Get to know your favourite bar

Orange Rooms Interview

Tell me a bit more about Orange Rooms for those that have never been to one of your parties. What’s it like and what does it stand for?

Orange Rooms is an independent cocktail bar. It’s Southampton’s longest running independent bar actually. We do all sort of different events, but we are really proud of our cocktail menu. Orange Rooms is quirky, unique and completely different than any other bar.

You are also doing cocktail masterclasses. How did that start? What it’s like for people to be in one of your classes?

It’s something to enhance the experience. As much as we are just a bar, we also want to give experience. The cocktail masterclass is something that people could do and say “Oh, I went to Orange Rooms and did this super cool masterclass”, something that we can add to our customers’ experience, but also give them a bit of knowledge to take home with them.

If Orange Rooms have a “signature cocktail” what would it be (i.e., ingredients) and why choose that exact one? 

Orange Long Island – tequila, vodka, gin, rom, lemon juice and vimto, instead of Coca Cola, so it’s a bit sweeter, fruity, different, just like Orange Room

Obviously, we are still in a pandemic and a lot of things have changed since March 2020. What influence had COVID-19 on the social scene and how did you adapt your business to the new way of life?

It had a massive impact! When the pandemic was at its highest, the bar was shut, but when we reopened it was all about table service and using the garden, so we could accommodate everyone out in fresh air, rather than closed space. But since coming back into normality the early trade has slowed again. Everybody is going back to normal, but there are definitely less people going out. They are still cautious.  

Social anxiety is a big consequence of lockdown, a lot of people experience it now that we are going back to work and face-to-face lectures. Do you feel that students have changed their consumer habits and the way they party? What are your observations?

Definitely! Even over the years before the pandemic the behavior of students has changed massively. When we were at uni, 6 years ago, going out was a massive thing, but it kind of took a bit of a downhill – less people wanted to go out, more people wanted to party inside. There are more people going to house parties now, especially with the spiking issues that occurred.  

Spiking – what measures you can take against it?

Thankfully, there was never such an incident in Orange Rooms, but we have measures in place:

  • We conduct regular bag searches and random body searches, which are done by our approved door staff.
  • We have door supervisors at the front door. They are also positioned at various places around the venue.
  • CCTV across the whole venue.
  • The manager regularly patrols the floor.
  • We have a designated first aid on every shift.
  • We carry out regular toilet checks.
  • Floor team members carry out regular walks around the venue to clear away unattended drinks, so nobody is picking them up and putting anything inside. No drinks are to be left unattended on a table, if going to the toilet or smoking area –leave it with a friend, or drink it.
  • Customers can also request their drink to be in one of our Orange Rooms cups that come with a plastic lid or if they are having a drink in a bottle, they can request to have a bottle stopper to go in.
  • The manager on shift wears an arm band and the staff wears all black, so if someone feels they are in trouble or need to talk to somebody, they could easily reach out.
  • We also run the Ask Angela scheme and all of our bar staff are trained to react, assist with the situation and help them get home safely.

You have been collaborating with Solent University for a long time, letting them use your venue for events, parties, photoshoots. Why do you think is important to support Solent?

It’s important to keep the students involved. We are a business, so obviously we need to keep business going, but it’s good to support the local students and make them feel like they can lean on us. We do quite a lot of free venue hire for students that want to do photoshoots or different types of events. It’s always good to have a good relationship with the Solent, because students come to use and we can also give them something in return and assist, so it’s a bit of a give-and-take thing.

Last but definitely not least, what’s can we expect next from Orange Rooms? What direction would you like to embrace for the future of your business?

A big Christmas party for sure! We are doing Christmas brunches, table top masterclasses, a “Turn back time” event for New Year’s Eve with music from the 80’s, 90’s, noughties and now, Drag Race event with Kitty Scott-Claus and then we are looking forward for Valentine’s Day. There is going to be something for everyone.

Don’t forget to turn up for our Cocktail Making event today at 5pm, followed up by our virtual DJ set up on Carbon’s Instagram! Tickets are available at: https://www.fatsoma.com/e/9ebs9tog/carbon-live-presents-a-happy-place-orange-rooms-cocktail-masterclass

Cocktail ingredients:

White Rum

Lime juice

Fresh Lime

Mint

Sugar 

Soda