The past few weeks have been tough for all in the hospitality sector, with businesses closing, jobs lost or indefinitely suspended, and mounting uncertainty causing huge anxiety. The Coronavirus outbreak has done a lot to destabilise the drinks industry, however, it has also seen an incredible outpouring of community support, grassroots initiatives, independent funding and a flurry of organisations offering advice, care packages and wellness connectivity. We take a look at some of the amazing companies and individuals who are extending a helping hand in this time of crisis.
The Big Names
The world of drinks’ biggest players, as well as a number of smaller distributors, have stepped up to the plate to provide financial and educational support.
The industry giant, Diageo, has announced a number of new initiatives that aim to support the on-trade industry during the lockdown. Guinness has pledged £1 million to help bars and pubs across the country to cover their employee’s wages (with a maximum of £600 available per venue).
Diageo has also set up an online bar academy training course, available to anyone working in the drinks trade.
Pernod Ricard x WSET
Pernod Ricard UK, another towering figure in the industry, has pledged its support to bartenders by partnering up with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) to offer Level 1 Spirits courses online for free.
2,000 bartenders and hospitality professionals will be able to sign-up to this programme, which will be run online by the WSET and will last approximately four weeks. The package provided by Pernod Ricard UK also includes a home-delivered selection of eight of its spirits including Beefeater, Jameson and Absolut, to be used as tasters throughout the course.
WSET’s courses are stimulating, insightful and great fun and we would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to learn more about spirits or wine. If you don’t manage to make the cut for this free programme but are still interested in doing the course, check out The Mixing Class, who offer WSET Spirits education Level 2 and Level 3.
Across the pond, Brown-Forman has promised to donate $1 million to COVID-19 response funds. To date, it has partnered with Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, as well as donating to United States Bartenders’ Guild.
Lawson Whiting, Chief Executive Officer, Brown-Forman Corporation.
“As COVID-19 has spread throughout the world, we want to provide assistance to our communities in this time of great need.”
Speciality Drinks x Edrington-Beam Suntory
At a time when our industry is facing huge challenge, Speciality Drinks has joined forces with Edrington-Beam Suntory UK to launch an initiative to support those who need it most. They are doing this by delivering wellbeing packs containing food and other essentials to out-of-work drinks industry professionals.
The first batch was snapped up in 90 minutes but there are plans to continue replenishing stocks.
Drinks industry workers can apply for one here: https://specialitydrinks.com/magazine/1468/wellbeing-packs-for-the-industry/
Online whisky, spirits and wine auctioneer, Whisky.Auction, recently put the word out that its April auction (beginning on Sunday 5 April) will be in support of The Drinks Trust. The Drinks Trust has been providing support, care and assistance to the UK drinks industry workforce since 1886. All proceeds from the sale, including buyers’ commission, will go to the charity.
It is estimated that there will be over 200 lots at the auction, including bottles of: Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt, The Joker; Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old; Glenfarclas 30-year-old; Longmorn 23-year-old; magnums of Absolut Elyx; and wines from Chateaux Pichon-Lalande and Harlan Estate.
Anyone looking to bid needs to register with Whisky.Auction before 5 April.
#PutItOnMyTab – Liana Collection
The UK-based importer and distributor, Liana Collection was one of the first out there to launch a supportive and wholesome campaign called #PutItOnMyTab. Company founder, David Wood states that this is aimed at “helping the short-term cash flow of bars facing an almighty struggle in the coming weeks”.
The initiative is a call-to-arms to other distributors and alcohol brands, encouraging them to choose a number of bars that have supported them in the past by stocking their wares, and put money towards a bar tab or gift card, redeemable in the post-lockdown future. The money can then be used by the venue to keep staff, pay rent, and generally help them to stay afloat. Liana Collection has itself sent £100 each to five independent bars, with the hope that others will follow suit.
Small but Mighty Organisations
Let it never be said that the drinks community is not fiercely supportive of its members in time of need. Here are some of the many independent, grassroots goings-on that have caught our eye and tugged at our heartstrings over the past week.
Team Spirits CT
Luxardo Global Brand Ambassador and general bartending badass, Gareth “G” Franklin, has teamed up with other Brand Ambassadors from Cellar Trends, to increase positivity for industry people stuck at home. Team Spirits CT will be pushing out frequent video content that places wellbeing at its centre.
Amongst the pillars it stands by are: providing connection with the community (we’re all sociable beings and enforced separation from people is a tricky thing to manage when half your job is about engaging with those around you); keeping active and finding ways to work-out at home; continuing to learn through masterclasses as well as getting financial and legal support; sharing content and ideas from the best and the brightest; and finally, being mindful, and bringing positivity to all.
Murder Inc’s very own Luke Condell has temporarily put down the shaker to dust off his catering skills and bring a free, personal lockdown recipe service to those not used to cooking.
About his Cook-Hook idea, Luke says,
“The premise is simple: you can call or message me at anytime to let me know the ingredients you have and I will put together recipes that you can use with simple instructions on how to make them. Of course, if you get stuck, you can also call me and I will talk you through it.”
As well as this, he is publishing daily step-by-step recipes on Instagram (using products that you can actually get during this period of w*nkers hoarding supplies).
Drinks with Hebe
If you’ve ever had trouble increasing your social media reach, wondered how to make the most of a product launch, or are struggling with online promotion during the lockdown, this one is for you. Drinks industry social media guru, blogger, podcaster, founder of Ladies of Liquor, and all-round babe, Hebe Richardson, is here to answer all your questions on how to make social media work for your business, every Sunday, for free.
Simply follow her on Instagram and ask away: www.instagram.com/drinkswithhebe
We’re being told to stay indoors as much as possible, only venturing out for necessities. Liam Broom (consultant at Fine Drinking Ltd., and bartender at industry fave, FAM Bar) started Apocalypse Kitchen as a resource for people to make recipes from long-life ingredients, with a 10-day meal plan so that they could visit shops less.
During the lockdown, he started making videos on his Instagram, showing people how to make the recipes, which “has accidentally turned into a mini cooking/comedy series”.
AMA – Ask Maggie Anything
For all you booze nerds out there, Maggie Campbell, President & Head Distiller at Privateer Rum, will be hosting an At Home Happy Hour: Ask Maggie Anything every Wednesday and Friday at 4pm EST (9pm GMT), via her Instagram Live.
“I always love getting questions from our community about all things distillation, rum, and career. I will answer any questions you might have for me. In our busy lives, I never get enough time to talk one-on-one with folks about all the geeky topics I love. It seems now we have a truly unique opportunity to do this […] Mix a drink and join me for a happy hour chat from home.”
Grain to Grape
Harry James Crowther is a wine consultant, journalist and senior judge at Sommelier Wine Awards. His Grain to Grape project (supported by Moet Hennessy) brings free wine education to the bar community via the wonderful world of the web.
Harry started creating monthly content for Grain to Grape two years ago, but in the light of COVID-19, has begun to run them more frequently on his Instagram TV feed.
Not what you think of when you think “Wine learning”, his relaxed, approachable manner and abundant knowledge gained from stints as a winemaker, restaurant wine director, seller and more, is sure to win you over.