Happy Repeal Day, Denver. In celebration of the day in 1933 when United States citizens could finally booze legally again, you might consider raising a pre-Prohibition era cocktail -- like a dry Martini, made with equal parts gin and vermouth, or a bittered sling (the old-fashioned Old Fashioned) -- to your forefathers and mothers who fought for your right to enjoy happy hour.
You also might check out The Hooch Life, a new website for drinkers that's launching today in celebration of this momentous day in history.
The site, which is Denver-based but covers markets nationwide, is "not necessarily for connoisseurs or aficionados," Glenn Morey explains. "There are plenty of publications that cover that. This site is for enthusiastic drinkers who want something new to drink, want to know where to drink and how to drink it. Based on what people are searching for on the Internet, we think there's a place for that."
The site will focus on a couple of different emerging trends: the move from big brands to the local, sustainable spirits that have begun to fill back bars and liquor-store shelves, as well as the reemergence of classic cocktails and classic cocktail bars. And the editorial team is attacking from all angles: The Fresh Hooch section will outline new craft product discoveries and include links to find them. Fresh Cocktails will recommend three new drinks to try if, say, you're typically a Cosmo guzzler, with recipes are provided.
So is an extensive list of Hooch-approved bars, which Morey describes as "great cocktail bars without attitude," as recommended by a network of bartenders that Hooch taps into across the country. Denver spots include Colt & Gray, Root Down, Steuben's and Williams & Graham; Boulder's Bitter Bar also makes the local list.
Ultimately, founder Morey says, The Hooch Life is trying to recreate the connection you get from a bartender in a really good bar, who'll expose expose you to something you may have never experienced. "One of the great ways to learn about drinking is by having a relationship with bartenders," he says. "This is a way to do that online."
To achieve that, Morey has brought on bartenders to provide the "heart and soul" of the website's content, and he's looked for "bartenders at the hottest cocktail bars in the country, who are famous in their profession because they're very, very good at helping people get excited about something new." The senior contributing editor, for instance, is Marshall Altier, a celebrity bartender at JBird in New York City who co-authored a book called How to Booze.
Altier and the other bartenders on the site will drive stories that could be of interest to drinkers across the country. And it's not just imbibing that they'll be covering, either. Hooch launched today with accounts of forthcoming distilleries, including upcoming project from Salt's Bradford Heap and Evan Faber, as well as Breuckelen, a Brooklyn distillery launched by a disillusioned Wall Street-er. "Ten, fifteen years ago, the line was, 'Let's drop out of our Wall Street job and become winemakers,'" Morey says. "Now, it's 'Let's become distillers.' We're following along the launch of distilleries because we think it's something people are interested in doing."
Although the original meaning of "hooch" helped inspire the site's name, it draws more from what the word has come to mean over the years. "The true origins of the word Hooch have to do with illegal spirits in Prohibition in the U.S.," he explains. "What it means now, though, and what it means to us, is that we're not taking this too seriously. We want to have fun with spirits and cocktails. There's very little sniffing and spitting going on. We want to be useful, want to inspire people to have more fun with new drinking options."
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And he has big plans for Hooch, too. "Today's a big day -- it happens to be Prohibition Repeal Day," he notes. "But we've been working on this project for the last eight months, and it's the culmination of a lot of effort by our staff. We're very excited. And now it's about creating more inspirational content for our readers."