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Hanna Lee Communications

  Website

  US - New York,  NY

  About Project

Situation:
A Beloved Speakeasy Bar in NYC’s Chelsea Neighborhood Pivots During the Pandemic
Hanna Lee Communications collaborated with Dave Oz, owner and operator of Bathtub Gin, the legendary speakeasy in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and spotlighted its dramatic pivots during the pandemic. These innovative initiatives not only helped the bar survive and thrive, but also served to inspire others in the bar community and the wider hospitality industry overall.

Since opening in 2011, Bathtub Gin, hidden behind Stone Street Cafe, a working coffee shop, has served 2.5 million craft cocktails to 1 million guests and hosted 17,000 live performances. They include live jazz, a favorite of Oz’s and a salute to the Prohibition era; burlesque, which was popular in the 1920s; magicians, and a rotation of DJs that provides a contemporary edge.

The pandemic closures put the very survival of the bar in question and Oz rose to the occasion with several groundbreaking initiatives that we promoted:

A Pioneering Chef Collaboration with Executive Chef NduvoAkim Abdus-Salaam
With the pandemic lockdown at its height, Bathtub Gin’s culinary focus became its coffee shop offerings, so its kitchen was underutilized
Oz saw an opportunity to help chefs who were trying to start their own businesses
He offered the space with no capital upfront costs and minimal operating expenses to Chef NduvoAkim Abdus-Salaam, whose own restaurant in Brooklyn, Nduvo Cafe, had shut down due to the pandemic
The collaboration took place over many months, with Bathtub Gin’s clientele able to enjoy his robust cuisine during outdoor dining, as well as for delivery
Chef NduvoAkim was able to tweak his recipes and also reach a completely new clientele in Manhattan

Shelf Stable Bottled and Canned Cocktails
Also during the pandemic, the bar’s Head Bartender Brendan Bartley developed a line of shelf-stable bottled and later canned cocktails
The challenge is citrus juices, which tend to degrade quickly, ferment and spoil
Bartley worked tirelessly and perfected substitutes in cocktails by using citric, malic and tartaric acid, along with citrus oils, the combination of which are stable for upwards of six months, even if unrefrigerated
The bottled cocktail program was a hit and proved to be an important source of income when indoor capacity was curtailed or severely limited
In addition, Bartley later collaborated with the Canned Cocktail Company to launch several bartender-designed cocktails in a state-of-the-art, canned format that attracted craft spirits brands as sponsors

Taking the Speakeasy Concept Outdoors
One of the key challenges during COVID-19 has been to transform a hidden speakeasy into an outdoor bar
Given the coffee shop is in the front, the “hidden” concept is maintained, since it appears that only coffee and pastries are being sold through the pass-through window that faces the street
In fact, individual cocktails served in proper glassware are dispensed as well
With the addition of elegant tables and music, Bathtub Gin has flourished in a way that stays true to its brand’s DNA

Objectives:
Successfully publicize the groundbreaking initiatives developed to cope with the pandemic
Position Bathtub Gin as a progressive speakeasy bar that is pivoting to contend with the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic
Position Dave Oz as a business leader who thinks outside the box and supports the wider hospitality community
Leverage the deep spirits expertise of Head Bartender Brendan Bartley and position him as an expert on a variety of spirits categories
Support Bathtub Gin’s outdoor, delivery and to-go sales

Strategy:
Use media relations to bring the media’s spotlight to Bathtub Gin and its pioneering initiatives

Media Relations:
The agency wrote a series of in-depth press releases announcing the initiatives that became the foundation of our media relations outreach

Results:
Our full court press for Bathtub Gin effectively generated all-important press coverage that kept the bar top-of-mind and supported sales
Through 49 media placements, we were able to reach a readership of 1.21 billion, with 21,200 social shares
Key placements included:
Departures
https://www.departures.com/lifestyle/wine-spirits/socially-distanced-socializing-pandemic-era
Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/reengineering-for-takeout/
Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-citys-outdoor-dining-isnt-advantageous-to-all-restaurants-11602182024
Time Out New York
https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/how-nycs-restaurant-industry-is-responding-to-the-return-of-indoor-dining-093020
SevenFifty Daily
https://daily.sevenfifty.com/the-rise-of-the-craft-canned-cocktail/
Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-city-to-resume-indoor-dining-at-restaurants-11599672105
Amplified the media relations results through social media marketing across multiple platforms
Positioned Bathtub Gin as a speakeasy bar that successfully pivoted during the pandemic through innovative initiatives that not only helped the bar, but set an example for the hospitality industry as a whole
Reinforced the positioning of Dave Oz as a visionary who demonstrated extraordinarily thoughtful leadership that spoke to the bar’s DNA and his own very empathetic approach to hospitality
Positioned Head Bartender Brendan Bartley as an innovative mixologist who perfected shelf-stable bottled and canned cocktails and as a spirits expert overall

Category: Media Relations/Publicity | 1333. Online Placement