Craft cocktails are all over restaurant and bar menus with interesting fruit twists and unique flavor profiles. But, what if you want to make these fancy drinks at home? Luckily, there’s a new cocktail class concept opening up in Towne Center at Cedar Lodge courtesy of The Tipsy Librarian.
The Tipsy Librarian’s almost 1,800-square-foot space provides room for cocktail lovers to shop, practice mixology skills and nurse beverages. It opened this past weekend for Small Business Saturday. Cocktail enthusiasts can now book the venue for private parties or attend weekly ticketed classes, which will launch in January. Located next to Bumble Lane, this cocktail classroom and shop is filled with decor and colors reminiscent of owner Maranda Howell’s favorite vacation spot and childhood.
“The color of the walls is called Caribbean Breeze,” she says. “My husband and I usually spend each summer down in the Bahamas, and that is my happy place. … (The color of the walls) is the exact color of the water in Eleuthera.”
Other small touches include wallpaper with a print that reminds Howell of Eleuthera palm forests and midcentury modern furniture that is similar to the pieces she saw in her grandmother’s house growing up. Rattan fixtures and barstools add to the vintage island-y vibe. Howell plans to use the space as the home base for the successful mobile cocktail-making business she launched last year.
Upon entering The Tipsy Librarian, customers are met with a retail space full of cocktail books and ingredients organized by the spirit. Beyond that, two large wood tables provide a workspace for class attendees. Next to the tables, there’s a lounge area complete with cushioned chairs and couches and a record player close by where patrons can sip the drink they just made and enjoy a bite to eat while Howell and her team prep the tables for the next drink demonstration.
The upcoming weekly events give those interested in cocktail making the chance to learn from The Tipsy Librarian without having to worry about finding a group to go with. Attendees for these classes will be told the menu beforehand, as well.
“You could buy the ticket and just learn those cocktails, but I could drive that conversation because there are so many beautiful spirits,” she says. “And, there are definitely people who are out there who would love to learn that but they may not all be in the same friend group.”
With her new location, Howell is also able to provide alcohol to attendees. This means The Tipsy Librarian is considered a bar, and Howell was required to have a full bar and back bar located at the far end of the space. But she says she won’t be shaking up drinks for those shopping or attending a class just yet—though she says the idea of a reservation-only speakeasy night is floating around her head.
Howell began The Tipsy Librarian by popping up with two-hour private parties often hosted out of someone’s home. Each party covered three cocktails hand-picked by the host. Since she was unable to provide alcohol, hosts were responsible for picking up the spirits Howell recommended for the night. Being mobile also meant that Howell had to haul all other ingredients, garnishes and glassware to and from each party.
“It was so physical,” she says. “The cleanup. The haul. The amount of work that it took. And so, there was a real limit to how much I could take on. I was having to turn classes away. It was so popular and I was so busy. In February, when I was helping with Bites & Boards classes, I was like, ‘OK, I could possibly have my own place.’”
Howell says the opportunity to open a brick-and-mortar in Towne Center seemed like a perfect fit. She felt that the location was a safe spot for her attendees to have their parties, and most of her clientele seemed to be close to the area already. Howell even lives close by herself.
Before launching her business, Howell was a librarian at Catholic High School. But, after the pandemic, she was looking for a new venture. After stepping away from her job, Howell began hosting small cocktail parties in her home with her former co-workers as a way to stay in touch. Her friends commented that she seemed so happy hosting these free gatherings, which gave her the idea of starting a business that she says she’d never seen done locally.
Howell hosted her first ticketed class as The Tipsy Librarian a little over a year ago in October 2022. She says she’s still in awe of the way her cocktail class business has grown in that time.
“It’s kind of incredible,” she says. “I’ve always had big dreams, but I might be the most cautious, risk-averse person you’d ever meet. … It’s incredible to me, and I hope that others can enjoy and appreciate it too because this space is me.”
The Tipsy Librarian is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. All guests must be 18 or older to enter the shop and 21 and up for events. The Tipsy Librarian is at 7450 Jefferson Highway. Private events should be scheduled two weeks in advance. There are a few dates available in December. Hosts can check availability on The Tipsy Librarian’s website and reach out to Howell via email to inquire.
This article originally appeared in 225 magazine’s 225 Daily newsletter.