How Virtual Gigs Are Helping Bartenders Stay Afloat—Even Beyond Cinco De Mayo
Matt Klette, trade advocacy manager for the Deutsch Family Spirits Portfolio, devised a program for Redemption Whiskey and Gray Whale Gin that has both brands individually paying bartenders $350 each to write a recipe and present the resulting drink during a live 20-minute “Virtual Bar” segment streamed on Instagram.
Combined, the two brands have fielded 2,000 inquiries and 1,200 recipes from around the world (though they’re only hiring US-based bartenders) and are planning to schedule around 30 episodes each.
“This is a fun way to show the versatility of our products with some of the bartenders’ creative modern cocktails,” he says. “It’s also fun for consumers to get a peek behind the curtain of what goes into making these cocktails – the bartenders are right there showing you how to do it.”
Interested bartenders can email Info@Redemptionwhiskey.com to submit Redemption recipes and email@example.com to submit for Gray Whale, and Klette selects his favorites on a rolling basis. He asks his chosen creators to shoot a short video of themselves making their drink and each brand streams their respective videos on IG the day of the bartender’s appearance. On the given night, depending on the brand, either he or the co-founder of Gray Whale interviews the bartender live on IG Stories while both host and guest make the drink at their homes. Redemption airs a new interview every Sunday and Tuesday, while Gray Whale broadcasts on Thursdays and Saturdays at 8pm EDT.
The program is set to run ten more weeks – the Deutsch Family portfolio has allocated $20,000 for “payroll” — but may extend it if they continue to receive enough irresistible submissions … and the bar industry remains closed.
“It’s one thing to get a handout but there’s some dignity in getting hired to do what you do best,” says Gray Whale co-founder Marsh Mokhtari, who pays out immediately via Venmo. He enjoys giving these bartenders an opportunity to build their brand through their interviews, during which he might chat with them about their inspiration, their career journey, their pre-COVID travels or their new baby.
He also brings a lighthearted touch by trying out the recipe himself alongside the expert.
“Sometimes I’m an epic failure. Sometimes we’ve had them be so complicated like involving rice washing – it’s like milk washing – and I’m like, ‘What is this and where the hell am I going to get these ingredients right now?!’” he says.
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