I love going to new bars and restaurants. I love checking out the ambiance, dressing for the occasion and ordering something I’ve never seen anywhere else. The problem is that most of the times if a trendy eatery/drinkery fits these criteria it’s typically on the pricey side. However, there are solutions. If you’re a Chicago foodie on a budget you've probably heard of Drink Deck Chicago but did you know the same concept is also available in Portland, New Orleans and London?
Described by founder Will Glass as “a la carde’s little brother,” Drink Deck is precisely what it sounds like: a discount destination guide for unique local bars. Are you a jet setting wine connoisseur? You’re in luck because this nifty pack also doubles as a full deck of cards so you can kill time in transit.
I talked to Glass about what it takes to make it into The Drink Deck and why his official title isn’t founder, but “Chief Bar Enthusiast.”
Why did you start Drink Deck?
I’ve seen a lot of versions of this for food, but not as many for bars. I love traveling and I always want to know where the best place to go for a great time is in every city I visit. I wanted to create a condensed, incentivized version of that to share the experience with people.
But part of having a good experience is having a great time with the people you’re with, so I thought it would be a nice touch to make the deck an actual deck of playing cards so you can use it wherever you are.
What does it take to be considered for The Drink Deck?
We look for curious wine lists, unique brews and one-of-a-kind craft cocktails. We look for extraordinary experiences and independently owned establishments.
Our team researches neighborhoods, finds bars, calls up the places and talks to the owners. We are very thorough; there is not a single bar in any of the decks that I have not personally been to.
What’s in it for the bars?
Their exposure would be significantly increased, but there are other perks. It costs two hundred dollars for an establishment to buy a card; once they do we give them the option of putting up a Drink Deck poster and selling our decks for twenty dollars. We send them twenty decks and they make their money back that way.
Drink Deck is also definitely more exclusive than a Groupon-type deal. Only those with decks can tap into the discounts so bars that don’t typically have promotions are more comfortable signing up with us, and 80 percent sign up again with every new edition.
What’s your signature drink?
I really like nice craft beer but my go-to drink is definitely Sazerac, a whiskey drink that originated in New Orleans. It has rye whiskey, absinthe and bitters. The Barrelhouse Flat in Chicago makes an excellent one.
What’s next for Drink Deck?
We have a mobile app for iPhone and Android already. For $20 you can get it with unlimited updates for future editions. (I know I'm getting one! Check out the retailers here: http://thedrinkdeck.com/retailers/)
We’re working on new editions for our current cities and looking to expand into new areas. Our goal is to be in ten destinations next year.
The bar enthusiast's travel guide! from Drink Deck on Vimeo.
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