Punch is the James Beard Award-winning online magazine of narrative journalism about wine, spirits, beer, and cocktails. Bacardi is the largest American privately held and family-owned spirits company in the world, founded on – and most famous for – their rum. Together, they’re backing a program called Tip Your Bartender.
Here’s how it works: Every weekday at 5pm EST – that’s 4pm, Austintime – a bartender goes live on Punch’s Instagram and makes a cocktail for a virtual happy hour that all can attend. Each bar team gets $1,000 for participating, and viewers are encouraged to tip directly to the bar team's Venmo … and Bacardi will match all those tips via a contribution to the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.
[Pause for sincere applause here, and maybe also … excuse me just a second … your reporter wiping a sudden tear of joy-of-humanity from one blue eye.]
In today’s installment, the Roosevelt Room’s own Matthew Korzelius is going live on video to show you how to make a White Tuxedo.
Now, your friends at the Chronicle know the Roosevelt Room. Your friends at the Chronicle fucking love the Roosevelt Room. But this is the third week of the estimable Tip Your Bartender initiative, and that Room is the first Austin joint to be featured among its starry national roster, so why are they the lucky ones?
We’re always a bit cynical here – street-hardened journalism-school reprobates, all – so we imagine it’s maybe got something, just a tiny influence, to do with the amount of Bacardi that the place has moved during its glorious tenure? Not that such a thing would reflect poorly on the decency of this program, mind you; good business often allows the greatest philanthropy, after all. But Korzelius offers another reason:
“I believe that, as a staff, we really put our heart and soul and time and effort into what we do,” he tells us. “The Roosevelt Room is not the kind of a bar where it can just be your job, you know? You really have to be there on purpose, because no one’s there to just collect a paycheck, it’s what we do. So, for a large group of us, it’s our career. We spend inordinate amounts of time in the building – a 60-hour week is not out of the question – because there’s an awful lot going on there. And then, one day, here’s the coronavirus, and we’re just, we just don’t have that anymore. So I wanted to make sure we threw our hat in the ring with this Tip Your Bartender thing, to remind our staff that what we do matters, and that they’re valued. To remind them that people haven’t forgotten we’re around – and that those people will be there when we get through this, and we’ll get back to work soon.”
Well put. But also – why Korzelius in particular for tonight’s gig?
“I’m one of the bartending management squad,” says the affable mixologist, “and I’m considered head bartender at the Roosevelt Room – and assistant bar manager. So these kind of things would’ve been up to me or Sharon Yeung – the bar manager, who’s more capable – but I, ah, I just kind of jumped on it.”
And what’s this White Tuxedo thing that maestro Korzelius will be building for all to see and learn and taste at home?
“Well, this Tip Your Bartender is a home-bartending sort of concept,” says Korzelius, “and so many of the cocktails that the Roosevelt Room makes are, ah, they’re so detail-oriented. There aren’t a ton of our own creations that lend themselves to everyday home bartending. I was scanning our whole list of drinks, and every cocktail, it seemed a little too-many-moving-parts to make sense for this video series. But the White Tuxedo is perfect for home bartending: It’s a riff on a classic – it’s a cocktail for martini drinkers. Especially in the last couple of years, the classic gin martini is starting to re-earn its rightful spot as king of the martinis. So this cocktail is an echo of a Tuxedo, which is another riff on a martini. So it can easily be made at home – it’s simple, delicious, and clean.”
Simple, delicious, and clean.
An echo of a riff on a martini.
Robert Faires, please take note.
So, citizen, if you’re into home bartending at all – and what better time than this plaguetime to get into home bartending? – you might want to click on over at 4pm and enjoy happy hour courtesy of Punch, Bacardi, and Austin’s own Roosevelt Room.
But – hold on! We did say “every weekday at 5pm EST,” didn’t we? That’s right: You can catch livestreamed happy hours during the rest of the week, too, from top bars all around this struggling country of ours:
April 21: Kapri Robinson of Reliable Tavern (Washington, D.C.)
April 22: Ari Daskauskas of Nitecap (NYC)
April 23: Cole Younger of Aziza (Atlanta, Ga.)
April 24: Sam Kiley of Cane & Table (New Orleans, L.A.)
And don’t forget to tip big.
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