Meet the producer: Bottle Bar and Shop
Natalie John and Xhulio Sina are the owners of pre-mixed cocktail brand and bar Bottle Bar and Shop – producing premium, ready-made drinks in small batches without the sugar and additives sometimes associated with pre-mix. Here FFD speaks to Natalie.
What were you doing before you launched Bottle?
I was looking after our two boys and Xhulio was managing bars at the Opera House and the Royal Festival Hall.
Why did you launch the brand?
Xhulio started creating ready-made cocktails about 10 years ago. He had been mixing cocktails at the Royal Festival Hall where the only way to keep the drinks consistent was to pre-batch, and it worked really well. On a personal level, we wanted to start a business we could both be a part of. Xhulio had always wanted to open up a bar and a shop where bottled cocktails would be the star product – he saw bottle shops opening up and thought: why couldn’t we do this, but with bottled cocktails?
What is the biggest lesson you have learned since starting the business?
The first is probably to accept that you will make mistakes, and that’s ok! Then, for us, it’s been all about adapting the business and being ready to react fast. This was true pre-COVID and now, truer than ever. It’s an ever-moving and -changing feast so it keeps us on our toes. One minute we’re a busy bar and a shop and the next, it’s online sales and home deliveries that are our main earners. We’re lucky our business can be so diverse.
What makes your cocktails stand out from others on the market?
Our bottled cocktails are all hand-made by us from start to finish. We infuse, mix, create, prepare and bottle up every single one ourselves at our shop. This is a definite point of difference. All of our cocktails are made in small batches which ensures a high level of quality control. This is so important to us. Also, there are no additives or flavours in our drinks, just delicious classic cocktails, made with natural ingredients. We use high-quality brands such as Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka to give customers the best drinks experience. Over the past three years, we’ve worked really hard to prove that our bottled cocktails can be just as tasty and beautiful as those found in the best bars. We want people to move away from the idea that ready-to-drink cocktails are full of sugar and additives.
Why is it important for you to make your drinks from scratch in small batches?
To ensure consistency and quality. It’s at the core of what we do. We spend a lot of time working on recipes until we’re 100% sure we’re happy with the cocktail and how it tastes.
What made you want to own a bar and shop selling cocktails over the counter and off-trade as well?
We think there’s a market for small-batch, good-quality drinks like ours – at Bottle Bar and Shop, but also on the shelves of small shops in the UK.
What is the best thing about being a small business?
That you get to make your own decisions, good or bad! A highlight is being able to support like-minded (and often local) small businesses.
…and the worst?
That you’re the one who’ll have to pick up the pieces if you’ve made some bad decisions.
What is next for Bottle?
Keep making great-tasting cocktails. We want to be known for our delicious small-batch cocktails, made with fresh ingredients. We also want to keep supplying small independent businesses who support artisan products like ours.