A happy hour with only bottled drinks

At the bar, several cocktails are ready and on hand to be served.

Gone are the days when, to entertain guests or to relax after a busy day in the best Mad Men style, you needed a bar stocked with spirits, liqueurs and bitters from the most diverse origins. Today, a good bottle of ready-to-eat drink solves that.

The secret borders on the obvious: ready-to-eat drinks need to contain premium ingredients, offer the same quality you’d expect from your favorite bar and not require more than that ice already available in your freezer.

Yes, the invention was a helping hand for those who are not skilled with cocktail shakers. Truth be told, it turned a hand in the wheel even for those who know the métier. So much so that some bars have already started to leave their bases for drinks prepared, such as Guillotina. So much so that last Friday, April 1st, the first bottled bar in the country was opened.

Raiz Club by APTK Spirits, in Pinheiros, is a fusion of the old jazz bar owned by restauranteur Milton Freitas and the high-end cocktail brand starring award-winning bartender Alê D’Agostino. “It’s a way to ensure that our customers enjoy the best of cocktails, even without Alê at the counter every night”, bets Milton.

The mixologist, in turn, sees the bar as an attractive new showcase. Sleek glass, with provocative alcohol content, was part of his business plan long before Covid-19 was heard. Proof of the nine is that, in 2018, bottles of classic Negroni and Negroni with sherry were already populating Apothek, his popular bar also in Pinheiros.

Pandemic, confinement and the meeting with partner Luiz Paulo Foggetti accelerated the APTK Spirits endeavor. Physically standing since January 1, 2021, after an investment of R$ 1.2 million in the construction of the bottler, it earned R$ 5.4 million in the first year and estimates another R$ 14.4 million in 2022.

Luiz Paulo Foggetti, Milton Freitas and Alê D’Agostino: partnership at Raíz, with the first bar that operates only with bottled drinks

Today, the high-quality cocktail company is part of the Small Batches holding, in which CEO Luiz Paulo has the majority of the business. Ice4Pros, which is also part of the group, received another R$1.8 million to improve its unique freezing process. For the time being, it is the only supplier of ice to the country’s high-end cocktails industry and earned R$ 3.6 million last year.

A third, or even more promising, arm of the management company is retail. Started last December, with the first physical store of APTK Spirits, at CJ Shops, it took a second step in March, with a unit at Shopping Cidade Jardim, and now announces a franchise plan.

The first of them is scheduled for July, in Curitiba, Paraná, and includes the objective of having 12 stores (including in addition to the capital of Paraná and the capital of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Goiânia) by July 2023.

Although tripartite, “APTK is the most scalable of Small Batches’ businesses, because they are liquids that we distill ourselves and that can conquer hamburgers, pizzerias, good restaurants that don’t find bartenders to match, the world. People are noticing this revolution”, believes Foggetti.

In fact, ensuring classic and authorial cocktails made with the exact proportions, without manpower, especially the expert at the bar, can be a solution for the most diverse profiles of establishments and also allows D’Agostino not to stop developing his award-winning creativity.

“When I started at Spot, in 1999, 2000, every 10 caipirinhas sold a drink. Making a copyright was unthinkable. I was always studying and not technique, which is essential, but you learn by repetition, not even recipes, which are now on the internet. I developed as a whole and this helps to think about and bottle the cocktail versions”, confesses the bartender who, with this look, allows himself the luxury of being basically concerned with quality and standard.

“Of course I think about cost, but it’s not the same thing. I can deliver a product with high added value because we don’t have a production of millions of units. In the thousands, I still manage to have a handcraft pattern, develop specific products, create a distillate and make a natural extract,” he says.

A care that allows your portfolio to have six classic cocktails (R$100 to R$119, with 375 ml or 4 drinks), three signature cocktails (from R$100 to R$110, with 375 ml or 4 drinks) and seven bases (gin, three vermouths, an aperitif and two bitters), in addition to exclusive partnerships with bars such as Pirajá and hotels such as Rosewood, Emiliano and Unique.

Among the products, the best seller is the Negroni, but, curiously, in the flagships of São Paulo, the greatest demand for tasting in loco is for Sur L’Orange, which combines cachaça aged in oak, orange, almonds, sugar and “love”. .

Happy with its own path, APTK is excited about the appreciation of this type of revenue around the world. You have reasons. According to the Distilled Beverage Council in the United States, in 2021, ready-to-drink cocktails were the fastest growing spirits category (42.3%), moving $1.6 billion and stealing even the beer and hard seltzer market ( ethyl soda).

Here there are no precise numbers and it is difficult to talk about snatching up a niche of drinkers. Even so, Alê realizes that the wine drinker is more likely to exchange a glass for a boulevardier (cousin of the negroni based on bourbon, red vermouth and bitters) like his own, while the brewer, perhaps, tests a can of gin and tonic you found sharing the same shelf as your pilsen at the supermarket.

“The last great innovation in cocktail making was to understand that ice is a fundamental ingredient. Now we’ve learned that for classic cocktails, which age very well, such as old fashioned, negroni, manhattan and some variations, having the base ready generates agility and pattern. In other words, the new differential of a bar will be the service, the lighting, the music, the accompaniment… and the demand for ready-to-eat drinks will increase even more”, he says.

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