Virgin Atlantic Bacardi

Image: via Virgin Atlantic / Bacardi Global Travel Retail

APEX Insight: Virgin Atlantic and Bacardi Global Travel Retail are raising the bar by bringing mixology to the cabin and virtual reality cocktail experiences to Virgin Clubhouses.

Virgin Atlantic and Bacardi Global Travel Retail launched their Flying Bartender program last Thursday, to coincide with International Gin and Tonic Day. Upper-class passengers on a flight from London to New York were served Bombay Sapphire gin cocktails, prepared live by award-winning mixologist Max Venning.

“With Bombay Sapphire and Fever-Tree gin and tonic goodie bags available at the gate for everyone boarding the flight, there was a lot of positive feedback from passengers,” Sean Ware, brand ambassador, Bombay Sapphire and Northern European ambassador, Bacardi. “After lunch in upper class, Max Venning from Three Sheets jumped on the bar to mix up his Bombay Sapphire ‘gin + damson’, and several customers enjoyed chatting to him about his technique and recipe.  The Flying Bartender experience created a unique moment at 35,000 feet without disrupting the personal space of other passengers.”

Passengers in all classes on a total of five Virgin Atlantic flights also received a complimentary Bombay Sapphire and Fever-Tree Indian tonic. During the winter, selected Virgin Atlantic flights will feature one of Bacardi’s spirits in a travel-inspired cocktail each month, as part of the Flying Bartender initiative. The next edition will take place during the holiday season and will focus on Grey Goose vodka.

The Flying Bartender program is Virgin Atlantic’s second marketing initiative with Bacardi this autumn. The Immersive Digital 360 Drinks Experience, launched last month, allows Virgin Clubhouse customers to participate in a virtual reality visit to world-leading bars, without leaving the lounge.

“Perhaps partly because we are a relatively small airline, we have the ability to respond very quickly to develop new initiatives and bring them to life,” explained Mark Murphy, manager, Food & Beverage Global Clubhouses, Virgin Atlantic. “Bacardi is a huge brand house but they manage to embrace our philosophy of ‘let’s do this, let’s have some fun and create something totally new.’ This innovative spirit and speed is absolutely crucial if we are to exploit the very latest trends – in anything from cocktails to VR technology – and create experiences that are not simply new for the sake of being new but also actually resonate strongly with the lifestyles and interests of our passengers.” 

Bartending isn’t the only form of live in-flight entertainment Virgin Atlantic has been offering recently. On September 28, the airline held a comedy festival in the sky to celebrate becoming the first airline in Europe to offer fleet-wide Wi-Fi. The #LiveFromVirgin Comedy Festival was headlined and curated by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobsen who, along with five other five other comedians, performed unique comedy sets by posting tweets and Instagram Stories to their accounts during their flights.


Kristina is digital editor of APEX Media. Plane and simple.