There's an art to selling whiskey. Sure, it takes a lot of marketing smarts and a healthy appetite for the brown aqua vitae. But for Jane Bartel, director of marketing for 2 Gingers Whiskey, it's about changing perceptions of whiskey.
"It's been associated with just cold weather and old men, but there's a lot more to it than that," she says. "I still get a kick out of a person who says they don't like whiskey, and then try ours in the Big Ginger and walk away with a new favorite patio drink."
Before 2 Gingers, Bartel hardly considered herself to be a whiskey aficionado. "I've always been a big fan of Irish whiskey neat or with an ice cube, but would only order it once in a while until I recently realized the versatility of it," she admits.
The 24-year-old was a career dabbler, taking as many different kinds of jobs as she could in sales, PR, event promotions, copywriting and corporate consulting. She also studied psychology and business -- to which she credits her "ongoing obsession with the hospitality industry and motivation theory." ("I called it the 'pre-bartending' degree," she says.)
Accordingly, her foray into the liquor industry was happenstance. After moving back home to Minneapolis from New York in 2009, Bartel had what would turn out to be a decisive meeting with 2 Gingers founder Kieran Folliard, who at the time was heading up the Irish pub quartet of Kieran's, the Local, Cooper and the Liffey.
"I was interested in restaurant consulting and management, so I asked Kieran to lunch so I could pick his brain," she says. Folliard enlisted her to work on a few small projects, and when the time came for him to sell his shares of the pub businesses, he asked Bartel to join him with his new endeavor.
Four months after 2 Gingers' debut, Bartel says her to-do lists have been unending -- "borderline insane," she jokes -- as is typically the case with any start-up. In that time, the company had its statewide launch, made it through its first St. Patrick's Day, launched the new 2 Gingers pubs at Target Field and managed hundreds of promotional events and projects as well as continual brand development.
Bartel's business acumen could be attributed in part to her parents, Tom Bartel and Kris Henning, who founded City Pages and the Rake magazine. "They had a knack for hiring amazingly talented and loyal people," she says. "It encouraged me to surround myself with smart, collaborative people who listen hard, happily take on responsibility and teach each other generously."
With the bulk of the 2 Gingers launch behind her, Bartel is looking forward to looking back at "what's worked and what hasn't," enjoying some warm-weather whiskey drinks and planning for fall -- a big time for the whiskey business.
- Age: 24
- Title: Director of marketing
- Employer: 2 Gingers Whiskey Co.
- Hire date: July 2011
- Education: B.S. in psychology from Fordham University, minor in Spanish. Also studied business and was the VP and co-founder of the school's Entrepreneur's Society.