sometimes two. The Kennedys celebrated DTO—Daiquiri Time Out. JFK sipped one at home while watching election returns in 1960. Cocktail culture evolved along with the home bar in the 1960s and ‘70s. The Tiki craze promoted potent rum drinks, rye gave way to milder Canadian blended whiskey, and vodka made its first appearing in average American homes. Barware grew fancier as well, as designers such as Georges Briard and Dorothy Thorpe embellished cocktail glassware and bar tools—the ritual objects of a new American tradition. The popularity of the home bar began to wane in the 1970s. A new generation preferred cocktail lounges and discos in the city. The quality of drinks suffered as well, with carefully crafted classics like the old fashioned and gimlet replaced by high-fructose-syrup-infused concoctions. However, their drinking-age children are enthusiastically bringing back the home imbibing tradition. Today there is a renaissance of the home bar movement—think man cave or the millennial hipster’s bar cart. You need not look far for proof of its revival. Google search “making a home bar” and you will get over a million hits. Look at furniture and home décor displays, from Target to Restoration Hardware, and see the array of bars and accessories. So how can the spirits industry, specifically the artisanal distillery, capitalize on this movement like a generation past? Coaching customers on developing not only their home bars but their knowledge of spirits, their palates, and mixology skills are good places to start. Distillery tasting rooms provide an ideal setting for customers to deepen their knowledge of your unique spirits and assist in the development of their
BASIC COMPONENTS TO DEVELOPING A HOME BAR:
1) Foundation — The bar can be as minimalistic as a tray or as lavish as a wet bar.
2) Glassware — Ninety percent of all classic cocktails are served in coupes or rocks/double old fashioned glasses.
3) Tools — Mixing equipment is a must to combine spirits, modifiers, and mixers.
4) Accoutrement — Bars need some pizazz — elements that reflect style and personality. Pictures or mirrors provide a backdrop and containers class-up your garnishes. Add some kitsch or swank.
5) Artisanal spirits — At the heart of the home bar is the liquor. Begin your recommendations with your distillery’s distinctive spirits. Then make a list of the ways people enjoy them and the classic or craft cocktails that cannot be made without them. palates. Narrated tours of the production area satiate customer curiosity and benefit from historical storytelling that includes the history of the distillation processes and how those processes work. Highlight your methods and provide context for differences in distillation. Consider partnering or collaborating with a knowledgeable bartender to co-teach the art of mixing drinks. Like narrated tours, mixology classes benefit from storytelling because people always want to know the story behind the cocktails. Stories also convey how mixology connects to the romanticized past and exposes the bigger picture of liquor’s unique place in American history and culture. Close contact with customers enables you to share your company’s mission while building relationships with a core group of loyal customers. When customers want to know how to create their at-home drinking space, help them visualize their home bars and provide a few tips. Seize this opportunity to connect with customers and tap into the renewed and growing interest in cocktails, locally-made spirits, and the home bar. Cheers!
Renee Cebula is a cocktail historian. She is the owner and curator of Raising the Bar: Vintage & Badass Barware. FB: Raising the Bar Northwest, Insta/Twitter: badassbarware, raisingthebarbarware.com. 128
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