The Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order (MCO) has affected many business and industries, but it has hit the hospitality and bar industry especially hard. The need for social distancing is especially devastating for an industry that relies mostly on people socialising with one another.
Since the MCO began in March, and with the ban on bars and pubs still being enforced during the current conditional MCO, we've seen a number of bars and pubs being forced to close down.
Other bars have been resorting to different means of keeping afloat such as online cocktail delivery. Some of the bars that are doing this include the three bars that were recently named in the Asia 50 Best Bars list – Bar Trigona, JungleBird and Coley. Beer bars such as Taps Beer Bar, Ales And Lagers and Farmer's Bar have also been doing online deliveries of their beers throughout the MCO.
Also read: 3 Malaysian bars make it on Asia's 50 Best Bars 2020 list
One trend that has been popping up as well is that of 'virtual bars', which has seen bartenders doing tastings or masterclasses online while 'customers' at home follow their tutorials and make their own cocktails.
It's a concept that drinks conglomerate William Grant & Sons (WG&S) are now harnessing with the introduction of the 1887 Virtual Bar virtual bar platform in order to support the local bartending scene and help those who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The platform will feature weekly guest shifts hosted by bartenders from popular local bars, accompanied by Charmaine Thio and Brett Bayly, the regional brand ambassadors of Hendrick’s Gin and Glenfiddich.
The 1887 Virtual Bar kicks off its first shift via Zoom today (May 15) at 8pm with a guest shift by James Estes, bartender at PS150, followed by David Hans, bartender at Bangsar's Three X Co next Friday (May 22), also at 8pm. You can register to join in via this link.
Through the programme, consumers can make a donation and support their favourite bars by purchasing a digital cocktail off the menu (which you can look at here: 1887 Virtual Bar menu). Each partner bar will showcase four drinks on the ticketing platform and consumers will be encouraged to make a donation to the bar by purchasing a cocktail. Consumers can redeem their chosen cocktail purchases at the bar when it opens.
For every contribution received, WG&S will match the value (up to RM2,000 per bar). Local bars who are interested in being a part of 1887 Virtual Bar can register here.