Literates generally appreciate the vibrant taste of a good cocktail. Some of the world’s greatest writers were known as cocktail connoisseurs – like Ernest Hemingway, the originator of the Hemingway Daiquiri.
As far as former English student Andrew Gehrke is concerned, cocktails are more than a punch to enjoy with friends; these are stories waiting to be told. “The fun thing about cocktails is that there are a lot of stories involved in each one – the history of them, and when they were created, and who, and all that,” he said, “and that’s always been one of my favorite parts of making them, talking to bar patrons about them and training the staff on how to make them. I was naturally drawn to them in some ways.
The fun thing about cocktails is that there are a lot of stories involved in each one.
…their history, and when they were created, and who, and all that. And that’s always been one of my favorite parts of making them.
Owner of Eau Claire Cocktail Co.
The former Dive bartender decided to pivot in November when – after months of preparing take-out cocktail mixes for people to pick up from Dive and make at home – he realized that the pandemic forever changed not only his own life, but the way people consume alcohol.
“I never really see it being the same, when it comes to people going out to bars and restaurants,” he admitted. “More and more people – since their habits have changed over the past year – will continue to stay at home.”
This acquaintance — combined with a work schedule that was the opposite of his wife’s, so the pair barely saw each other — led Gehrke to start his cocktail business, Eau Claire Cocktail Co. Three years ago major parties in his business: cocktail lessons, the bartender for private events, and a custom Old Fashioned cocktail syrup that will soon be making its way onto store shelves.
His cocktail classes are often held at a friend’s art gallery on Water Street, and he teaches cocktails on rotation depending on the season. So far he has taught cocktail connoisseurs how to make various drinks using darker spirits such as bourbon and brandy. “I wanted to allow people to make really good cocktails at home without having to rely on the bar,” he said.
But, since he has established long-standing relationships in the bar industry, there’s no denying that his skills as a bartender are hard to come by – which is why the long-time cocktail aficionado is also offering his skills when it comes to mixing for private events, such as retirement parties, weddings. , and other occasions.
Most notably, however, Gehrke strives to make its unique old-fashioned cocktail syrup accessible to the masses. The syrup – which is created from demerara sugar – can be mixed with whiskey and favorite garnishes to make an ideal cocktail at home.
Gehrke’s relationships with renowned cocktail experts, such as Toby Cecchini , the inventor of the Cosmopolitan, and Robert Simonson, known for making Old Fashioneds — is something the UW-Eau Claire graduate hopes to use to benefit the local cocktail scene, as he eventually hopes to bring in notable experts for book signings and craft talks. .
For more information on Eau Claire Cocktail Co., check out their Instagram page: @ec.cocktailco.