The word “mixologist” was coined in the late 1800s, but it was a prescient moment in the English language’s history that would fully take hold in the 21st century. So perfectly suited was it for the twee, mustache-twirling, suspenders-wearing world of the ’00s cocktail scene in major metropolitan cities around America. It was probably annoying the first time someone said it, and it kept being annoying — even the most studious bartenders wanted to be called bartenders, not mixologists — but it telegraphed a very specific approach to cocktail-mixing: care, quality, no premade mixes, great final products. Liquor companies being what they are, booze brands were soon marketed with the same signifiers, and suddenly spirits were about history and heritage and a genial-seeming fellow named “Pappy Van Winkle.” Folks, what we had on our hands was a movement.
Nothing good lasts forever, though. This week, Hooters announced that it was introducing its own line of “new premium spirits,” called Hooters Spirits, officially marking the death of the waning craft-spirit movement as we know it. (At a time, no less, when spiked seltzer is ascendent and all the rage among bros.)
Made in collaboration with a company called United Spirits, Inc., the booze will be available this fall at Hooters locations and “select retailers.” Naturally, Hooters has adopted the promotional language that was the hallmark of craft-spirits marketing, and which was used to distinguish it from giant corporations producing mass-market products. The vodka is “smooth” and distilled six times, while the gin uses — get this — “select natural botanicals” and the requisite juniper berries.
The dark rum is made with “choice Caribbean blackstrap sugar cane molasses.” There’s light rum, too, for all your tropical-cocktail needs, and two kinds of tequila, one of which is “amber hued.”
Will this mark the moment when Hooters patrons wash down their wings and fried pickles with Hooters gin martinis (served up, with a twist, pls)? Perhaps. But, lest you think Hooters was in danger of going too upscale, it also introduced its own version of Fireball, called Hooters Heat and not — surprisingly — Florida in a Bottle. Could a riff on Malibu be on the way?
Stay safe out there, friends.