Elliott Clark created Apartment Bartender to share his love of hosting friends and shaking up a good drink. The enthusiasm of his fans speaks to the way cocktail culture has found a place in people’s kitchens and living rooms once again. Rather than sipping martinis exclusively at upscale cocktail bars, more people are enjoying making their own quality cocktails and learning to maintain their home bar. We chatted with Elliott about his relationship with being a home bartender, his favorite bar tips, and his thoughts on at-home cocktail culture.
First things first—Congratulations on becoming a dad. How do you feel? And what have you been drinking lately?
I've been working with Martell and they sent me a really nice bottle. I've been mainly drinking simple pours of cognac. That said, I'm also taking this as an opportunity to not drink at times. I'm leaning into no-to-low-alcohol stuff like Ritual and Seedlip, seltzer water, etc. A cognac pour is still a nice way to wrap up an evening, though.
Do you have any advice for new parents who appreciate a good drink but will be staying home a lot more with their kids?
Parents can make their lives a little easier by ensuring they have the right tools to make a really good cocktail. You can use regular household kitchen items as alternatives but it can be more frustrating than investing in a good set of bar tools. I would also advise learning some of the classics like an Old Fashioned, Daiquiri, Manhattan, or Tom Collins because everything else is basically a riff on those. You can also get creative by simply swapping a spirit or syrup. Ultimately, keeping the ingredient count low and having the right bar tools is a great foundation.
Your approach to bartending is easy to connect to. What do you think makes your content so appealing?
First and foremost, approachability. When I started Apartment Bartender, I did so because I wanted to recreate some of my favorite bar experiences at home without breaking the bank and share what I learned. I want people to see the drinks I make, read the ingredients, and have a light bulb moment of "Oh, I can make this." Then, I think about quality. I want people to see a drink I made and be motivated to try it themselves. I want the quality of my content to make someone stop and think "Man, I really want that drink and, wow, I can actually make it." Next, personality. Through my content, people have learned that I'm a normal person who likes to enjoy cocktails at home. It should be fun and light-hearted and I try to maintain that.
Why do you think you’ve amassed such a large following?
I believe in consistency. When I first started, there weren’t many people sharing cocktails on social media—I feel like one of the OGs in that space. Since 2015, I've focused on drinks and spirits education and that consistency is something people can rely on. Brand partnerships and cross-promotion have also been huge in helping me gain personal exposure but also elevating the drinks space as a whole. During and after quarantine, people started to appreciate what they drink at home more. They realized that making a great drink at home is really important, especially when you're spending more time there.
What about your blog resonates the most with your readers?
It's easy to follow, it's elegant, and it looks good. At the very least, you know you can get good insight into the basics and fundamentals of things like: making a good drink, how to stock your bar cart, and a great library of recipes to pull from. The blog is not the end-all, be-all of cocktail making but it's a great start to put home bartending into an approachable perspective. I think of it as a digital version of your neighborhood cocktail bar: a place where you go for a good drink, good conversation, and a sense of light-heartedness to go about your day. People can feel like they're getting exactly what they're looking for.