Jim Meehan is what one might call a cocktail legend. Founder of Please Don’t Tell in Manhattan (aka the bar where you go through a phone booth), the entrepreneur and cocktail master has authored his second book, Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Covering all things hospitality (and yes, the bartender basics), Meehan rattled off a few ways to create a memorable atmosphere in his talk in Toronto. Fitting, because it was at one of my favoritebars, Cocktail Bar.

Friends Jessica Blaine Smith and Josh Lindley of Bartender Atlas curated and hosted the event, founders of a worldwide community of bartenders created for bartender and cocktail lovers alike. In only about a year’s time, they’ve managed to create a beautiful platform of cocktail news, interactive (and international) bar hops, and cozy experiences with renowned bartenders. More on the Please Don’t Tell / Jim Meehan event:

So, what do you need to do to create an atmosphere? Here a few tips to get you in gear pre-holidays (or, in general):

Eye Contact

Make it. It’s about being human, making a connection, and allowing people to feel like the space is inclusive, welcoming, and positive. Make eye contact with your guests and your co-hosts (or co-bartenders). Hospitality is an intention.

Practice Self Care

Using the analogy of being on an airplane and needing to put your mask on first before helping someone else…well, that’s just fitting. Do things that take care of yourself first, that allow you to have empathy for others. It’s about sharing your space, listening, and understanding.

“You have to give people an incentive to make people want to see you succeed”.

Read that quote, then read it again. It’s about putting in the work, doing things that might feel beneath you, and working hard (a given) to creating an environment, product, or service that people want to engage with. Meehan’s direct, no-bs delivery of how he’s created what he has, is refreshing, approachable, and makes you want to hurry up and do something.

Special thanks to Bartender Atlas for hosting the event. Photography all by JB Smith / Jessica Blaine Smith.

Leave a Reply