Once upon a time, District residents could make their way down to The Wharf for a margarita or two at crowd favorite Cantina Bambina. Sunny spring and summer days begged for a drink at their open-air bar overlooking the water. But, with the state of the world today, it seems these trips have to be a thing of the past for now. Until Cantina can welcome everyone back with open arms, bartenders like Beth Hanko plan on staying connected with patrons by hosting virtual happy hours.
Hanko recently hosted the spot’s first virtual cocktail hour alongside her co-worker Marley Robertson via Zoom. This inaugural remote event opened the door for Hanko, Robertson and their fellow bartenders to stay connected with valued customers and friends. They’re not just sharing cocktail recipes – they’re checking in on one another and discussing how everyone is coping with the current situation. Hanko enjoyed being back behind the bar, even if it was in her own home.
“It was nice having everyone together and seeing everyone’s faces, seeing what they’ve been up to,” Hanko says.
Try a Dockside Donkey
2 oz. Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka
Squeeze of fresh lime
Mix all together
Many bar regulars are probably missing their favorite watering hole, and Hanko is missing them, too. She and the other bartenders plan on hosting more cocktail hours in the future to stay connected with regulars and new customers alike. In the meantime, Hanko has stayed in touch with her co-workers by texting their group chat and joining Zoom brunches with them.
“It’s been a little crazy staying in the house all the time, so it’s nice to know we have each other and can check up on one another to make sure we’re all doing all right.”
In addition to offering a way to talk with her customers, the online happy hours have presented a fun challenge to Hanko and her fellow bartenders. Not everyone has a full bar in their house, which means finding alternatives to traditional ingredients and tools when teaching people how to make a drink.
“It’s fun having random ingredients and trying to put them together, sometimes they fail and sometimes they’re extra delicious,” Hanko says. “You kind of just grab what you think everyone has lying around the house and throw it all together, shake it up and see how it turns out.”
While these happy hours are intended to be a fun distraction from the realities of the pandemic, they are also meant to keep Cantina workers afloat. During the first Zoom cocktail hour, Hanko received donations of bottles of alcohol and Cantina T-shirts to raffle off in order to support staff members. Patrons are encouraged to use the link in Cantina’s Instagram profile to send tips to their own workers and others in the industry around D.C.
Try a Cantina Bambina Margarita
2 oz. tequila
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. agave
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake it up
Pour over fresh ice in a glass with a salted rim
Top with a floater of Grand Marnier for a Cadillac and garnish with a lime wedge
Until everyone can return to work in a normal capacity, Hanko and other industry workers will have to rely on tips and donations from generous Washingtonians. Luckily, there has been an extraordinary amount of contributions made by customers. Hanko looks forward to the day where she can get back to work and show her appreciation to everyone who has upheld the Cantina family.
“I just can’t believe the [amount of] support we’ve gotten from our bar regulars, and even just random people. It just shows how much people care about us.”
Follow Cantina on Instagram @cantina_bambina for updates on virtual happy hour offerings and ways to help their team.
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