Drake and Morgan
Founded in 2008, Drake & Morgan is one of London’s most exciting bar groups and now boasts five venues in outstanding locations around the capital. EatSleepDrink Magazine caught up with Natalia di Palma, Marketing Manager, to find out more about the company’s remarkable growth and ambitious plans for the future.
As the first of Drake & Morgan’s stylish bars, The Refinery (http://www.therefinerybar.co.uk/) opened its doors to the public in 2008 and has become a popular haunt for those in search of fantastic food, innovative cocktails, global wines and well-kept draught beers. Located in the landmark Blue Fin building on Southwark Street and near to the Tate Modern, The Refinery can rightly be seen as the blueprint for the company’s vision and subsequent success. Exuding an air of industrial sophistication, The Refinery was followed by The Parlour in Canary Wharf; The Anthologist and The Folly in the City; and The Drift which opened in Heron Tower on Bishopgate in July 2011.
Sanctuary in the City
As Natalia begins by telling us, the original concept behind Drake & Morgan was to create beautiful all-day bars and restaurants in London that would act as an urban oasis. “We wanted to offer everything under one roof, whether for business meetings, groups of friends, families or singles. Indeed, all of our venues offer breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a wide range of cocktails including skinny versions; a global wine list with over 40 wines by the glass; a deli; pop-up shops; and, in some cases, even a florist!
“We aim to provide good value food that incorporates locally-sourced seasonal ingredients, excellent service and lots of little touches, which encourages people to return time and time again,” she affirms. “Innovation is key to us and we are dedicated to identifying key trends, such as the rise of ‘sharing options’ on our menus and fun activities, such as mixology classes, butchery lessons and flower arranging”.
The company is similarly keen to ensure that each bar and restaurant’s branding is unique enough to reflect the individual design of the venues, as Natalia continues. “As a company, we travel extensively across the globe to get ideas on design and concepts. We’ve spent a lot of time in the US, particularly the West Coast and we’ve taken inspiration from Istanbul, Beirut, Shanghai and Tokyo”.
Building on success
Given Natalia’s position as Marketing Manager, she is ideally positioned to tell us how Drake & Morgan built on its early success through numerous marketing channels. “Opening The Refinery in the Blue Fin building was a remarkable experience. We received a great reception from local residents, businesses, tourists and the media. I think people liked the idea of having everything under one roof and our food, cocktails and design seemed to really capture people’s imagination.
“We have always offered good value, beautifully presented cuisine in combination with innovative cocktails, an extensive wine list, excellent customer service and eye-catching design,” she attests. “This strategy has not changed and has evolved to offer customers more experiences and services such as flambé menus, wine tastings and speakeasies. Indeed, I would say that our major strengths in this respect are innovation, our people and our customers”.
Design and atmosphere
Given the unusual spaces of Drake & Morgan’s venues, it is unsurprising to learn that the company has developed a very close relationship with prominent design firm Fusion DNA, as Natalia continues by explaining. “As I mentioned before, because we travel the world looking for inspiration, our relationship with Fusion DNA allows us to really manifest these ideas into reality”.
Boasting modern designs with individual touches, all of Drake & Morgan’s spaces offer the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of London. Indeed, The Anthologist (http://www.theanthologistbar.co.uk/) – located on Gresham Street – is an all-day bar and kitchen has a few impressive additions under its roof, including two cocktails lounges, a deli and a basement wine cellar.
At The Parlour (http://www.theparlourbar.co.uk/), located in the Park Pavilion on Canada Square in Canary Wharf, guests can expect a stylish interior that sits alongside imaginative food and wine menus that highlight provenance and seasonal ingredients. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and everything in between, The Parlour offers its signature punch and the usual Drake & Morgan selection of wines and draught-beers.
A stunning alfresco terrace with its own bar and sheltered by giant umbrellas is the perfect playpen for those wanting to soak up the sun. In addition, music and a late license until the early hours on Thursday and Friday have made it the perfect place to start and end the party.
At The Folly (http://www.thefollybar.co.uk/), guests can immerse themselves in a world of wonder and relaxation in a botanically-inspired haven that feels miles away from the City. Boasting a garden lounge and flower shop, The Folly has become a popular spot for business meetings, casual drinks and late bites and offers a wide array of seating, eating and drinking options to suit all moods regardless of the time of day.
As the fifth bar in the Drake & Morgan stable, The Drift (http://thedriftbar.co.uk/) has quickly built up a loyal following in Bishopgate since its launch last year in July 2011. Inspired by contemporary drinking and dining experiences from around the world, The Drift combines modern British gastronomy and service together with an array of cutting edge influences from as far afield as California.
A bright future
Given the increasing excitement surrounding the London 2012 Olympics, we were keen to find out Drake & Morgan’s plans for the Games, which Natalia was more than happy to fill us in on. “We have developed a series of Olympic packages that are ideal for groups of friends or corporate bookings. There are a range of different price points depending on your budget and we’ll also be screening the events in each of our venues.
“We have constantly evolved and pushed the boundaries since The Refinery was opened in 2008, which is very important in the market as it means that people don’t get bored and we don’t become predictable”.
When asked what her ideal Drake & Morgan experience would be, Natalia concluded with great equanimity considering the choice at her disposal. “That is an impossible question – it’s like picking your favourite child! They are all amazing and have such a unique feel that I could never pick just one. It really depends on how I feel,” she admits.
“Early week drinks with friends in The Refinery; weekends at The Parlour – lounging for hours in the booths or in the large outside terrace reading the newspapers and watching the world go by. The Anthologist is perfect for cocktails with the girls at the mixology table or a private dinner; The Folly for the deli, a coffee in the garden lounge or late night drinks; and The Drift is a great place for breakfast and lunch”.
With five of London’s most unique bars, Drake & Morgan has cemented its position in the heart of the capital’s social life. All things considered, the company is quite rightly bracing itself for another year of stylish success.
Visit: http://www.drakeandmorgan.co.uk/ for more information.