Welcome back to the Roaring 20s
In 2017 we opened a speakeasy style restaurant (Room 33) in the heart of downtown Erie, PA. Over the years, our Prohibition-inspired venue had become known for our classic hand-crafted cocktails. However, in March of 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, we were mandated to takeout only, and in Pennsylvania establishments were not legally allowed to sell alcohol-to-go. At the time, 90% of our sales were bar sales, and like many, we had to pivot and adapt.
One of the initiatives we launched were bottled non-alcoholic versions of our cocktails – and the response was overwhelming. Through research we found a major underserved market – 30%+ of the US population does not drink alcohol (for a variety of reasons). And currently, there are only 29 companies that produce non-alcoholic drinks in the nation. We also knew given our experience, there were not many creative alternatives in bars and restaurants to help those “feel part of the occasion” when not drinking.
All of the flavor; none of the after-effects.
Given our foray into the Prohibition era through our restaurant, as a passionate brand advocate, I wanted to stay with what we could capitalize on – our Prohibition theme. Our team, led by Elizabeth Heffernan, created recipes for cocktails that would mirror the flavors of the original, but without the alcohol. We wanted the consumer to have the defining flavors, even if they couldn’t have the spirit. We then worked with a variety of professionals to get that product shelf-stable and into market. As for the name “Blind Tiger?” That is what speakeasies were known as during Prohibition.
In the end, which is just the beginning, we ended up with four classic cocktails, each with a story to tell and all with speculative origins.