Proof Drinks brands stocked in 96% of UK’s best cocktail barsBy Georgie Collins
UK spirits distributor Proof Drinks is now stocked in 48 of the top 50 cocktail bars in the UK, which are selected by industry experts and published by B2B publisher Top 50 Cocktail Bars.
The Proof Drinks portfolio boasts world-renowned brands including Compass Box Whisky, Four Pillars Gin, Mr Black Spirits, Elijah Craig, Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey and Evan Williams, as well as rapidly growing brands Cazcabel Tequila, The Lost Explorer Mezcal and the ‘innovative’ non-alcoholic spirits brand Lyre’s.
In July, Lyre’s took home the award for Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient at annual festival Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) in New Orleans for its Italian Orange ‘spirit’. This is the first non-alcoholic ‘spirit’ to be given the accolade, thought to be ‘one of the most important awards’ in the global bar scene calendar.
The brand, which boasts a range of 16 non-alcoholic ‘spirits’, including an alcohol-free ‘whisky’, two agave bottlings, and the ‘world’s first’ booze-free baijiu, plus five ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktails, is offered as the non-alcoholic option in bars. This includes Lab 22 in Cardiff, which this year was named Best Bar in the UK by 50 Top Cocktail Bars, and Mother Mercy’s in Newcastle upon Tyne, where customers are offered the full cocktail menu in non-alcoholic format using Lyre’s portfolio.
Meanwhile, at London’s Lyaness, which this year was crowned Best Bar in the World at TOTC, Compass Box Artist Blend features in the Lo-Fi Hard Shake found on the bar’s British Cookbook menu. The blended whisky, which is a tribute to Edinburgh and the artists that live within it, is mixed with Grass Amazake, fermented coconut and lemon.
Mr Black Spirits is the coffee liqueur of choice in many of the UK’s leading cocktail bars including London’s Artesian and Swift, Public in Sheffield, and the prestigious Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London where the brand’s ambassador recently hosted a masterclass highlighting the versatility of the caffeinated spirit.
Heaven Hill’s whiskey brands can be found in a number of acclaimed bars across the UK.
Both Elijah Craig and Evan Williams Black are stocked at the creative London-based basement bar, Cocktail Trading Company, while Edinburgh’s Italian-inspired bar Hey Palu serves Rittenhouse and Mellow Corn.
Meanwhile at Leeds-based jazz and blues bar, The Domino, Evan Williams Black features in the Afternoon Chai cocktail alongside apricot liqueur, chai syrup, fresh lemon juice and cold brew Yorkshire Tea, while Elijah Craig Bourbon is the starring spirit in its Peaches & Cream serve, which is mixed with peach aperitif, bitters and cream soda.
A number of leading UK bars including Blind Pig in London and Smoking Aces in Bournemouth are currently taking part in the Heaven Hill Embassy Programme, an activation that engages with leading whiskey venues to help promote Heaven Hill Distillery and its brands through consumer education, menu development and sales.
The return of the on-trade has been a big contributing factor to Cazcabel Tequila becoming Proof Drinks’ first brand to hit 100,000 case sales. The brand’s range, which includes blanco and reposado expressions alongside coffee, coconut and honey, is on menus at Callooh Callay and Disrepute in London, and Gungho in Brighton. The brand also celebrated Margarita Week at Lab 22 with a specialised menu showcasing the collection.
Elsewhere in Proof Drinks’ agave portfolio, The Lost Explorer Mezcal celebrated being the most-awarded mezcal of 2021, which aided the distributor in gaining on-trade listings across the UK.
The hand-crafted Oaxacan mezcal offers Espadín, Tobalà and Salmiana expressions, the latter of which was crowned Taste Master in The Spirits Business’ Tequila & Mezcal Masters 2021. The mezcals are available to order on menus at Hedonist in Leeds, Sexy Fish, Kol, Los Mochis, Lab22, Decimo Bar at The Standard, and at London’s speciality agaveria Hacha, where the Lost Explorer Espadin is used in the mezcal iteration of Deano Moncrieffe’s signature Mirror Margarita.
Sheyan Patel, chief commercial officer, The Lost Explorer Mezcal, commented: “The breadth of Proof Drinks offering was one of the key factors in our approach to them in 2020. Our on-trade distribution has grown significantly through the Proof sales team.
“What has been especially pleasing is not only the quality of the new listings but also the fact that the listings are on a national basis. Recently, the innovative addition of the Proof Drinks activation team has been crucial in helping us drive rate of sale through bar team education and engagement.”
A spokesperson for Proof Drinks added: “We’re delighted that the UK’s best bars continue to choose Proof Drinks brands, this is a testament to the quality of the products that our partner brands produce and the relationships that our sales team have built with those bar teams.
“We have also continued to bolster our on-premise advocacy team, which now includes some of the leading category educators, so that we can offer best in class activations, reward programs & education to our customers.”