Owner and founder of Bar Henry, Brett Rubin spent 25-years of his life playing music, touring in bands, and loving nightlife culture.
The songs heard in his bar today are intrinsically tied to his path leading to becoming a bar owner. His formative years immersed in the Southern California punk scene had more of an influence on Bar Henry than anything else. Also, the design of the space began simply with walnut—inspired by one very specific 1974 Gibson ES 335—which would become one of Bar Henry’s most prominent and commented on features.
Cocktails at the bar follow suit, with a specific menu of specialty cocktails with unique names made classically, many with only three ingredients, all meant to evoke the warm and welcoming ethos of everything Bar Henry. And of course even the name Bar Henry has meaning, named for the beloved family dog, Henry. Along with what seemed to him to be an obvious destination as bar owner; Brett spent many years creatively building brands as a photographer. He continues to shoot and consult on design, marketing, and brand building projects. We asked Brett about cocktail naming and how important this task was in creating a successful bar program.
“I feel like naming a cocktail is like naming a band or a song,” explains Brett. “It’s one of those things that is secondary to what the point of it all is. You want the work to be what shines, but at the end of the day you have to put a name on it. For us, I look at it as an additional opportunity to further tell the Bar Henry story as opposed to just a generic descriptor.”
For Brett, cocktail names should be functional but are an opportunity to be creative at the bar. “Calling your Margarita something like The Eastside Margarita instead of Long Division, obviously helps the guest get a quicker impression of the drink and leaves less to chance,” says Brett. “For us, we prefer the more creative path that works alongside our bartenders who are happy to talk through our menu with guests.”
Choosing a cocktail name gives the bar staff at Bar Henry the opportunity to show more of who they are and their sense of humor. “I have a close friend named Travis Farmen, who is a very talented artist with a unique wit. Much of the original artwork hanging in the bar is his. Back when I played in bands, we used to collaborate on song titles together.
When it came time to name our first menu, I asked him to work with us to help create something fun and true to who we are. Bar Henry is quite beautiful, and could be perceived as somewhat grown-up and sophisticated. However, a name like Suicidal Caveman is hilarious, and I love that it brings some levity to a cocktail culture that can take itself too seriously at times.”
Tips and tricks to naming a cocktail with Brett Rubin, owner Bar Henry.
Know your brand: naming cocktails and drinks menus are an opportunity to continually help shape your brand’s story.
Think descriptive: there are the obvious connections and considerations when naming cocktails, like seasonality, colors, or direct relation to its ingredients.
Get inspired: Personally, if I get hung up, I thumb through records to get some fresh inspiration. Find your own source that you can revisit to get into the groove. If all else fails, The Simpsons are always an endless wellspring of puns.