Brunswick Aces successfully combines on- and off-premise offering.

Brunswick Aces Botanical Distillers has finally found the missing piece to its business, with the addition of a non-alcoholic bottle shop inside its Melbourne-based bar.

After starting Brunswick Aces in 2017 and producing its first non-alcoholic gin Sapiir, the business recently expanded to open the non-alcoholic bar in the suburb where it gets its namesake, Brunswick.

Due to its wide success and to meet consumer demand, Brunswick Aces also added a takeaway bottle shop aspect, which has seen great success in its first two weeks.

Brand Director Stuart Henshall told National Liquor News the bottle shop fit perfectly in its larger plan to encourage confidence in non-alcoholic products in the drinks market, stating: “The bottle shop was a piece of the puzzle that was missing for us, a physical retail space where customers can come in, pick up a bottle and talk to someone about it, as well as try before they buy. 

“We’ve evolved from making our own non-alcoholic gin Sapiir in our garage in 2017 to opening the first non-alcoholic bottle shop and bar in 2021.

“When developing plans we always look back to the start of the business and our purpose, which centres on everyone feeling welcome and included, this bottle shop is just another way to promote inclusivity in the drinks market.”

Henshall said it was the right time to add a bottle shop to its venue, with the growing consumer demand for non-alcoholic products.

“Timing is also a factor to the decision to open now, with the non-alcoholic market continuing to grow rapidly, we’ve gone from having not even a handful of products available when we first started, to over 100 products from domestic producers alone, with international imports adding the quality of products available,” he said.

“Before we opened, there wasn’t a dedicated space where a customer could come in and explore this many options, and have the same experience as their alcohol imbibing counterpart going to a traditional bottle shop.”

Combined on- and off-premise offering improves confidence

Since opening, the bottle shop addition has improved consumer confidence and added a second stream of income for the venue. Shoppers have welcomed the chance to try products before making a takeaway purchase.

Henshall said having an off- and on-premise section takes out any “guesswork and disappointment” with non-alcoholic products still relatively new in the market.

“As the bottle shop is in the bar itself, the space is blended, there is a dedicated wall for showcasing the products available. Customers can browse as they usually would but then have the option to try before they buy which we are finding is a great way to engage with people and educate them,” he added.

“Customers are loving it, we’ve only been open a couple of weeks but the bar has been booked out the whole time, mostly because it’s a familiar and welcoming place, and alongside that the bottle shop receiving a steady stream of sales.

“From people popping in for 30 minutes for a pre-dinner drink and taking away a bottle, to groups staying and drinking for hours and placing an order to pick up the next day in the car.

“Some people coming in haven’t tried non-alcoholic products before and don’t know what they are looking for, so we want to give them the confidence to make the right choices.”

Despite the venture still being in its infancy, Brunswick Aces is already being urged by consumers to expand into other major cities.

Henshall said the business hasn’t ruled out the possibility in the future, saying: “We’ve been inundated with people nationwide asking us to come and set up store in their cities. Once we have solidified Melbourne, and can showcase it as a viable option, we’ll look to expand into other major cities.”

Now that it has had a proven positive response from customers, the next step in 2021 according to Henshall, is to focus on how to “elevate the bottle shop experience”.

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