If you haven’t heard by now, Shot Bar is the latest airport concept that has taken the media by storm. It’s been covered in Travel & Leisure, featured on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, and in many other media outlets. Shot Bar is a pop-up where you walk up and (literally) shoot your shot! It’s the first of its kind in the United States, and attached to Rel’lish Burger Lounge in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. We recently had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with Kathy Casey, Seattle’s celebrity chef, who is the mastermind behind this innovative idea. In addition to Rel’lish Burger Lounge, Kathy is also behind Seattle airport’s Dish D’Lish and Lucky Louie Fish Shack. She also owns a food & beverage consulting business: Kathy Casey Food Studios® — Liquid Kitchen®, where she helps clients ranging from Norwegian Cruise Lines to Tillamook.
Where did the inspiration for Shot Bar come from?
Pre-COVID, Rel’Lish Burger Lounge had a pretty cool cocktail menu with a lot of signature drinks. Since the pandemic, we had to slim down menus because with less seats, there is less staff on shift. With limited seats due to COVID restrictions, we only had about 16 seats available, and there was even a period when the airport was dry for a few months as well. No one could really get a drink anywhere, which led to a pent up demand for people really wanting to have a cocktail, but they can’t wait for a seat. So I thought, ‘why don’t we take our to-go area, and turn that into a shot bar?’ The idea was that people were going to order, shoot the shot, and then fly off! They have their mask off for a very limited amount of time, and it was a great way to do fast service.
So now that Shot Bar has been open for a few weeks, how has the initial reception been?
It’s been great! People really love it and are having a lot of fun. I see a lot of people posting that they are going to stop by on their way to a vacation, or that they will feel more relaxed flying after taking a shot. We’ll keep it open definitely throughout the summer, and maybe even longer.
Have you noticed any trends on what’s popular pre-flight or in-flight?
At Shot Bar, the #1 is Hornito’s Blue Agave Tequila, and I think #2 is Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey—which is delicious by the way! As for cocktails, typically the most popular ones at the airport are always Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. I think that when people fly and travel, everything goes out the window. People who might not normally drink, might be drinking—it almost doesn’t count when you’re traveling. In-flight, I see people mostly drinking very simply since there aren’t a lot of options nor many mixers available. Personally, I like to have a Bloody Mary with gin when I’m in the air because your taste buds change at the high altitude, and the botanical notes make it even more flavorful.
What are you anticipating for your various airport concepts throughout the rest of 2021?
I’m excited! I’m excited that people are starting to travel, and that they’re feeling more comfortable. I think the airlines have done a great job, and that SeaTac has done a great job on flying safe. I think that business will come back, and hopefully this summer is booming. I have another fun thing coming this June, this time with Lucky Louie Fish Shack! You know, sometimes bad times bring on new ideas because people have to innovate.