Saturday 30th April sees the relaunch of the shop with a free glass of prosecco on arrival! But step into SplitsDrinks at Middleton Courtyard and you will find a very different place than what you may have seen before. Recent months have seen the SplitsDrinks team revamp and extend the existing shop to a unique and colourful drinks paradise. So in this blog we catch up with owners Emily and Tom to discover more!
Peter: First up; approaching the shop you can see you have extended to next door, what plans do you have for the space?
Tom: We have! If you remember next door was Meadow View Antiques, but last year the couple that ran it retired. The opportunity to extend the shop was too good to miss. We went through many ideas of what to change the shop into but in the end stuck to what we know. We changed the layout around by sealing the existing doorway to the larger shop and then knocking through to our main shop. And you don’t have dodgy vision, the door is wonky! That is Dave’s creative vision! We have also added extra storage space in the back of the new section which is a godsend!
Emily: We also wanted to incorporate a bit of a bar area there, the extra space has given us the opportunity to add seating. We found people wanted to enjoy a drink outside in the Courtyard in the summer months but during the colder months it became tricky as we just didn’t have the room. Now as people explore the gardens and nature reserve they can find rest bite, warmth and maybe a tipple or two. It is a great way to try before you buy, we will have a range of local artisan gin, rum, whisky and craft beers.
P: You are very experimental with your window displays. The current one is slightly different, does it reveal a secret of what is within?
E: I will take the credit for that! I love eye-catching displays, like at Christmas when you see the amazing shop windows that Liberty in London does, it just draws you inside. I usually go with seasonal themes, my favourite was an autumn inspired design. We went around the estate gathering the dried autumn leaves which we filled the window with. It looked great and really gave the outside of the shop such an impact. The only issue was the amount of insects it was home to!
P: The original shop has completely changed! A different layout and a new look; where did you get inspiration from?
T: I am a big fan of golf, and of Liverpool. Everytime we go to visit the city I have to pop into a place called Junkyard Golf, it’s great fun! They also do great cocktails so I always try a few of them too.
You often see the same traditional style in wine merchants and spirit shops, but what we wanted to do is develop something fun that stands out. It gets people talking and creates a buzz.
P: Where did you get all the material from?
E: We scoured high and low, we used lots of reclaimed timber. Those old scaffolding boards have such character and loads of patina and fit in perfectly with the new theme of the shop. We have used corrugated steel and old scaffolding poles to create that junkyard look and feel.
T: We have also utilised elements from Middleton Hall. Looking around the sheds we found some weird and wonderful things that we thought would look great in the shop and acknowledge the history of the building. We found some large timber saws, the things that look like they were used by giants! We also found an old gate that had been dredged from the bottom of the lake, who knows what history that has seen. Unfortunately we didn’t know where it would fit.
P: The second half of the store has a different look, fresher and vibrant. What is the theme?
E: In the second room we wanted to create a contrast, you may say a Jekyll and Hyde look. We have taken the pristine shelving that used to be located in the original shop, they will be full of amazing whisky, from Scotland, Ireland and the US. There are also some curveballs with the addition of Japanese, Swedish and some outstanding English and Welsh Whiskies.
P: The new water feature is amazing! Is that a never ending supply of gin?
T: We wish! We thought a water feature would look great and what better than to keep it drink themed. We have an oak barrel and really wanted to make the most of them. The difficulty was finding a bottle that would fit over the pipe, the only option was The Original by The English Whisky Company. You can see videos of us emptying it on our social media in an experimental fashion.
P: The expansion means new stock; do you have any top picks?
One thing we are really excited about is the recent launch of our beer, the Camper Can! We love campervans, they give you such a sense of freedom, freedom to explore and live in the moment and we wanted a beer that reflected this. Our motto with the beer is “our happy place”. We have included this as a hashtag on the side of the can, encouraging people to take a picture with it wherever they are in the world.
To create and brew the beer we have teamed up with Birmingham Brewing Company. We wanted to make a bright and fresh beer with zesty flavours for summer drinking. And after much trial, error and beer drinking (the best part) we came up with a lager. Is there anything more refreshing on a summer's day? It is also gluten free and vegan so everyone can enjoy it!
P: Love the new murals on the walls, who’s a dab hand with the paint brush?
E: That's Rachel aka The Random Renovator. She is good friends with Jackie, a fellow Courtyard companion you will find at Chalk and Linen. Rachel has been busy with her brushes painting a beautiful scene of our VW in the main shop and the second room features botanicals based on our love of gin.
P: Have you got any events coming up?
E: Yes! We have some home and away. After last year's success we have brought back Dubs at Middleton Hall. We have a passion for VWs as you can imagine from our history as a company when we converted a VW split screen camper into a mobile bar. So teaming up with the hall and getting to run our own event focusing these amazing cars is something of a passion project.
T: We are also running the bar at this year's Gravity Show. I love doing this event, there are so many modified and super cars and it is amazing to see! You will find us selling all things beer!
E: Let's not forget the opening of the new shop! So join us on Saturday 30th April at Middleton Courtyard, did we mention there will be free prosecco?