Bartenders Offer Cocktail Delivery, Virtual Bar Experiences and More

Local bartenders bring the bar to you through cocktail kits with everything you need to make a good drink at home, plus virtual happy hours and cocktail lessons.
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Somersault cocktail (a riff on the Greyhound) by Willa Van Nostrand. Photo by Angel Tucker.

Most local bars are still closed and many people are choosing to continue to stay home even after statewide dining-in restrictions are being lifted. As a response, local bartenders are getting creative by crafting pre-mixed cocktails for people to purchase and drink at home. Thanks to a recent executive order by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcoholic drinks (sealed and dated) to-go, several local bartenders have developed side hustles by creating cocktails for delivery and/or running virtual happy hours and cocktail lessons complete with DIY cocktail kits. The cocktail kits include everything you need to pour a batched cocktail at home, such as quality spirits, mixers made with freshly squeezed juices, fancy garnishes, salt for rimming the glasses and sometimes even handcut ice.

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Willa Van Nostrand of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails. Photo by Angel Tucker.

Willa Van Nostrand of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails is one of the crafty bartenders who is offering her garden-to-glass cocktails to-go each week for delivery to your home or pickup at a local liquor store. She’s been teaming up with other local businesses and events including Wicked Tulips flower farm and the DesignxRI gala to host virtual happy hours on various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram Live and Zoom. Next week, Van Nostrand is partnering with Rhode Island Monthly on Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. for a free Virtual Bar Experience with St. Elder Artisanal Liqueurs, during which she’ll offer a cocktail kit for sale and teach you how to make the Somersault, which is a riff on the Greyhound (Grainger’s Deluxe Organic Vodka, St. Elder Pamplemousse grapefruit cordial, fresh pressed citrus, spicy floral salt and fresh herbs) at home (sign up here).

Over the last few weeks, Van Nostrand was able to obtain a special license for hosting virtual happy hours and to provide the cocktail kits for takeout. Next week’s cocktail kit for our Virtual Bar Experience includes a pint of the mixed cocktail (serves two), DIY garnish and a sweet and savory bite to pair with the drinks. The Virtual Cocktail Experience will also benefit the Rhode Island Hospitality Employee Relief Fund as St. Elder Artisanal Liqueurs will be making a donation for each registered event attendee (it’s free to register!) to the fund with a total donation amount of up to $5,000.

Another local bartender, Matt Simmons, got into the takeout cocktail business by accident. In early April, with all the bars in the area closed for the unforeseeable future, his friends began to crave properly mixed, professional cocktails at home. He offered to mix up the drinks for them and deliver to their doors. This kicked off what he then called Quarantine Cocktails, but as word spread and he had more requests on social media for cordials and infusions, he decided to kick it into high gear as an official business. He renamed the project Off Premise Provisions to give it some longevity since he predicts that the pandemic will lead a lot of people to continue to stay home for the near future.

Quarantine won’t last forever and it would be a nice thing to continue to have cocktail delivery, so I put something up that said, ‘Are you down with OPP,’ and I coined it Off Premise Provisions,” Simmons says. “I am focusing on bringing a real and original happy hour to people in their homes.”

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Cadillac Margarita mixed by Matt Simmons of Off Premise Provisions.

Simmons operates OPP under the license obtained through a new secret speakeasy he’s opening with his partners in Providence. In order to make and deliver the cocktails, he speaks to each customer directly to find out flavor preferences and any allergies, then he works with them to create cocktails to their specifications and includes fancy garnishes like cara cara orange slices, pineapple leaf or whole nutmeg. Each $45 batched cocktail kit serves four and includes everything you need to pour good drinks at home.

He’s also added a homemade habanero and mango salsa, using a family recipe, to his lineup of products for delivery. He takes orders Sunday through Tuesday, and batches accordingly for delivery later in the week. Order the drinks through Simmons’ Instagram page at instagram.com/thecocktailwriter.

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