Jobs for bartenders, donations to the United States Bartenders Guild Relief Fund, and cocktails for people social distancing at home—everyone wins.
In just 24 hours, an interim program to employ bartenders who are out of work amid the COVID-19 pandemic has come together. It also aims to benefit small businesses and the broader bartending community. Bartenders who participate in the program will deliver premium cocktail kits to customers’ homes, sourcing the ingredients from local purveyors and preparing the craft mixers themselves. The ad-hoc initiative will be running in New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Austin.
“In times of crisis, there are two options: whine and fold, or band together and fight,” says Tim Angelillo, the founder of Sourced Craft Cocktails. “Hearing from over 4,000 bartenders that they were ready to go to work, we put American entrepreneurship into drive and fought hard to make this happen and get people to work yesterday.”
Many bartenders who work with Sourced Craft Cocktails, a cocktail experience company, have been calling looking for work. But with the events the company hosts, such as large-scale parties and corporate happy hours, all canceled, all the work typically available had dried up. So Sourced quickly spun its business model on its head, inviting drinkers who are stuck at home to order their own bartender-prepared cocktail kits online.
“Late Sunday night [March 15], we made the call to pivot to bottled cocktail delivery so we could put the bartender portion of our team to work,” says Angelillo. “By Wednesday night at 2 a.m., Sourced Craft Cocktails Delivered was born with a new e-comm site, marketing, creative, operational processes, supply chain, pricing model and most importantly, our partnership with USBG to give back 5% nationally to the Relief Fund.”
How It Works
A menu with eight cocktails is available online; currently, options include a Spicy Jalapeño Margarita, a Black Cherry Old Fashioned, a Hideaway Daiquiri made with grapefruit-berry ginger shrub and a "bartender's choice." Each kit includes a mixer, a full-size bottle of spirits, a jigger and cups.
For example, if a drinker orders the Spicy Margarita, they receive a 750 mL bottle of tequila and a 32-ounce bottle of fresh ingredients blended together as a mixer—enough for 12 drinks at home. After a customer places an order, a bartender creates the mixer included for the specific kit ordered. The kits are essentially batched craft cocktails, prepared made-to-order by the bartenders. And the bartenders Angelillo hires are doing it all: sourcing the ingredients, making the mixers, packaging the kits and even delivering them to customers.
Helping the Community
“Our sole inspiration was finding a way to be of service to our bartending community,” says Angelillo. “For the past four-and-a-half years, they have been the face of our brand, serving over 3.5 million cocktails across the country. From day one, we committed to paying a livable wage per shift, plus the tip jar, to acknowledge and respect their time and talents. By sourcing bottled cocktails directly to the consumer's door, we invented a way to be of service to our bartender as well as the consumer.”
Bartenders participating in the program will earn $15 per hour at a time when they’d otherwise likely be out of work, and the 5% of each sale donated to the USBG Bartender Relief Fund will help to support the larger bartending community. The United States Bartenders Guild, a professional bartending organization, provides the community with guidance and support in times of crisis. Currently, the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program is working to provide grants to bartenders affected by the virus, including those who are not USBG members.
Bartender Jordan Dewing, who has been working with Sourced for almost a year, was contacted about being a part of the program and got to work right away. “Last week, in a matter of hours, two-thirds of the people I know either lost their job completely or at least for the foreseeable future. The ability of businesses like Sourced Craft Cocktails to adapt to this situation so quickly has been remarkable,” he says. “This opportunity helps to give me some hope of generating income and staying financially stable over the course of the forced business closures. It also feels great being able to bring a good time to people who otherwise might be having a hard time.”
The people powering the bar and restaurant industry have been hit particularly hard by the virus, which likely will keep drinking establishments closed for weeks and may shutter some permanently. Forty percent of restaurant workers live on poverty-level wages, leaving them without a financial safety net.
"With everything that’s going on and there being no sure answer of any relief, it’s great to know we have someone looking out for us,” says Austin bartender Casey Heath, who’s participating in the program. “Someone is putting money directly into my pocket so I’m not worrying about my next meal or feeding my dogs."