The bar industry is filled with people who like to work and stay busy, and some of them are now doing it virtually.
With most businesses closed or reduced to curbside or delivery during the pandemic ― for a few more days at least ― artists and musicians have been producing streaming content, and local restaurants have been doing online cooking shows to promote dinner kits.
Bars are not included in the businesses allowed to reopen their doors to the public on Friday in the Lone Star State, so many bartenders are streaming mixology segments and, well, bar talk.
“We’re obviously trying to keep driving sales,” said Kyle Noonan, co-owner of FreeRange Concepts, which operates The Rustic and Bowl & Barrel.
On the second weekly episode of “The Rustic Presents Kyle’s Kitchen,” which is broadcast live on Instagram on Sundays, Noonan showed viewers how to make a Moscow Mule, which The Rustic just happens to be selling kits to-go for. This is a standard recipe with vodka, lime juice and ginger beer in a copper mug.
“We’re also trying to continue the dialogue with our customers, so we stay on their minds,” Noonan added. “Brand building is so important. The online content that really works is either educational or entertaining.”
With live music, cooking and mixology segments filmed in his kitchen and backyard, Noonan is trying to do both. He also believes his streaming content will go on indefinitely.
“Musicians really only make money from touring,” Noonan said. “Live music is going to be shut down a lot longer than bars. I was on a conference call with the head of Live Nation, and he thinks concerts are going to be shut down for the rest of the year. I want to be able to help these artists and they can make a couple hundred bucks with virtual tips.”
Texas Theatre is currently closed, but they are offering virtual cinema, as well as snacks, shirts and booze for curbside pickup. Tatiyana Kellough, the theater’s horror-film-obsessed bartender with infectious good energy, recently filmed a short segment on how to make a mezcal-based cocktail, the Fritz.
Once called a Boomstick for a screening of Army of Darkness, the popular drink includes 2 ounces of mezcal, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters on top. It’s a perfect tart cocktail, a hefty drink with a taste comparable to lemonade. Texas Theatre sells them for just $10, but they are even cheaper to make at home.
“I miss the theater, I miss my job, I miss my regulars, and that sense of community,” Kellough said. “I’ve sold hundreds of these drinks and wanted to share a house secret. It’s my favorite drink. The bitters with the smokiness of the mezcal is something incredible. Last year on my birthday I drank like 20 of them, watched Freddy vs. Jason, and my mom gave me a machete. It was a very nice night.”
Tatiyana Kellough, bar lead at the Texas Theatre in Dallas, April 23, 2020. Bartenders in Dallas are making cocktail videos for their local cocktail fans to make at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ben Torres/Special Contributor(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
From Double Wide, longtime bartender John Hernandez is featured in the latest episode of QuaranTV, the weekly variety show filmed at the bar and music venue.
In the episode, Hernandez shows viewers how to make his signature Bloody Mary mix, the Bloody Maria. Instead of using vodka, Hernandez uses a “lethal dose” of habanero-infused tequila along with celery salt, black pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and lime juice. From there he tops it off with a little tomato juice, and the rim is salted with chili lime salt.
On Fridays around 5 p.m., Hernandez goes live on Double Wide’s Instagram account, but the episodes disappear within 24 hours.
“It’s a lot of goofy bar banter,” Hernandez said. “I really miss that. I’m not really tackling serious issues, just trying to make people smile.”