Last week, molecular mixologist Eben Freeman told Fork in the Road about his plans, after several months of working in Asia, to return to New York to throw a trio of parties. The former Tailor barkeep is also preparing to roll out his first bar carts.
“We haven’t even started on the AvroKo bar tools yet,” he confesses. “Right now, we’re focusing on the bar carts.”
His cocktail consultancy, Cocktail All-Stars, has teamed up with AvroKo to design the carts, which will be marketed first to hotel and restaurant groups, and eventually to consumers. At the moment, there are two carts being developed: a chrome one, inspired by 1950s stewardess carts, and a vanity cart done up in leather and wood that comes stocked with an array of high-end spirits.
“These carts are intended for professional use, but they’re so sexy that they could work in the home,” says Freeman. “They look fantastic. But it’s a practical cart that can be used for great tableside service… The future is tableside.”
A recent Times article pointed to a mobile future for cocktails at home, and New Yorkers are already starting to see tableside service in fancier establishments. But Freeman’s carts will likely be out of reach for most small bars and home tipplers.
“We’re thinking these will go for $3000 to $5000, so they’re not cheap,” admits the bartender. “We’re designing everything: the tools, special glasses, specially designed soda dispensers, and ice wells.”
And so, now that so many high-profile bartenders are consulting on hotel bars, as Freeman and his All-Stars are, have the two become as co-dependent as hotels and celebrity chefs?
“The bar is not just a place to put customers before sending them to the restaurant. [Restaurants] have woken up to the fact that it can be a major revenue center. And now, hotels are seeing that restaurants and bars are not just a place to put customers before sending them to their room,” he explains. “The age of the celebrity chef is dying and the age of the celebrity bartender is going to die, too. [Bartenders] in their forties need to know how to sustain themselves in this industry and how to capitalize.”
Some bartenders, at least, seem to be getting the hang of it.