In March, luxury tequila brand Casa Dragones debuted an ambitious initiative aimed at putting money directly into the hands of bartenders. The Bartender Community Outreach initiative came together in about one week, as executives learned of mass closings of bars across the US and raced to find ways to help the embattled bar community.
“We looked at our budgets and said, why don’t we do a program that is touching each individual bartender rather than going to an organization?” Casa Dragones CEO and co-founder Bertha González Nieves says, adding that the company is also donating to US Bartenders Guild as well. A portion of proceeds from Casa Dragones sales on Reserve Bar will be donated; sales of bottles also help fund the outreach program.
Part of this comprehensive program, the #CocktailsAtHome competition takes place entirely on social media, featuring glossy how-to videos from bartenders across the United States, Mexico and soon, London. Bartenders are given grants of up to $200 per recipe, and a final winner will pocket an additional $500. Contestants get money in their accounts within two weeks of turning in submissions. Around 100 bartenders were originally invited to submit drinks—a number that will rise by another 100 before the competition’s end. The tequila maker has set aside $50,000 to fund the program.
“What can we do as a community to see this through?” González Nieves asks. “It is less about us being able to create these grants, and more about what we can do to keep each other going through this crisis.”
The program, which runs through the spring, is underway on the Casa Dragones Instagram and IGTV channels, where published submissions include frozen kiwi drinks, cocktails that pair the tequila with Chartreuse and basil syrup, and even a spicy chocolate coffee concoction with Grand Marnier, cold brew and a dash of cayenne pepper.
Each entrant has to walk a fine line between presenting a new cocktail idea and keeping it approachable for the home bartender. “There needs to be a simplicity to it so people don’t feel overwhelmed by the recipe,” González Nieves says. “Many of the most famous people cooking on TV always understood that. Bartenders are putting themselves in the shoes of people who have two or three ingredients at home.”
How does a final winner get chosen when the drinks tasting is virtual? Engagement, of course. The drink posts with the most engagement will earn a bartender an additional $500. A winner will be announced in May.
Images courtesy of Casa Dragones