New Zealand distiller Scapegrace has teamed up with Australia’s first dedicated digital bar – Box Bar – to offer a unique experience to gin lovers.
Championed as the world’s first natural black gin, Scapegrace Black uses organic botanicals – aronia berry, saffron, pineapple, butterfly pea, sweet potato – to produce the gin’s very distinct black hue, which changes colour when mixed.
Like your much loved local, only with a very 2021 twist, Box Bar is a digital bar born within Sydney-based venue The Fox Hole, utilising its passionate and knowledgeable hospitality team.
Scapegrace has created a custom cocktail kit complete with its famed black gin, mixers, and garnishes as part of its partnership with Box Bar. A consumer masterclass will take place on September 4, giving virtual patrons the opportunity to interact with both the Scapegrace distiller and a Box Bar mixologist.
Drinks Digest spoke to Scapegrace Managing Director Mark Neal and Box Bar’s Chief Experience Officer James Harvey-Fiander, about the inspiration behind the project.
“When the opportunity came about to partner with the legends from Box Bar, we couldn’t think of a better opportunity to bring the party to your house,” said Neal.
Neal has been blown away by the international acclaim Scapegrace Black has received and can’t wait to share the unique gin with Black Box customers.
“When we were developing the product, every month we got closer to launch, it just kept growing levels of uniqueness,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a distributor, bar tender, retailer or consumer, this level of uniqueness has snow balled the product in popularity. Keeping up with demand has been incredibly hard to manage, especially as each natural botanical is steeped over a certain period of time. This alongside managing global forecasts, with long shipping times and container procurement has added another layer of complexity, but we are managing everything.”
The one-off gin masterclass will be hosted by Mikey Ball, Scapegrace Ambassador and Creator of Scapegrace Black, and Harvey-Fiander.
“The masterclass will draw on Scapegrace Black and what makes the world’s first natural Black so interesting,” Neal explained. “It doesn’t get more personal then creating a cocktail with a person who has distilled the product, and a mixologist who has crafted the recipe. The forum will be very open, conversational, and entertaining, which will hopefully leave you feeling inspired to explore Scapegrace Black further. Basically, a unique way to spend your Saturday afternoon.”
Harvey-Fiander said: “In 2020, the world changed so we did too. The way we connect with other people and enjoy a drink has changed forever – so we created Box Bar, Australia’s first dedicated digital bar. We think you ought to be able to try new and interesting drinks wherever you are. And when it comes to interesting drinks, Scapegrace Black felt like the epitome; a perfect match to share unique spirits and stories with our customers.
“One of our most popular products are our live experiences which are proving especially popular with private corporate groups and groups of friends. The Box Bar team create and deliver an experience box which is delivered anywhere across Australia, once all the boxes have arrived, each participant signs in to a Zoom meeting where they are guided through a 90-minute story-based experience. Our spirits experts are all incredibly passionate about the experiences they deliver and they love sharing fun stories about gin, whisky, rum, tequila, vodka and more! We love helping people connect and have fun from home.”
Neal said increased familiarity with virtual classes has made it possible for Scapegrace to connect and interact with a much wider audience.
“Pre-COVID, virtual masterclasses didn’t really exist, but now with connecting virtually becoming so common, it has unlocked the opportunity for connectivity between distillers, mixologists, consumers, and genuinely interesting people to have interesting conversations,” he said. “Now that has to be a silver lining.”
Harvey-Fiander added that Box Bar been a great way to keep staff employed during lockdowns and restrictions.
“We call Box Bar and The Fox Hole ‘one team, two bars’,” he explained. “So, we’ve been able to keep the whole team engaged during lockdowns and restrictions due to the success of Box Bar. We’re also lucky enough to have been able to expand our team. Hiring passionate people to join us on this exciting journey now and beyond the current lockdowns.”
As for the Box Bar team’s favourite gin cocktails …
“Although there is definitely something fun about creating new cocktails with flavours that haven’t been tried before, we also love the classics,” Harvery-Fiander said. “The Tom Collins is about as classic as it gets – a sweet and sour whirlwind that positions the gin front and centre. It’s why we created the Ebony Collins for the Black Box – Built atop the striking Scapegrace Black Gin, the Ebony Collins has become one of our favourite drinks. And unlike her brothers Tom and John, Ebony gets her lemony goodness from the Sinkhole Limoncello infused Gin … What more could you want in life than gin mixed with more gin?”
Neal, on the other hand, has simpler tastes when it comes to Scapegrace Black. His favourite way to drink it is “straight up”.
“Whilst Scapegrace Black is the ultimate spirit for creativity, for me the creativity is in the spirit, which is why I like it straight up in the Signature: 50ml Scapegrace Black plus 150ml tonic water plus slice of green apple. Enjoy!”
The limited-edition Scapegrace Black Box is available for public purchase now, ahead of the masterclass on September 4 at 4pm. It’s priced at $55 plus shipping. Head to www.boxbar.com.au/blackbox to bring the bar to you.