Portchester pub landlord at Wicor Mill opens gin bar in a horsebox

A LANDLORD in Fareham is hoping his latest business venture won’t attract any long-faces – as he launches a mobile gin bar inside a horsebox.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:00 am
Scott and Chloe Armstrong in their horsebox gin bar. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Scott Armstrong, the manager of the Wicor Mill pub in White Hart Lane, has turned the old horsebox into the ‘Gin and Tow It’ gin bar, ready for events this summer.

The 29-year-old said: ‘An old regular had it in his back garden, and he had it up for sale.

‘He had turned it into a bar and he was moving, but the new buyer didn't want it.

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Scott and Chloe Armstrong Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘I just saw the potential.’

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The entrepreneurial landlord bought the box for £4,000 and has spent more than £1,000 to make it fit for its new purpose as a travelling bar.

Scott hopes easing Covid-19 restrictions will bring a bumper year of bookings: ‘With wedding season bouncing back, I think bookings will be coming thick and fast,’ he said.

‘We're looking at attending weddings and local events, like the Portchester gala.

‘It’s going to be stocked with gins and spirits – keeping it as local as we can.’

The bar will be stocked with Wyrd Gin from the New Forest Spirits distillery, Mermaid Gin from The Isle of Wight distillery, and drinks from Bombay Sapphire, which has a distillery just outside of Winchester.

Hiring prices for Gin and Tow It have yet to be finalised, but Scott is looking to charge roughly £6 for a gin and mixer, with bookings requiring a £250 refundable deposit and an expectation of a £1,000 minimum spend.

He said: ‘Why don't more publicans do this? Running a pub is a difficult game even without a pandemic. You need to be flexible.’

Scott is hoping to reopen The Wicor Mill's garden when restrictions are eased on April 12, which will allow for the return of 140 socially distanced punters.

Heineken, the pub’s owners, are set to invest in new television screens for the outdoor drinking space in time for its re-opening.

Scott said: ‘I will take my hat off to them - they have been brilliant.

‘They paid us a small caretakers fee to look after the site when it was closed, as we live here.’

He added: ‘We’ve worked hard on getting the place together, and we’ve been doing a lot of work in the garden.’

‘In this game, you don’t get to spend a lot of time with your family, so that has been a positive.’