World-renowned mixologist, Charles Joly and Fortessa Tableware Solutions have released their collaborative barware line nationwide via Williams Sonoma, aptly named Crafthouse by Fortessa®.
Crafthouse by Fortessa is a comprehensive barware collection designed for both professionals and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Joly, a celebrated and revered industry veteran, has applied his bartending ethos to the extensive line of tools and glassware to bring the craft cocktail experience home, with the goal of educating the avid home entertainer on how to seamlessly and consistently create classic and inventive cocktails like a pro. He also developed the line to satisfy the needs of bartenders at the finest cocktail establishments nationwide, upholding industry standards for quality and durability.
Chilled spoke to Joly about his new line of bar tools. Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us about your partnership with Fortessa Tableware Solutions.
Our meeting was part chance and part persistence. Our initial contact was supposed to be for a one-time event, but we quickly hit it off. When it came to our approach to the industry, we realized we shared some core values and a bigger partnership made perfect sense. They design, produce and supply incredibly high quality tableware and glassware. I know the bar and tools of our trade inside and out. I’ve used their tableware and Schott Zwiesel glassware in my bars (and home) for years. There is a real need for improved access to well designed tools and glassware for both the home enthusiast and professional bartender. I’m not short of opinions on how things should function, they bring my visions to life.
Tell us about your background in the industry.
I’ve spent the last 20 years in bars and restaurants. Humble beginnings showed me the fundamentals of speed, organization and thinking on your feet. I quickly fell in love with hospitality and made a sharp turn to come full time into the business. After overseeing the opening and design of several venues with a Chicago bar group, I was first introduced to the possibilities of a well-crafted cocktail by my mentor, Bridget Albert. I opened one of the first cocktail bars in Chicago and moved on to take over the Aviary. I’ve since gone independent, founding Crafthouse Cocktails and Crafthouse by Fortessa barware and glassware. I continue to travel the world working with bartenders, jumping behind the stick at every opportunity and spreading the word about the industry I love.
Talk to us about your Crafthouse by Fortessa line.
This line is the culmination of decades of hands on experience behind the bar, a deep love for beautiful, classic design and questioning why we do things every day.
We’ve created a comprehensive line that not only functions perfectly, but has striking visual appeal as well. I’m having a strong affinity for a time with things shared both form and function. We wanted to create tools that you love to use every day and want to hold onto or hand down. In addition to the familiar pieces, you’ll find innovative pieces that speak to the modern cocktail movement. From the deco lines of the Boston Shaker to the creative musings of The Smoking Box™.
What part did you play in the development of Crafthouse by Fortessa?
I’m 100% involved in every step of the process. Fortessa has been amazingly trusting of my insight. When I say something should be a millimeter bigger or smaller, we make the adjustment. They understand design, production and getting it into your hands, combine that with my experience and design eye and we have an exceptional collection.
What would you like bartenders to know about this line?
All of the tools and glassware were designed to satisfy the most discerning bartenders in the world. I know that everyone won’t see every detail that went into the design. That’s totally fine with me. As long as they pick it up, know that it works flawlessly and love the aesthetic, we’re on point.
Fortessa has been working with bars and restaurants for years. In addition to everything being available in retail locations, venues can contact Fortessa directly when they are looking for items in larger quantities.
Equally, this lineup is meant to encourage the home enthusiast. More than ever people are making cocktails at home. There simply isn’t proper barware available at stores today. You can find the same knives and cookware that your favorite chef uses in a retail store, but the barware has been overlooked for years. We are providing tools that work.
Tools that look beautiful in your home and tools that will empower you to jump in and make great cocktails. Additionally, we’ve put a massive effort into an educational component. I want the home bartender to be able to see how everything functions. I’m providing a ton of tips and recipes. We are really demystifying the basics so anyone can begin exploring cocktails.
Do you have any future projects you’d like to discuss?
So much! We’re already working on additional pieces for Crafthouse. There are many more key tools we’d like to add. Additional designs, glassware and more are in the works. I’m also continuing to work hard with my team at Crafthouse Cocktails. There are still so many situations where we want a great cocktail, but settle for something else. We’re all about making sure you can have an awesome drink, no matter where you are. You know what they say about “idle hands”. I’m keeping myself very busy with lots more on the horizon.
Charles Joly is a World Champion Bartender, James Beard Award Winner, the founder of Crafthouse Cocktails and lifelong food and beverage professional. He was lauded by Bon Appétit as one of the 10 Most Influential Bartenders and was named by Wine Enthusiast as a Top Spirit and Wine Professional. Throughout his career, the Chicago-native has focused on the balance between the classics and his own seasonal, original cocktails. With a strong emphasis on embracing the roots of the craft along with a progressive vision for the future, the menus he’s created are a glimpse at mixology in the second golden age of the cocktail.
For over 20 years, Fortessa premium tableware products have set the quality standard for durability, design innovation and value. As the flagship brand of Fortessa Tableware Solutions, Inc., Fortessa products are manufactured to withstand the demands of 5-star restaurants and to excel in the home with the same level of style and performance. The Fortessa product range includes durable and elegant dinnerware collections made of authentic bone china and alumina oxide reinforced vitrified china, a dynamic range of accents designed to ignite the imaginations of chef’s and hostesses alike, and meticulously crafted stainless steel flatware and serve ware of the highest quality designed for performance. Passion, innovation, and customer satisfaction are at the core of the Fortessa experience, making the value promise, “Where new ideas take shape” more than just a slogan, but an integral part of the culture.