New world order

By Emily Sutherland

- Last updated on GMT

'We never deliver bill shock'
'We never deliver bill shock'

Related tags New world trading World trading company Drink Cocktail

The New World Trading Company is putting interesting drinks at the forefront of its offer as the nine-strong group marches into the UK’s city centres. Liquor sales account for 66% of the group’s sales, and Botanist’s Newcastle branch has sold a cocktail and a pint for every minute it’s been open.

From fruity and herbal combinations like the Botanist’s cherry and sage sling to the Smugglers Cove thrice spiced Martini, the NWTC is leading the way on flavour. Beer drinkers are kept happy with a vast variety of beers, all presented in an ‘Anthology of Ales’ so good-looking it’s designed to be (and regularly is) stolen.

Never over-complicate


Accessibility is a word that keeps coming up when Hill talks about the success of the NWTC’s drinks offer. Cocktail flavours are quirky without being alienating, and drink names are kept deliberately simple to help customers navigate the extensive menu. A sugar snap and mint Martini is still recognisably a Martini, served in the correct glassware.  Hill stresses that operators don’t need to over-complicate their menus to make drinks successful.

“It’s easy to get carried away and make things too complicated. Always take a deep breath, look at the drink and think: who would buy that off the list. You have to think about someone who has never been in the venue before-what are the ingredients saying to them, and are they going to buy it.

"You can come up with the best drink in the world that the bar-tenders love, the experts love and the spirit enthusiasts love, but if it’s going to represent one in every 2,000 cocktails sold, there’s no point.”

 “Our drinks are actually very straightforward-it’s about sourcing the best spirits and serving them with a great twist. We’re not trying to hide behind complicated names or confuse anyone by calling drinks something they’re not. The formula for naming them comes down to the ingredients, and the kind of drink it is-for example, the anise and strawberry Martini.

Offering something for everyone is also behind the NWTC’s unusual decision to have an equally strong cocktail list as it does beer.

“It was a gap in the market. If you just do one or the other, you exclude people. When we started, I wanted to create something for people like me, couples who go out with other couples. I want there to be something for everyone, for people who prefer to drink cocktails and for those who are happiest swigging a pint.”

‘We never deliver bill shock’


Keeping things accessible extends to the prices, with Hill determined to keep the New World Trading Company firmly in the pub bracket. Cocktail drinkers can expect to get a decent amount of change from a ten pound note, and beers come in at around £4.50. Nestled in the heart of the City, the NWTC’s first London site the Trading House could easily add £4 to the cocktail prices without its city boy customer base flinching. However, Hill says he aims for higher delivery at a lower price point at every site, regardless of the Trading House’s well-heeled clientele.

“Part of our success is that we should never deliver bill shock, and we should never be thought of as just for special occasions. We should never be somewhere you have to save up for.

“Everyone who comes to our pubs will have ordered a mojito or a pint of ale 500 times before. When customers pick up our menu, they see our prices and they think I’m happy with that, I’ve paid more and I’ve paid less. But when the drink arrives, it has that wow factor and people leave thinking: that was amazing and it was reasonably priced.

“It’s the same with ales-we have a slightly higher price point in London, but not by much. It’s around £4.50 for a pint of lager, and everywhere around here is at least 50p more.”

‘The best drinks, best bartenders’


An excellent drink menu is nothing without great bar staff to deliver it, and the NWTC is prepared to spend big to get results. Hill estimates that the two and a half week training period for staff, from the moment they’re hired to the first time a paying customer buys a drink, costs the group an eye-watering £80,000.

Bar staff are put through a rigorous training process to make sure they can pour a perfect serve every time. Starting two weeks before an opening, staff work through written tests for the 48 drinks specifications, broken down into groups of eight to make the task more manageable. Once on site, they spend over a week training in the day and running mock services by night. Bartenders stock the bar and label everything themselves, to help create a sense of ownership.  For Hill, the associated cost, time and waste is well worth it.

“We make drink after drink after drink, which ultimately ends up going down the sink. Although we are very firmly a pub group, we make sure we have the best drinks, at the best price, being sold by the best human beings. Show me another bartender who can make that kind of cocktail, in a pub, at that price.”

New World Trading Company proves that with the right combination of originality and attention to detail, there is still serious money to be made for multiple site operators when it comes to drinks.  With the Botanist Newcastle alone set to rake in £5.5 million this year, the group’s success shows no sign of slowing. Make ours a watermelon and sage Sling.

Member Profile: Chris Hill

  • Position: Managing director
  • Sites: Nine, with five more planned.
  • Best Advice: Hire hard and fire easy. Don’t make any promises you can’t keep, and be nice to people on the way up in case you meet them on the way down.
  • Chris’s favourite: The Trading House’s Cinnamon and ginger Manhattan
  • Fresh ginger, cinnamon syrup, Woodford Reserve bourbon, Antica vermouth, Domaine de Canton liquer. 

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