free agents

Star Bartender Eben Freeman Will Leave AvroKO

Freeman, inside Genuine Liquorette when it opened in 2015. Photo: Melissa Hom

Eben Freeman has always done his own thing: When he ran the bar at wd~50, he doled out jellied gin-and-tonics. At Tailor, he infused vodka with bubble gum, and smoked Coca-Cola with cherrywood for a bourbon drink named after Waylon Jennings. At Genuine Liquorette, which opened in 2015, he uses a jerry-rigged leather press to create “Cha-Chunkers,” canned cocktails outfitted with inverted mini-bottles of booze. In his career, he’s helped open over a dozen restaurants, and as of next week, he’ll once again be a free agent.

His last night at Genuine Liquorette, where he still tends bar four nights a week, will be May 31. Since 2014, he’s been the beverage director for AvroKO, the restaurant and design group that operates Liquorette, and Freeman says the time has now come for him to do something different. “You need to be learning or earning in my book,” he explains. “It’s time for me to learn more and earn more.”

He says he doesn’t have any concrete professional plans, and instead is looking forward to a camping trip with his son, who will go to college in the fall. In the meantime, he’s thinking in broad strokes about his next project: “It’s packaging ideas, distribution ideas, ideas I don’t even have yet,” he says, “because I don’t yet have the freedom to think that big.” Whatever form that takes, the idea of “fun” is weighing on his mind a lot lately. He gives the example of the canned Cha-Chunkers, which make up 75 percent of Liquorette’s beverage sales. “The Cha-Chunkers make people happier than I’ve ever seen them. They’re happy even before they drink it,” he says. “We’ve lost our way from that, by trying too hard to impress. I’m not talking about that tired conversation about hospitality. I’m talking about fun.”

Star Bartender Eben Freeman Will Leave AvroKO