On Sunday 30th June, we went to the Oxford Festival of the Arts at Magdalen College School for a night of swing, jazz and all things ‘Manouche’, a style of gypsy jazz. Originating in the 1930s in Paris, it is upbeat, lively music, featuring instruments such as banjos, accordions and double basses. The wonderful Manouche Etcetera took centre stage, using our baby grand piano and we provided the liquid refreshment!
Oxford Festival of the Arts - Sunday 30th June
In a huge marquee, around 200 people came down to enjoy the evening. We served our classic Oxford Wine Company wines, with the Native Sauvignon Blanc proving to be a big hit, a beautiful crisp white that is bottled and labelled especially for our friends over at OWC. We also provided plenty of fizz, refreshing gin and tonics and, of course, Sandy’s cocktails! The On My Way, a mouth-watering mix of Bleu D’Argent Gin, Peychauds Bitters and Double Dutch Cucumber and Watermelon went down an absolute treat in the hot weather.
Manouche Etcetera put on an absolutely amazing show, with some well-known crowd-pleaser songs that got everyone up and dancing. A big thank you to the Oxford Arts Festival for having us, and we can’t wait for the next one!
Wellies Nursery Party - Saturday 29th June
On the last Saturday of June (the hottest day of the year so far!) we travelled across to North Crawley, not far from Milton Keynes, to Wellies Nursery for their 30th anniversary party. When we arrived, there were hundreds of children enjoying all the fun activities laid on for the day, from face painting to paddling pools and an ice cream van. After the afternoon event the adults had their chance to party, and, of course, we provided the booze!
With a range of four cocktails, beers, wines and fizz, the selection was perfect for the hot summers day that it was. We provided Sandy’s classics – the Princess Charlotte, Pinaquiri, On My Way, and a bright blue Electric Margarita to match the blue Wellies logo. All of the cocktails were re-named to fit in with the theme of the nursery, my personal favourite was the ‘Wellie Wanger’!
We served the Touraine Domaine des Mazelles Sauvignon, a superb and crisp white with fruit aromas, and the Navajas Rioja Tinto, which has delicious notes of intense raspberry and black cherry fruit. Our Sandy’s favourite, the Boschendal Sparkling Rosé went down well with everyone, too.
There was plenty of entertainment going on, with a fantastic band and DJ. There was also a delicious hog roast for the guests to enjoy – I even got to indulge in a pork bap myself and it was unreal, complete with crackling, stuffing and apple sauce.
We hope everyone that attended the event had a fabulous time, and that the kids at the afternoon event had lots of fun too!
Egyptian Engagement Party - Sunday 23rd June
On Sunday last week, I took our portable bar to a lovely garden in Oxford for a traditional Egyptian engagement party for the lovely Hana and Mahmoud. Working with the lovely Amy Meadows, an extremely talented event planner, it was a gorgeous afternoon. Although there was a slight shower of rain it didn’t stop the party from being a huge success.
In Egypt, it is tradition for the couple to become officially engaged in front of their friends and family through a ceremony. It was extremely heart-warming, with beautiful speeches from the mother and father of the bride and groom, before the couple exchanged rings. There is also the tradition of handing out home-made chocolates with the couple’s names on them, as a good luck charm.
As the ceremony was religious and the family do not drink alcohol, we provided a fantastic range of mocktails for the party to enjoy. We had a Lemongrass Fizz, made from home cold brew lemongrass and ginger tea, lychee syrup and soda water. Zesty and refreshing for the summer! We also did an Elderflower Sparkle, and an Apple and Ginger Mojito, which was definitely a firm favourite!
The food was cooked by Bogdan Neacsu, an at-home chef, who delivered a gorgeous range of barbecued meats and beautiful multi-coloured salads, perfect for the occasion! The wonderful Jayne also did the photography for the event. A big congratulations to Hana and Mahmoud on their engagement and we wish them both and their family all the best.
Foodies Festival Birmingham - 21st-23rd June
Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we travelled up to Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham for the wonderful Foodies Festival. We lucked out with the weather on the Saturday; the sun was shining; the drinks were flowing, and the music was blasting. There were some amazing food and drink stands around us, from halloumi fries to waffle cones to Greek souvlaki, there was genuinely something for everyone. A big shout out to Manchester Gin and My Coffee who were next to us for the caffeine and gin and tonic supplies…!
We served a fantastic range of wines and wine cocktails, ranging from classic French Sauvignon Blanc to the more obscure Romanian Pinot Noir. Everything went down a treat! The spritzes we served were Limoncello and Cucumber, and our Sandy’s classics – the Hugo and the Princess Charlotte. We took our medium bar, which was the perfect size under our huge marquee next to the piano. As the sun came out and the day got busier, the crowds were drawn in by our fantastic pianist, Sam.
Taking requests left right and centre, Sam got absolutely everyone up, dancing and singing along. My personal favourites were the interesting covers of ‘The Real Slim Shady’ and ‘Get Jiggy With It’ – not the usual tunes one would expect to be played on a piano. For a more unique approach, we turned our piano into a blackboard and have everyone write their requests in chalk on the actual piano, it looked fab!
The weekend was a huge success, so I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone at Foodies, and our fabulous team for making it so much fun! We can’t wait for the next one.
The New Kids on the Block - English Sparkling Wine
Whenever people think sparkling wine they instantly think the classics – Champagne, Prosecco or perhaps Cava. But there are some really delicious up-and-coming sparkling wines coming out of a country you wouldn’t think about for traditional wine production – England. Yes, our home ground. But how do we grow grapes for wine production in a country with such utterly miserable weather? Surely that doesn’t bode well? Well it turns out, that isn’t the case.
There are plenty of counties across the south of the country that have been producing sparkling wine for longer than you might think. Most of the wine produced in England is now sparkling – accounting for 68%, and over 100 wineries in England now make sparkling wine. Most of this fizz is coming out of the South East – Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire are the front runners. These areas are particularly appropriate for growing the grapes to produce sparkling wine due to their limestone soils, as well as most of the slopes being south-facing. Although global warming is less-than-ideal, it has meant that the climate in these areas is more suitable for wine production.
The grapes used in these sparkling wines are much similar to those in Champagnes – a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Pinot Noir? Isn’t that only for red wine? The answer to that is no. Although it is mainly thought of as a grape that means for a light-bodied red, Pinot Noir is much versatile than a lot of red grapes. The skins are removed from the grapes and fermented at a much lower temperature than they would be for a red wine – meaning that the end product doesn’t become tainted with any reddish colouring. Thus, your sparkling wine, whether it be Champagne or an English sparkling, is that beautiful light golden colour we all love. Some English Sparkling Wines are produced with solely one of these grapes, or a blend of two, or all three.
One of my absolute favourite English Sparkling Wine is the delightful Rathfinny Blanc De Noirs 2015. Wild strawberry and peony on the nose, and a rich mousse of raspberries and toasted almonds on the palate – what more is there to like?! The Blanc De Noirs, which literally translates to ‘white of the blacks’, is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, two black grapes. I recently had the absolute delight of attending a tasting of their profucts with the Oxford Wine Company, and it’s safe to say we were all incredibly impressed. Some of my colleagues have been to the Rathfinny estate in Alfriston, East Sussex, and it is probably one of the most beautiful-looking estates out there. A family run, new estate, they now have four amazing products, all of which are vintage.
If you would like a lovely English Sparkling Wine at your event – then we are the right people for that, so get in touch!
How to Make Cocktails at Home (The Easy Guide)
Whenever I go around to a friend’s house for a party I’m always the one that gets asked “Ah, can you make us some cocktails”. I open the cupboard and there’s a bottle gin, some Arrack which was given as a present from an accountant 3 years ago and some tonic in the fridge. Good luck Sandy!
There is a super easy way to be able to have this is all ready all the time without having perishables dying a week later. Key ingredients will include: sugar syrup, lime/lemon juice and bitters. With these 3 ingredients you can make dozens of cocktails. What we suggest prior to the event is:
- Take a bag of sugar (500g) and slowly mix into 750ml of water. Add the sugar slowly and stir until diluted, do this until the full amount is gone. Pour into an empty wine bottle and this will keep for months.
- With an ice tray fill each slot half with water. Fill the rest up with fresh lime juice. This way instead of having to buy fresh limes each time you have pre-made ice cubes with lime in them.
- Just buy a bottle of bitters! One bottle will last you years, take your pick of flavours but we suggest angostura.
From these ingredients you can make Tom Collins, any type of Sour, Old Fashioned’s etc. Pick your favourite spirit and off you go.
If you want to take it a step further we suggest buying a Boston tin to have a shake, this opens up a vast range of drinks you can make. Let’s get tipsy!
Last Saturday myself and Nik packed up the van and went off to Summertown for a private birthday party at one of the most gorgeous houses! We set up our mini bar in one of the reception rooms, giving it a lovely welcoming feel. We served a selection of really premium wines, starting with a gorgeous French Rosé, Chateau de la Clapière Cuvée La Violette. This wine is super fresh and elegant, with notes of stone fruits such as plum and greengage. The red we served was the Albert Bichot Bourgogne Vielles Vignes de Pinot Noir. The grapes are between 25 and 30 years old and give a fruity palate of redcurrant and blackcurrant. The finish is mildly oaked and pleasant.
The sparkling wine served was one of my personal favourites, NYETimber Classic Cuvée, from East Sussex, UK. NYETimber are one of the most successful English sparkling wine producers, with an ever-growing range of delightful products. Like Champagne, this sparkling wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and has a palate of honey, almond, pastry and baked apple. This was by far the most popular drink we served; it went down a treat with everyone.
As well as the wines, we served classic Mojitos all evening. Made with our house white rum – Ron Barceló Platinum, fresh lime juice, simple sugar syrup and mint, they were perfectly refreshing for the delightful summer’s evening.
We hope everyone that was there had a lovely evening, and that the birthday boy enjoyed himself! If you would like to find out more about how we can help with your party then drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Menu: Alhambra Reserva 1925
Now, I’ve never been much of a lager drinker myself, but this one is certainly something I can get on board with. With an exclusive bottle design and fairly high ABV of 6.4%, the Alhambra Reserva lager is not one to miss when you’re thinking about what beers to consider at your event. This lager is exceptionally smooth for its strength and doesn’t go overboard on the carbonation. There are notes of herbal hops (due to the inclusion of the Spanish Saaz hops grown in the area it is produced) and some caramel – making it really easy drinking despite the ABV.
The tagline for Alhambra Reserva is that it is ‘slow crafted in Spain’. The brewers are certainly right in saying that ‘time and knowledge’ are at the heart of their beer production as they certainly know how to do it the right way. The beer has won many outstanding awards, including qualifying as a product with an Exceptional Taste at the Premio al Sabor Superior 2017 and the ‘Country Winner’ in the strong category World Beer Awards 2016. In my opinion, even those awards don’t do it justice.
The area of Spain that it is crafted in is simply stunning. Granada, in the south of the country, is well-known for its beer production, and is located near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The spring water that comes from these mountains is used in the making of Alhambra Reserva 1925. Furthermore, what makes it so special is its recipe, as it hasn’t changed one bit since it was first produced almost 100 years ago. Its uniqueness really shines through as there are very few lagers being bottled in green glass without a label – which is what made it such a distinctive product in 1925.
We serve Alhambra Reserva 1925 at Sandy’s Piano Bar and can serve it at any event too!
MBA Ball - Friday 31st May
Last Friday night, we took to the Oxford Town Hall once again for one of the crazier of the events of the year so far, the MBA Ball. The night was rather impressive, with two of our bars, our baby grand piano, a casino room, photobooth, amazing DJ and even a churro stand. We had an unbelievably fun night, starting by singing along to some Elton John with our very own Nick Schinder on the piano, to swinging our hips to some Shakira blasted out by the DJ.
One of our bars at the event was a classy martini bar, located in the casino room. Serving Espresso, French and Porn Star Martinis, they all proved to be wildly popular. In true busy Sandy’s fashion, we churned them out all night, non-stop. My arms are still aching from so much shaking!
Our other bar was serving another three cocktails – delicious G&Ts, Dark ‘N Stormys and Palomas. They all went down a treat! As well as these drinks, there was a marvellous array of wines (Dea Del Mare Pinot Grigio and Navajas Rioja), beers, and spirit mixers. Of course all provided by OWC.
Nick Schinder, our pianist, kicked off the music of the night on the piano. Playing classic sing-a-longs, he set the tone of the evening very well. He was specifically requested by the organiser of the ball he’s that good! To find out more about our pianists and music head over here.
If you would like to find out more about what we can bring to your event, then please drop me an email!
Giles and Anna's Wedding - Sunday 26th May
Last Sunday we took our fabulous baby grand piano down to Swindon, for Giles & Anna’s beautiful wedding. Set in idyllic countryside, there was a huge (and I mean huge!) marquee set up in the garden, complete with its own dancefloor. Naturally, our piano fit right in with the set-up and took centre stage.
The live music kicked off with Nick Schinder, one of our talented pianists. He played a wide array of tunes, from the classic Billy Joel piano anthems to ABBA’s Mamma Mia and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. Everyone was loving it! I don’t think I saw a single person in the room who wasn’t at least tapping their feet along to the beat…
The lively John Joliffe, (another of our fantastic pianists), followed Nick, and kept the party going all night long. I think I can safely say that it was a huge success.
With our events, we can offer the piano in a number of ways. Whether you want smooth and gentle background music, or a show-stopping centrepiece, the piano is perfect for any event. It also looks amazing set-up next to our bar, and the two of them together mean that we can really bring the Sandy’s Piano Bar experience to you, wherever you are.
You can check out all of our musicians here.
For more information on booking the piano, drop me an email: email@example.com
About the Menu: Matcha 43
Made from the delicious combination of matcha cold brew tea, Spanish vanilla-infused Licor 43, Zubrowka vodka and a splash of soda, the Matcha 43 has started to become one of our much-requested cocktails at our events. It’s a great alternative to an espresso martini – did you know that matcha contains more caffeine than coffee does? So it’s the perfect pick-me-up.
Matcha is a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. Typically it is suspended in water or milk to consume, but we thought why not throw it in a cocktail for something a little different?!
Not only is it tasty, but matcha tea is packed with health benefits…which totally combats the alcohol in the drink right?! It’s packed with anti-oxidants, boosts metabolism and calms the mind.
The obscure flavours of Licor 43 compliment the matcha well – vanilla, Mediterranean citrus and spices all combined to make one delectable drink. Funnily enough, it is made with 43 ingredients!
Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka is really one of a kind. Containing a bison grass blade in every single bottle, which has been hand-picked and dried under natural conditions. Its tasting notes of grass and vanilla mean that it pairs well with the Licor 43 and the earthy matcha tea.
And of course, no cocktail is complete without the cherry on top!
Cocktail Masterclass - Saturday 18th May
Another fun-filled hen party done! We ran a cocktail masterclass event at a lovely home in the gorgeous village of South Western, for bride-to-be, Anna, and her amazing hens. We set up our portable bar in the living room, which looked great next to the already existing well-stocked back bar! There was even a 31-year aged single barrel bottle of Auchentoshan that both Nik and I drooled over…
We started off the event by teaching the ladies about bar equipment, and what each part is for – the basis for understanding cocktail making. This was followed by a simple yet classic cocktail – Gin Sours. We like to start with cocktails like this when teaching others, as having on three ingredients, it is perfect for demonstrating just how easy it can be to recreate at home, especially if you don’t have many ingredients lying around. Gin, sugar and lemon juice can really taste superb when mixed properly.
We followed with two Sandy’s staples – the Pinaquiri and the Raspberry Blush, both of which were a hit. I think it has to be said that the Pinaquiri was the firm favourite…there’s got to be a reason why we always get asked to never remove it from the menu! With the great combination of Barbadian Pineapple Rum, Syrup and Liqueur, it’s a no-brainer. For the Raspberry Blush, it was the turn of the hens to get behind the bar and show us what they got. I was extremely impressed with their abilities…especially their Boston Tin shaking skills! It’s not often that people nail it on their first go but this group really did.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Anna and co. for having us and hope that they all have a fantastic day on the wedding day! If you’d like to hear more about cocktail masterclasses and other types of event we specialise in, drop me an email:
Who's Who in Events Oxford Networking Evening - Thursday 16th May
Last night, Nik and I (Katie) attended the Who’s Who in Events Oxford networking event at the beautiful Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington. Ran by our friends at Boys and Girls Productions, the evening was great! Luckily for us, the sun came out and we set up the bar and piano on the gorgeous decking at the back of the brand-new building. With bubbles flowing, we got to chat to some really lovely people within the events industry (and even received a couple of invitations to upcoming events!)
We got a tour of the new space from manager Mike, which has only been open for a mere couple of weeks. With half of the building being used as beautiful office spaces and meeting rooms, the space is hugely diverse. The other side of the building is used as an education space for primary school children, focusing on teaching them about STEM, (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which is such a great cause! It is run charitably, by the profits from the other half of the space. It is so great to see a new space specifically for causes like this.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Andrew and Chris of Boys and Girls Productions for organising the evening and Mike from the Wood Centre for hosting! Hopefully we can work together soon in the near future.
Dispelling the Myths of Wine - Monday 13th May
Little Clarendon Street MayFest - 6th May 2019
On May bank holiday Monday we took to the streets of Jericho to work with our sister company, the Oxford Wine Cafe for this year’s Mayfest event. A brilliant day out filled with good food, drinks and wonderful live entertainment from bands and singers.
The stalls consisted of the likes of The Oxford Soap Company, LJs, Gourdan’s Steak Frites and more. We had the chance to try different foods from allover the world – the Ethiopian cuisine was standout!
The headline act, Lucy Goldthorpe, put on a great performance, covering some classics from Adele and Lewis Capaldi. A big shout out to her!
So what were we serving? Well due to our great relationship with the Oxford Wine Company, we are able to serve a wonderful range of drinks. The wines were Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Rioja, Malbec, Pinot Noir and Rose. Of course we were serving fizz too!
The beers were all local – something which we really pride ourselves on. The Red Ram lager and Cotswold IPA both proved exceptionally popular.
We also got the chance to rock some of our new Sandy’s On The Move snapbacks…don’t they look awesome?!
Standlake Village Hall - Tamsin & Edd's Wedding - 4th May 2019
Last Saturday we took our fabulous bar over to the beautiful village of Standlake, Oxfordshire, to run the event for the lovely Edd and Tamsin. It was a glorious day, and the sun even decided to come out for most of it, (rare for a spring day in England!). There was plenty of dancing and singing, and even a strong collection of Drum and Bass anthems selected by the groom himself.
We served a huge range of products – including three of our ever-popular Sandy’s House Cocktails – Breezy G, Sweet Walkin’ and East Harmony. Three great choices made by the bride and groom, and all deliciously refreshing on a warm day.
We had the pleasure of serving two wonderful beers brewed by our friends at Tap Social Movement – the Good Size Eh? APA and their extremely popular Even Larger lager. The kegs were drank dry by the guests! These beers are always sought after at the events that we do.
Of course, along with most weddings, gin and tonics, vodka cokes and plenty of shots of tequila were also provided.
The wedding was one of the first few events of the summer season, and we can’t wait to do even more coming up soon!
The Beautiful Oxford Yurt - 4th May 2019
We had the pleasure of doing our first event with The Oxford Yurt on the May Bank Holiday weekend. If you haven’t been then this has to be something on your list of event venues to visit in Oxfordshire.
Run by Sarah Lay near Farringdon this venue is the perfect setting for yoga retreats, hen dos and hopefully weddings come next year. Equipped with teepees / tipis!, camper van kitchens and a friendly team of staff this venue is designed to host flower arranging, cocktail masterclasses, live music and much much more
We did a lovely masterclass for Rose at The Oxford Yurt. 16 lovely hens came to take part in the glamorous cocktail making. This party learned how to make some classics like a Gin Sours but then got to make some of Sandy’s own cocktails.
The Pinaquiri – Plantation Pineapple, Pineapple Syrup, Pineapple Liqueur and lime is one of our classics at Sandy’s and brings a zing to the lovely summers day.
Raspberry Blush – Hutton Ridge Rose, Bleu D’Argent Gin, Raspberry Liqueur, Lychee Liqueur, Grenadine and Lime. With a bit more red berry fruits in this number it gives a juicer flavour and went down a hit