Pop Ups & Takeovers

Talking Pop ups and takeovers with Cameron Bownes

2022 was a busy year for the Zetter Group with bar takeovers, pop ups and events and is a similar story for many of the leading London bars. It takes a lot of time, energy and resource so why do venues do it? We asked Cameron Bownes, general manager at Zetter Hotel & Townhouse Clerkenwell….

We decided to make takeovers and events a big part of our marketing and HR policy last year for many reasons. It brought our team into contact with other inspiring individuals, they kept the team stimulated and excited through the process of creating new drinks for each project it meant the bartenders were continually honing their skills and being creative against tight timelines which sometimes stretch in the normal process of creating new drinks for the next cocktail menu for instance.

Aside from the benefits for the team, we could see an upturn in our social media statistics and our many loyal regulars could enjoy a fresh experience within the surroundings they feel comfortable in here at the Zetter Townhouse.

Who did you work with in 2022?

We welcomed a diverse collection of bars from New York including Aldama, Lullaby and Pony Boy whilst Zetter Townhouse Marylebone hosted Barcelona’s Paradiso (currently awarded World’s Best Bar) and 1930 bar from Milan.

Anas our Bar Manager also done guest shifts at Soho Beach House Barcelona, Oro Bistrot at the Fori Imperiali and we popped up at Taste of London and Cocktails In The City.

And how does a takeover work when you host one?

Normally we would have a menu featuring an equal number of drinks from The Zetter and our guest bar, we would then have a bartender from each venue making drinks whilst Anas and one of their team would be on the floor speaking to guests and press.

When Pony Boy came over they adapted the lighting and music, it completely changed the energy of the space and seeing your business in a whole new way is refreshing and stimulating, again our regulars and guests enjoyed a different experience at The Zetter Townhouse.

What have your learnt through the process?

It’s important that you are working with venues that share an equal enthusiasm for the project and good communication is essential. We coordinated the New York bars through Rachel Harrison Communication, an amazing PR company that did not let the time difference or distance slow down our communication, they were a vital part to the success of these takeovers.

When we are travelling or hosting it is preferable to have a good cushion of time to allow for delays and unexpected issues. When we are going abroad we want to ensure that the drinks are unique and reflect well on The Zetter Townhouse ethos so we will always take a selection of homemade ingredients, Anas will generally make them as a concentrate to reduce volumes and then we will provide the venue with a list of ingredients that are locally available.

On our collaboration with Aldama and Cazadores Tequila we wanted to highlight tequila versatility by using different parts of flowers from petals to leaves to stems.

The Jasmine cocktail was the most popular, using one ingredient only(Jasmine) was both fun and challenging when it came down to creating it.We manipulated the flowers extracted their flavours and obtained different ingredients ranging from vinegar to homemade liquor.

JASMINE: Jasmine infused Cazadores Tequila, Jasmine and Tonka bean Gomme, Jasmine Vinegar & Silver tip Jasmine Soda

What have your learnt through the process?

Absolutely, when you review your year having these unique events and experiences creates a sense of pride in your business and what you do, which helps with internal motivation and also keeping the team together which is vitally important.

Any other observations from travelling and receiving guest bars?

We noticed that a lot of guests who are interested in these activities and attend the events are well-travelled and have a good awareness of quality bars in multiple countries and so taking your brand abroad and welcoming internationally respected bars into your bar is a really worthwhile marketing exercise to the type of people you hope would be attracted to your business.

Plans for 2023?

We are looking to continue our focus on takeovers as they have been successful and looking forward to popping up again at Cocktails In The City in the summer 😊

Stay up to date with the Latest News

Join our newsletter and get updates on our Summer Series, London’s bars, drinks brands and more events coming soon.