Providing tourist tips for folks visiting Charleston has been tricky since March 2020. Do you prefer to eat outside? Are you comfortable visiting a bar? How about going to see live music?
Charleston Cocktail Co. is taking those and other COVID-19-related travel concerns out of the equation by bringing custom cocktail-making classes to Airbnbs throughout the city, tapping area bartenders to help pour at the party.
Randi Nuorala, who owns Charleston Cocktail Co. with her fiance Ben Reitz, had the know-how thanks to her other business Kay & Co., a bachelorette party planning service.
“Charleston is obviously a hotspot for that, and recently, in the last year, we’ve had a lot of girls wanting to do mixology classes,” Nuorala said. “I was trying to find a way to satisfy that. There wasn’t a steady person doing mixology.”
Noticing the void, Nuorala and Reitz launched Charleston Cocktail Co. in June 2021. Since, Nuorala says 100% of their classes have taken place in local Airbnbs, and while the couple hopes to eventually offer events catered specifically to locals, they’re leaning into the post-COVID trend in which travelers, especially big groups, spend less time out on the town.
“When I’m talking with my clients and groups that are booking, they definitely want more stuff at their house,” Nuorala said. “Even not during COVID, I think that’s really nice for large groups.”
For $75 per person, Charleston Cocktail Co. will bring ingredients, bar tools and all the other essentials. The group first learns how to make two to four drinks; after, a competition takes place. The party is broken up into small teams and guests are asked to use what they’ve learned and items in the house to make their very own craft cocktail. The “guest of honor” is in charge of judging the competition, Nuorala said.
“The groups really enjoy it. It’s 100% personalized, which we think is really fun,” she said.
The couple knows their way around a jigger, bar spoon and cocktail shaker, but they’re also getting a hand from local bartenders like Ethan Bornstein, who works at Harold’s Cabin and Dalila’s.
“I always make sure to present my best self and show up in a great mood because the group definitely feeds off your energy,” said Bornstein, a seven-year food and beverage industry veteran who’s also worked at 167 Raw, Malagon, Pancito & Lefty and Little Jack’s Tavern, where he served as the bar manager.
It’s well documented how rough the past 19 months have been on the F&B industry — Charleston Cocktail Co. is giving Bornstein and other locals the chance to utilize their expertise in a more casual setting.
“I can completely make it my own essentially. I am my own boss there, and the hours are great,” Bornstein said. “You’re catering to a group of people who all want to have a good time.”