Tip Your Navy Strength Bartenders (and Sip the Escape Hatch Once Again)

Today at 2pm, cocktail bar owner Chris Elford is going live—and possibly cracking open a coconut—to raise money for bar staff.

By Zoe Sayler April 9, 2020

You don't have to put the Escape Hatch in a coconut, but it'd be super cool if you did.

Well, it's Quarantine Day—what day are we on, exactly? I've lost track, and the sports equipment I've got laying around is starting to look like a fantastic companion. We could all probably use an escape hatch right about now.

Navy Strength owner Chris Elford wholeheartedly agrees: This afternoon at 2pm, he’ll make an Escape Hatch, of the rum cocktail variety, on Instagram Live for beverage publication Punch’s Tip Your Bartender.

Expect jokes, highbrow discussion of the bar's ethos, and, if we're lucky, priceless footage of Elford cracking open a coconut. But as the name implies, Tip Your Bartender is more than just a tasty way to forget, for a few ounces, that we’ll be doing this for a while. Navy Strength gets $1,000 for participating in the livestream, which they’ll be doling out to the 15 employees they laid off in the wake of coronavirus-prompted bar and restaurant closures. And viewers (maybe you!) are encouraged to tune in and send a modern tip via the bar’s Venmo, which Bacardi will match with a donation to the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.

Elford says the money Navy Strength raises will first go toward helping employees pay for health insurance—those who worked full-time have been transitioned to notoriously expensive COBRA. Those who worked part-time will receive the money directly. “We think of them as our family,” Elford says. “We were devastated to have to lay everybody off. It’s all we think about.”

That feeling has driven Navy Strength’s other quarantine-survival techniques: A GoFundMe that’s raised over $10,000 for staff at spots owned by Elford and wife Anu Apte-Elford, clever cocktail kits that have raked in about $5,000. (The bar, which shifts its menu to a new part of the world every six months, plans to release its Japan-focused drink lineup via cocktail kits soon—another gift of escapism for the masses who are "all fucking stressed to the gills.")

The Escape Hatch recipe is below, if you want to follow along or try it later. Whoever is lucky enough to be quarantined with you will surely appreciate it: “Sandwiches and cocktails,” Elford says, “both of those things taste better when someone else makes them.” Isn't that the truth? Tip your bartender.

Escape Hatch

Courtesy of Chris Elford, Navy Strength

One of the most beloved Navy Strength cocktails, the Escape Hatch is a crushable rum drink with a touch of island spice. To a base of aged rum, Jägermeister adds complex herbal notes while Falernum offers a hint of spice alongside refreshing lemon juice and coconut water. While the bar serves it in a coconut shell, you can also pop it into your favorite tiki mug.

  • 1 ½ ounces Santa Teresa 1796
  • ¾ ounce Jägermeister
  • ½ ounce Falernum (you can get this at a liquor store, but Navy Strength makes theirs homemade—check out their social media for the recipe)
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces coconut water 
  • Garnish: your choice of cinnamon stick, grated nutmeg, lime wheel, mint sprig, edible orchids, etc.

Combine all ingredients except for coconut water in a shaker (if you don’t have a cocktail shaker, Elford recommends a quart- or pint-sized deli container with a tight lid: “Make sure it doesn’t smell like pickles or hot and sour soup or something like that.”) Add a small amount of ice and shake quickly just to give a little chill. Pour the entire contents of the shaker into a coconut shell, tiki mug, or glass. Add coconut water, and top with more ice. Garnish with cinnamon and nutmeg and anything tropical you may have—lime wheel, mint sprig, or edible orchids work great.

Filed under
Show Comments