If Elliott Clark were to describe his ideal woman in cocktail terms, he'd tell you he likes them classic with a twist. Maybe an old-fashioned with muddled sour cherries or honey syrup with a dash of grapefruit bitters. Something different and surprising even—but still solid at their core.
"They'd have those classic foundation values to them that I perceive would be really important for a sustainable relationship and building a life with somebody," he says. "You know, that love and respect and forgiveness and trust. But on top of that, they have that uniqueness to them. Whether they're outgoing or more extroverted, or a little more adventurous, like that thing you can't find anywhere else."
It's safe to say that the Apartment Bartender knows what he likes, and knows just the right combination of ingredients to give you what you want—ironic considering this self-made liquor connoisseur just started mixing drinks two years ago.
What began as a hobby has turned into a budding lifestyle brand that's landed him partnerships with Express and on Buzzfeed's radar as an "Instagram Account to Follow." But accolades aside, it's the obvious love of his craft (and okay maybe a little eye candy too) that has us sipping on whatever carefully crafted boozy blend this mixologist serves.
After attending a Cocktails 101 class with a friend, Clark began snapping photos of his creations and posting them on Instagram, not imagining that there was a community of booze enthusiasts looking for creative cocktails.
"Apartment Bartender happened by complete accident," he says. "At the time when I started it I was kind of lacking a creative outlet in my life. I never set out like I'm going to turn this into a blog or I'm going to turn this into a social media platform and gain "x" amount of followers and it's going to be a full-time job. I never even envisioned that was possible."
Working on Apartment Bartender opened up the door to other passions, including photography and entrepreneurship, and it's also allowed him to use his gift to give back to others. In his spare time Clark works with Kids in Focus—an organization that pairs children from underprivileged backgrounds with professional photographers to help teach them to see themselves and their world in a new way.
"I don't think the world needs another cocktail or drink blog. If that's all that I am, I would consider that to be superficial."
"At the core of me I really believe in serving others, and I really consider myself as a person that would want to put others first before myself and find ways to lift others up. I think ultimately [Apartment Bartender] leads to the opportunity to make an impact in people's lives, and I think that's really what I seek to do because to be honest, I don't think the world needs another cocktail or drink blog; if that's all that I am, I would consider that to be superficial. So even though Apartment Bartender is that, that's why I love to utilize my platform in captions and anything that I can do."
He also credits his own entrepreneurial journey to inspiring and creating opportunities for friends. "I perceive that to be really cool, to see some of my best friends and people closest to me be able to experience other aspects of themselves and pick up new skills that they didn't think they were capable of because of some of the opportunities that I've opened up with what I'm doing."
But the journey hasn't come without its share of sacrifices. First, there was the fear of taking a risk and quitting his job as a software salesperson making six figures, just a year after launching Apartment Bartender for a career where the income was uncertain.
"When I make certain decisions I'm kind of fast-forwarding down the road and thinking will I regret the decision not to pursue it? So in the case of Apartment Bartender, that's ultimately what led me to do it, but I think my biggest fear was I'm making the wrong decision or taking a wrong step because my job looked good on the surface."
Clark doesn't consider himself to be a visionary, but he does believe in following your gut, and trusting that it will lead you where you want to go.
"I'm glad I did because that happiness and contentment that I feel, I never thought I'd be doing this. This is such a unique job and unique career for me that I don't think there'd be anything else that I'd rather be doing. And that's really fulfilling to be young and where I'm at, and doing something that I can wake up every morning and be like I can't wait to get to the office, I can't wait to work, I can't wait to work with this brand or to travel or make this drink recipe, that's a pretty unique feeling and I'm super grateful for that. "
While he's been successful in his business, his love life has taken a turn. Devoting his time to work took away from time spent nurturing his relationship, and ultimately Clark chose to follow his heart and pursue his passion.
"For some people, if that's what they want and can see the person they're with as a partner that they want to build their life with, they can do both," says Clark. "For me personally, I have plans in 2018 that I felt that I needed to go an individual path. Singleness is where I need to be right now. My career and seeing what it becomes outside of Apartment Bartender, it's something where I feel pretty selfish in my life that those are things I want to pursue, and I don't feel I'm in the right space to take someone else into consideration and to have that joint partnership."
To be clear, it's not that he doesn't believe pursuing your dream and embracing love can't coexist. He's just keeping it real—he's an all or nothing kind of guy.
"I think a foundational element to a relationship is service. Not so much what I can get out of it, but how am I really adding love and value to the person I'm with. I think in any relationship that should be a first thought, and if it's not my first thought of taking someone's interest other than my own and being with them and that being a top priority, it's tough to really make that work when your heart isn't 100% there."
Don't worry, ladies. When the time is right, he knows how to wine and dine. "I consider myself from how I dress and how I carry myself to be more classic style. I'm like an old-fashioned guy. I open the door for people and say thank you, you know treat people well."
A date with the Apartment Bartender may include a surprise cocktail. He'll ask your spirit of choice, whether you want it refreshing or more liquor heavy, and tailor the drink to your taste. Or, if you want to keep it simple, his daiquiris aren't to be dismissed.
"If I was on a date, I think it's important to know the person and craft something that's unique to them or unique to the moment," he says.
In the meantime, you can find this classic man serving up free knowledge on Instagram or on the Apartment Bartender website.
"What I hope to try to do is educate people on what else is out there so that they can develop more of a pallet. It's not so much what you drink that defines you, it's what you're closed off to drinking. I don't think a lot of people take the time to really investigate more of what's out there, whether it be agave spirits or different spirits like Cachaça. There's so much around to drink that I guarantee that I can make you any spirit that you want and you'll like it."
On that note, bottoms up.
For more Elliot, follow him on Instagram.