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Opening Your Whiskey Bar
By Jimi Morrisen

So you want to open up a bar, huh? Well, and this is coming from a bar owner himself, let me just say that it’s no easy task. Your immediate friends will not just show up at your place each and every night willing to pay for drinks and make your dream come true. Yeah, we’ve all thrown great parties over the years, but owning a bar means that you’ve got to throw those parties constantly. But seriously, you know this because at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to pay your rent, your suppliers and your employees, not to mention the taxes, and other fees (let alone have a good time). So here’s my very condensed guide to opening a bar in China. Maybe one day, I’ll write a book on it.

First, you’ve got to make other people money, to the point where they can’t live without you, or to the point where they keep asking you why you don’t open your own bar. And those asking you can’t just be your average traveler having a good time at your events. It instead needs to be somebody with money. You’ve really got to make somebody extra rich before they think about making your dreams a reality. Unless of course you’ve got your own money, then skip this step.

When you make other people cash enough to fill their hot tub, they just might take it as a given. After all, they deserve the money they make no matter where it’s coming from, but there is that smart person out there, somewhere, that’s thinking about how to expand their empire, and who better to do it with than you, the person who made their money sinkhole into a waterfall?

When you think you’ve got somebody on the line, drop the notion that you’ve always wanted to start your own place but just don’t have the resources to do it. Plant the seed, and then go to work trying to find a place. Location, location, location. Blah, blah, blah. We’ve all heard that a million times, but the rule doesn’t necessarily apply here in China because ninety-five percent of your customers will take a taxi to your place, and who cares if they’ve got to spend an extra fiver on their cab fare? It’s a great idea to keep the place near the action but not necessarily smack dab in the middle of it. Cheap, cheap and cheaper as far as I’m concerned. You’re going to have to redo the place anyway, so the walls might as well be crumbling away as far as you care. As long as you’ve got the right to put in plumbing, you’re as good as gold. Having a place with no bathroom is a nightmare.

Alright, you’ve found this gem of a spot, just large enough but not too big, on the second floor of an old factory or a wet market (as long as it’s far away from residences). Remember that in many other countries, there are realistic expectations on opening up a bar. 25% of your expected annual revenue should go towards the rent/advertising. 25% of the same should go towards paying your staff and taxes, 25% should go towards paying your suppliers/utilities, and the last 25% should go towards your investors. That is assuming you’re making money, but you’ve got to do the reverse math when you think about paying your rent. I understand that the “normal” rules don’t necessarily apply here, but you’ve got to start somewhere. For example, you might be paying your staff a bit more than they would be getting paid in other tip-cultured countries, and your rent might be a bit lower, but those above numbers are good to keep in mind. Anyway, think about how much money you expect to make on a poor average day, divide that number by four, times that by 365, and there, you’ve got your annual expected rent. Let’s do a little math here:

Average daily revenue: 4,000RMB/day.
Average staff pay/taxes: 30,000RMB/month.
Average supplier bill/utilities: 30,000RMB/month.
Average investor return: 30,000RMB/month.
Rent: 30,000RMB/month.
Initial investment: 1,000,000RMB.

That seems about right now doesn’t it? The investor will be getting over 33% of their initial investment back each and every year. Sounds easy, no? Think again. Don’t by any means get to the rent bargaining table too soon with all of this because preparations take time, and each day you’re spending renovating the place takes away from your profit. So every step has to be made precisely. I personally would find a place that looks like it has no hope in hell of being rented, bring my investor there covertly, and start the process of convincing moneybags to start dishing out the dough. Then you can start ordering the furniture, buying the fixtures and getting things fabricated beforehand. One word for you out there: Taobao.

Now hopefully, you’ve either got some design/building sense yourself, or you know somebody who does and is willing to spend all of their extra time helping you. Let’s assume the former. You’ve peeked into the space you want to rent, so you’ve got a general idea of what you need, but of course, not everything. No need to worry because there’s nothing in there that a few extra workers including yourself can’t take care of. I’m going to say this again and again: Watch your budget! Yes, you want those leather chairs and barstools and that hand-carved stone bar, but it just doesn’t fit the budget. This isn’t some Starbucks that’s in the most expensive real estate in the city, so you only need a spot that’s more comfortable than somebody’s used to at home. Having said that, get a hold of the standard measurements for things like chairs, tables, bars and bar stools before you buy anything. The last thing you need is to have a table that’s too low – I’ve been in way too many places with those. Not everything on Taobao follows those standards. I certainly know that. You order everything including all of the extra refrigerators, freezers, locks for the storage and extra sturdy bathroom fixtures.

Ask any bar owner in China and they’ll tell you that glasses and ashtrays are running costs rather than fixed ones, and there’s a huge difference. People spend money at your place like you want them to, but the more cash they spend the drunker they get, so things, especially glasses and ash trays, tend to walk. Every bar owner would love to have etched mugs served with expensive beer in them, but this is simply not a reality. Avoid this at any expense. 

Now that your living room is full of everything from sinks to the welcome mat, it’s time to get that rent deal done and your licenses applied for, and don’t give me that “This is China” bull when it comes to getting your permits and licenses done. Every country has their own set of strange and incomprehensible laws when it comes to doing these things. Quit your whining and just get it done!

After you send in the most experienced bargainer you know to do the negotiations, your ten year (highly recommended) incrementally increasing rent deal is done. You’ve watched your budget and skipped getting the imported stuffed polar bear head. You’ve dotted all of your i’s and crossed all of your t’s on all of the permits, and you’ve had all of those people who have enjoyed your party making efforts over to help wash all of the floors and hang the moldings. You’ve got a week or two to hang your sign, order the liquor, hire your staff, make your menu with prices, train all of your staff and plan your opening party. You’ve done the party thing before, and you’ve got 500 or so WeChat contacts that’ll hopefully show up, so you think you’re set, but the battle has yet to begin.

Concerning your staff, hire people who you pay. Free employees are more often than not unreliable. Hire people who come on time and are friendly. Prepare them well, warning them that this will be one of the toughest jobs they’ve ever had, but don’t invest too much time on training them until they prove themselves on the job. The number of times I’ve spent tons of effort on employees who then pick up and leave kills me. I’ve washed the bar with my tears way too many times to count. In the end, your customers will forgive you when an employee messes up an order on their first visit, as long as they don’t make the same mistake time and time again. Pay them well and give them time off. There’s no need to compare your place to McDonald’s because you are not the biggest hamburger chain in the world, so forget the pay standard they set and follow the standard 25% bar pay rule that I mentioned above. When your business gets better, either pay your employees more or hire more staff.

When making your menu, make sure your prices are right. As long as you follow the 25% you pay to your supplier rule, this should be an easy thing to do. You simply mark everything up four times. If you’ve scored a very cheap place to rent or have saved tons of investment capital because you’ve put in tons of your own time, well then you can start by marking up your menu a little less to relieve any guilt you might feel. But don’t forget, it’s really hard to raise your prices once they are set. It’s easier, on the other hand, to give away some free drinks every now and then.

Now onto what people really come to a bar for: the booze. Ordering your liquor isn’t an easy thing to do, especially if you’ve got wine on the menu. I’ve seen owners taste twenty bottles of wine or so before they find a single bottle they like and feel they can sell at a reasonable price. Get stuff you like and would easily recommend to others, and get a wide range of prices. There’s nothing like having people walk into your bar only to find that everything is either too cheap for their sophisticated palate or too expensive for their budget.

What’s in a name? A bar by any other name would smell just as much like stale beer, right? Not necessarily. The name of your bar is obviously very important. Think of it as your child. You don’t want to name your child something that they’ll be made fun of in school for, no matter what language that school is conducted in. So ask your friends about a variety of names and see which ones fit. Nobody wants to walk into a place that translates into “poo bar” in Russian. In addition, you want to be unique, so look online to make sure that the name isn’t trademarked because though today you might only own one joint, that doesn’t mean that tomorrow you won’t have the biggest bar chain in the world.

So, you’ve got your sign up, you’re ready to go, and you want to have a big opening party. I highly recommend not hiring a very expensive DJ or ten piece band to help you have it. After all, it’s your job to bring the people in, isn’t it? Not only that, but you don’t want to have people coming to your place for the one-time event you’re having. You’ve got to do this on a daily basis in order to pay the bills. And don’t worry about having a few goose egg days at the start. That’ll just kill you.

Do your books on a very regular if not daily basis. It’s an easy thing to do when it’s not piled up, and it makes the investor happy when everything is clear. That way you can easily see what affects your business and when or if somebody is stealing from you. Also, often take pictures of your staff, your bar and your customers. It’s funny how time flies, and it’s great looking back when years pass. Though you can always do your books at a later date, though this is not recommended, pictures can never be taken of the past.

Also as a final note, I highly recommend broadening your horizons. Have a bar that welcomes everybody, old, young, rich, poor, man, woman, pretty and plain. In the cities we live in, there are not enough wealthy, sexy business women to open a cocktail bar that caters only to them. Now I’m not saying that you should serve every Joe, Dick and Sally, but I am saying that you should go with the flow and welcome everybody who’s willing to contribute to the very general atmosphere you’re trying to create.

And really last, but certainly not least. You now own a bar, but that doesn’t give you the right to do what you want. I’m talking to myself here. Just because you own the place, doesn’t mean that you can drink all you want whenever you want. So what, you’ve got the keys, and you get the booze for cheap. Drinking every day does nobody, including your business, any good. And a bar owner should never forget that this place of business is just that – a place of business, one that needs to pay the rent, the employees, the suppliers and the taxes. Just because you’ve followed all of the rules and are profiting from them doesn’t mean that you’re the king of your castle. It’s hard, and believe me I know more than most exactly how hard it is, but that doesn’t mean drinking yourself to near death is excusable by any means.

People will puke on your shoes, piss you off, money will disappear, employees will leave without notice, your landlord will try to increase your rent, liquor prices will go up, glasses will be stolen, chairs will be broken, fights will inevitably happen, but you should know that going into this business. It is not for the weak at heart by any means, and most people just fade away after a couple of years, but it’s definitely worth giving it a try. After all, sometimes putting your money where your mouth is has something to be said for it. At the end of the day, it’s better than sitting at home watching the tube day in and day out. Oh, the people you’ll meet, and the conversations you’ll have, the stories you’ll hear, not to mention all the laughs, they are what make it worth it in the end. Because it wasn’t the booze that got you started in this whole adventure, it was the people.  

*Note: This wasn’t the way that I did it, but if I were to do it a second time in a new location, it certainly would be, so until then please “show me the way to the next whiskey bar.”

Whiskey Bars in Hangzhou:


Joy Bar 酒隐
5 Haiguan Road 海关路5号, 136 6660 2871, 7pm - 2am
87 Nanshan Road 南山路87号, 158 2121 5580, 7pm - 3am

Kamakama Cocktail & Kitchen
104, 3rd Lane, Longxiangli, Zone B, Hubin InTime Mall, 255 Yan'an Road 延安路255号湖滨银泰B区龙翔里三弄104, 0571 8798 1819, 11am - 2am

Mill
77 Yile Road (close to West Wen’er Road) 益乐路77号(近文二西路), 0571 8891 2175, 1pm - 2am

Smoky Bar 醺
Room 1-3, 2/F, Building 32, Qingchun Fang, Dafuqing Lane 大福清巷青春坊32幢2楼1-3室 (嘉德广场旁), 0571 5613 9111, 7pm - 2am

Aurora Lounge
86 East Huancheng Road 环城东路86号(老浙大横路与环城东路交叉口), 0571 8580 3206, 7pm - 2am

H Lounge 西拉酒吧
7 Paomachang Lane 跑马场路7巷, 0571 8880 9701, 7pm - 2am

Mora Whisky & Cocktails 莫拉酒吧
145 Jiangnan Avenue, Binjiang 滨江江南大道145号, 137 3804 4196, 2pm - 2am

Xiang Lounge 響Lounge
1-3/F, Longhe International, 1961 Jianghui Road, Binjiang 滨江江晖路1961号隆和国际1-3楼, 0571 8887 7798 

 

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Join Wellington | Online Open Day on 8th April

Over the past eight weeks, the Wellington College International Hangzhou community has rallied together to face and overcome the challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time, Wellington College International Hangzhou is experiencing an increasing number of enquiries for admissions, and from March 30th the entire Admissions team have been back on campus assisting families through the admissions process.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we are unable to host families on campus for our personalised tours, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn more about the unique Wellington approach to holistic education. From phone conversations, email and video conferencing, through to our 360-degree virtual campus tours and online information sessions, we can still connect in this digital age despite our distance.

Online Open Day

On Wednesday 8th April, Wellington College International Hangzhou will be hosting an online information session, open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington.

In this webinar style event, Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou, will provide a broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, our heritage, educational philosophy and values.

Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou, will take a deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, as well as exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to take a 360-degree virtual campus tour to view the state-of-the-art facilities we have on offer and how we utilize these facilities to provide the very best possible education for the children in our care. 

Finally, we will host a live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions team, allowing us to address the questions that are important to you.

Scholarships at Wellington

In order to recognise and reward the pursuit and achievement of excellence in pupils at Wellington College International Hangzhou, and to make a Wellington education accessible to a broader range of pupils throughout Hangzhou and surrounding regions, scholarships, awards and bursaries are available to different year levels at Wellington. Awards of up to 100% of the tuition fees will be available to successful applications in Year 7 or above in August 2020.  For more information, please visit this link or contact our Admissions team directly.

eLearning at Wellington

Results from our recent parent survey are conclusive. Our eLearning provision is meeting the needs of our families and ensuring that children are meeting their educational needs during this difficult time. 94% of Wellington College International Hangzhou families agree that our teachers have ensured that our pupils, irrespective of time zones, have been able to access all learning materials during this period of eLearning.

Since eLearning started, Wellington College International Hangzhou pupils have been able to maintain their close-knit relationships with their teachers and classmates. These ongoing relationships, personalised learning plans, 1:1 tutoring where required and innovative use of technology to smoothly facilitate learning objectives has ensured that our children are all progressing as they should during this time.

This high-quality eLearning provision is a testament to Wellington’s ongoing commitment to always providing the best possible learning outcomes to the children in our care, regardless of circumstance or challenge. We remain committed to this objective and welcome enquiries from all parents who are interesting in providing a world-class education to their children.

To learn more about eLearning at Wellington College International Hangzhou, please click the links below to learn more;

Top 12 FAQs | All you need to know about joining Wellington!

The Admissions team regularly fields questions from parents who are keen to learn more about Wellington, and as a result have compiled the following useful FAQ. Please click the link below to see what other parents are curious about.

Do you have different questions? Are you interested in learning more about Wellington? If so, we welcome you to join our online open day being hosted at 7pm on Wednesday 8th April. We look forward to seeing you there!

Don’t forget that our Admissions team are available at any time to answer your questions. Due to the international nature of the school, we field questions at all times of the day. Feel free to contact us using any of the methods listed below and we will respond to your enquiry within 48 hours.

Hot-Pot King Haidilao Pilots “Do Not Disturb” Service

The Chinese hot-pot restaurant chain Haidilao is known for a lot of things, except being moderate. They will give you a free manicure and clean your shoes while you’re waiting for your table, provide a big stuffed animal to keep you company if you’re lunching alone, and perform an acrobatic dance if you order noodles.

Haidilao is the epitome of the “client comes first” mentality that will go to great length to provide you with first-rate service. However, as experience shows, some clients find that the best service is when they are left alone and not bothered by pesky over-the-top courtesy.

At one time Chinese Internet was replete with articles titled along the lines of “Don’t let Haidilao know your birthday, it’s too scary” where users would detail their experiences dealing with the restaurant’s overblown birthday service that included singing and dancing waiters holding LED lights and more. Some have even joked saying “If you hate your friend, go to Haidilao for their birthday.”

To tackle the problem and better cater to the needs of different groups of customers, Haidilao recently introduced a witty solution. Tables in some of the chain’s restaurants are now equipped with “Do not disturb” flip-boards. Customers who do not want to be approached too often by waiters can use the sign to fend off their insistent advances.

The flip-board also provides other options such as “I’ll serve dishes myself” meaning that the waiter does not need to help with the dishes frequently or “detailed services are not required” telling waiters that they are only wanted to bring dishes and clean the table.

According to Haidilao, the service is still in the pilot stage, and it will be tried in some stores. It will continue to be optimized according to the needs of customers and different situations. Stores and employees will be continuously encouraged to innovate and provide customers with more personalized services.

Though Haidilao's service has always been known as "perverted", but sometimes it is too intimate and it can cause embarrassment. A while ago, a post named "Don't let Haidilao know your birthday" went viral on the internet.

“I went to Haidilao with my girlfriend, we just asked if we could get a discount on birthdays, then a group of people appeared with LED lights and sang the birthday song, they even gave us a ‘Most Beautiful Girlfriend Reward” and asked us to read the girlfriend vows to each other.’

“Two of us went to celebrate my friend’s birthday at Haidilao, we hid the cake in our bag and sneaked some scoops every now and then, just because we were so scared that the waiters would find out that’s her birthday, then we would be the super star of the night.”

“Look at me, I looked so surprised and happy!”

Therefore, for many customers who like Haidilao, the appearance of "Do Not Disturb" flip-board is simply a relief and has been unanimously appreciated by everyone.

Top 10 Easy-to-make Winter Drinks

From a steaming glass of traditional mulled wine, brimming with spices, to an indulgent mudslide cocktail, our winter drinks recipes are perfect for seeing in the festive season. Curl up in your fluffiest jumper with a creamy peppermint hot chocolate, or get the party started with a batch of our marvellous mulled gin.

Keep everyone's glasses topped up with our favourite festive drinks, and mouth-watering non-alcoholic drinks for every taste. Find top mixology tips, reviews of our favourite products and even more triple-tested recipes in our cocktails & drinks hub.

Spiced Apple Syrup with Clementine & Cloves

Our spiced apple syrup with clementine and cloves will add a burst of fabulous Christmas flavour to any drink. Try adding to hot apple juice or mulled wine for festive fruit and spice. It's even delicious drizzled over ice cream for an upgraded frozen treat. It will keep for about a month, so store it in the fridge ready for impromptu gatherings.

200ml apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole allspice
1 mace blade
2 whole cloves
Small strip fresh ginger
1 clementine, zest finely peeled with a vegetable peeler
100g golden caster sugar

1.    Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.

Mulled Wine

It wouldn't be winter without a steaming mug of mulled wine, complete with a glug of sloe gin for a sweet twist. Simply leave your wine, (we recommend an unoaked tempranillo) to infuse with seasonal spices like star anise and cinnamon and a little citrus zest. Keep a batch warming on the stove and let guests top up their glasses. Want to try something different this year?

750ml bottle red wine
1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
2 star anise
4 cloves
2 strips lemon zest, pared using a vegetable peeler
4 tbsp caster sugar
100ml sloe gin (we used Gordon's) (optional)

1.    Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins.
3.    To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the sloe gin (if using) and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.

Winter Whisky Sour

Warm up from the inside out with our simple winter whiskey sour. Give the classic sour a couple of delicious tweaks and it's ready for the festive season. Add a splash of orange juice to your favourite bourbon, a little sugar syrup, some fresh fruit and some sparkle. Need some more help getting into the spirit?

Crushed ice
50ml bourbon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tbsp sugar syrup
2 slices of oranges

To decorate:
Honey
Gold edible glitter

1.    Using a small paintbrush (or your finger), brush some honey around the rim of two tumblers and use another small paintbrush to stick edible gold glitter around each.
2.    Fill each glass with crushed ice. Put the bourbon into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into each glass, and serve with an orange slice and short straws.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Nothing says 'indulgence' like a velvety-smooth hot chocolate, made with rich dark chocolate and double cream. Stir our peppermint hot chocolate with a striped candy cane and let it melt into the drink for a refreshing minty flavour. These delectable drinks are hard to resist. Got something.

200g bar plain chocolate, broken into chunks
600ml milk
150ml pot single or double cream
Sugar, to taste
6 peppermint candy canes, to serve

1.    Put the chocolate in a pan with the milk. Gently heat, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Continue heating until the milk is steaming, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
2.    Divide the hot chocolate between 6 mugs, add sugar to taste and hang a candy cane on the edge of each. Pass the mugs round and let everyone stir their hot chocolate with their candy cane – letting as much of the sweet peppermint dissolve as they fancy.

Cinnamon Buttered Rum

Once you're tried our super smooth, gently spiced cinnamon buttered rum, it'll be your drink of choice when the nights draw in. Serve up mugfuls of this buttery brilliance for your next party. Neither sickly sweet nor too citrussy, this perfectly balanced tipple will warm you up in no time. Whether you prefer white or dark, spiced or smooth, we have a rum cocktail recipe to get your party started.

25g butter
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 small cinnamon sticks
200ml spiced rum

1.    Gently heat the butter, golden caster sugar and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2.    Stir in the spiced rum, then pour into four small heatproof glasses to serve.

Mulled Pear & Cranberry Punch

Our versatile mulled pear & cranberry punch can be served as a cocktail or a non-boozy version, simply miss out the sloe gin. The beauty of this all-in-one recipe means you can simply chuck your ingredients in a pan, leave to heat, then ladle out as needed. It takes just ten minutes to make, so no need to sweat it out in the kitchen.

1l pear cider
1l pear (or cloudy apple) juice
1l cranberry juice
Good handful fresh or dried cranberries
150ml sloe gin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla pods, scored lengthways

Put all the ingredients into your biggest saucepan or casserole dish. When you're ready to serve, heat to just below simmering point, then ladle into glasses.

Mudslide

This creamy, coffee-flavoured cocktail is for adults only. Our mudslide is pure decadence, something to be savoured and sipped at your leisure.

50g dark chocolate
Ice
60ml coffee-flavoured liqueur
60ml vodka
60ml Irish cream liqueur
100ml double cream

1.    Put two small tumblers in the fridge to chill overnight. Put 30g of the chocolate in a shallow bowl and melt in the microwave in short bursts. Dip the rim of the chilled glasses in the melted chocolate, then stand them upright so it gradually drips down the sides. Return to the fridge until you're ready to serve.
2.    Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the coffee-flavoured liqueur, vodka, Irish cream liqueur and double cream. Shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold.
3.    Put a few ice cubes in the prepared glasses, then strain in the cocktail. Finely grate over the remaining chocolate and serve with a paper straw.

Winter Pimm's Punch

This archetypal English cocktail isn't just for summer. Our Winter Pimm's punch is paired with sweet brandy and light apple juice for an instant cocktail cabinet winner. You'll probably have most of the ingredients already lurking in kitchen cupboards. It can be served warm or cool, depending on what you prefer.

500ml Pimm's
500ml brandy
1½ l apple juice
Ice

2 cinnamon sticks
Apple, sliced
Orange, sliced
 
Combine the Pimm's and brandy with the apple juice in a jug filled with ice, cinnamon sticks and a sliced apple and orange.

Mulled Gin

Looking for something a little different than the standard festive fare? Move over wine, this mulled gin is our new favourite Christmas cocktail. Infuse apple juice with aromatic spices like bay, cloves and cardamom, a few crushed juniper berries and a little honey for sweetness. Cut through rich canapés and sweet treats with this more delicate drink.

100ml gin
400ml apple juice
½ lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 small cinnamon stick
3 juniper berries, lightly crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp runny honey

For the garnish
4 bay leaves
2 lemon slices, halved

1.    Divide the gin between four small heatproof glasses or teacups.
2.    Tip the apple juice into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat gently until simmering, then strain into a jug. Pour the mulled apple juice into the glasses with the gin and stir gently to combine. Garnish each glass with a bay leaf and half a lemon slice and serve warm.

Irish Coffee

Perk up the after-dinner lull with a luxurious Irish coffee. A grating of fresh nutmeg on top of the thick layer of cream adds some seasonal fragrance. Need some help choosing the perfect dram? Read our review of the 10 best Irish whiskies, from light and smooth to rich and spicy.

2 tbsp double cream
150ml freshly brewed black coffee
50ml Irish whiskey
½ - 1 tsp brown sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1.    Lightly whip the cream just so it’s very slightly thickened, then set aside.
2.    Pour the hot coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently float the cream on the top and sprinkle the nutmeg over the cream. Serve hot.

Source: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-winter-drinks

It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

My first encounter with Marco was through my friend’s WeChat moments. I can’t really recall for what reason we added each other, all I could remember were his big muscles and that bright smile hailing from L.A. Later on, we had more contact due to a few common friends who are involved with martial arts and I started to know him more.

Who is Marco

Marco has gained quite a reputation in the martial arts world since arriving in Hangzhou in 2018. He used to train at Checkmat Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in USA, an international academy, competition team, and family of Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Founded in 2008 by Master Vieira, Checkmat now has affiliate academies in thirty-four American cities and sixteen countries worldwide. You can find world-class, hands-on instruction that has been tested on the practice mats and proven on the competition field.

In Hangzhou, Marco started his own brand - Marcola Jiu Jitsu. It offers Jiu Jitsu training classes to people of different ages, whether professional or not. As one of the few black belt holders in China, his classes are really popular. Marco’s lifelong love of competitive athletics has molded him into both a lover and a fighter. His passion for athletics and a genuine desire to help people reach their fitness goals motivates him to continue learning each day, and develop new techniques to challenge himself and his clients. You see doctors, lawyers, students, law enforcers, businessmen and women walk into his class for the same reason - to get better at Jiu Jitsu.

Marco’s full name is Marco Alvarado and his Chinese name is rather cute: 马可乐. His Chinese friends would just call him 可乐, same as Cola. Before we tell you more, take a look at his incredible championship records below, the man is a real fighter.

Bronze Medal at International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Pan American Championship Blue Belt
Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation All Americas Tournament Purple Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF Pan American Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF World No Gi Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF American Nationals No Gi Brown Belt
Silver Medal at Jiu Jitsu World League San Diego Championships Black Belt
Gold Medal at NABJJF All Americas Tournament Black Belt


Marco has been involved in many kinds of sports - boxing, taekwondo, karate, running, American football – and also physical rehabilitation. Like many other athletes, Marco’s first coach was his dad who was a boxer. Marco was just 5 years old when his dad introduced him to boxing. It was the classic story, his parents decided to put him in taekwondo and karate training when they found out that little Marco was being bullied in kindergarten. Six years later, he received his first black belt in taekwondo.

After that, he decided to move on to a new sport: running. From sixth grade till he graduated college, he never stopped running and he became one of the US national athletes in track and field.

Eventually, he knew he needed to find another new sport to challenge himself. One day, he went to a free Jiu Jitsu class at his college. Someone caught him in a choke, he had no idea what to do and that got him really interested. He wanted to know how it happened, how he did it, and how to do it back. He was 22 at the time. 10 years later, he won the Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Championships.

It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

As an amateur boxer who has only been training for 4 months, there was a question I really wanted to ask so I brought it up when we were having a lunch break at Blue Frog. “Before you had your first fight, how did you overcome your inner fear?” Marco took a bite of his big, juicy burger and said “My first Jiu Jitsu tournament was six months after I started training, I was very nervous. We sparred every week in college, so I learned how to deal with the fear, but this time was different. I knew who my opponents were, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I got destroyed badly in two fights, one guy caught me in the armbar in 20 seconds, the other guy beat me so bad like 20-0. I left deflated and frustrated, but I wanted to do it again, I wanted redemption. This gives you more motivation to go back to train harder and learn from mistakes. In the fights later on, I started to get into my rhythm and started doing well. Sometimes maybe you don’t want to tap and lose in practice, because it hurts your pride for a day or two, but you come back for more training. It’s ok to lose, just learn from it. That’s an important life lesson.” During Marco’s career, his arms were almost broken a couple of times, he tore some ligaments on his knees and he got two broken teeth. With all these injuries, he had to learn about physical therapy in order to fix himself.

“Martial arts is more about avoiding problems than anything else. These days, there are always those untrained people or the ones who watched too much UFC and are looking for trouble. If you trained a little, you’ll have respect for your body. This stuff is no joke, it can really be dangerous.” Marco continues, “My teacher used to say if there is a fight, he’ll just run away, because he would feel bad for the guys once he’s had enough. He would turn around and fight.”

Why Hangzhou?

Back in L.A, Marco was teaching in a big chain gym where he soon became friends with a Taiwanese trainer. He followed his friend’s journey that brought him to Hangzhou to continue teaching for Checkmat and he became aware that there are a lot of blue and purple belt holders who opened Jiu Jitsu schools in Hangzhou, but there were only 2-3 with a black belt teaching here. Marco thought that he can bring people more advanced technique and professional training. So in June, 2018, Marco came to start his first job in a gym in Xiaoshan, teaching conditioning and creating a Jiu Jitsu program.

MMA vs. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

I couldn’t help asking what Marco thinks about this outspoken Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong a.k.a. “Mad Dog”. Mad Dog has made it his mission to expose fake kung fu over the past two years by pulverising fraudulent traditional martial arts “masters”, but his actions have drawn the ire of Chinese authorities. “In my point of view, Bruce [Lee] was the first MMA fighter in the history of martial arts, because he was always so open minded about everything. He took things that he thought were useful and added on something unique of his own. I think Xu Xiaodong’s mission is to show that not one martial arts is dominating. If you know a bit of everything, that is more effective. I think Jiu Jitsu is very useful and complete, cause you go from standing to the ground, you can also go back up to defend yourself, knowledge is powerful. Martial arts is changing, and you need to keep yourself updated. Back home, some guys can use their chi to make someone fall. This is not video games, we call it McDojo.”

The Distance Between China and the World

Many are also immersed in the joy of Zhang Weili who won China’s first Gold Belt in MMA. She is now gearing up to defend her UFC strawweight title against the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 8, 2020. Marco thinks that China has started to close the gap with the other western countries and now there are more and more young Chinese fighters in UFC. Marco told me, “With Jiu Jitsu, specifically, China is a little bit behind. Brazil and US now are the two countries with the best fighters. There are a lot of 15-18 years old kids that have been training since they were 5. That means they have over 10 years of experience on the mat which is more than me. They have all those tricks that I have never seen, the level is just incredible. Even though China has a lot of catching up to do, they are doing a good job.”

How Did My First Jiu Jitsu Class Go?

I joined Marco’s class at R8 a few weeks ago. I was not only impressed by his superb Jiu-Jitsu skills, but also his passion in coaching. When a fight moves down to the ground, it can be quite brutal, especially in Jiu Jitsu where there are so many different kinds of chokes. It seems that getting bruises, breaking teeth or arms are normal in this sport. Plus, did I mention that if you are practicing with a guy, you’d better get used to some rather odd positions? Even Marco himself admitted that Jiu Jitsu positions can sometimes be awkward. 

So I didn’t go in with a lot of confidence, but Marco’s explanation and demonstration of each move made everything seem possible. It is a grappling-based martial art where the central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Jiu Jitsu is centered around the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. All those awkward positions can be very effective; the basis behind it is all about leverage. It’s about using the whole body on another body part, even if your opponent is a bodybuilder, he can’t win. If you are skilled in Jiu Jitsu, you can definitely hold yourself against 95% of the population; most people don’t even know how to fall down properly.

The Beauty of Jiu Jitsu

Marco has about 30 tough students at the moment and he’s determined to stay for a much longer time. Recently he took 7 people to attend the Shanghai Tournament and got 10 gold medals, this shows that this tiny team is going in the right direction. For the next step, Marco wants to create a kids’ program. He wants to share what he has with the next generation.

"It's important to stay focused and keep an open mind when it comes to learning Jiu Jitsu." The Jiu Jitsu lifestyle goes beyond just training. It's about taking care of yourself, making friends, and striving to put your 'best foot forward'. Setting your mind to learning and improving every week will help you to improve mind, body and soul. His over-all team goal is to improve at least 1% every week and this requires a positive attitude.

Online Open Day: What Makes Wellington Special?

In light of the success of the first online open day, Wellington College International Hangzhou is very much aware of requests for an additional session held on a weekend, to enable more families to tune in and join the interactive Q&A session. The coming online open day will be held at 10am on Saturday 18th April.This event is open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington College International Hangzhou.

继成功举办了第一场线上开放日活动后,杭州惠灵顿外籍人员子女学校应家长的要求将于本周六新增一场线上开放日活动,以确保更多的家庭能够有时间收看和参与互动。本场线上开放日活动将于4月18日(星期六)上午10点举行。欢迎对杭州惠灵顿外籍人员子女学校感兴趣的家庭报名参加。

The open day includes;
本次线上活动包含:

·       A broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, royal heritage, educational philosophy and values by Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou.

·      惠灵顿杭州校区总校长Paul Rogers将对惠灵顿大家庭的姊妹学校、悠久历史、以及我们的教育理念和价值观做整体介绍。

·       A deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, and a presentation exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about by Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou

·      杭州惠灵顿外籍人员子女学校校长Kathryn Richardson将深入阐述惠灵顿教育的与众不同之处以及就家长们关心的一些常见问题与大家进行探讨。

·       A live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions Team, allowing the team to address the questions that are important to you.

·      最后,在问答环节,我们的主讲人和招生团队将与家长们互动,对家长们的问题作出解答。

All interested families are suggested to scan the QR code on the poster to register. Registered attendees will receive a reminder notification prior to the event starting.

请提前扫描海报中的二维码报名参加,以确保您在活动前可以收到活动预约提醒。

Welcome Back to Wellington
开学在即,惠灵顿准备就绪

As pupils quickly approach the highly anticipated return to schools in Hangzhou, Wellington College Hangzhou has been strictly following the local regulations on epidemic prevention in order to prepare the Wellington community for a smooth transition back to normality.

随着开学日期的临近,惠灵顿杭州校区严格遵守疫情防控规定,为惠灵顿大家庭顺利过渡到课堂教学做好充分的准备。

At Wellington College Hangzhou, ensuring the safety of the school community and protecting the health of Wellington pupils and staff always takes top priority. Over the past three months, the Senior Leadership Team and a specially appointed school emergency team have implemented a detailed COVID-19 plan that covers all aspects of school life, and ensures that strict guidelines will be followed to minimize risk and increase safety.

惠灵顿杭州校区始终将保障大家的安全和师生的健康视为日常工作的重中之重。过去三个月中,学校在管理团队和防疫领导小组制定了详尽的工作方案,覆盖校园生活的方方面面,确保学校各项工作严格遵守相关规定,尽可能降低风险,保障校园安全。

The Wellington College Hangzhou campus has undertaken a comprehensive site inspection by both the Education Bureau and the Hangzhou medical authority. Both inspection teams were incredibly impressed with Wellington’s preparations.

来自市区教育局和卫健系统的联合检查组在对惠灵顿杭州校区进行全方位实地检查后,并对我们的各项准备措施称赞不已。

Wellington understand that this will be a difficult transition for their children, yet remain confident that with careful guidance, and through demonstrating the Wellington Values of Courage, Kindness, Responsibility, Respect and Integrity, the children will adapt quickly and fully embrace the mission of ensuring a safe return to school.

虽然这段时间对学生而言必定是充满挑战的,但是通过惠灵顿社群一如既往地共同努力下,保持信心,严格遵循各项指示,秉持勇气、善良、责任、尊重和正直的惠灵顿价值观,惠灵顿杭州校区坚信学生能迅速地调整状态,安全重返校园。

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