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Market Watch: Leading Cocktail Bars Go National

April 16, 2021

In the universe of top-notch, celebrated cocktail bars, there are a handful of venues that have come to define the genre—bars that are so well known in their markets that they’re considered true destinations for cocktail aficionados. These bars have the name recognition and reputation to transcend their location, and many are doing so, adding new units outside their flagship market to bring their unique cocktail experience to a new crowd. Concepts like Employees Only, Death & Co., and NoMad Bar were born in New York City and gained critical acclaim there, and then ventured out, establishing a presence across the country and even internationally.

For many of these drinks institutions, expansion came slowly and after a long pause to get their initial unit fully established. When Employees Only opened in Manhattan in December 2004, it was met with great reception from the drinks community and the general public. It operated as a single Manhattan cocktail den for more than a decade before adding a second unit. Today, Employees Only has not only the original speakeasy-style bar in New York City’s West Village, but also sister locations in Singapore, Los Angeles, and Sydney, Australia.

Among the four operating Employees Only venues, there are a handful of design elements and cocktails that can be found at each location. Even so, co-founder Dushan Zaric says the preference is for each bar to reflect its locale and its market demographics instead of looking like its siblings. “We tailor them to be market-specific,” he explains. “These bars are not a product, they’re a human experience. We can’t offer the same experience in Singapore that we do in Los Angeles because they are two different cultures.” Market Watch has the full story.—Laura Pelner

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