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Dead Donkey Bar: New watering hole on Abbeydale Road

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The curiously-named Dead Donkey Bar opens tonight on Abbeydale Road, and from their custom cocktails to their company values, they're aiming to do things a little differently.

We chatted with Doug Daly, who along with his brother Ed has set up Dead Donkey, to find out what the discerning drinker can expect from the new establishment.

Tell us about Dead Donkey.

The unique thing we're aiming for with the bar is to try and express our take on the hospitality industry, and the general wider food and drink culture that has been blossoming in Sheffield in the last few years. Comfort and quality are really important to us, not just furniture and booze, but everything from the atmosphere and experience down to the choice of glasses we use.

What kind of drinks will you be doing?

It is a little bit of everything. We've both worked in pubs and bars for years, both here and abroad, so we've built up a fair bit of knowledge and experience on most things booze-related. Rather than trying to please everyone, which can often be a boozer's downfall, I like to think of it as just trying to make sure when someone comes in they have a good time. After all, sitting with mates and relaxing with a beer, wine, whisky or whatever is what it's all about for us.

What was the inspiration behind the cocktails?

You can look to the stuff the guys at Public are doing and they're incredible, but even closer to home there's some great minds and taste buds down the road from us in both directions who come up with great cocktails and pairings. So a big part of our inspiration is just the Sheffield bartending community, which enables us to go and try new things and experiment with ideas all the time.

It's an unusual name for a bar. Where did it come from?

It's a reference to Animal Farm by George Orwell. The character Benjamin, the donkey, struck a bit of a chord with us and how we feel about the hospitality industry. The name comes from a phrase he uses when the other animals are getting carried away with the revolution. He says that "donkeys have been around for a long time" and that "none of you have ever seen a dead donkey". Given our longevity in the industry so far we identify with that part, however it's when his friend Boxer gets taken advantage of and worked to death that he finally steps up and looks to make a change. In many ways this is the bit that resonates with us both the most.

A big part of our inspiration is the Sheffield bartending community

In what sense?

Hospitality, by and large, is a terrible industry to work in. Long, unsociable hours, tenuous employment, high staff turnover, low rates of pay being a few of the big issues. We've seen so many of our friends and colleagues suffer from these practices and the associated stress and mental health issues it can induce and we wanted to do something about it. So we're trying to combat it by paying the real living wage, doing set hours and rotas so all our staff know well in advance when they're working, as well as being closed on Sundays and Mondays, to try and achieve a better work-life balance.

Sam Gregory

Dead Donkey is located at 240 Abbeydale Road, S7 1FL.

Dead Donkey on Facebook

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