Years of bartending experience at some of America’s best whiskey bars prepared Christy Cooper for her career at Cooper Spirits. After all, who knows the consumer palate and whiskey-buying habits of whiskey drinkers better than bartenders?
BW: How did bartending lead you to your current career path?
CP: I was extremely lucky to start my bartending career at Milk & Honey in NYC in 2001. I was working at one of the most influential bars in the craft cocktail renaissance. Being a part of the Milk & Honey team allowed me to be a part of the guiding principles and techniques of the emerging craft cocktail scene and thus I garnered a skillset that was unique and specialized in the industry. I furthered the bartending skill set by creating Cuffs & Buttons with my partner Chad Solomon. Cuffs & Buttons was the first craft cocktail catering service in NYC that brought Milk & Honey style cocktails to events all over the city and beyond. The company also grew into a consulting company that shared our expertise with hotel chains, restaurants, and bars around the world. We also consulted with spirit brands on all types of projects, including innovation, like the work we did with Cooper Spirits in 2008 with the creation of Slow & Low. Helping name, formulate and conceptualize the brand.
In 2014 we opened a craft cocktail bar, Midnight Rambler, located inside the Joule hotel in Dallas, Texas. The bar was our most personal project and was a culmination of our service style and beverage ethos backed by a music-driven atmosphere and design compliments. We focused primarily on the bar for five years, until 2020. In April of 2020 I joined Cooper Spirits full time as a Trade Marketing Manager where my bartending background helps me engage on-premise bars and restaurants with our spirit brands. I am also involved in brand innovations and brand development and marketing at Cooper Spirits.
Understanding the techniques of bartending, understanding spirits and how to properly mix ingredients for optimal flavor and aroma, and understanding the nuts and bolts of the day-to-day bar business are invaluable in my position at Cooper Spirits. I can help guide our company and its brands to meet the needs of the trade as much as the consumer.
BW: What does a typical workday look like for you?
CP: Cooper Spirits is a small and innovative company and we all wear many hats. I jump from conceptualizing new brand innovations to marketing strategy to tasting formulations with our director of innovation. We are always working on collaborations with our brand Slow & Low and thus I am helping with those activations. There is a lot of creativity and energy with this company and our spirits, so it’s all about translating that so that the trade and consumer understand our spirits and their usage.
BW: What is your favorite whiskey cocktail?
CP: As a whiskey lover, I love the simple perfection of an Old Fashioned.
BW: What advice do you have for women who want to work in the distilled spirits industry?
CP: I think the people that are drawn to work in the spirits industry enjoy hospitality and the joy and rituals around food & beverage. It’s a lifestyle profession. My advice would be to make sure it’s a lifestyle that you enjoy and then find out your niche within it. There are many many facets of the industry and it takes all kinds to make it go round. Find your niche and do good work.
BW: Tell us about your perfect whiskey weekend in Southern California.
CP: There is an abundance of beauty in Southern California to enjoy, so be it, beach vistas or desert sand, camping with friends and a bottle of Slow & Low is perfection.
Photos Courtesy of Cooper Spirits