Countless bars and clubs across New York State have had to close temporarily due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and that’s put their waitstaffs, doormen and bartenders in a precarious position, financially. One Saratoga Springs hotspot wanted to do something kind for its furloughed workers this past weekend. On April 4, The Night Owl threw a takeout cocktail fundraiser with all proceeds going to support its employees. From 5-8pm, patrons jonesing for a mixed drink were able to order one-liter, signature cocktail flavors made by The Night Owl. Apparently, Saratogians had a big thirst to quench because the local night club ended up raising just under $2500.
“It’s a huge help towards the gap between unemployment and what they need to get by,” says Alexander Straus, The Night Owl’s manager. “We opened just six months ago [and] it’s been a rocket ship—we’ve exceeded expectations—and then this hit.”
With COVID-19 cases increasing daily across New York State and the nation, Straus says that he and business partner Matt Pedersen remain firm that temporarily shutting The Night Owl, even to takeout business, was the right decision. However, they still wanted to do something to help their 10-person staff get through these difficult times. “We had a whole bunch of fruit and other ingredients that we were going to juice and store,” says Straus. “I suggested instead [that] we whip up a big batch of our most popular cocktails and give everything to the staff.” Pedersen loved the idea, and the two even agreed to come in and make all the mixed drinks themselves so the employees could remain at home. “I wish I had a big pile of money to support them,” says Straus. “But this will help some.”
So what exactly was on the menu for the to-go cocktail fundraiser? Straus and Pedersen offered one-liter portions (about 6-8 cocktails) of five of The Night Owl’s most delicious mixed drinks, including the Spice Trader (Chinese five spice powder, honey, rooibos tea, tequila and lime juice); Neon Disco (vodka, granny smith apples, aloe vera, lemon and ginger beer); Sage Wisdom (gin, sage, honey, yellow chartreuse and lemon); Caribbean Ruby (two different rums, passion fruit, mango and ruby port); and a Green Tea Shooter (whiskey, peach puree, peach schnapps, lemon juice and real green tea). Each one-liter cocktail was $40, and Straus says that by night’s end they had completely sold out.
Even though the fundraiser was a huge hit, Straus and Pedersen aren’t planning any more for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak. “Supposedly we’re heading into the peak of this, and I just want us all to be able to buckle down and stay safe,” says Straus. However, he adds that next month The Night Owl might start hosting events again on the weekends. That is, of course, if things have started returning to normal by then.