Whether you enjoy a tango with tequila, a rendezvous with rum or value a good virgin mocktail, beverage-based pop-ups around North America are leveraging alcoholic and alcohol-free elixirs alike to create immersive experiences intended to drive business.
PATRÓN Tequila celebrated Mexican craft culture in all its glory by transforming a corner of New York City into Residencia PATRÓN on March 25-26. The spirits brand took an all-out approach to the two-day event, tapping Fabiola Zamora and Danaé Salazar, the founders of Mexico City-based fashion magazine Revista 192, to transform Studio 525 in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood into a luxe Mexican escape.
When asked why a pop-up was the perfect vehicle for promoting the spirits brand, Chloe Lloyd-Jones, the vice president of marketing at PATRÓN, told BizBash that it allowed PATRÓN to “ensure consistency, authenticity and quality. Hosting this in-person, interactive experience gave consumers access to the talent and vibrancy of some of Mexico’s most esteemed creative luminaries while discovering the passion and mastery that goes into making PATRÓN tequila.”
Each corner of the venue was an artfully curated nod to Mexican luxury, from the gallery-style photos featuring editorial images taken by Zamora in the PATRÓN agave fields in Jalisco, Mexico upon entry, to the volcanic rock display and live agave plants. Anchoring the space was a textured, circular bar evocative of the tahona stone, a volcanic stone wheel used to crush agave before machinery became part of the distilling process. Lloyd-Jones said the bar’s design symbolized that “PATRÓN is one of the few brands that still makes tequila the hard way—by hand.”
Behind the bar, Mexico City-based mixologist Eli Martinez created a list of nine specialty cocktails, including the Golden Sherry Bee—made with PATRÓN Silver, sherry Manzanilla and pineapple—and the Smoked Naranja, a tasty combo of PATRÓN Silver, huitlacoche and orange liqueur. Surrounding the bar, five installations showcased works of creatives across PATRÓN’s home country, including an olfactory experience by perfumer Xinú, ceramics by Perla Valtierra, leather fashion pieces from Cynthia Buttenklepper, accessories from Aurelia and interior design textiles from Caralarga.
To maximize guest experience for the 1,275 attendees over the course of the two-day pop-up, Residencia PATRÓN was open to the public and bookable by day—from 12-5 p.m. via online reservation platform Tock—and invite-only by night (think intimate press preview dinners, influencers capturing exclusive content and private experiences for VIPs). Mexican singer-songwriter Silvana Estrada and Mexico City-based DJs Dramian and Mandrake helmed evening performances.
“Our goal was to introduce the U.S. to what contemporary luxury looks like in Mexico,” Lloyd-Jones said, noting that it went “beyond the walls of the physical residency” to social media, where PATRÓN teased the event and attendees were encouraged to use the hashtag #ResidenciaPATRON. Lloyd-Jones attributed those efforts to the event selling out—”a few times,” she added, “and we ultimately had to open up a few more spots for each session as the demand to attend was so strong.”
Speaking of social, Atlanta-based Zilch Market & Bar proved that engagements aren’t only garnered when there’s booze involved. The zero-proof market and bar is currently functioning in pop-up format only (with a permanent location in the works) and amassing followers along the way using #ZeroProof, #ShakenNotSlurred and #BoozelessBar.
On March 10, Zilch hosted a pop-up at coffee shop Chrome Yellow Trading Co. and Taproom Coffee & Beer on April 10, both in Atlanta. “We cater to those who are not drinking full time, part time or just for the night,” Savannah Rainey, co-founder of Zilch Bar & Market, explained. And to introduce people to the joys of an alcohol-free beverage, Rainey and her business partner, Lissa Eubanks, have perfected the art of the mocktail using Zilch’s unique simple syrup blends (such as a mix of rhubarb, sage and honey or lemongrass and black peppercorn) and virgin elixirs.
With each one-night-only event, “we provide a small area for our bottle shop,” Rainey said, noting that “this gives our clientele the option to take something home and make a tasty beverage for themselves after the event.”
In the do-it-yourself spirit, Christine Ball, director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel Calgary, transformed a lower-level storage space at the hotel into a Caribbean escape dubbed the Tipsy Parrot Rum Shack. Taking place Thurs.-Sat. nights through the rest of April, Bell cited the purpose of the pop-up as a way “to show a light-hearted, fun side” of a hotel that’s historically “elegant.”
Inspired by “many people having to cancel their spring break holiday” in partnership with spirits brand Beam Suntory, Red Events was called on to assist with the Tipsy Rum Shack’s decor. On March 1, the shack’s opening night, 40 influencers were invited to sip on themed cocktails while enjoying a meal fit for an island getaway before the experience opened up to the public. Fittingly, offerings included a rum-and-mezcal-infused “Jack’s Sparrow Sour” and “Tipsy Parrot Daiquiri,” while menu highlights included coconut shrimp, charred jerk chicken wings and pineapple upside-down cake.
Nearly 3,000 miles away from Calgary, Canada, in Austin, Texas, Tito’s Handmade Vodka—the official vodka of the PGA golf tournament—decked out the Stillhouse Lounge, a watering hole that pops up at more than 15 locations along the PGA Tour, including in Austin last month, New Orleans April 18-24 and in Dallas May 9-15.
The bar, which features a larger-than-life Tito’s logo and stacked wood reminiscent of a distillery, serves up “go-to golf drinks” for patrons to enjoy as they watch a round of 18 holes on Stillhouse Lounge’s six flat-screen TVs. “The most exciting drink on the menu is the Tito’s Transfusion,” the vodka brand team told BizBash, which was made with a refreshing blend of Tito’s, ginger ale, grape and lime juice. Other cocktails play on golf terminology, such as the “Pennybacker Press,” “Mulligan Mary” and “Tito’s Tea Time.”
The Tito’s team tapped live event activation partner Salem Sports Events to help assemble and disassemble the lounge at the more than 15 locations. After such a feat, the Tito’s team said that the key to producing a successful pop-up is “keeping it simple.”
“For someone looking to plan a standout brand event, our advice is to create a unique and interactive experience for guests to connect with your brand, as well as make sure to understand your audience and develop goals for what your brand is looking to accomplish,” they said. Branded touchpoints Tito’s included in the Stillhouse Lounge included a putting green, Golden Tee retro arcade game and custom murals featuring Tito’s bottles. A photo booth with Tito’s props lent to an “ultimate Tito’s experience.”