Pembrokeshire cocktail business lifts the spirits of locals following lockdown launch

A duo from Pembrokeshire who had dreams of opening a mobile bar as the pandemic struck are experiencing business success after diversifying their plans and creating an e-commerce cocktail business instead.

Premium small batch cocktail business, On The Rocks Pembrokeshire, was launched at the end of last year by young entrepreneurs Jess Webb, 25, and Sam Lewtas, 28. On the Rocks Pembrokeshire has a range of eight cocktails which are all vegan and gluten free – from Espresso Martini to Strawberry Daiquiri – that use locally sourced produce and award-winning spirits by Penderyn Distillery and Barti Rum.

With 15 years of combined experience in the bartending industry between them, Jess and Sam’s initial ambitions were to open a mobile bar that would travel around the coastline of Pembrokeshire, but as the coronavirus pandemic impacted the tourism and hospitality industries, the pair modified their business plans to adapt to more people staying at home.

On the Rocks Pembrokeshire offers a box of six or 12 mixed cocktails starting from £39.95 and will be launching a box of three cocktails from £24.95 very soon. Jess and Sam have sold one thousand units since their launch.

On The Rocks Pembrokeshire was launched with the support of Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales and funded by Welsh Government. This service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea, into a viable business.

Both originally from Pembrokeshire, Jess and Sam have seen first-hand how waste from the food and drink industry is affecting the environment. Inspired to make a difference, On The Rocks Pembrokeshire was launched as a completely sustainable businesses using materials and packaging that is 100% recyclable.

Jess said: “Over the past year in planning our business, Sam and I were very lucky to be able to walk out of our front door and soak in our local county of Pembrokeshire where beautiful sights like the Goscar rock proved calming in the height of lockdown. This little corner of Wales has gone on to inspire our business, of which our Welsh identity is really important. Goscar Rock has gone on to be one of our bestselling cocktails, which combines fresh apple juice, paired with berry and orange liquor and infused with a local favourite rum, Barti Spiced.

Sam said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the interest in the business and feel really excited that we’ve been able to bring a little part of our adored coastline to peoples’ back gardens during a strange time.”

Jess first heard about Big Ideas Wales while studying business at Pembrokeshire College, when her marketing teacher introduced herself and a group of entrepreneurial students to the service.

A few years later, with more experience in mixology and managing a bar on the outskirts of Tenby, Jess wanted to launch her own business that combined these skills. Jess and Sam got in touch with Big Ideas Wales to gain additional advice in areas of business they did not understand.

Jess continued: “I already felt confident in marketing plans and product building and had so many ideas for On The Rocks Pembrokeshire, but there were still many business legalities that I needed support with. I instantly remembered about the Big Ideas Wales service and, having contacted them online, was put in touch with our business advisor Julie Morgan who talked us through everything we would need to think about to become a successful drinks business.”

Alongside weekly meetings that kept Jess and Sam motivated on their business journey, Julie introduced the cocktail-making couple to a group of Big Ideas Wales Role Models, likeminded Welsh entrepreneurs, who offered their first-hand knowledge and advice.

Sam said: “We were able to discuss our business plans, air concerns and ask questions to Big Ideas Wales Role Models who had not only been in the same position as us, but could offer tailored support and first-hand advice from their own businesses – from how to apply for loans to hiring machinery and researching packaging.”

Big Ideas Wales business advisor Julie Morgan said: “What started as a mobile-bar dream that was halted by lockdown restrictions has resulted in a booming cocktail business which is inspired by a taste of Pembrokeshire and Welsh spirits. Jess and Sam are a testament to how dedication to a craft and business can help you thrive even in the most difficult of situations.”

Karen Neville, Teacher and previous Enterprise Champion at Pembrokeshire College said: “Jess really made the most of all the support that was on offer to her while here at Pembrokeshire College. I am very proud to be able to watch On The Rocks grow into a successful business thanks to the hard work and entrepreneurial flair of Jess and Sam.”

Over the next year, Jess and Sam are eager to introduce On The Rocks Pembrokeshire to wider audiences through selling in markets, pubs, bars and shops in their local communities of Tenby and Saundersfoot. They also plan on expanding their cocktail range, introducing a chocolate martini for a limited period this Easter, a range of fresh daquiris over summer, and a spicy mulled cocktail this winter.

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