What do office parties and spirit tastings have in common?
Well, besides free booze—which is awesome—let’s just say they’re not always the most fresh events around.
Enter the HR Department, a playful mix of cocktails, colleagues, camaraderie—the brainchild of Stock & Barrel’s Chris Manis and fellow bartender Joshua Gandee. The idea: hosting pop-up cocktail parties that allow for the service industry to blow off a little steam and interact with brands and friends in the industry in a more organic way.
“Brands host a lot of events for bartenders, but a lot of them tend to be tastings or seminars, which are important for the industry, but can sometimes become a little stale,” Manis said. “We want to work with all sorts of brands to throw fun, cheesy parties for our friends in the industry, while getting the chance to mix some cool drinks.”
Though the parties are meant to be relaxed and fun, but the quality of the drinks is still a top priority, Manis said.
“We take cocktails very seriously, and spend countless hours on menu development, research, techniques, and generally learning everything we can to take our craft to the next level, but what’s the point of drinking if you’re not having fun?” he said. “We’d rather throw a party than a lecture.”
Stock & Barrel was there for opening night—The Hawaiian Shirt Day Party—and we can concur that there were no lectures. When you go to an event that features a wall of Xeroxed butts, generic office jargon drink names, and a limbo contest, it’s safe to say they’d accomplished their goal. Sponsored by and fueled by Jägermeister, Gandee and Manis pumped out hundreds of drinks over a few hours with the dedicated help of Curio’s Rebecca Monday (“Becky,” in Accounts Receivable), and “Intern” Bryan Kossman.
“We wanted to showcase Jägermeister’s ability to work in an unexpected style of drinks, and the theme of Hawaiian shirt day at the office sort of came naturally from there,” Manis said.
The “organization” was spawned originally from a night out between Gandee and Manis were both accidentally wore hats sporting the letters “H” and “R,” respectively, but has since become a running office theme for their parties.
“Calling ourselves The HR Department is just our way of poking a little fun at another culture that takes itself a bit too seriously, the office culture,” said Manis. “We dress in business casual clothing, we drink out of coffee mugs, we use outdated corporate buzzwords, our menus are designed to look like office memos and reports, and we mix drinks from inside a cubicle. It’s all just a joke that took on a life of its own.” •
Keep up with The HR Department at facebook.com/columbushrdepartment and on Instagram @thehrdepartment.