You’ve heard of cafés with interesting concepts. You’ve likely also seen some pretty unique speakeasies or cocktail bars pop up over the years.
But have you encountered a combination of both?
LeJiu is a new “café” in Petaling Jaya where “cocktails become your casual”. In short, instead of your usual coffees and teas, this spot serves them spiked, as well as other alcoholic concoctions.
According to its Instagram, the brand is by Le Wine Group, which runs Le Wine, a gifting business centred around wines.
But before the days of selling wine gift boxes, the team was a marketing agency. Edison, Zenn, Jia Jia, and Max worked with clients across diverse industries such as F&B, retail, property, manufacturing, and more.
“The unexpected turn towards wines unfolded during the quietude of the MCO,” the team shared with Vulcan Post.
Around this time, a co-partner introduced a unique concept—personalised wines carrying heartfelt messages.
Seeing the potential in this idea, Le Wine was formed in 2021.
To take the business a step further, the team thought of creating a physical offline store to showcase their customised products to customers.
As they delved into this idea, they also identified a significant gap in the beverage industry, which was dominated by drinks like bubble tea and coffee, with few options for much else.
Grasping onto the concept of “cocktails on the go”, LeJiu was created.
A fresh take for the Malaysian crowd
Inspired by the more casual approach to drinking found abroad, LeJiu’s opening hours might be surprising to some—8AM to 7PM.
With this, the team directly challenges the stereotype that drinking is something reserved for the nighttime.
“LeJiu is not about getting people drunk; it’s more about creating a space to unwind and enjoy a drink to get a little tipsy,” they reasoned. “Inspired by the more laid-back drinking culture observed in Western countries, where a casual morning wine is embraced, we sought to bring a similar vibe to our brand.”
The café is situated in an office-heavy area as well, so it made sense not to open till late, at least for now. As they continue to gain recognition, they might consider extending their hours.
On top of that, the team noticed these kinds of concepts are a big hit in places like China, where Luckin and Moutai created a buzz with coffee and alcohol mixes.
“Even before this collaboration, we sensed a shift happening in the drinks scene because of the saturation of tea and coffee,” the team pointed out.
Still, as pioneers in the scene in Malaysia, it seems like there’s a lot of risk in venturing into this business.
To that, they shared, “We believe in taking bold steps, in doing things others might hesitate to try. After all, it’s the thrill of exploring the uncharted that makes the journey truly exciting. Why not venture into the unknown and see where our courage takes us?”
Pick your poison
If you’re not into the concept of day drinking but think LeJiu’s drinks and concepts are intriguing, you’ll be happy to know that the menu is not just about alcoholic drinks.
While there are coffees and lattes with a special touch of alcohol, LeJiu also offers regular coffee, chocolate, and other beverages you’d find in a café.
To create the cocktails on their menu, LeJiu partnered with experienced mixologists.
Wanting to craft a menu that’ll appeal to the masses, they actually asked the mixologists to skip the heavy-duty cocktails and focus on creating drinks that are easy to enjoy, refreshing, and just enough to get you a little tipsy.
“We want to break the stereotype that alcoholic drinks are always too strong,” they said.
With that, they shared that many customers who don’t typically drink alcohol end up enjoying their creations.
Drinks aside, LeJiu also offers a selection of light food items. Currently, a key food item they’re focusing on is freshly baked bagels, which are outsourced from a “trusted pastry source”.
However, the fillings are crafted in-house by the LeJiu team to ensure that the flavours complement the drinks perfectly.
LeJiu’s drinks start at RM7.90 (namely, the coffee drinks), and can go up for RM22.90 for their mixed concoctions.
A new take on drinks
Although it seems like LeJiu is careful not to serve heavy-hitting beverages that will get patrons drunk, the fact of the matter is that the drinks still have alcoholic content.
Especially given the timing the store is open, we were concerned that the store might give rise to behaviour such as drinking and driving.
That concern is something that LeJiu recognises. They explained that since they’re centred around office buildings, though, there’s less risk of that as customers can just drop by in the afternoon and walk back to their offices.
“No need to hide your drink in a tumbler anymore,” they shared. “It’s about giving people the option to enjoy a quality drink without the risk of getting drunk at work.”
Still being very new to the scene, reception for LeJiu is a bit slow for now. However, the feedback they’ve received about their ideas and drinks has been really positive, the team shared.
“In less than a month since we opened, some customers have been coming back two or three times a day, which is pretty awesome,” they said.
With the brand offering a brand new concept, a slow start might be given. That said, the team thinks that the grab-and-go concept for alcoholic beverages is something that’ll gain even more popularity in the future.
“Given the pricing of coffee and bubble tea, people are looking for better and more diverse drink options,” they shared.
If that’s truly the case, LeJiu being the first mover in such a market will be an advantage. But recognising that being first doesn’t guarantee all the attention, the team aims to consistently craft unique alcoholic drinks.
For now, their focus is on ensuring smooth operational flow and optimising team roles, while also introducing a wider range of drink varieties.
In the bigger picture, expansion into other areas is also in the plans.
While LeJiu stemmed from the desire to be an extension of Le Wine, we see the potential of it growing into something bigger. Could grab-and-go cocktails be the next big trend?
- Learn more about LeJiu here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.
Featured Image Credit: LeJiu