Founded in 2011, Bathtub Gin has become a New York staple, an institution that transports cocktail enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike to the Prohibition era. Now, this cocktail mainstay has expanded its footprint to the West Coast with the launch of Bathtub Gin LA in Los Angeles.
Brendan Bartley, the head bartender and beverage director of Bathtub Gin, has created two distinct menus inspired by each location. Though each menu reflects its individual city, they share a commonality: an attempt to create a zero-waste kitchen and bar collaboration. SevenFifty Daily sat down with Bartley to find out how he approached distinguishing the two cocktail programs while maintaining as little waste as possible across both.
SevenFifty Daily: How did you approach creating the Bathtub Gin LA cocktail program while maintaining the cocktail bar’s signature style?
Brendan Bartley: Los Angeles and New York City are very different cities that require different things. At Bathtub Gin, we came up with a formula to how we create a menu for individual cities. We look at what drinking habits the city has and what people don’t like, for example. Once we’ve done some research, we keep a similar structure but change the flavoring approach that is city-based and ingredient-dependent, keeping in mind access to produce and what unique, local twist we can spin. Behind the scenes, much stays the same; at Bathtub Gin, we have our own way of creating delicious drinks.
Don’t miss the latest drinks industry news and insights. Sign up for our award-winning Daily Dispatch newsletter—delivered to your inbox every week.
How do you work with Bathtub Gin chef John Sheffey to produce a zero-waste menu?
Working with chefs is one of my great loves—the culinary approach to drink-making is my favorite way to take a viewpoint when creating. Getting to work with someone of Chef Sheffey’s caliber is enlightening. We first start with a “pen-to-paper” approach and find where we can cross-utilize ingredients; we then gather anything we would usually discard and work in recipes to manicure them into the menu. There is a real inventiveness when you have a peel, shell, or seed that you must research and develop into a tasty treat.
How does seasonality impact each cocktail menu?
Seasonality plays a big part. As we live in a world where we can get almost all ingredients year-round, we very much look at what those seasonal flavors represent and the idea of the season. Then we try to build drinks around that. For instance, when we think of spring and summer, it’s more floral, bright, and refreshing.
Since Prohibition inspires each bar, how do you ensure the theme resonates on the cocktail menu?
Prohibition is a big part of who we are; we try to revive classics with a modernist approach. I think everyone knows what an Old Fashioned is, so we keep the structure and twist it to be more exciting—both for our guests’ experiences, and also behind the scenes for bartenders to be more imaginative with their approaches.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Sign up for our award-winning newsletter
Don’t miss the latest drinks industry news and insights—delivered to your inbox every week.
Marlena (Hoffman) Blitz has over seven years of experience in the beverage alcohol industry. As an integral member of the Beverage Media team, Marlena joined and oversaw the SevenFifty Daily partnerships team in 2020, combining her love of wine and spirits with the business side of the industry.