By day, Dominic Maschler works for an animation studio. By night, he sometimes picks up bartending shifts around Atlanta. During this pandemic time, when grabbing a seat at the bar is not an option, Maschler has created a way people making their own drinks at home still can tip the Atlanta area bartenders they miss.
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His website, TipsyATL, launched March 25. Maschler was inspired by an Instagram post he saw. “A friend of mine, Kirk Gibson, posted that he was tipping someone for a drink he made at home, because someone had tipped him via the Venmo app,” he said. “I loved the idea, and I wanted to do something similar.”
The problem? How to find your favorite bartenders via Venmo to tip them.
“I didn’t have a good answer to that,” Maschler said, “but I figured it would be helpful to assemble a directory of restaurant workers who could use support.”
Maschler has put together portfolio sites for his animation work over the years, “but those are very static,” he said. To work, his tipping site needed to be a constantly updated directory. He listened to podcasts and started scanning through templates while trying to build something intuitive and useful. In the end, he decided to keep it simple. “The site is just meant to be clear and to the point, so people can easily send a tip to a restaurant worker with just a few clicks,” he said.
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For his first tip, Maschler chose Morganna Bridgers, a former manager at Victory in Inman Park who has been bartending at Little Trouble recently. “She’s also an actress and yoga teacher, and basically all of the work that she does is shut down right now,” he said. Bridgers also has a unique name, so he knew that it would be pretty easy to find her on Venmo. “That’s part of what I hope TipsyATL helps to solve ... it can be tough to find people even if you know their name when searching on sites like Venmo or PayPal.”
The site doesn’t track how many people have made donations, because it doesn’t handle transactions, but Maschler is aware of how much traffic the site gets per day. It began with 50-60 people checking it out the first day, and has grown daily.
This isn’t the first time Maschler has created a site for drinkers. He has worked for 10 years at the animation studio Floyd County Productions, making the popular animation series “Archer.” “In my years of working on ‘Archer,’ I started a project I called ‘Tactical Intoxication Program,’ or TIP, that would describe in detail — often too much — a drink that would be featured in upcoming episodes,” he said.
It started out as a weekly thing he would post on Reddit, but then he started creating an archive of the posts on a blog site as well, always informal, and not something he was paid to do. “It was just an outlet for me to write and research and just get into some nerdy aspects of spirits and cocktail craft and history,” he said. “That project ended up kind of leading me to picking up some part-time bartending shifts around town.”
At the moment, what his TipsyATL site needs most is more workers added into the directory, so sharing the site with people in the hospitality industry who currently are unemployed or struggling for work is helpful.
Maschler also has included a list of other ways to help on the site. “So many people are trying to do what they can to be a positive force right now,” he said, “and even that can be a little confusing; trying to wrangle all these scattered efforts is daunting.”
He hopes TipsyATL will help consolidate some of the information.
Beyond that, he said, everyone should be donating to Giving Kitchen, an Atlanta nonprofit that provides emergency help to food service workers. “They are always a literal lifesaver to the service industry, even when there isn't a global pandemic, and right now they have a huge influx of people that need help, and can use as much financial support as possible to do so.”
Maschler doesn’t have a standard bar order, but he loves stiff, bitter, stirred drinks. He usually scans the menu for drinks that are unfamiliar, or asks bartenders who know him to make a more deep-cut classic cocktail.
“I like getting a Kingston Negroni at S.O.S Tiki Bar,” he said. “It’s basically a Jamaican rum Negroni, with a little bit of allspice liqueur added.”
And, once local bars are allowed to reopen? “I’ll probably get on my bicycle and do a little pub crawl,” he said. “I’ll hit Victory, Cold Beer, Ticonderoga Club, Lloyd’s and I’ll also have to do a Decatur trip to Leon’s, Kimball House and S.O.S. Tiki Bar.”
Until then, he will keep working on his website and tipping the servers he misses.
To send a tip to an Atlanta bartender, visit TipsyATL.com by clicking here.
(I tipped bartender Daniel Keith of Hotel Clermont for the drink I sipped while interviewing Maschler. Thank you, Daniel.)
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