Having a private party? Need a libations guru to whip up a batch of Mai Tais? How about some very elegant Negronis to really wow the guests? Well, for the cocktail connoisseurs in the U.K., there is now a program from one of the largest distributors and distillers of spirits in the world, which can make that dream come true. Although the cocktail makers and shakers from Diageo may be ready for deployment in the U.K., these private mixologists will not be available for parties in the U.S. anytime soon.
Diageo, a brand that boasts worldwide sales of spirits such as Johnnie Walker and Tanqueray, is now offering world-class private bar tending services. For parties of around 20 people, Diageo will not only send a well-trained mixologist to one’s home, but they will also include the liquor, of course. For about 2,000 euros (roughly 3,500 U.S. dollars), the consumer can decide from one of five packages offered: whisky cocktails, tiki drinks, molecular mixology, classic, and an option to personally design the menu.
The concept comes out of a need to develop better ways to connect with consumers. Recently, Diageo created an online store, Alexander & James, that sells premium spirits directly to the consumer. The private bartender program was then created as an augmentation. However, for now, this type of innovation remains in the U.K. and other parts of Europe, such as Germany. The United States has a ways to go before a program of this kind makes its way across the Atlantic. Because of strict state laws in the U.S., regarding direct alcohol sales from manufacturers, the mixologists at Diageo will remain working at private parties in the U.K.
Online sales are a relatively new concept for distillers and distributors. Now, this private bartender program is a way to further get those bottles directly into their hands and homes. While guests at a private party are enjoying the “show” and the drinks, they are really being infiltrated by a marketing strategy. By taking the product straight into the home, Diageo is simply cultivating future purchasers of it’s many different brands of alcohol. Actually seeing the products being used to create high-level cocktails is a new and ingenious way to advertise wherein everyone seems to come out a winner.
Lead mixologist at Diageo, Kenji Jesse, has trained at least 10 bartenders in hopes of the program taking off. Each bartender has been carefully plucked after participating in the Diageo World Class competition, which intends to showcase the planet’s best. According to Kenji, while many in the U.K. are confident to make basic cocktails at home, “…the cocktail scene is still anew”, implying a consumer appeal to glean more about designer drinks and spirits.
It may, unfortunately, be a long time before Diageo’s U.K.-based concept of personal mixologists makes its way to private parties in the U.S. While the idea of private bar tending is nothing new to Americans, this very inclusive package, rolled out by an elite group of Diageo mixologists is certainly raising the bar. Yet, after prohibition wrapped up in the U.S., many state laws were instituted that continue to prevent distillery owners and manufacturers from selling directly to the consumer. Therefore, Alexander & James – and its offerings remain across the pond, for now.
By Josh Taub