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The art of the bottled cocktail

Since the heartbreaking shutdown of the on-premise industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen some incredible examples of businesses pivoting into new areas. 

Bottled and takeaway cocktails have been one way that the industry is adapting to the new normal, giving customers a small and convenient taste of the bar when they’re stuck at home. We’ve seen this interpreted in different ways across the country, illustrating the range of great ideas from the industry.

One unique approach to bottled cocktails is from the Nip of Courage team, who have brought an artistic and fun touch to the bottled cocktail game. 

Nip of Courage have been working with some venues to create one litre bottled cocktails with limited edition hand painted labels, featuring elements that symbolise moments from the crazy year that we’re having. It started with a collaboration with Bloodwood Restaurant and Bar, with bottled cocktails sold through both business websites. 

Kathleen Davies, Nip of Courage Founder, said: “I did some research from what was happening in the US and large format bottles of cocktails were actually doing quite well in restaurants in New York and places like that. 

“So I thought, well, it’s a little bit more affordable, and I can keep the price down for the restaurants and we can actually benefit together.”

The cocktails, which so far include Negronis and Martinis, are batched and bottled by Davies and her Nip of Courage team, with bespoke designs that take the name and influence of their venue partners. The back of the bottles also feature nice little hand written messages, adding pick-me-ups for both the recipient, and the staff member writing them. 

“It’s been really therapeutic for me and the team as well… Just makes us feel like we’re doing something and it’s not just about making money. We’re trying to keep the spirits up for everyone,” Davies said. 

With a fine arts degree and a history of illustration and creativity under her belt, Davies said getting back into artistic expression through her passion for the industry has been a moving experience. 

“It’s really really funny how you go back to your roots. Back when I was younger, I grew up in a reasonably poor family and we went through a really rough patch and to make our way through and to contribute to the family, I was only about 10 years old, I was doing cartoons and things like that for the Sunday papers in the comic section and used to get paid to do it, and used to contribute to the family that way,” Davies said. 

“And I just thought when all of this happened, I didn’t have any money to go out and get specific labels printed up. One of the team members [Jess], actually gave me an idea about painting on the bottle, and so I looked into it and how I could do it and just started hand painting bottles.

“It was actually really therapeutic for me as well to be creative again and just think up different designs to make people laugh or give them hope.”

As well as venue specific designs, Davies has also made some personalised ones for people in the industry to try and lift their spirits, as well as having some bottles available in some of her local bottle shops. It’s a lot to do, but they’ve been received well (including the range of Team Carole Baskin and Team Joe Exotic Negronis inspired by the Netflix series, Tiger King), and every little thing counts in the long run. 

“They’ve been going well – it’s a lot of work, but I think mentally it’s been good for the team as well, just with all of us working on it… obviously there’s a lot of uncertainty around what businesses will open again, so we’re trying to stay positive by just trying to trade out of the debt that we’re in and hopefully stay afloat and make it through to the other side,” Davies said.

You can find the Nip of Courage hand painted bottled cocktails on their website here, along with a range of Australian spirits.

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