Grainne Ferreira and her husband Andy run Raise the Bar, a boutique pop-up cocktail catering and consultancy company. Parents to Luka Ferreira (9) and Ruby Jules (6), they live in East Cork, catering the coolest events and weddings all over the country.
“Creative, social and fun: those are the three words I’d use to describe our business.
We started doing small events in 2009. Raise the Bar was a natural progression after that. My husband and I had worked in hospitality for years and it was something we felt very passionate about. While Dublin was swamped with event companies, we felt there was an opening in the South of Ireland.
We are more in touch with nature than some of our competitors. We have access to a world of fresh ingredients around us in East Cork, so our drinks are constantly changing and evolving, depending on the season. We’re blessed to work closely with Ballymaloe House and you’ll often find us with the kids in their walled garden picking fruit and herbs for our cocktails.
At the start it was pretty low key. Andy designed a few menus for a few bars. Then our reputation began to grow and the bookings took off. We both enjoy cooking and working with interesting flavours, which is something we brought to our drinks, and at the end of the day service is everything. Cork is essentially a big village so word of mouth and recommendations were huge at the beginning.
We knew we were going places when we were asked to make Cocktails for the closing party of the Web Summit in 2014.
I wish we’d known more about the complexities of tax and Revenue before we started our business. We’re both horrendous at social media too so we put it off for as long as we could but once we started a Facebook page it all became very real.
With two young kids the flexibility that comes with working for yourself is an advantage. The feeling of satisfaction when you know you’ve delivered – from those initial meetings to nailing the service to the taste of that first beer when everything is finished.
We manage childcare by using the time that they are in school very carefully and efficiently, and when they are sleeping. Both our parents are a great help.
The only drawback is there are never enough hours in the day.
We’d encourage our kids to do whatever goals they set in life. It’s important to us that they see you can achieve your dreams with hard work and passion. Work can be fun.
I’d advise wannabe entrepreneurs to make sure you have a love for what you’re doing; that passion will carry you through the tough times. Don’t lose focus on what it is you are trying to achieve. And a good support network is vital
Our plan from here on in is to keep evolving and stay ahead of the curve. There are more pop-up bars on the way, plenty of consultancy and bookings for corporate events, parties and weddings to cater. It’s an exciting industry to be in and one that is constantly changing – Raise the Bar will be right there, mixing things up with the best of them.
Andy and Grainne’s Hot Apple Mulled Cider is the stuff of Christmas party legends. You’ll find the recipe on the Raise the Bar blog here.