Let’s face it, there are no end of clever, creative and downright mind-blowing initiatives in the world of drinks menu reveals. That said the one about to drop at Sexy Fish London and Miami is probably the most ambitious yet. Correct us if we’re wrong but have you heard of a cocktail menu launch which takes in six bars across six continents – all on the same day? Thought not. Bold? Yes. Crazy? Hmmm, just a bit. Exciting? You betcha. And we can’t bloody wait.
As in who’s behind it. It’s the brainchild of Xavier Landais, Director of Bars at Caprice Holdings. The idea began to hatch [at the time of writing] three weeks ago. “We originally wanted to do a big launch in our bars in London and Miami, maybe with pop-ups in Europe and America. But we did that five years ago,” he tells us. “Then over Martinis one evening I had an idea: what if we launched the menu in every continent?” He had to hold back on Antartica but only because of the time frame. “It is possible but was too much to pull off in terms of logistics and flights in the time we had. Let’s just say, that might be our next challenge,” he says, eyes twinkling.
Only the mother of showcases for a new cocktail menu. Called Trinity, it’s a celebration of the aroma, flavour and texture of 20 original and delicious sounding drinks. “We’ve got 12 bartenders from Sexy Fish Miami and London travelling to key bars on the Top 50 or Top 100 Bars List in Colombia, South Africa, Australia and South Korea for a one-of-a-kind pop-up where the new menu will be revealed in full,” says Xavier. And when he says ‘full’, he means it. The dozen bartenders will be serving the same 20 drinks that will be launched in Sexy Fish London and Miami, all made using the same spirits and ingredients and, get this, served from the very same glassware. “They’ll even have the original menus for guests to read through and of course, the drinks will be served by Sexy Fish bartenders,” Xavier confirms.
It takes a whole lot of collaboration to pull off something this big. “That includes everything from ingredient sourcing, prep and flow of the evening. Even the music… It’s such an integral part of Sexy Fish’s DNA that we couldn’t launch the menu without taking the music into consideration. So Vince, our resident DJ in Miami is currently training the DJs in London and Miami to make sure they all have the same vibe on the night and he’s creating a playlist for the rest of the four bars.”
So where will the menu be revealed? The following bars have been handpicked by Xavier with respect and admiration, “And they haven’t disappointed. I couldn’t have wished for better partners,” he says proudly.
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Re- Sydney (Australia/Oceania)
Cause | Effect Cape Town (Africa)
Zest Seoul, South Korea (Asia)
EL BARÓN Cartagena (South America)
Sexy Fish London (Europe)
Sexy Fish Miami (North America)
6th March (check times at each venue)
All very fabulous admittedly but the big question is, why? “There are a few reasons,” Xavier tells us. “First of all, we have various social media accounts – some of them personal – which, when combined, add up to several thousand followers spread all over the world. That tells us that we’re interesting to people in those countries/continents but most of them will never get a chance to experience Sexy Fish first hand; the Instagram post/story is where it stops. It makes sense for us to go to them.”
Fair enough but why do the whole menu? “Everyone does takeovers and they’re great but mostly they consist of four drinks, served over a two-hour period and yes, you get a snapshot of what the bar does but its very limited,” Xavier rationalises. “The reason we’re doing the full menu on the same day is to give those people the exact same experience, at the same time as our bars in London and Miami and not after them. Without being pompous or arrogant this is us saying, you follow us, you like what we do, we’ll come to you.”
There’s also the matter of staff retention. “Bartenders like to show what they do and by getting all of my guys to travel, it’s a way of saying we trust you to deliver this work. You will have fun, you will meet new people but it is hard work. Bartenders love this sort of challenge.” Then of course, there’s the PR and marketing side of things. “That’s not the first point on my list but it is a point,” he admits.
Forget the drinks for a moment, let’s zone in on the logistics. In Xavier’s words, “they’re ginormous.”
“We’ve sent each bar a full list of hundreds of ingredients including prep and specs. It’s taken three, three-hour Zoom calls with each bar to go through the full list – them telling us what they can get, didn’t know, can’t find etc – and it’s still ongoing. There will be a few products that our lab will have to recreate, including lots of the prep. For instance, Chartreuse isn’t available in some countries, so our lab is working on recreating that.”
“We want the menu to be presented in the same glassware as our bars in London and Miami so wherever the guests are, they can enjoy the full menu experience. We’re currently liaising with our suppliers to get them to the bars in time for the launch. It’s a logistic challenge but that’s part of the headache…”
“We’re sending four in total: two are leaving from Miami to Cartegna and South Africa, the other two are leaving from London for Seoul and Sydney. Sending a pallet entails more details than you think. For instance, you have to state the exact size you need otherwise they won’t pick up. There’s the packing, the commercial invoices, temporary export licences and then of course, the pallets have to come back. We’re planning for everything to arrive before they’re needed. If they don’t, it will be a disaster – I’ve promised the full Sexy Fish and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
“We don’t want our bartenders to be zombies with 20 cocktails they’ve never made in a bar they haven’t in worked before. So the team heading out to Sydney will arrive four days ahead of the event, so they have time to recover from jet lag – we need them on top form. We’ve booked all of the teams Airbnb accomodation with a fully set-up kitchen not too far from the bars.” Why? “Just in case we need to do or re do, prep.”
We have 1,000 menus going to London and 1,200 bound for Miami. From there they’ll be going out the bars. But each bar has a different currency and prices. So we’ve asked them to work out the yield and cost of each drink and they’ll tell us what they want to charge [the bars all keep the money made on the night]. Once they let us know, we’ll add special stickers which we’ve devised to fit in each of the menus – including the small print, service charge and VAT, all different in all of the territories. These will be added to each of the menus and you won’t be able to see difference.”
Marketing and PR:
We’re liaising with influencers/industry publication in each city – we want the bars to make money and be a success. We’ll have videography and photography in each location and all raw footage will be sent to an editor in London to ensure we have everything in one consistent style.”
And the drinks?
Ah yes, the drinks. The big question is, are they worth eight months of menu planning and frantic few weeks of logistical challenges? Xavier and the team definitely thinks so. Highlights include Coffee and Toast, described as ‘Lavish’ (brown butter infused The Lost Explorer Mezcal, coffee, caramel, Campari and manzanilla); Guava & Cream Cheese, labelled as ‘Luxurious’ (Angel’s Envy Bourbon, guava, vermouth blend, mozzarella foam), and Marshmallow and Raspberry, under the banner of ‘Unctuous’ (marshmallow infused Beefeater gin, raspberry, fortified wines and egg white).
That sounds simultaneously amazing and utterly, utterly insane in terms of organisation. Not sure it’s “worth it” from a business perspective. But at least to their bartenders and the event hosts themselves I’m sure they’re gonna love it.