Manchester is #ForwardDrinking!

After the success of our first #ForwardDrinking seminar at London Cocktail Week with our good friends from Nightjar, we decided to take the discussion on the road to one of my favourite cities (and former home!) -- Manchester!

Our talk, The Relationship Between Brands and Bars is Broken, is about opening up the dialogue around the contracts that often dictate what bars should/have to have as their house pours and how the menus are written. Instead of the standard deals that have been done for decades, we think brands and bars can offer each other much more value by working together and communicating what they need. We're not against deals and contracts, per se, but we believe there may be a better way to structure them that creates more value for both parties.

Peggy's Bar

Peggy's Bar

We felt it only makes sense to partner with bars in each city, because each city has a different cocktail culture and different needs. This time around, we worked with our friends Adam Day and Shane Kilgarriff, Co-Owners of Peggy's Bar, to hear about the challenges they've had in the first year they've been open and their approach to listing fees in their bar. 

...Except their are none. Peggy's Bar has no listing fees or pouring deals of any kind. They have a total of 27 spirits on their bar and they only choose products they want to use -- nothing they're told they "must stock". Still, they manage to offer cocktails at prices in line with what consumers expect in Manchester and make a decent enough profit to keep the lights on and turn down any offers of support from brands that come with conditions attached. So, how do they do it?

  1. Low overheads: With a location only a few steps into Salford, they've managed to bring down the cost on rent and still have an attractive, yet modestly decorated, good-sized bar. They also only run the bar themselves.
  2. Low waste: Wherever possible, they're reducing food waste throughout their drinks programme. Wine that's going off? They turn that into their own house vermouth, saving on having to buy in vermouth. They use fruit skins for their homemade beers. Fruit stones for their own liqueurs. Etc. All of this helps cut the overall cost per drink across their menus.
  3. Less Rubbish: They only throw out about 3 bin bags of rubbish a week now and pay per bag for collection. That adds up.
  4. Tight cost control: They've gone into great detail on the costs of each ingredient that goes into making their cocktails, giving them tighter control on what's being spent. 

In Shane's own words, "Being constantly conscious of where we are financially allows us to be responsive to varying periods of revenue. If we need to tighten the belt from week to week, then we can, but we constantly strive to find creative ways to deliver world class drinks at the best price for our guests."



On the night, we were treated to a selection of cocktails made with wonderful products from St George Spirits. Specs are below (all drinks shaken):

Paper Plane

40ml St George Dry Rye Gin

15ml Amaro Montenegro

15ml Aperol

15ml Lemon

Shochu Highball

20ml St George Shochu

20ml St George Raspberry Brandy

10ml Peggy's Orange Liqueur

10ml Lemon

Top sparkling wine

Ugly Bald Gary

45ml St George Bruto Americano

75ml Fresh Blood Orange Juice


25ml St George Terroir Gin

20ml St George Pear Brandy

25ml Yorkshire Rhubarb Cordial

20ml Buttermilk 


A huge thank you to the Adam and Shane from Peggy's and all all those in Manchester who showed up -- It was a great turnout and we were thrilled to have bartenders, wholesalers, and brand folk all in attendance. If you'd like to chat to us about the financials behind your bar or even host a similar session in your city, drop us a line:

Next up: Leeds and Edinburgh in March! Details coming soon...

Michael Vachon