How to Join the Drinks Revolution, by Philippa Barker

Food and Drink
July 25, 2017

This month our drinks team headed down to Borough Market for the fourth instalment in the Borough Talks series.

Borough Talks are a series of public debates presented by Borough Market, exploring some of the most interesting and important issues relevant to today’s food and drink world.

This session explored the drinks revolution and included a panel of acclaimed industry professionals:

  • Dave Broom: Broadcaster, lecturer and all round expert on spirits and the art of distilling
  • Tony Conigliaro: Internationally renowned drinks creator, founder of the Drink Factory consultancy and three acclaimed London bars: 69 Colebrooke Row, Bar Termini and Untitled
  • Catriona Felstead: Senior buyer at England’s oldest wine and spirit merchant Berry Bros & Rudd and the company’s first ever female Master of Wine
  • Dan Tapper: Food and drink writer and self-taught brewer who launched The Beak nano-brewery three years ago, creating small batches of unfiltered, unpasteurised beers

With fantastic food on offer from market traders and a delectable cocktail created by Tony Conigliaro’s team, the talk provided us with all there is to know about drinks. We’ve put together the key take-outs from the session so you’re in the know, too:


  • We are in a golden age for spirits at the moment with a vast array available
  • Multiple distillery openings are happening every week with new brewing techniques
  • Increasing willingness from consumers to try new spirits
  • Flavour is a key factor

Craft Beer

  • Large companies are hooking onto this from a marketing perspective when they aren’t ‘craft’ at all
  • Genuine craft products are; small, independent, have authenticity and are not prepared to put profit before quality
  • The three leading breweries on app ‘UnTapped’ have:
    • Adept and buoyant pale ales
    • Interaction with customers
    • Breweries on-site which help with profit margin
  • More beers are being increasingly developed specifically to partner with food
  • The UK has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the world


  • We are seeing a movement towards artisan wines, specifically from South Africa and Australia
  • Wine production is moving towards a natural way with minimal intervention
  • The UK market is increasingly polarised between the mass markets and the £10 a bottle sector
  • Consumers are keen to understand more about the wine and the story
  • More preference for premium and focused wines
  • It’s a great time at the moment for English sparkling wine


  • Tony Conigliaro bases his cocktails on his own stories, of which he then builds the flavour profile on
  • The London cocktail scene is the most diverse and interesting in the world
  • A good and interesting drink provides a talking point in any bar
  • London is full of people from all over the world creating drinks with a variety of global inspiration

Small Brands

  • Create a product that will cut through without being contrived i.e. not a gin with just another botanical
  • Be switched on and creative with social media – it allows direct interaction with consumers
  • A product with local ingredients sell
  • The quality and provenance of a brand is integral
  • A brand with integrity should represent the owner