The Big Apple Gets Batch

They love us in New York City.

Last week, Matthew and Bruce returned from an extended stay in Manhattan, during which time they executed a key part of their East Coast strategy: Get Batch 22 into the hands (and lips) of as many folks as possible. Of course, there's still plenty of work to be done in The Big Apple (it is, after all, a city of 7.6 million with a metro area of more than 19 million) but we felt really good about the inroads we were able to make in such a relatively short time.

Coming from SoCal, it felt a little strange to us that the bartenders, beverage managers, restaurant owners, and publicans were noticeably more open to learning about our product—it did help that aquavit in general seems much more widely known and used in New York bars than it is on the West Coast. "New York City is a bar town." That's how one long-time resident explained the contrast. And we definitely saw that. Many of the establishments we visited had at least one bottle of aquavit behind the bar, and many had aquavit cocktails on their menu. Patrons in NYC not only have sophisticated palates, they are eager and willing to experience new and exciting cocktails that use interesting and under-appreciated ingredients. And NYC bartenders seem more willing to bring creative, palate-expanding combinations to their guests.

The core mission of our trip centered around our burgeoning relationship with one of New York City's most celebrated publicans. Danny McDonald, owner and creator of some of the city's most-popular and most-awarded bars (Swift Hibernian Lounge, Puck Fair, Ulysses' Folkhouse, Harry's, and Pier A Harbor House. He's also part owner in other iconic venues, including Dead Rabbit, which has been named Best Bar in the World by and is consistently in the top tier on this list every year) also happens to be a big Batch fan. While we were there, Danny introduced Batch 22 to his key bar personnel at various locations, and also had a hand in developing some new Batch-centric cocktail ideas for upcoming menus.

Other aspects of our visit were equally rewarding. In little more than a week, we were able to bring Batch to more than 20 accounts—a curated mix of restaurants, bars, and retail locations—and we started discussions with two potential regional distributors. The bars and restaurants were scattered far and wide around the island: Maison Pickle on the Upper West Side, 2nd Floor and Essen on the Upper East Side. West Bank Cafe, Bea, Mamazul, Virgil's, Carmine's, and Katharine Meets Toni in Midtown. Downtown included stops at Up & Up, Russ & Daughters, Ulyssses, and a wonderful new Southern/Asian fusion spot on Cornelia Street called Figure Eight, where the very talented bartender whipped up two inspired cocktails that showcased Batch brilliantly. One afternoon even took us out to Williamsburg in Brooklyn (acknowledged by many NYC natives as "the place" with the coolest bar scene) where we brought Batch 22 to Silver Light Tavern, We Have Company, and Gertie's (a brunch place with a sister resto, Gertrude's, both of which have two aquavit cocktails already on the menu!) where we wowed GM Emily with the possibilities of bringing Batch into the fold.

How many of NYC's 19 million people did we reach on this trip? Not exactly clear. But it was a start. The enthusiasm and receptivity we saw while we were there was not only uplifting and energizing, it inspired us to build upon this foundation as we expand our reach throughout the East Coast. Stay tuned.