"When I was little, I would sneak out of bed and turn on the TV and watch the old Dean Martin show," recalls Renee Cebula, owner of Raising the Bar. "I wasn't supposed to watch it, but there was something about Dean Martin that was so suave."
Cebula's love for the rat pack genre endures. In the summer of 2013, Cebula began selling "vintage and badass" barware out of an equally awesome trailer featuring sets of mid-century barware, bar carts, ice buckets and bar tools, as well as cocktail and vintage recipe books.
"I had looked into having a brick-and-mortar store. I looked into doing an online store, but I wanted to interact with people. I had started to see more mobile retail in Seattle, Portland and Boston," continues Cebula. "It's a way also for a new small business or something very unique and innovative to test the market."
Though Cebula is part of the pop-up retail revolution, she is an historian above all else:
"I started researching cocktail culture in America around the World Wars. Where did the Manhattan come from? Who thought of the gin and tonic? I started learning about different decorative artists and trends from the '40s and '50s and I just found it fascinating. I started collecting sets here and there based on some of the people I was researching. It was the history first, and it's been the leading factor in everything I've been doing ever since."
One of the appealing aspects of mid-century barware is the distinctive form and function of the design; each glass is intended to be used for a specific beverage.
"Tom Collins, mojitos and spring and summer drinks are for highballs. Lowballs are typically for stronger drinks, shaken or mixed with ice and usually chilled. Those have morphed into rocks glasses and double Old Fashioneds," explains Cebula.
But she recommends not worrying too much about not drinking out of the appropriate glass.
"Find glassware that you love and drink out of it," says Cebula. ♦
Raising the Bar • Facebook.com/raising.thebar.7