cocktails made with premium ingredients. Founder Thomas Lowndes started the business by importing and exporting spirits around the globe, all the way back in 1826 which is where the brand gets its name. Moira Jacques, General Manager of Thomas Lowndes said, “This exciting new range by 1826, associated with premium whiskies, cognacs and bourbons gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase how easily bar quality cocktails can be created in the home.” Each bottle includes 5 serves, allowing 1826 to be the perfect drink shared with loved ones. The full range includes the Old Fashioned, Cognac Espresso Martini, Smoky French Martini and the Mint Julep.

2021 GONGS JUNIOR GONG THE MURPHY’S, THE POT STILL Brother and sister Frank and Geraldine Murphy have always had a passion for whisky but their passion for their respective partners has resulted in the two expecting children at the roughly the same time - it’s a first for Frank... (obviously its his partner having the baby) and the second for Geraldine - the next generation of Murphy’s have a lot to live up to.

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ught Glenfiddich Brand Champion Mark Tho mson had a hidden talent playing the Trumpet! This wa s revealed by Bev Lyons during Wm Grant’s & Sons Play your Drams right quiz at the virtual awards who told the assembled audience her nickname for him was Trumpet! However it was a case of mistak en identity


LAST MAN STANDING GONG JOHN BLACK - THE FORT Our virtual awards actually felt quite like the real event particularly the after party where we had people online til the early hours of the morning in what was the DJ Booth. It felt like the end of the awards night at the Hilton when there is always a few stalwarts at the bar... and John Black was that man along with the girls from BAAD.


Talk about pivoting their business. No sooner than lockdown was announced back in March Fraser and his team turned their bar and consultancy busines into a Cocktail delivery business the Glasgow Cocktail Collective and it took off - so much so that the crew are now extending it out to cover the rest of the UK and are looking for premises - so that when pubs re-open Wodka Vodka can revert to serving customers.



A few weeks ago Aberdeen’s Stuart McPhee welcomed his latest addition to the family - Nellie Katherine McPhee. There was a certain amount of drama as the baby arrived ahead of schedule and ahead of arriving at the hospital... Congratulations to the McPhee family...


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WHAT NOW? Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme

The industry is going through one of its greatest challenges in living memory. One of the ways it will recover effectively is by having great people leading their businesses and focussing on their teams. This virtual Leadership, Management and Supervisory training programme, funded by the Scottish Government, has been designed to motivate and develop top talent in order that we can recover from the significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had across the Tourism and Hospitality sectors in Scotland.

Content There are 3 levels to choose from within this training programme: Supervisor, Management, and Leadership. The content has been designed to build on and enhance the experience of managers at these levels, providing new skills, insights, tools and techniques, to allow them to get the best performance from themselves and the rest of their team.

Dates There will be 10 modules, once a week, each module is 4 hours. Programme starts 16, 17 and 18 February 2021.

Who can apply? Anyone working in the hospitality or tourism industry in Scotland. Can be working full time, part time, on furlough, or also recently redundant. Individuals who want to develop their people management skills and have a passion to learn!


Full details and application at the HIT Scotland website APPLICATIONS CLOSE 5TH FEBRUARY 2021

Many of the first Burns suppers took pace in July (his death) rather than January (his birth). Then, for a short time, there were two a year, before settling on the more common birthday month.

The three most commonly sung songs in the world are Happy Birthday, For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow, and Robert Burns’ version of Auld Lang Syne (as there were other versions before Burns’s).

ad p’s he A shee inally a rig first was o t the dish a rather r la u p , r po suppe Burns n haggis. tha

Haggis brand, Macsween, is taking to Facebook to host what they hope will be the largest virtual Burns supper this month. Taking place on 25 January, the haggis company will be joined by comedy actor Karen Dunbar and Dr. Rachel Barrie, master blender for Benriach distillery on Macsween’s Facebook page at 7pm on 25 January. The online celebration of Scotland’s national poet will be held at a time when many will be at home instead of taking part in the usual celebrations with friends in person.

BURNS The work of Robert Burns has appeared in hundreds of films and TV programmes, including ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946), ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989) and ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994).


The Big Burns Supper in Dumfries is still happening this year- but with a difference. It’s a free virtual event will be broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube at 7pm on 25 January, and includes a host of famous faces. Comic Janey Godley will host this year’s digital show, which also celebrates the Big Burns Supper festival’s 10th anniversary. Janey will welcome musicians, comedians, actors, aerialists and historians from across the world from the comfort of her living room. Guests include KT Tunstall, Donovan, Tide Lines, Dougie Maclean, Robert Softly and Amy Conachan.

The National Trust Scotland is having its Burns Big Night In on Saturday 23 January from 7.30pm. Headlined by Scottish folk band Talisk; this virtual festival will also feature a cocktail masterclass, courtesy of the Glenlivet; some exclusive insights into the life of Robert Burns; plus special guests who will bring the traditional Burns Supper to life, including the world-famous Address to the Haggis. For tickets, priced from £18, go to https://

Butcher Simon Howie worked with space education and research firm Stratonauts to launch a 454g haggis into space from Perth & Kinross just in time for Burns Night. The haggis was attached to a weather balloon and soared more than 20 miles – 107,293ft – above the Earth. That’s the equivalent to nearly four times the height of Everest.


Deanston Distillery invited fans to celebrate Scotland’s National Bard with a Burn’s celebration virtual tasting hosted by Deanston’s ambassador, Brian Houston. The guided tasting takes attendees through the journey and story of one of the distillery’s brand new releases.

Glasgow’s Mitchell Library is believed to house the world’s largest Burns collection, including translations of the poet’s work into more than 30 languages.



If Burns poetry isn’t your thing, but you fancy finding out some whisky history, The Water of Life, a feature documentary, will be showing daily screenings from the 22 January to 27 January. The film focuses on the craftsmen, chemists, and renegades at the heart of the whisky revolution that turned the stagnant scotch whisky industry of the 1980s into the titan it is today. Screenings of the film will be accompanied by an hourlong panel discussion and Q&A session featuring different stars from the film each day. The special guests joining the sessions include Jim McEwan (Master Distiller), Adam Hannett (Bruichladdich), Mark Reynier (Waterford Distillery), Rachel Barrie (Brown-Foreman), Stephen Rankin (Gordon & MacPhail), Liam Hughes (Glasgow Distillery), Charles Maclean (Author & Whisky Consultant), Blair Bowman (Author & Whisky Consultant), and Jenna Elie (Scotch Malt Whisky Society), with more being announced in the coming days. For tickets go to

Auld Lang Syne Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne? For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp! and surely I’ll be mine! And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne. We twa hae run about the braes, and pu’d the gowans fine; But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot, sin auld lang syne. We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn, frae morning sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar’d sin auld lang syne. And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! and gie’s a hand o’ thine! And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne. For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp! and surely I’ll be mine! And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.




For more information contact us on: 0141 946 0444

Taking on the Burns Challenge.... Burns Night is looming and the trials of this last year has meant the annual celebration of Scotland’s national poet has had to be dramatically redefined. The ontrade isn’t open, and you can’t invite anyone round for a rip-roaring night. But never fear, as Scotland’s on-trade has shown, a challenge is an opportunity and many have used the trying business times to diversify their business by offering takeaway, and many have joined forces with suppliers and whisky companies to allow their customers to celebrate in style. Well done to everyone who made the effort. Wedgewood Restaurant, Edinburgh Edinburgh’s Wedgwood the Restaurant created a traditional five course feast for their customers and also included a copy of Robert Burns’ famous poem ‘Address to a Haggis’, and a dram of whisky to toast the national bard. Chef patron Paul Wedgwood ‘Burns Box’, offers: whisky and Douglas Fir cured salmon, wild Highland heather moor grouse ham and a chocolate and clootie dumpling brownie. Paul is also taking to social media on 25 January to pay tribute to the poet, he will read the Address to a Haggis at 7:30pm with a wee dram of whisky. Contini, Edinburgh Contini Edinburgh has taken the challenge to the extreme! Not only are delivering in their home town but are delivering their Burns extravaganza around the country too. Called ‘Celebrate Burns at Home’ it included a nip of Glengoyne 10 year old single malt Scotch Whisky. They’ve even sorted music, by creating a special Burns Spotify playlist supporting only Scottish artists and have included a link to a wee Address to the Haggis. Whisky Howff, Stonehaven Stonehaven’s Whisky Howff meanwhile embraced technology organising a virtual Burns Supper hosted by Colin Sim and Robert Lindsay of six°north. Graham Robson will give a live streamed address to the haggis on Zoom on 23rd January and they included five 30ml drams of whisky from Mr Sim’s collection, three beers from six°north and haggis, and neeps and tatties with a whisky sauce from The Marine Hotel. The Tayberry, Broughty Ferry Chef Patron, Adam Newth who owns the Tayberry in Broughty Ferry came up with his own take on a meal fit for the Bard and suggested his customers wash it down with his own Clootie Dumpling Gin & Tonic.

Five March, Glasgow Glasgow’s Five March teamed up with Glenfiddich to offer a dine at home three course Burns Supper which included venison haggis and finished with a flight of 12, 15 & 18yr old whisky. It also provided directed customers to an online tasting with the fine folk at Glenfiddich! Marlborough at Home, Broomhill This new restaurant and bar opened in Glasgow’s west end on the site of The Wee Lochan on Crow Road (see design feature) in December and Phil McDonald latest quickly adapted to the restrictions and is offering his customers a four courses Burns Supper prepared by Chef xxxxxxxxx

Tigerlily, Edinburgh Tigerlily’s chef went all out with a fivecourse delivered meal and drinks. Their customers could enjoy a Glenmorangie 10yr Gingerbread Man cocktail before tucking into a feast which included Heatherfield Haggis Wellington and a Baked Johnnie Walker Cranachan Cheesecake.

Red Onion Glasgow Chef John Quigley is not just delivering a tasty meal to customers but should they pay a visit to his website, he eloquently describes what Burns Night is all about and he even recommends a Speyside whisky, which he says compliments the spicy nature of the haggis. The Adamson, St Andrews Anyone who is familiar with St Andrews’ amazing restaurant scene will know all about The Adamson. Their Burns Night meal included a a special Burns Night cocktail and finished with homemade shortbread. The Burns cocktail was made with Glenmorangie, lemongrass & ginger, maple and lemon.

Roca Dining, Ballater Ross Cochrane, executive head chef of the Rothesay Rooms and The Carriage in Ballater, launched his own Burns supper dinner menu, via his private firm Roca Dining. His five-course menu had a haggis amuse bouche; whisky cured salmon, a beef and confit onion pithivier with haggis potato and whisky cream with a cranachan dessert and chocolate and whisky fudge petit fours.

Anchorline, Glasgow Glasgow’s Anchorline offering a 3 course Burns supper as well as a Highland Park salted honey Old Fashioned cocktail, a nip of 12YO Highland Park and a link to a tasting video. It also delivered around the country. The Burntisland Sands Hotel, Burntisland The Burntisland Sands Hotel also offered up its customer favourites to their doors with a Burns meal box. Their three-course meal included a printed copy of the Address Tae the Haggis so customers could hone their Burns skills.





wenty years ago, the design of Bloc+ was a breath of and embodied the electronic techno that John felt needed fresh air in Glasgow’s on-trade. John Burns, then in his an outlet. He says, “I was already a huge fan of Russian late twenties, had been on the club scene for a good constructivism and that interest, combined with my newfew years, flyering and running nights at The Tunnel, Archaos found love of that part of the world, was a galvanizing factor and over in Edinburgh. But the rave scene of the nineties was behind BLOC’s design and feel. Constructivism is described dwindling, raves were getting cracked down on and, with a as: “Abstract and austere, [aiming] to reflect modern young family, by 2001 Burns felt it was time to start getting industrial society and urban space, [rejecting] decorative a proper income. stylization in favour of the industrial assemblage of materials. He says, “I originally thought I was opening a pub by day and Constructivists were in favour of art for propaganda and techno Mecca by night. I had never run a pub, but when you’re social purposes, and were associated with Soviet socialism, that age, you think “it can’t be that hard”. Well, it was. After the Bolsheviks and the Russian avant-garde.” That last part in months of exciting and exhausting planning and discussion, particular resonated with me.” we opened our doors on January 11th 2001. These were my And from there the unmistakable look of Bloc+ was born. formative years in the bar trade. Collaboration and discussion “We were more of a style bar with designer Jonathan Scott, back then, with banging techno the designer behind many I WAS ALREADY A HUGE FAN at the weekends. In reality we of the early covers of The OF RUSSIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM were more of a meeting room for Shamen. sheriff officers! We never made a John says, “It was this steady, AND THAT INTEREST, COMBINED penny in those days. unforced, organic evolution WITH MY NEW-FOUND LOVE OF “Luckily, back then I was a master that brought us to where of disguise and also suffered from we are today. Of course, THAT PART OF THE WORLD, WAS a rare and convenient hearing the transition wasn’t always A GALVANIZING FACTOR BEHIND disorder whenever they asked to smooth. What was needed speak to the owner. “Naw mate, rather was a gang-hut for BLOC’S DESIGN AND FEEL. I’ve never heard of him.” creative, awkward, alternativeJOHN BURNS “That was also the era of the minded folks of many stripes to good old Glesga gangster, taxing meet, merge and make magic anyone they could, which brought happen.” us a few hairy moments and the odd “You’re getting ripped In 2003, John had about a fiver in the bank, having invested when we come back”. So that was fun! It certainly was a lively all his savings in the pub. Enter David Parry – known fondly by place with lively characters passing through and I guess that John as The Madman. sums up our city as well.” John says, “Davy is a one-man party that never ends and has The inspiration for Bloc+ came from a pivotal moment in also been my best friend for the last 30 years. He played an John’s life the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He says, “I enormous part in BLOC’s survival in the early days when the vividly remember watching the TV in awe as that symbol of company was on its arse and on the brink of bankruptcy. He dictatorship was torn down. So BLOC+ for me meant showing saved us from disappearing into the growing abyss of failed the positive sides of the Eastern Bloc through music, art and small independent pubs and a belief that things would come design. good eventually.” “Throughout the early ‘90s, my love was all things techno It was the arrival of Craig Carrick in 2005 that ruffled a few and I was a huge fan of the rave scene, so it’s fitting that feathers. some of the old school types were unimpressed by I attended my first proper festival in 1991, in the reunified the amusing new signs that he put up and they let us know. Berlin. It was called “The Love Parade” and it was an incredible John explains, “Craig put up signs such as “It’s not only canoes display of unity, packed with top-class techno and rave shows that tip”, “Nae winching’ at the bar (unless it’s a very close and a good 250,000 people, partying and celebrating over relative so we can phone the polis)” which brought out a few one very long weekend. This trip quite literally changed my life funny glances. and opened my eyes to all sorts of possibilities.” “By around 2004/05, the pub had acquired its own identity At the time, John was planning his debut in the trade, Scottish and, ultimately, that became more meaningful than any vision band The Shamen had enjoyed nearly a decade of success, I ever had to start with.”



LICENSEE INTERVIEW Bloc+ rejected the “pay to play” model for bands, instead it chose to pay bands and throw its weight behind the free-entry concept, resulting in a breeding-ground for undiscovered talent. Their ethical approach was by simply paying, feeding and watering all musicians who performed. John says, “I constantly would hear people saying so and so came to Bloc+ and discovered a new band. That’s what we wanted.” The USP of Bloc+ is that it is the embodiment of its audience. It has always been inclusive, its neon sign on the wall says ‘Not For Everyone’. John says, “We wanted a safe refuge. A home from home for people who wanted to feel appreciated and at ease. This was reflected in our clientele. We had a spread of ages, genders, dress and accents. It became clear that BLOC+ could appeal to anybody from any walk of life. What also became clear was that not everybody liked that fact. Snobs, yobs, racists, bigots and general wankers never really seemed comfortable and that was cool with us. In fact it was a problem that sorted itself out. “As I see it now, the second era of BLOC+ - Phase II - ran from about 2005-2011. This marked a huge watershed in our musical history and, in essence, is when BLOC+ really found itself. We burst into the world of live music in typically noisy fashion, with young local acts all the way up to international touring bands making regular appearances. The old guard shipped out and a new breed of tattoos, beards and chequered shirts took the place over. That sea change was largely instigated by Craig. He was a raw young talent and rough around the edges, just like BLOC+. A true maverick whose thinking outside the box brought us inspired new ventures such as “The Wee Jaunt” (a bus-load of gig-goers ferried around pop-up concerts in bizarre locations) and “Blochestra”, which was, for a time, the beating heart of BLOC+ and really captured the community-minded spirit of our brand. It was all very unpolished, 100% DIY and pure fucking magic!” In 2011, Craig emigrated to Australia and Bloc+ started to garner attention winning industry awards for its status as a music venue. Chris Cusack took over from Craig and, John admits, took BLOC+ to a new level of professionalism on the live music front and put us on the touring map, both in the UK and internationally, with his bookings. However, Chris was not a person with a love of computers. As social media was starting to take hold, Bloc+ needed some digital 18


input, which was supplied by Halina Rifai who joined in 2015. John says, “That was the beginning of Phase III. A workaholic, hit-woman, consummate professional and social media/PR wrecking-ball, she’s hard as nails and is the one person who really taught us the dark arts of how to use the now-essential tools of social media and more to succeed in the modern marketplace.” Halina changed the Bloc+ brand, developed its reputation for food. Before she moved on to pastures new earlier in 2020, Halina did ultimately bring some order to the chaos. “We were able to start a very successful trade in home deliveries in 2019 thanks to her considerable efforts,” John says. “Something which has proven invaluable since lockdown struck in 2020. Halina rose to become the queen of all things social media at BLOC+, as well as PR, photos, the label, videos, receipts, communications ... plus another 20 or so roles.” From talking to John, the feeling you get is that Bloc+ is not so much a place of work, but a place where people are drawn to and just happen to get paid to work. John says, “Our staff are like family. They embody what Bloc+ is. They socialise there, they see each other outside work, who knows what they all get up to? But they have a pride in what they do. Our bar manager, James Aitkinson, is just amazing. He is the ultimate front-of-house maestro. Customers and staff love him. He just knows how to work the tables.” Covid has had an effect on Bloc+, but John has been determined to remain open for takeaway. He says, “We’ve established a takeaway service anyway, so it made sense to continue to do it. But I wanted to do it as much for the staff as for business reasons. Our staff live and breathe Bloc+ so despite being furloughed, it’s a way of life. They miss the socialising, their friends, the banter.” He’s pessimistic on live music being put on in 2021. He says, “I see adverts for gigs in June and July and I think, what do you know that I don’t? I don’t see us putting any music on until 2022.” Bloc+ remains a stalwart of Glasgow city centre and John, who turns 50 this year, believes it will sail through this storm comfortably. He says, “I’m already planning what we’re doing with the label and festivals. I’m doing some promoting and Bloc+ is going from strength to strength. I’m not ready to retire yet, so my plans for the future? Just to stay alive!”. BOOC+, the book created to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Bloc+ is on-sale now for £20 and can be bought from www. n






No-one could possibly claim that 2021 has kicked off as we’d hoped, but we do have much to feel optimistic about: our mass vaccination programme is rolling out faster than any other in the world, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the depths of our resilience, and we’re 2 thirds of the way through Dry January (or indeed Veganuary), so that can only be a good thing! On a serious note, coping with Covid has cost us dearly, not least in the on-trade, and it continues to cost us. So in an effort to ease your worries and give us all something positive to focus on, I thought I’d take you through my summary of William Grant & Sons’ Trending 2021 report, offering key insights into the post-Covid consumer and making recommendations that you can use when you open your doors again. Nikki Oji, former O2 Trends Analyst reports. the need to socialise and engage with one another physically, is a fundamental human truth. Bars, pubs and restaurants that make this easy, uber-safe and fun will thrive as demand soars. Ageless Society – A trend which previously heralded ‘the end of ageing’ as we once knew it, now sees a return to fear, and a reminder of the vulnerabilities that come with age. What was once a thriving, affluent, travelling, confident cohort, is now variously shielding, biding at home or, tragically and quite literally, dying from this deadly disease. But where possible, they’re going online en masse, and they have money to spend.

SOCIAL The Cult of the Home existed pre-Covid, accelerated during the first lockdown, and will continue long after a post-Covid world of mass vaccination. The home is now seen as a cocoon of safety, a place of work, a centre of learning, entertainment, nourishment and exercise. It deserves to be elevated, added to, upgraded, cherished, enjoyed... But if lockdown taught us anything, it’s that 20


Local vs Glocal – Having emerged some 6 or 7 years ago, this trend gains unexpected momentum as households across the world are told to stay home, stay local, connect digitally... Our contacts have simultaneously shrunk to those in our immediate bubble and inflated to include those we encounter online that share our values. Businesses that understand this tension and cater to it (perhaps with super-local serves or that exotic, Japanese whisky that has tantalised tastebuds at home) will flourish as drinkers and diners tentatively return to their local.



Mission Critical Connectivity – With businesses operating from bedrooms, as they seek life-support online, teachers educating our children remotely via digital devices, and everyone seeking virtual entertainment, now, more than ever, in-home connectivity and data are the hottest commodities on the block! As a new normal emerges, people will expect this connectivity to follow them outside the home – call it the Martini Effect – anytime, anyplace, anywhereconnected.

Green is the New Black – On the ascension pre-pandemic, this trend now sits in tension between the massive drop in pollution levels seen during the first global shutdown and the vast levels of plastic, PPE equipment that has been essential to fight the spread of the disease and protect our front line workers. Face masks are the new rubbish on our streets, littering them with all too regular reminders that life as we know it has changed, and that our rivers and oceans will once again pay a hefty price. Businesses that demonstrate a ‘greener way’ will appeal to many, and become expected by many more. Build Back Better – This refrain will dominate 2021 as politicians and eco-warriors alike seek to repair the damage we had already caused, and reduce the impact of new behaviours on our planet. Opportunity therefore knocks for businesses to rethink practices and come back greener, leaner and ultimately stronger as people vote with their wallets.

Tech Poverty – While the radical rollout of 5G cannot come soon enough at an infrastructure level, for many, the simple provision of reliable WiFi would be a step forward. The ‘have-nots’ are more in danger of slipping behind at school, in business and even in the ability to entertain and feed themselves safely. This pandemic has not only impacted the health of more of society’s poor, it has also disproportionately impacted them economically. Brands that show empathy here could win long-term trust and loyalty. Radical Adoption of e-Commerce – The astonishing acceleration of e-, s- and v-Commerce during the first lockdown reached levels that had been predicted to take 10 years to achieve, according to McKinsey. These channels have grown +79.7% YoY in the UK and 38% of new digital shoppers are retirees, with deep pockets, seeking the safety and convenience online offers. ECONOMIC We are now living through the worst recession on record. The UK economy is c.9.7% smaller than it was before the pandemic. Unsurprisingly there will be a major struggle to recover long-term, with the creative industries, for example, projected to lose £1.5bn a week in 2021. Hospitality is the worst hit sector by job losses and close to 1m workers are being supported by the government furlough scheme. Considered Consumption 2.0 – A trend that took hold during the last recession and grew steadily since, is set to re-dominate the foreseeable future. This time, however, mass market products and high street names may suffer more as people seek to support local businesses or chase value from international discounters.

The 15-Minute City – In the longer-term, smaller, more walkable ‘mini cities’ could emerge, with all life’s amenities within a 15 minute walk. This could be better for public health, the environment and our communities. Could you be the corner pub that out-of-town suburb has been waiting for? POLITICAL & REGULATORY Trust – The trust gap has been widening between consumer-citizens and traditional sources of authority for many years. Covid-19 has only seen attitudes harden further due to more time spent online, in the echo-chambers of fake news and social media. Perceived mismanagement of the virus, of unfairly tiered lockdowns and of the flagrant disregard by some of the political elite (in particular) have shown towards the rules – fancy a drive to Barnard Castle anyone? - have crystallised this issue further. As regulations around public health evolve and change, business must stay ahead of the curve to secure the trust of a distrusting public and be seen as the vanguard of ‘doing the right thing’ where our safety is concerned. KEY CONSUMER-CITIZEN CONCERNS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR BRANDS & BUSINESSES My Identity - The universal contraction of social groups has led to an unprecedented mass-introspection that has resulted in heightened self-actualisation, a greater sense of community, a sharing of our vulnerabilities and a level of ‘realness’ we previously sought to polish or conceal. Exacerbated by unjust deaths, BLM protests and the severe impact of Covid on ethnic minorities and the poorest in society, we have retreated to our ‘tribes’ on one hand, and reached out in empathy to those in need, on the other. Recognising the severe impact of Covid shutdowns on the people who work in the trade, William Grant & Sons started to massproduce hand sanitiser in their distilleries. This soon evolved into a legacy programme called #STANDFAST. By fundraising, providing essential goods and shared experiences, #STANDFAST supported thousands of those affected by hardship across the industry. Data is the New Oil – Protecting our data, versus the time-saving convenience and greater relevance of targeted advertising, is a tension with which the consumer-citizen is all too familiar. Data capture will extend to our physical spaces as they become smarter, more connected, and more able to direct us in our daily lives. The NHS Track & Trace app was downloaded by 20M people, despite 80% of consumers agreeing with the statement “I am concerned


about data protection and privacy on the internet” (up 6% from 2016). The ethical management of personal data will continue to be increasingly important. Preparation for a 5G-enabled, spatiallyconnected world should begin now, if it hasn’t already.

coffee as a perk. What would it take for you to pivot your business model to accommodate the ‘laptop army’? Would a subscription or ‘pay as you play’ model work best for your town? Time to start planning...


Future focus: Higher reliance on convenience and home delivery will be an undoubted legacy of Covid. Cross-category or even cross-sector partnerships could offer business efficiencies while fulfilling multiple consumer needs across fewer touchpoints.

Our hygiene obsession will continue as we tentatively return to the shops, bars and restaurants we love. The greatest impact of Covid, however, may not be on our own physical health but on our mental health. Whether through loneliness and isolation, or through financial concerns, or even the torment of caring for a sick loved one, our ability to cope has been tested beyond measure.

MY EXPERIENCES Limited social contact has heightened our appreciation of loved ones and taught us to cherish them more than ever. Making the most of technology to facilitate social contact has become a habit we’re unlikely to break, even once we can physically gather together again. Brands that have learned to reach out and create novel experiences during lockdown are likely to retain the affection of their participating consumer-audience. A pent up desire to share with those we’ve decided are our ‘priority people’ is likely to show itself post-pandemic. Illustrating this point: ‘making loved ones a greater priority’ ranked first when consumers were asked which statement was most relevant to them in a recent Kantar survey.

As a result, wellness will become a premium ‘product’. Those brands that can democratise ‘wellness’ and offer it up along with fundamental essentials like physical distance, face coverings and hand sanitiser, will win in the short term. Economic pressures will mean fewer people are able to afford health goods due to their premium price tag. Despite this, a number of kombucha beer brands such as Nirvana Twisted Bucha Beers (0.5% abv) are looking to focus on gut health by combining beer with kombucha to provide a health benefit while unwinding. Future focus: Tech gadgets that help us measure our health will proliferate as hygiene, immunity, and resilience become watchwords for wellness. Those catering to jittery consumers would do well to overindulge their concerns with maximum levels of reassurance. MY EXPECTATIONS Know Me - With so much data collected, we as consumers now expect to be better known and understood by the brands that serve us. This demand will always be countered, however, by the desire to remain in control. With more time on our hands to research and carefully curate, consumers will become more discerning than ever, rejecting any hint of erroneous assumptions or mass-marketing. 75% of global consumers agree that “it is important to have products and services that can anticipate my needs”, a significant jump of 8% on 2018. Save Me Time - Despite the apparent boredom some suffered during lockdown, consumers increasingly value their time more, with a 5% increase in people agreeing with the statement “I am willing to spend money to save time” since 2017. Help Me Work - Hybrid social spaces are due to see a surge in demand post-pandemic when cooped-up homeworkers look for functional places to work. Apps like TALLY allow employers to save on office space, enabling them to gift ‘tokens’ to employees to work at cafes, restaurants and bars during the day, with food or unlimited 22


Sensory Shift – Sound, smell and touch have become the next frontier for brands and businesses looking for novel ways to engage customers. Weekly podcast listeners have surged by 24% since 2018. Spotify reported more than a third of overall listeners are consuming podcasts as a way to boost their mood. How can you stimulate the desire for your product or service through sound? That last orders bell never sounded so good! From Ikea’s ASMR ‘soundscapes’ to Magnum’s partnership with Deliveroo (which gave several lucky customers a decoration kit with which they could recreate classic British summertime flavours), those brands and businesses that can sensorily innovate will win the viral lottery (pardon the pun)! Immersive Experiences – Virtual Reality has long been heralded as the next big thing in marketing, but beyond gaming, it has failed to deliver. Demand from consumers for immersive experiences, however, does exist, with 21% of consumers saying they paid to watch or participate in online experiences during lockdown. Fever-Tree served up a virtual cocktail masterclass, while theatres and concert venues live-streamed performances to culture-starved audiences. Could your sommelier or cocktail waiter be the next internet sensation, putting your place on the map and engaging customers near and far? My Values Diversity and Inclusion – Suffering unprecedented turbulence in our daily lives as a result of Covid has heightened our awareness of our communities and empathy for those in the most vulnerable categories. With the disease affecting black and ethnic minorities more severely, and women making up a higher percentage of at-risk carers [– 70% of caregiving hours are provided by women (Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol 39:3, 2015)], the Diversity and Inclusion agenda has been strengthened. Fair and Democratic – 55% of consumers believe that “it’s important to me that the brands I buy from are committed to making our society better”. In other words, business ethics have never been more highly valued, or carefully scrutinised. Drinks brand, Discarded, reduced their waste by giving by-product ingredients a second life, using banana peels to flavour its rum, for example. Community Contribution – Our wartime spirit was made manifest once more, not only by people consuming locally to keep local businesses afloat, but also by the vast army of citizens who volunteered to help

the effort to fight the virus – one fifth of UK adults. Businesses also got on board. Will this ‘all in it together’ spirit endure? Can your business capitalise on this to build trust and loyalty that will last going forward? One would like to hope so...

Occasion At the very top end, consumers are opting for Scotch Whisky to bond and socialise. 31% of consumers say they drink whisky to ‘wind down’ or ‘chill out’, according to Kantar

WHISKY – WHAT YOUR DADDY DOESN’T KNOW AND YOUR GRANDPA NEVER DREAMED OF! Diversifying Dram Drinkers Although sometimes perceived as the tipple of traditionalists, whisky has been enjoying something of a renaissance as younger consumers explore the heritage and female drinkers, with a nose for experimentation, indulge in a dram or two. Innovation Brands that push the boundaries in production are gaining traction. Compass Box claims to be a world first with its blend of Scotch and Calvados, while William Grant & Sons’ innovative Whisky brand, Ailsa Bay, is the only Scotch Whisky to undergo a process called ‘micro maturation’. Rarity Small production runs and scarcity are tantalising the connoisseur and the collector in equal measure. In May 2020, John Crabbie & Co released a single cask 1994 25 YO Island Malt with just 247 bottles available in the UK, priced at £300 per bottle.

SO WHAT DOES THE PUB OF THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE? In many ways, it’s safe to say that pubs will remain much the same: serving a little bit of sanity and cheer in a glass to those who want to unwind after a day at the office or simply meet their mates for a chat and a pint. But changes are inevitable – after all, will they have actually spent a day at the office now that offices themselves are nigh on redundant? Licensees who anticipate the changes and ready themselves to pivot their business towards this evolving consumer will have the best chance of success in our post-Covid world. As we learned during the summer and autumn of the pandemic, outdoor space is now prime real estate, as hasty car park makeovers delivered beer gardens where none existed before, and pavement takeovers saw our streets turn that little bit more Euro in flavour. People want to congregate, even when the great British weather has other ideas. Making this as comfortable as possible, with retractable awnings, space heaters, blankets, furcovered seating or simple umbrella-tables to shelter from the rain, will be essential. Inside, a pro-active focus on hygiene will, quite literally, be a hygiene factor. Good air quality and ventilation will set nervous minds at rest – this does not simply mean leaving the door open so customers freeze, though! There will be a shift in focus from traditional ‘vertical drinking’ at the bar to table service and comfortably-spaced seating options which will likely include screening of some sort. One can see a flurry of remodelling to include booths with designed-in screening that appears more ‘classy and intimate’, less ‘medical necessity’. Tech-driven, app-enabled table service will prevail, with a continuation of the ‘Contactless is King’ behaviours with which we’ve become all too familiar. Having said that, I’m not predicting Robo-Barman, just yet! Well-trained, sales-oriented staff, who understand the need to maximise the potential of every cover – by recommending a wine to match that steak, or which whisky cocktail offers the best, smoky flavour – will be worth their wait in gold.

Retraining for temporary and permanent staff alike will be delivered remotely, via mobile devices and tailored to suit your own unique, business needs. An up to date, digital menu, highlighting a quality food offering, with drinks pairings, will help increase ROI per customer, as dwell time remains, but profits from the standingroom-only drinkers of yore are flushed away. Drinkers may have to moderate their expectations by accepting the need to pre-book a trip to the pub, with a time-restricted slot. The pub crawl of the future could include a location-based app that sources tables for the drinker from hour to hour. Would you sign up to entice nearby revellers to book that 11pm, pre-closing hour slot? Cover-charged entertainment will entice the live-music starved. American-style, 2-drink minimums may suffice, because, let’s be honest, after you’ve had two, you probably want another... two! The variety of offering will continue to shift subtly away from traditional beers to hand-crafted IPAs, even more elaborately flavoured gins and a whole new world of whiskies. But bars will also need to consider how to meet the demands of the lo-and-no alcohol drinkers more carefully. How do you serve those who seek a health benefit even from their booze! Kombucha beer, anyone? Rarity, exclusivity and visually-stimulating drinks will, as always, drive the premium, luxury-oriented crowd in the door. But there will still be a cohort of careful consumers who may be better enticed with a click-and-collect, drink-at-home option. Broadcast on social media and delivered to their door, can you serve your customers at home using the technologies they’ve come to trust and rely on during lockdown? Social media will play a massive role in engaging younger drinkers in particular. Publicans will clamour to get Instagram-savvy and Tik-Tok ready... What gif-of-the-day are you serving? By meeting the online expectations of customers, pubs can win the attention, affections and ultimately custom of this group – ignore them at your peril, they literally are the future.





he Marlborough is the latest venture from Phil and Gio McDonald who already have the Taphouse in Finnieston. The new Broomhill offering from the duo is very close to home for the couple. Explains Phil, “We have stayed in Broomhill for 18 years so we are well in sync with the area. My kids have grown up here and it is a great community.” He continues, “I wanted it to be like Montpeliers in Edinburgh open early in the morning to catch mums after they have dropped off the kids, then a brunch offering which transforms into lunch and then afternoon drinks before dinner at night Opening from 9am and closing at midnight. That was the plan before lockdown.” Despite living in the vicinity it was actually Phil’s stocktaker who alerted him that the former Wee Lochan was up for lease and who initially told owners, Willie Knox and Ian Mclean, about Phil. Phil says, “I went for a coffee with Willie and Ian and had a wee tour round. Obviously, I knew the area but I hadn’t been in the unit. It wasn’t a unit I instantly wanted to trade. But I persuaded Gio to come and have a look and then asked Stephen Paterson from Burns Design to come and have a look and sketch up a few designs.” Phil continues, “The sketches were the opposite of what was there. But Stephen I work really easily together so it didn’t take too long to finalise the design.” Today the bar, which was at the back of the original restaurant, is now on front left. Says Phil, “The theory is that in the future, with planning, that we could open up that side eventually so that



BY SUSAN YOUNG you can come by and have a glass of wine and sit outside. After all, we do have seating for 40 there. We also wanted to create a wee bar eatery vibe on the left with a dining side on the right and that works really well.” The Marlborough is lovely inside, but it also has kerb appeal as you can see. “I love the frontage and the old-style canopies,” says Phil. Inside the colours, chosen by Stephen, are predominately green smoke and lamp room grey. There’s a new wooden floor and new bar furniture, except for the chairs which were refurbished. And also a mirror which has been transformed into a map. Explains Phil, “One of my friends Adrian McMurchie the artist that was an original mirror - it was painted out and he did the artwork over it. It is a reasonably accurate map of Broomhill - and I love it when people and kids say that’s my street - it’s brilliant.” The Marlborough opened on 18th December and was open for seven days before it had close again but over that time it went like a fair. Says Phil, “The days we were open we were full and the feedback was really good. It helps that I have a great kitchen team. I was lucky to get Chef Iain Hale on board - he had just been made redundant by G1, but I have known him since he was the head chef at the Hilton Garden Inn, he then went to the Hilton at Strathclyde Park before joining G1 as Executive Chef at The Corinthian. So he is enjoying working for a smaller independent and because I am a chef to trade I totally understand where he is coming from. It usually takes a while to get a solid unit in but we

have managed that already. It feels calm and confident in there and the quality of the food Iain is putting out is tremendous. “We have also recruited Tammy, who had been the manager at the Wee Lochan for 8 years, so she is also a familiar face for our customers.” After opening on the 18th and closing on Boxing Day Phil opened The Marlborough on the 29th for takeaway. He says, “Obviously coffee flew out the door and we created a menu which just grew - we sold an amazing amount of cakes too - a few weeks ago it was 350! Then I thought why not sell draught beer too - so we are now doing growlers and we have also linked up with Soja’s Bakehouse who supply Sourdough bread - and it is really flying out the door too. I’m amazed at how much we are selling. “I am constantly looking at what we can be doing. We are managing to support the local community with our offering and we are also earning a buck. “I have taken a 25-year lease and I certainly aim to maximise it and get my investment back. Unit wise it will be great for us - we just need to get by this bit. I can open without alcohol here, but I can’t do that at Finnieston. “I would just like to say thanks to everyone that has supported us. Getting us to where we are now has been a team effort and our new landlords have been great too. He concludes, “There is nothing better than being part of a local community.” n DRAM JANUARY 2021 25




It is hardly surprising that research is showing that hospitaltiy has had the worse fesitve period in living memory, in fact 2020 was the worst year ever. (I’m not sure we need research to work that one out!) But as we take stock on last year’s shutdown and the ongoing one - what is next?


irstly. the trade organsations are working tirelessly on behalf of the licensed trade - all of the bodies from the Scottish Beer and Pub Association to the Scottish Hosptiality Group, UKHospitality and the Scottish Tourism Alliance and SLTA are putting the case to everyone who will listen. Rates is probably the biggest worry at the moment because if action is not taken by the Scottish Government to extend the Business Rates Holiday for the hospitality industry for another year - businesses across the country will be faced with paying rates based on 2016 figures - and that would be enough to tip even the most successful operators over the edge. This needs to be addressed urgently if businesses and jobs are to be saved. The other issue that operators are coming up against are Bank Covenants - or the potential breaking of them. Banks are requesting business plans to assess risk - but what operator can at this moment in time predict their level of business over the next 12 - 24 months? There should be a moratorium on bank covenants - for the next 12 months at the very least. The continuation of the 5% VAT reduction for hospitality would also help. But the VAT reduction without the issue of rates being addressed is really immaterial - because for many, many businesses if rates are not addressed, they won’t be charging VAT because they won’t be in business. Funding is still not coming fast enough and there will be reckoning - I understand there are various Freedom of Information requests in to find out what has been paid out. Our First Minister tells us frequently that it has been allocated - I would prefer the term dispersed. But some councils are certainly not going as fast as others when it comes to giving out the grants. Here’s hoping the vaccine rollout is smoother than the Scottish grant roll-out. What seems certain is that the current restrictions and ongoing restrictions are going to last well into the latter half of the year. Will we come out of the tier system this year - no doubt the organisers of the Climate Summit are hoping we will because if we don’t - that will not be going ahead! Just to remind you - Tier 0 - Hospitality open and licensing times adhered to. Weddings and funerals limited to 50, eight people from three households can socialise inside and 15, from five households can meet outdoors. Level 1 - Hospitality - Inside last entry 9.30pm closed 10.30pm. The rule of 6 applies, with weddings and funerals limited to 20.



Same times for outside. Level 2 - households can mix in hospitality but not at home. Inside alcohol only can be served with a main meal. 7pm last entry. Outside alcohol allowed - 9.30pm last entry, 10.30pm close. Level 3 - no alcohol inside, 5pm last entry, 6pm closed. Outside no alcohol and Level 4 is the closure of all hospitality venues. There is not likely to be a quick loosening of the tiers, despite the vaccine roll-out. Most people suggest that we may move out of lockdown mid-February if we are lucky. Then into Tier 4 in March - and perhaps by the end of March we may move into Tier 3... if we get lucky then maybe Tier 2 for Easter - but the jury is out on that. It all depends on the figures. It has been suggested that the UK Government will move quicker. However the Scottish Government is always more cautious. However, the devil is in the detail.Tier 3 with the restricitons on opening hours makes opening not viable for most businesses in this tier. Some businesses can operate without alcohol but it makes no sense financially if they can’t do evening meals. There has to be some flexibility from ScotGov to help hospitality get back on its feet. If that is trading hours that is something. But there are other issues not least for suppliers. The Scottish Government is pushing ahead with the Deposit Return Scheme - and wholesalers are having to bear the set-up costs of this scheme which is being imposed on them. We all know that wholesalers are not working on the biggests margins - and every trade business needs wholesalers to keep operating in order to have the supply there when it is needed. So right now, despite its green credentials - it is really not good news. It is due to come into play on 1st July of this year. Perhaps it is time that DRS was put back 12 months. Remember licensees will have seen an impact on cashflow too - with a deposit on all cans and bottles (single use drinks containers) of 20p required before you sell them - yes, you get the cash back, but when? The only help suppliers have had is a £5m fund launched in December - which was open for only a week - it was targeted at food and drink wholesalers who had seen sales fall by 20% or more since March - most of the hospitality suppliers I know lost upwards of 90%... despite pivoting to sell to consumers.


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2020/21 Andrew Fairlie Scholarship finalists announced The Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland have announced the names of the six finalists in the search for the recipients of the second annual Andrew Fairlie Scholarship. The aspiring chefs in the running for the ‘ultimate scholarship’ in the industry include Josh Wilkinson, 25, who is currently working as Senior Chef de Partie at the Isle of Eriska Hotel and Zdenka Tomova, 26, 1st Commis Chef at The Strathearn at Gleneagles Hotel. Chef de Partie at The Torridon Amy Stephenson, 22, has likewise made the final, as has Spud Henderson, 31, Chef de Partie at Craig Millar @ 16 West End. There are also two returning finalists from last year’s competition – Ryan McCutcheon, 28, now Chef Patron at Achray House Hotel, and Peter Meechan, 24, Junior Sous Chef at The Strathearn at Gleneagles. Spearheaded by HIT Scotland and supported by the First Minister, Scottish Government and The Gleneagles Hotel, the scholarship was first launched in February 2019 in recognition of Andrew Fairlie’s significant and lasting contribution to the hospitality industry. The scholarship will recognise two outstanding individuals each year – one male and one female - who are forging ahead with their culinary careers and working in Scotland. The judge said, “This has been an extraordinary year - a year like no other for us all! It is a period of time when it could have been easy for many chefs to have lost focus and allowed self-discipline and their skills to have slipped all of course understandably so. Previous winner Emma-Rose Milligan said,“It has been an amazing experience being involved with this scholarship. Having my culinary skills tested in front of some of the UK’s best chefs was nerve wracking, but a good learning experience for me, and I was so happy to win. “Unfortunately, Covid-19 has meant Joe and I haven’t yet been able to travel to take part in our placements in London and abroad, but I had an amazing experience at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, it was fantastic to be part of the great team working in harmony to produce exceptional food, and I learned a lot. Good luck to this year’s finalists!”

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