Sunday, May 6, 2012

App helps users locate their favorite bartenders

The specialization of the cocktail world means that, for aficionados, it’s no longer sufficient to pop into whatever bar you pass and hope they’ll know how to make your hand-selected house barrel five-rum-blend tiki flip. Knowing ahead of time who’s behind the bar on a given night can help bar-hoppers plan more efficiently. A new free application (for iPhone and Android) designed by developers TJ Connelly, of Cambridge, and Ian Stanczyk, of the North End, called On the Bar (www.getonthebar.com), helps cocktail fans connect with their favorite bartenders. We asked the duo to explain how it works.

Q. Where did the idea for the app come from?

Stanczyk: I started getting interested in cocktails a few years ago. In doing so I’d be visiting various cocktail bars around town, getting to know some of the staff. That aspect of it was becoming part of my decision making when I would want to go out on the town. I kept running into the problem of very simply not knowing who was working where at any given moment. That seemed like a problem I could solve.

Q. Do you think it has crossover appeal outside of the industry?

Stanczyk: Right now we’ve got about 50 bartenders signed up around town. On the user side, several hundred users. It’s very early, and we haven’t promoted much at all, but growth has been word of mouth.

Connelly: The user population is still mostly industry, cocktail bloggers, and folks who have an interest already, which is kind of the way we like it now while trying to work out the kinks.
Q. How does the app work?

Connelly: Basically the way it works is, if you are a bartender, at the beginning of your shift you check in at the bar. You can put a message in there that can go to any other social networks, or we have our own activity fed. Maybe you’re doing a special, or there’s a cocktail or spirit you’re particularly into, you can put that out there.

Q. There are a lot of bar apps out there. What makes yours different?

Stanczyk: What’s unique about On the Bar, it really does take a focus off of the establishment itself and puts it on the individuals, that’s something that, as far as I know, hasn’t been done. That’s our point of differentiation. It’s about people and relationships.

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