At Casements Bar, owners hope ethical sourcing will promote longevity

What makes a bar sustainable, which is that it outlasts its peers, gains a large number of loyal regulars and is one day seen as a “Legend”, an “icon” or an “institution”? Beyond the kind of bar where everyone knows your name, this bar is a bar behind which people mobilize to save in difficult times; one who is commemorated in movies and TV shows; and a place people visit just to say they’ve been there. For the trio behind Casements, the Mission’s modern Irish bar for two years, theirs is an unusual approach to getting there: building a bar made with responsibly sourced and ethically made products.

Opened by Gillian Fitzgerald (Virgil’s Sea Room, WesBurger), Sean O’Donovan (Mission Bowling Club, Driftwood) and Chris Hastings (the Lookout, WesBurger) just before the world changes in January 2020, Casements has been written multiple times like a “different kind of Irish bar.” But that difference goes beyond its sophisticated aesthetic and premium creative pub menu, extending to how the team tackles all of their bar supplies, to the spices used in a cocktail. A new bar menu at Casements showcases liquors like Jin Jiji from Goa, India; Limavady Irish single malt whiskey; Paranubes Rum from Oaxaca; and the woman owned and produced Yola Mezcal.

“It’s not the easiest way to do it, that’s for sure,” says Fitzgerald. “To organize it takes a lot more time, there is a lot more money and effort to invest. But I prefer to spend my money this way so that you, the consumer, will spend your money this way. Our profit margins may suffer, but for me, it’s about the longevity of it – creating the conversation, creating repeaters. We want to be here for 50 years, ”said Fitzgerald.

When Casements decided to create a new bar menu, Fitzgerald had recently opened a bottle store in Palm Springs with other partners (PS Bottle Shop) and explored wallet after wallet for supply; Fitzgerald estimates that 80% of the products sold in the bottle shop are women, BIPOC or LGBTQ created and owned. The bar has always had an emphasis on Irish produce – Fitzgerald says there are over 45 Irish distilleries that make ‘delicious’ whiskeys, gins, ice apple wine, etc. “One of the reasons we opened the bar early on – it was just around the time of the real estate crash, which was particularly affecting Ireland – so we thought, how can we help here? Advancing Irish hospitality and showcasing new and emerging Irish products, ”said Fitzgerald.

“Our bar is all about community, what an Irish bar is like in Ireland. There’s no stage but there is a stage, you know? Everyone is welcome. So we wanted to reflect that. with our bar products “, explains Fitzgerald. Jin Jiji gin, for example, is the first of five gins that Casements offers in India.

There’s a reason for this, says Fitzgerald. “Gin is a British spirit – much of its roots can be found in the UK and London. But the ingredients – juniper berries, cardamom – would have been obtained in the British colonies, one of them being India, ”explains Fitzgerald. Therefore, they deliberately promote gins from India rather than UK. it all comes down to the ingredients. The “diaspora” in the name comes from the cilantro in the drink, which the bar toasts – it comes from Diaspora Co., where Casements sources a number of spices used in cocktails.

The new menu is more than just a showcase for thoughtful sourcing – it’s also a mid-century design moodboard. Casements worked with graphic designer Kristine Arth for this and other design work at the bar, like labels for bottled cocktails, and Fitzgerald emphasizes Arth’s role in building their dream menu, largely influenced by by the iconic Pan-American look from the heyday of air travel, which Fitzgerald says the trio had in mind before they opened the bar.

It’s also the first menu the team prepared in conjunction with the bartenders, and Fitzgerald points out how great they all brought to the table. “We wanted to teach everyone who started working during the pandemic what they wanted to do, and that included learning how to bartender and creating drinks,” Fitzgerald said. According to Fitzgerald, there is a collective philosophy among the promotion staff of the companies with which they socially align, which “not only makes a better cocktail, but makes people aware of where their alcohol comes from and who really benefits from it. dollar they spend. “

Yet “I’m not trying to force anything on anyone,” Fitzgerald says. “But if people want to understand and know who they’re supporting with their money, we’re a good place for them. “

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