Skokie company helps bars survive COVID shutdown by bottling, shipping handcrafted cocktails

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While the pandemic has been brutal for restaurants, it's been even harder for bars. At least with restaurants, you can order take out; but most bars are unable to bottle their handcrafted cocktails, especially if they call for fresh juice.

But a new company in Skokie is helping them create, bottle and ship those cocktails all over the region. The category is called "RTD," as in Ready To Drink,

The best part is, they also make great gifts.

A typical Saturday at Pub Royale in Wicker Park would mean a full house. However, these days there is nothing but silence.

Now, a new company called Blue Blazer is helping bars like Pub Royale manufacture, market and ship some of their most popular drinks. In this case, the Royale Cup #1 - a combination of Leatherbee gin, fresh lime juice and ginger beer.

"To be sold, hopefully grocery stores...they've got logistics dealt with; everything is capped, bottled, safe, approved," said Pub Royale GM Danniel Linn.

From their warehouse in Skokie, the Blue Blazer team recreates some of the city's best drinks by playing with recipes but also bottling, labeling and shipping them.

"Focusing on restaurant and bar quality cocktails that simulate the experience you would have in a restaurant," said Joe Kreeger, Blue Blazer CEO and Co-Founder. "When COVID hit, we realized this became less of a 'hey, this is a nice add-on' and become more of a 'this is a potential lifeline for restaurants."

Team members go to great lengths to recreate the drinks. They import the alcohol, and if something calls for freshly-squeezed juice, they do it. If it's carbonated, they can do that too. Even bottling and labeling the drink properly reflects the bar's attitude.

"He was able to capture the flavors and the vibe of the cocktail," said Linn.

"We also have our Blue Blazer line of cocktails which are our in-house brands, and those can be customized for restaurants. You could just have your logo on our high-quality in-house developed cocktails as well," said Kreeger.

For bar employees like Linn, having an outlet to recreate and distribute his creation is invaluable.

"I think being able specifically to deliver your cocktails to people, especially during the pandemic is huge," said Linn.

You can find the cocktails at the individual stores' websites, and you can also find them in some stores like Local Foods and Foxtrot. But the easiest way to find them is to go to www.drinkblueblazer.com and you'll see all the places to find these great cocktails for the holidays."

They are also going to be adding retail stores on the North Shore soon, but the Blue Blazer website is still the best source to find out where to get those cocktail bottles.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.