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Balearic House Drinks has been set up by Clare Wilson and Peter Stewart from Prescot who have made bar-quality sangrias, pre-mixed in pouches, ready for people to serve themselves.
“Drinking at home has become massive during lockdown and, even though lots of places have now reopened, I think people have fallen in love with the idea,” says Clare. “Although it was out of necessity at the start, they actually really like it because they feel safe, they can have their friends round and they’ve got the freedom to do what they want.
“I’ve seen so many garden bars on social media, it’s been a big trend, so although people are going out again which is brilliant, drinking at home is something that isn’t going away – the two are going to sit side-by-side.
“That’s why we decided to create drinks that can fit into a bar scenario and an at-home scenario as well.”
Clare, who has a background in fashion, and 3D visual designer Peter, took their first step into the hospitality industry 18 months ago when they opened Balearic bar Urbano Chiringuito in Prescot.
They developed sangria recipes which customers loved, so when lockdown came and drinking habits changed, it seemed like the perfect time to launch their creative drinks brand.
“We’d perfected recipes for sangrias over time, with a lot of trial and error, because when you go to Spain everyone has their own versions – one can be nice and one can blow your head off,” says Peter. “This is our version and we think we’ve got the balance just right.”
The company is launching with a more traditional red sangria and a white one, which Clare says many customers will never have tasted before.
“The first time I drank white sangria was in the Balearics, and it was gorgeous so I thought I’d try it on our customers. Lots of them didn’t even know you could have a white sangria, it was a more modern take and was really popular.”
The pouches, which each make up two jugs of sangria, contain a base mix for people to finish off at home.
“There is quite an outlay goes into making sangria, with all the ingredients, so we thought we’d do all that for people and get the spirit mix right. All the alcoholic elements are in the pouch, balanced and ready to go, it just needs to be put in a jug with fruit and have fruit juice and lemonade added.
“People have still got control over how strong they make it and they get to have the theatre of mixing it up before they serve it.”
“A lot of people dream about owning a bar and a little bar at home lets you be the bartender,” adds Peter. “You can serve the drinks and do a bit of showboating, but you don’t have the stress of a business. More and more people are enjoying doing that, for their family and friends, so our pre-mixes just make it easier.”
With their brand built around the Balearic scene, Clare and Peter are creating Spotify playlists that customers can listen to while they’re having their drinks at home and they’re encouraging them to post photos on social media showing their own Ibiza experience.
Even the look of the first pouches has been inspired by White Isle house music.
“Our branding and our website are in the process of being designed, but we couldn’t wait to launch, so we did it with a white label like DJs launch vinyl,” says Clare.
“Lots of people loved the idea, they got it, but we won’t be keeping it because we want to roll our brand out nationwide, to bars, restaurants and supermarkets as well as to home. We’ve got a big vision for Balearic House Drinks and we’ve had a lot of support in the industry for it so we’re excited to see it grow.”
Already, it’s proving popular for garden drinks, picnics and staycation weekends away and the couple plan to tap into the festival market once that’s back on.
Plus, Clare says, there’s no reason it has to be a sunshine concept. Sangria is for life, not just for summer …
“People just want to feel like they’re away and it’s a really good drink to share between friends and family, so we want to change the perception that you can only drink it in the sun. We want people to think of it as a drink that will make them feel happy and almost as if it’s summer even when it isn’t!”
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