Well Easter has certainly been a hectic season, in fact the whole year has so far, I’ve been changing the way my team and I work, BIG changes ahead for the better.
Our new menu comes out soon, new cute glassware, new uniforms and most importantly more new staff members!
We did some product testing for Coole Swan, Thunder Toffee Vodka and Whipped Lightning alcoholic cream, more will be coming over the next few weeks from them.
I took some time out myself for a few days and ventured to France for a few days for a family gathering, it was great to get some away from work time and the sunshine and warmth was a welcome change to the dark March days in Livingston.
I also popped to Crieff for a few days gathering some more family time and even managed to venture into the Glenturret Distillery and the home of the Famous Grouse Experience, it was fun and I was surprised how much I remembered from my whisky training last year.
A little Scottish dancing at the hotel and plenty of fresh air and I’m ready to let battle commence again. I say battle as some aspects of this job has become more challenging and I’ve also started a new project.
Recently I’ve been helping out a few people starting up their own companies, I’ve been taking time to look into things for others and helping with research and idea’s, this for a short while will have to stop, I’m too busy and I’ve got my own career path to follow, I don’t mind helping people but I think for a while I’ll point them to some of the businesses that are there to assist them instead of me doing it for them, I have a ‘to do’ list longer than my arm!
The summer is looking great for us, LOTS of hen night’s, penthouse parties, self catering cottage parties and a few ladies nights and fund raisers too, bring it on :-)
Having your own business :
It’s scary but when you have your own business and you realise you have to be able to trust others to work in the same business, it’s like giving your baby to someone, you want to trust people to take care of it and nurture it, and be kind, respectful and work hard for it, not everyone will do this but you eventually find the one’s that do.
I’m building my already successful team to be even bigger and stronger.
I’ve built this business from scratch, from a couple of thousand pounds in the bank account what was left to me by my grand father, It takes hard work, every day and someone once said, "yes but you plan the menu", this job is much bigger than anyone can imagine, I don’t just plan menu’s, that’s the easy part since our customers usually pick what they want from a list online.
Everyday I market the business, take photographs, create menu’s, collect drink, order drink, sample new recipe’s, plan training, train staff, create meetings, hold meetings, network, meetings with outside businesses, create menu’s and planning for fundraisers, create and give away vouchers, look at new recipe’s online, update social media, twitter/ Facebook/ tumblr/linkedIN, update website, send monthly wages to accountant, pay wages, send wage slips, control emails, attend parties, attend fundraisers, create blogs, create leaflets, create business cards, ensure stock is clean, if stock hasn’t come back clean clean it, pack stock, pick up any fresh stock like fruit and herbs, unpack stock - now think my job is easy??
Okay I have a bug bare and it’s starting to ‘rip my knitting’ as they say so I’ll try not to turn it into a full blown rant.
Basically I’m getting a little bit fed up with the snobbery that comes from alcohol world, yes I understand that people want superb brands, different hints of flavours in their drinks and to look cool drinking, well something just that! However, at what point can we cut to the chase and just say “just give us a decent drink” ?
Bar men love to waffle on about how this brand of gin is better than that, of course we all know this, we’re not stupid, but I think some are losing substance over branding and the flavour thing is going out the window. I’m wary of highlighting some ‘top branded’ items at this point so I’m going to be careful as there can be a backlash in the drinks business, but I think a lot of people are remembering that everyone has different tastebuds in their own mouth, not everyone will appreciate a smokey whisky to a peaty one, or a drier wine to a sweeter one... everyone is different, tasting sessions are great for finding your favourite flavours of spirits and wines, I’d highly recommend them.
I may not have been in this business long but I can sense when someone is trying to con me into trying a ‘better brand’ of something because it isn’t owned by a mega brand.
Take Rum for example, most of my friends know I like a mega brand of spiced rum with another brand of cola I have been questioned why, I mean, yes I know there’s other brands out there, all lovely too, I’ve tried a lot of them, but for me it’s still got to be the big brand stuff, not because of the branding or because I‘ve been ‘brainwashed’ into liking it, but because for me, nothing else tastes as perfect than those 2 brands together, it hits my happy tastebuds in about 2 seconds.
I know a lot of drink will taste different from each other, I don’t need to be told that this brand is better than that, or I can’t order a Merlot because it’s the uncool wine, who cares, I’m the one paying for it, and I’m the one drinking it, if I like it, I DON’T CARE!!
Last week I put a pretty picture of a drink that I made up on a mixologist page, (picture above, The Miami Vice) I was shot down in flames for serving a "Creamy vomit central" in one viewers opinion, the joke was actually on him though as it was already an affiliated cocktail AND once I put a link up for the basic recipe (not with my own recipe but one from another website) it was a case of "Premixes?? Ergh disturbing” now that was funny, as I hadn’t used a premix and I used fresh strawberries and pineapple juice, and also used a decent rum, not that he would have known as he judged me and the cocktail from a picture only, I mean how stuck up is that? Talk about taking some fun out of cocktails! Who actually bothers as long as it looked and tasted good and I used decent ingredients??!!
My own personal view is that cocktails can not only be serious but also fun, I think a lot of people have forgotten this! Everyone know’s I’m a follower of the likes of ‘The Tipsy Bartender’ as he brings fun into the mix, and why not, okay so he uses pretty girls in his video’s that are clearly models and not bar trained but that’s actually part of the fun too, it’s not offensive it makes me giggle anyway!
Now there’s a LOT of brands out there, trendyfying one’s that like to look hip and cool, but taste ‘meh’ to some people, and then there’s the price... god where do I start with that one?
Where on earth did we start to decide it was okay to charge a small fortune for a drink, I mean, it’s a DRINK! I’ll stop short of saying that the next sentence or two are not about vintage, champagne, aged or rare bottles of drink, I know those bottles are going to be more exclusive and cost more, I’m simply talking about MAINSTREAM AVAILABLE ALCOHOL, but charging £12 for some liquid in a glass is actually beyond a joke, no matter where you are. Some of the cheapest cocktails I’ve had in the world are in New York City, where you would expect it to be silly prices, but mainly it’s reasonably priced, why? because there’s so many places they keep their costs down to compete.
In the UK it seems to be the opposite, it's almost like charging more to get the exclusive rights to the customers.
It’s time to question why we go out and what we drink, do we go out and become disappointed when we don’t have a basil infused mojito with pomegranate and vanilla muddle? no I thought not, we go out to relax, unwind, have fun and enjoy our friends/family/partners company.
As usual this comes right back to why I continue The Cocktail Queen, people like the experience, they’re not just ordering drinks at a bar but remember the experience shouldn’t cost above it’s worth, or claim to be cheaper than it usually costs, you pay money out of your pocket for what you’d pay, don’t get conned into believing the ‘bargain basement bin’ or ‘ special exclusive offers’ is actually real, because it’s not. Something at 50% cheaper isn’t always the truth.
Maybe it’s about time we all started to buck the trend and not get sucked in by the 'next big brand’ but enjoy the experience of going out /staying in for some nice drinks, food and enjoyment, isn’t that why we go out anyway?
Now, where’s my Morgan’s and Diet Pepsi?
No chance, I’m sticking with the old-ish version, people prefer me to be me, however I might be a little slimmer by the end of the year, watch this space!
Anyway I have our 1st event of 2014 on Saturday, a promotional afternoon for a well known diet company, what a great way to start the year on a positive note.
As many of you also know I’m also doing a chocolate workshop, it’s been getting more and more interest and I’ve been asked to do truffle workshops for the mummies so I’m now adding this onto the cocktail programme, everything will be chocolate related!
Tickets will soon be on sale for Cocktober Fest 2014 events, please remember to book your tickets as soon as possible for these to avoid disappointment.
So here’s to a fabby new year, lets hope it’s a great one, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.
I’m using this blog to reflect on what has mainly been a manic and busier than last year, year. Lots went on in spring, we had our 1st wedding catered for in Autumn and a few hen parties and birthday afternoons, never mind the standard monthly weekend night’s out events. Our months used to be be busy around pay week, now that’s transpired to being busier mid month due to the fact people know who much they WON’T spend and can keep to a budget mid month.
I’ve recently changed the menu so all the summer cocktails are now safely tucked away in hibernation for the winter and we have some fantastic new cocktails for you all to try over the holiday season.
So this time of the year everyone is hustling and bussling about trying to find perfect presents saving money and time. I love watching people go mental at this time of the year, chill out everyone, we’ll have another christmas next year!
We have a few bookings on the run up to Christmas but this is usually a slightly quieter time for us, people don’t see their friends as much in December as they have ‘work’ night’s out instead. for us January is a busy month with everyone having a catchup again, including me. My own social life has gone down the tubes recently, been far too busy catering for customers but having a bit of a catch up this week luckily so that will keep my friends sweet for another few weeks at least.
With a few events already booked in for the new year I’m hoping we’ll be busier than ever.
If I don't speak to you before it then I hope you all have a wonderfully ‘Merry’ Christmas and a Hiccy new Year!
Don’t forget to use us at your next event, Fundraiser or party!
Sitting here typing this up in the glorious sunshine with a cocktail on my desk makes me remember why I started up working for myself, getting out off the corporate rat race and working the hours I want to Monday to Friday makes it all worth while whilst my little girl is sitting in her paddling pool and having a chill out day.Today I had a big meeting in Edinburgh at the Gyle and commuting there was really strange, even though I had a deadline and a presentation it was on my terms. As I got off my train I glanced at the past briefly when I spotted my old work, the big red BT building was in my view for some of my stroll yet I didn't even phase me, It almost feels like a different life working there.The Riviera Maya, DELICIOUS!!
I hear many successful business stories that start off with "when I left my 9-5 job" but for me the only thing I miss is the salary and knowing how much was going to be in my wage each month, the rest of it was overrated and even though it was a cushy job and I left some lovely people behind, I don't feel sad at all, weird though it may sound (as this job can be WAY more stressful) it's my stress that I can usually sort out easily and don't have to reply on 112 other people in a chain to create a happy customer.
My meeting today went well (I think) and I'm hoping it's the start of something really big for The Cocktail Queen Limited, here's hoping!
The last few months have been SUPER hectic, Gay Pride VIP bar, a magazine launch of The Fab Mag, a big corporate event in Glasgow for 170 delegates, loads of hen parties, ladies event's, a wedding reception., sweet 16th's and 2 x proms (non alcoholic), big birthday bashes and a good few more fund raisers, I love fund raisers as they really help raise funds for some great causes although they're usually pretty hectic and I don't get a chance to mingle or chat to people like the house parties I still love the job itself. 67 strawberry daiquiri's in 19 minutes, sure why not!
I'm now into the Autumn planning stage again (yes already) and Christmas, have LOTS of lovely plans for Christmas 2013 and I have the 3 events to organise too, Rocky Horror x 2 nights and the 70's & 80's night in Airdrie too, fun fun fun, it's going to keep me on my toes for the next few months!
We're starting up some new staff at the moment, lots more area's covered is great as I'm getting requests all over Scotland (and the UK!)
as soon as the new ladies are up to speed you'll be meeting them all. My ladies and I are divising new games, quizzes and much fun-ness for your pleasure.
Thanks to everyone for their continued support, sharing our page, 'liking' us and generally being there for us as a small business, without you all I wouldn't have a job and probably be miserable!
Well almost 'Mad March' already, our spring and summer cocktails are ready to be poured and we have LOTS of exciting things going on, including ladies night's, fund raising events and lots and lots of parties in peoples homes.
Over the last few months we've come to a point where we're getting a lot of business from all over UK.
You may have noticed we now have packages instead of "just cocktails" this isn't actually new and we've always been able to offer the services but we've structured it in a way that people can identify with what they want. This is making our job easier, as well as our menu selection where people can pick their own cocktails. On that subject we are now also able to offer hair & make up afternoons for brides to be, where our ladies can get their hair and make up, cocktails and cakes in an afternoon, creating the perfect afternoon party for hen's, brides and other female members, check out the new package on the page.
Social and cocktail did an interview with me in January, it was well written and they popped it onto their website blog page, here it is if you missed it : http://www.socialandcocktail.co.uk/blog/interview-the-cocktail-queen/
Teaming up, we still have our fantabulous photographer Fionalee Photography and the Buff Butlers and because we're all so busy we're now going to start hiring more staff to cover extra booking requests, want to be a queen? Pop us an email!
New stuff, we have an event of our own "Cocktober Fest" was born in 2012 and will be making a BIG comeback this year, so far we have 4 venues with 4 themes, when tickets include a cocktail, all entertainment and a few surprises, we're sure you'll have a great time and tickets have been selling very well for all 4 events already!
Lets say goodbye to long dark winter night's and hello to chilled daiquiri's in the garden on hot summer days.
Well what a quick year I've had!
Things are starting to take shape and I now officially have two staff members now fully up and running. Thankfully I also have a LOT of friends who have been able to help me out over the last few months with events and special occasions, you know who your true friends are when they help you out without even batting an eyelid or asking for anything it return, so here's a massive thanks to them all.
On a personal note I've been head hunted by another drinks company so I'll be doing events and presentations for them also, a super fun gang and a brilliant new business opportunity for me to learn more, I'm always learning something new and I'm loving it.
In the summer I got my photographer to take photo's of the cocktails and also of me so I'm attaching a couple of pictures taken from it, she can come to your parties and the costs are within the packages we have.
This company is going from strength to strength, and things are getting pretty busy in here at the moment
as I'm now franchising the business out to other area's around the UK I'm becoming more behind in my emails, I used to have a turn around of my emails within the hour, nowadays it's more like 4 hours but I'll take on more staff when it becomes too hectic.
With Christmas looming, there's already some of our dates completely gone, times like this we need more queens, if you're interested then pop me an email, I'm pretty approachable.
Our Christmas menu is being created at the moment and will start up mid November, after last Christmas I'm sure our Christmas menu will go down very well again!
In the last few months we've done some amazing parties, hen nights, pamper parties, baby showers (been LOTS of those??) and of course COCKTOBER FEST, I organised a fun (and slightly naughty) ladies night, what fun.
The next one's are becoming planned at the moment but we're hoping to cover the whole of Scotland and some parts of England also next October, what this space...
If you have any idea's or comments, please also drop me an email, even though I said earlier I'm pretty busy, I'm always here to listen. Listening to my customers feedback, comments and idea's is what keeps me going.
I've aware there's a copycat company started up recently near me, they're copying lots of what I do so I'm flattered, I'm not exactly bothered as at the end of the day the queen rules and we have loads of packages to offer our customers plus our own ideas and techniques. This being said, there is also a couple of fantastic cocktail companies also with their own idea's, use them as at the end of the day it's a hard industry, I have a list of decent cocktail companies if you need to find out who's the best in your area just pop me an email and I'll advise.
I've just updated our website too so feel free to have a look around.
With the announcement of the end of the recession just last week I'm hoping the new year with bring lots of new business for us, I feel like celebrating, in your house!
So here goes, my FIRST EVER blog...gulp!
At the starting line...
Ok, to start, I'm not going to actually start at the start, if this makes sense, I'd bore people in 2 minutes flat!
I'll give you a VERY brief overview of my life and how I got here.
I am a nearly 40 something year old woman with a lovely family and great friends, and fabulous daughter and husband, I'm lucky to have all that, but I've had to make my own luck, without boring everyone I wasn't exactly born lucky, or rich.
I'm not rich yet either, but I say yet as I'm told it might happen one day, the lottery or work though who knows, happy to get the answer on a postcard.
I started up The Cocktail Queen after a short spell of hosting wine parties, I tried (and failed) but I still actively promote the wine events though so you never know.
Our parties are very different to what you usually get, you need to book one to find out ;-) but yes, The Cocktail Queen is now the main business and everything gets fed into it. I started the cocktail party business in January 2011 and with a lot of hard work and determination, a lot of sweat and tears I can finally say it's becoming successful. It's one of those businesses that goes from strength to strength with more work, not an easy task on my own though. As I'm pretty much on my own (besides a couple of friends helping me out from time to time) I do EVERYTHING, people think because it's a party company I only work weekends, this is not true, Sunday to Thursday are spent planning menu's, advertising, blogging (from now on), marketing, talking to potential customers... its non stop. Fridays & Saturdays I'm putting the equipment and drink together for the parties, Friday and Saturday nights I'm at the parties. I use a couple of marketing tools and social sites, take photographs of all my own drinks, chase and collate reviews for the website and mingle in social events - even when I'm out with friends or family, it's a full on 247 job, but it's my job, my responsibility and my own business.
I'm lucky to have a husband that works from home and takes care of our daughter pretty much every day, whilst doing his own job, doing up our house and garden, it's full on for us all.
Recession, what recession?
One thing that's become apparent during this "recession" is that people still like a drink, I'm always advised that people won't spend money in a recession, that's not actually true. People are definetely more "on guard" with their cash, but people are still happy to pay for cocktails, book holidays and have some luxuries in life, they work harder (as they don't want to lose their job) in a bid to self protect their livelihood, they want to spend more time with family and friends and I've tapped into that.
People tell me they love me coming along to their parties, maybe it's because I've bucked the trend of charging a small fortune for a standard (when I say standard I mean standard non expensive ingredients) cocktail, charging £12 for a cosmopolitan is plain wrong, no matter how it's dressed up!
I only purchase decent ingredients, people expect it, not just because it'll taste better (although it will)
I buy and use it because it's what my customers want, I have a level of expectations from my customer base, one is using decent products, the other is decent service.
At parties I TRY to chat to each person and find out a little about them, even if it's just their usual favourite drink or finding out what tv programmes they like, where they're going on their holidays or where why've been. I'm a social butterfly and I LOVE people, everyone. I'm interested in peoples lives, not in a nosy way though, I know my boundaries. It's not always possible to chat to everyone though but throughout the course of the event I'll get talking to people, usually in the kitchen, the best parties are always in the kitchen as they say!
My Own Birthday Bash
In October I turn 40, not relishing the thought of it, however I need to make my mark of it, somehow. People ask me if I'm making cocktails, in a word, NO! I'll get someone else to make my cocktails for a change, although I'll be avoiding those £12 cosmpolitans, All I can do is change the rules myself over time, here comes a bumpy ride to all those bars overcharging...The Cocktail Queen has arrived.