The Bluegrass Blues: Arvada’s hippest whiskey bar is selling their rarest bottles to pay employees, keep doors open through COVID crisis

The Bluegrass Blues: Arvada’s hippest whiskey bar is selling their rarest bottles to pay employees, keep doors open through COVID crisis

Desperate times call for desperate measures

VicesMarch 24, 2020 By Will Brendza

The street outside the Bluegrass Coffee & Bourbon Lounge was empty.

It was a nice day, to be sure: the sun was out, the birds were chirping, spring was in the air, but Olde Town Arvada was all-but-deserted. Many of the shops were boarded up, closed for the foreseeable future (maybe even longer); the parking spots were all open; the light rail, stopped at its station, was vacant. Everything was quiet, save for the ringing railway bells and my footsteps on the pavement.

In fact, the only shop that was actually open was the Coffee & Bourbon Lounge, which I had come to visit. Its door was propped open invitingly, though the sign out front indicated that they were only open for curbside pickup and to-go orders.

But that’s not exactly all that the Lounge is doing. They’re also running a whiskey bottle sale — not just because people need booze now more than ever (though, we surely do) — but because the folks managing the Bluegrass Lounge are hell-bent on keeping their operation above water. And they’re going to do whatever it takes to ensure that.  

“Generally, we would never sell any of our bottles in the first place,” says Josh Schwartz, the Lounge’s bar and booking manager. “Especially the rare ones,” he emphasizes.

But these are desperate times, indeed, and they call for desperate measures.

“At the moment we’ve got to pay salaries, we’ve got to keep this place open, so we gotta keep the employee staff,” he says. “And the best way to do that is sell our expensive stuff.”

So if you’re interested in getting your hands on some exquisite and rare whiskies, now is the time to buy. Among the bottles that they’ve set aside for the sale, there’s 12-year aged Weller wheated bourbon, Thomas H. Handy Sazarac rye, Rossville Union, Michter’s limited release, and Elija Craig small batch bottles, among many others.

“The prices are consistent with what secondary prices would be — maybe a little bit higher because of the cause,” says Schwartz. But he says people are buying them, which is throwing their business (and thereby their employees) a lifeline. But they need to sell more if this is going work. 

Schwartz has put together a menu of bottles for sale, for any interested whisky aficionados. You can contact him, or the Bluegrass’ bar manager Ryan Mcdermott directly if you’re interested in getting your hands on some of these rare and valuable whiskey bottles (their info is at the bottom, and they said to email or call them directly).

The Bluegrass Lounge is also running a gofundme for their employees, selling T-shirts, delivering food and doing beer, wine and cocktails to-go. And, next door to the Lounge itself they're opening a relife conveninece store for local Arvadans and to help employ people as well, Schwartz tells me. 

Realistically, rare whiskies are only going to get rarer and more expensive as this global pandemic and economic crisis unfold. This bottle sale at the Bluegrass lounge might be one of the last prime opportunities to get your hands on some, for relatively cheap, for a while...

And the money you spend to secure your fine spirits, is helping a vibrant local business keep its employees employed and its doors open. It's a win-win situation. 

Contact for bottle sales:

Josh Schwartz – josh@thebluegrasslounge.com; (847) 924-7750
Ryan McDermott – ryan@thebluegrasslounge.com; (847) 338-1782