This year has thrown a curveball at all of us – and while most of us have taken it as a chance to step back from the constant chaos of life, others have used the Big Shut Down as the push to take a leap of faith and try something new. For bartender Tom Loosli, losing a dream job in Melbourne was enough to push him to launch his own cocktail kit business.
After working and managing bars in Sydney for years and a couple of years working bars in London, Tom had made the big leap down to Melbourne to work in a dream job with the team at The Everleigh, and then the lockdowns began.
Tom had all his shifts cut, and then was eventually let go from the team, but instead of heading back to Sydney with his tail between his legs, he took the opportunity to jump into something he’s wanted to do for a while – crafting cocktail kits for at-home mixologists or anyone wanting to be a bit fancy.
So Capiche Cocktails was born.
“I was sort of tossing up whether to go back home or not, but I thought you know, I’ve moved all the way down here and I’d signed a lease and stuff so I’d sort of make a run at it,” Tom told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“I actually had the idea when I was sitting at home in lockdown. I’ve been bartending for about 14 years but I have an abysmal home bar set up, and I didn’t have any equipment. Because normally if I wanted to go for a cocktail, I’d go to one of the amazing cocktail bars my friends work at.
“So yeah, I was craving a cocktail and was like ‘I don’t have anything here.'”
Tom realised that if he – a bartender for well over a decade – had nothing to make cocktails with at home during the lockdowns, how were other people faring?
In creating his “one-stop-shop” for making cocktails Tom made the decision to withdraw money from his super fund to take his project from an idea into a fully-fledged production
“I was going to try and get it up on the fly because everyone was scrambling and all the cocktails bars were trying to get some delivery businesses going,” he said.
“But I thought rather than partner with a bar to share everything, and do it half-assed and quickly, I decided to do it properly. So I actually ended up withdrawing some of my super funds – so the COVID-relief thing was what actually ended up funding the business. Just investing in myself, basically.
“So I did that and got a liquor licence – they really expedited it and waived all the fees, which was really good. Then I rented a little spot in a creative warehouse in Collingwood.”
Working with his connections, friends, and his own background of skills studying architecture and “creating silly websites as a kid”, Tom created the boxes, website, design, labelling – everything. He linked up with producers, distilleries, and wineries that he loves from across the country, like ethically and sustainably-run winemakers, Unico Zelo.
And the result is a range of 18 different cocktail and gin & tonic kits that include full-sized bottles of spirits, wines, mixers, and garnishes – all celebrating and championing local produce.
I asked if he’d consider going back behind the bar as the Melbourne lockdowns ease, or if the cocktail boxes are what he’s going to focus on full-time from now on out.
“Yeah, I’m hoping to be able to get to that stage,” Tom said.
“I’m hoping to branch out to do cocktail consulting – doing drinks menus and all that kind of stuff. It’s been interesting the last three or four months, just not doing the late nights, and sitting in front of a computer all day.”
Even though we’re looking at Melbourne’s hospitality swinging the doors back open in the coming weeks, bringing the bar to homes and parks across the state will still be the go-to for many Victorians, and businesses like Capiche Cocktails will always have its place in Melbourne.