From Berlin to Brooklyn, the world’s drinking dens have reinvented their businesses to keep them running. Bars have turned increasingly to digital customer engagement and word-of-mouth marketing to create a buzz around their brands, maintain their customer connection and support their employees.  

Bartending goes digital  

With customer engagement in the physical space severely limited, many bars have been using social media and Youtube to stay in the forefronts of their customers’ minds.   

Many bartenders have taken to social networks to teach cocktail making in the virtual space. Essential for maintain the customer relationship, bars like The Nighthawk Bar in Redwood, California have been holding cocktail classes on social media, "to give something back to our community and spread positive energy in a time of great difficulty and uncertainty," Esteban Acedo, Nighthawk. 

Nighthawk Redwood Bar

Nighthawk Bar, Redwood, California, USA.

Award-winning bartender Dirk Hany has been giving cocktail tutorials with his team from Bar Am Wasser on Instagram and YouTube. He has also been using TWISPER for his business this year and has seen the direct impact of positive customer engagement firsthand. “On TWISPER, happy customers don’t rate you, they recommend you to their friends. This creates a snowball effect of positivity that converts their network into new customers.” 

Bob Peters, critically acclaimed bartender at Grinning Mule and some of his fellow bartenders in North Carolina, USA put on virtual happy hours, sponsored by digital magazine Unpretentious Palate “Each happy hour is presented by a different bartender who gets to choose their own topic – my talk was on punch,” Bob explains. “We talk about ourselves, the history of the cocktail and then field questions, so it’s a way to brush up on our skills and maybe learn something new while we are not working. People pay $10 to watch each session online, and the presenter is given a share of the money, so it’s also a way to earn some extra money.” 

Bob Peters

Bob Peters, award-winning bartender

Bars create organic buzz around their brand 

The digital space allows businesses to amplify the power of word-of-mouth marketing.  

“I enjoy the network effect of TWISPER. I like the concept that friends recommend places to their friends. Being able to tap into a positive community of customers and potential customers is of great advantage.” - Erik Lorincz, award-winning bartender 

Speaking with the TWISPER Business team, award-winning bartender Erik Lorincz has been using the platform’s features for his bar Kwānt in London, Best New Opening of 2020, and number six on the The World’s Best 50 Bars. TWISPER creates a streamlined customer experience whereby happy customers recommend businesses they love in a network of friends and followers. Any business can take control of their profile for free, add their best photos, and advertise their services to attract TWISPER’s rapidly growing community of 1.6 million users. Bars have been employing TWISPER to expand the net of customer engagement, solidifying the relationship with loyal customers and attracting new ones.  

NightjarOriole and Swift bars in London, have joined forces to create Speak Easy At Home that brings their fans “bespoke cocktails from three of the world’s best bars, available exclusively and delivered straight to [their] door.” 

Cape Verde

Cocktail-to-go from Oriole, London, UK

The Ugly Duckling in Melbourne, Australia is renowned for their bespoke cocktails. They state that they have "bottled some of our favourite signature twists and well-loved classics for [our customers] to enjoy. All our cocktails come complete with garnish kits [to] create The Ugly Duckling cocktail experience at home.” Bottled or bagged cocktails have become a growing trend, as home delivery has taken off. The Ugly Duckling have given their customers a choice of signature bottled cocktails and bottled cocktails made to order. Their customers have loved their innovation and have been sharing it with their friends over social networks. 

Palo Santo Gimlet from Tayēr + Elementary

Palo Santo Gimlet from Tayēr + Elementary 

Indeed, giving customers something to talk about has been an essential ingredient to create a buzz for businesses in the hospitality industry, and one that has seen solid results for bars during this difficult year. 

In Salford, England, the teams at The Seven Brothers brewery and The Four Sisters gin distillery, joined forces and created a gin’n’beer drive-through. They put out a statement saying "We know how hard and confusing things are at the moment and social distancing is a must, so [for local customers, they can] collect... online orders without having to come inside and mingle”  

The Seven Brothers Brewery

The Seven Brothers Brewery, Salford, UK.

London based the The Cheese Bar used their cheese truck to deliver the ultimate “self-isolation survival kit” packed with cheese, charcuterie and wine. 

Windmills Craftworks microbrewery in India have generated a lot of customer interest around their new menu “In the mocktail segment, we will introduce immunity boosters.” says Neil Alexander, chief mixologist “and it’s been received with much success”. 

Serving drinks to support the community  

Kate Boushelbartender at Milky Way Cocktails and Atwater Cocktail Club helped to spearhead programmes to support those in the industry across Canada “we’re banding together to help those in need and putting in place mutual aid systems across the board. On a national scale, we’re operating assistance programs of our own, such as the Bartenders Benevolent Fund and the Emergency Relief Fund that is part of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association, and many local initiatives have also popped up across the country. From Bartender Fantasy League, which is probably one of the most fun and geekiest industry-related initiatives, virtual “happy hours” or simply check-ins to discuss more delicate personal and emotional struggles; we continue to find ways to connect with our peers and cultivate morale.” 

Listoke Distillery & Gin School in County Louth, Ireland, put a halt to their operations with their gin bar and school and changed the course of their operations. Instead of gin they created an alcohol-based sanitizer to supply charities and front-line essential workers including the Dublin Fire Brigade.   

Capitalizing on social currency  

In general, people share the things that make them look good to their friends. They like to feel special and look good. The offer to be part of an exclusive group, for example being able to attend an underground bar or have access to a secret menu, is desirable.  

Bisou bar in Paris, France has capitalized on this desire for “social currency”. They are known for their experimental cocktails that don’t come “on the menu”. “Without a menu, you’re free to share with our bartenders your tastes, preferences, and even mood and they’ll craft you a bespoke cocktail based on all that with seasonal ingredients.” Offering cocktail delivery during the pandemic, they’ve also launched a clothing line with Bisou branded merchandise; a great way to give their customers that feeling of exclusivity and encourage their support.   

Bartender Bisou 2

Bisou Bar, Paris, France.

All in all, this year has seen how bartenders and bar owners around the world are ready to fight back and keep putting customer experience at the core of what they do. They have done so with success, adapting their operations to fit the ever-present consumer demand for the sweet relief of a refreshing drink. Tackling such big obstacles has seen an outpouring of support from their customer base, which in turn has led to free and engaging digital word-of-mouth marketing. Genuine and organic buzz served fresh.  

TWISPER is on a mission to bring fairness and positivity back to the hospitality industry. During this unprecedented time, we hope to cast light on the grit, resilience and determination that are an inherent part of the industry. We know that these qualities will lead to recovery and restoration as we look to the future. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest industry news and TWISPER announcements.