Not everyone is familliar with the concept of 'movies with drinks' so Jean Stanton, Marketing Manager at The Electric, posed us a few questions about how it all works, how it all started and what guests can expect.
Please introduce yourself
I am Tony Elvin of The Wine Events Company, a qualified Sommelier, ex Hotel du Vin General Manager and Group Wine Event Coordinator. I also like dressing up.
What is the Wine Events Company?
The Wine Events Company consists of Tony and Lucy Elvin, with a fabulous supporting cast of friends and family who come together to create special experiences for our guests. Our events are always fun and accessible, collaborating with amazing partner venues across the midlands.
How did it begin? What part did The Electric play in that?
I was working at Hotel du Vin in Birmingham and was approached by Sam Bishop the Manager at the Electric Cinema at the time to host a Movie and Dine event where you could watch a movie and then enjoy a themed dinner afterwards. We hosted Midnight in Paris at The Electric, followed by dinner in the Hotel du Vin courtyard, with the roof open under the moonlight, accompanied by an accordion player. It was magical.
Sam then asked if we could pair wines with a movie during the film. He’d seen it done before but the people that did it previously had left the country. This sounded like so much fun, so we jumped at it.
When I eventually left Hotel du Vin to ‘retire’ from hospitality and do an entirely different job, there was nobody at Hotel du Vin to host the events, so I kept the gig as a part time side hustle and it has really grown from strength to strength, all thanks to The Electric.
What happens at one of your events?
Essentially, you go along to the movie theatre, we give you a drink when you sit down, welcome you to the event, tell you a bit about your wine or cocktail, share some fun movie trivia and you start watching the film.
Then, just as you are getting into the movie we bring it to an abrupt stop, turn the lights on and I bound back up onto the stage completely ruining the flow of the movie.
But .. we make up for this by giving you your next drink!
This is usually deemed a fair trade, we have a bit of audience participation, share a few laughs and crack back on with the film, stopping only to ply you with more alcohol. If we’re serving cocktails, we’ll even show you how to make them on stage.
How much work goes into setting up an event?
Quite a bit. The drinks are themed to the movie so we need to research and test the cocktails out, or select the appropriate wines, we need to watch the movie extensively to work out when the best points are to stop it. We try to find a cliff hanger moment or maybe a point in the movie when one of the actors says ‘cheers’ or ‘I need a drink’, and we also need to make sure that each stop is fairly evenly spaced out so you’re not drinking two drinks in ten minutes, then have an empty glass for fifty minutes. Whilst this might be quite time consuming, it is also great fun.
How do you choose which movies to work with?
Good question. Not just any movie will work. We thought Tom Cruise’s ‘Cocktail’ would be perfect but when watching it for a planning session, we remember that Brian puts a whisky bottle through his neck half way through the movie and it all gets very sombre until the last five minutes. Whisky Bloody Mary anyone??
The movie must generally be upbeat as these are the best times to bound onto the stage, musicals work well, especially with a good dose of humour. Classics work especially well. If you’ve seen it before, you tend to mind less when lunatics in fancy dress keep stopping it to give you a drink and our format brings new energy to something you already love.
Tell us about the drinks! How are they selected?
Sometimes the links are obvious, for others they are extremely tenuous.
When we worked with the wine tasting movie Sideways, we tried to replicate the wine in your glass as closely as possible to the wine on the screen at that time but for Bohemian Rhapsody we chose Champagne because it was Freddie’s favourite drink then, chose other wines based on the band members names, a Pinot Noir from the famous Burgundian French village of Mercurey, we poured a Brian GaMAY, a glass of wine from the Australian DEACON Estate and finished with a glass of TAYLOR’s Port.
Bohemian Rhapsody with Wine
The wines need to be good quality and the overall tasting must be balanced, never all white or all red, so there’s something for everyone.
Are your cocktails created specially for the event?
Again, this can vary. We use classics or a twist on a classic but we also create entirely new cocktails to pair with the movie. For Ghostbusters, each cocktail represented a different ghost. The Slimer and the Staypuft Marshmallow Martini were our own inventions but the library ghost cocktail called the Grey Lady was a twist on a White Lady.
Cocktail development session underway
What are your own favourite wines/cocktails?
I have favourite wines and cocktails for how I’m feeling at any particular moment or maybe for the season. I drink more white in the Summer and more red in the Winter. When I’m drinking white wine I often lean towards Alsace in Eastern France for their aromatic whites, when I’m drinking reds I love something rich and warming, maybe Rhone Valley or Tuscany or Californina.
When I’m out on the town I get teased for loving my ‘disco cocktails’, give me that Pina Colada! When I’m flagging it’s an Espresso Martini and when I’ve crashed at the end of the night, it’s an Old Fashioned.
I love FILM and have an eclectic taste. Blade Runner is THE ONE, I love Sci Fi and fantasy movies, anything dystopian but I also love the cheesy 80’s stuff which work so well for these events. I love the golden oldies like White Christmas, Casablanca and Some Like it Hot. I love musicals such as The King And I, Moulin Rouge or La La Land.
Any memorable moments over the years?
My first movie with wine .. Sideways, at The Electric. My first ‘current release’ Movie with Wine, which was Murder on the Orient Express .. very scary, trying to watch the movie in the dark, in the cinema, trying to work out where to stop it and not being able to see what you’d written on your pad until you came out into the daylight! Then on the night doing the whole thing, in character, as Hercule Poirot, as we served wines from countries along the route of the Orient Express. It went down a storm and made us think, ‘Right, what else can we do with this?’
What’s so special about bringing an event to the Electric?
As you know, The Electric is a Brummie institution. It attracts an audience that really ‘get film’, that understand ‘event cinema’, and really get into it. The audience get involved, they heckle us and have fun with the theme. The Screens are the perfect size to build a fantastic atmosphere and for us, it is where it all started. We love The Electric. It really is a very special place and you can feel the history within it’s walls.
What can people expect from ‘Dirty Dancing’?
Guests will be joining us at the Kellerman’s Resort for the evening, where they’ll get to enjoy our famous Kellerman’s Cooler on arrival before enjoying three more fantastic, themed cocktails throughout the evening. The Kellerman’s entertainment team will be taking care of our guests throughout, and if we’re lucky we might even get to see Johnny and Baby at some point. Guests are encouraged to dress for the occasion and anyone bringing a Watermelon with them, might get a special treat.
Thanks, Tony. We can't wait!
DIRTY DANCING WITH THEMED COCKTAILS, Sunday 14th August, 4pm, Screen One