Interviews

Published on December 14th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Chris & Kirk Bray On The New Limited-Edition “Billykirk x Cooper & Thief Bartender Bag” & More

This season’s “it” bag is has a few secrets. Brothers Chris and Kirk Bray of leather and canvas goods company Billykirk teamed up with the spirits-barrel aged wine company Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters to design a leather bartender bag that lets you take your cocktail kit on-the-go, and stash a bottle for mixing things up. Melding style and function, the limited-edition Billykirk x Cooper & Thief Bartender Bag houses a set of chic copper bar tools handpicked by mixology master Elliott Clark.

The vintage-influenced black leather bag is a throwback to a physician’s carryall updated with a secret flap to stash a bottle of wine — the mischievous mark of Cooper & Thief. Cooper & Thief Red Blend’s unique aging in ex-bourbon barrels serves as the inspiration behind this ultra-cool collab with craftsman duo Billykirk. Expressing rich flavor notes with a subtle heat, the Cooper & Thief Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Blend is the perfect ingredient for an out-of-the-ordinary cocktail. Showcasing the spirited nature of the wine, each Bartender Bag contains a Hawthorne strainer, muddler bar spoon, Julep strainer and jigger. Now, you can mix up a wine-infused Old Fashioned or Hot Toddy at any seasonal fête — just grab the Bartender Bag, throw in a bottle of Cooper & Thief, and go!

The Billykirk x Cooper & Thief Bartender Bag is available now on Billykirk.com for $250. I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris and Kirk Bray about the Billykirk x Cooper & Thief Bartender Bag and more on behalf of The Hype Magazine. More on the Brays and the bag can be found online at www.billykirk.com and www.cooperandthief.com.

How did this collaboration come about?

Chris Bray: Billykirk is rooted in high quality American craftsmanship — no different than the way Cooper & Thief expertly crafts American wines. Our leather and canvas goods have a brawny appeal which perfectly complements the slightly rugged nature of Cooper & Thief whiskey-barrel-aged wines.

To you, what makes the Bartender Bag stand out from other bags?

Kirk Bray: The first thing you notice is its unique shape. It’s reminiscent of the old doctors bags. The compact, easy-to-travel-with design is perfect for intrepid mixologists.

How long was the bag in the works for?

Chris Bray: We designed a general tool bag in our original line, but some subtle changes really spruced this up. We worked with the Cooper & Thief team and acclaimed mixologist Elliott Clark of @Apartment_Bartender to develop a peaked top to emulate Cooper & Thief’s boller hat in their logo. We also added some vital organization pockets for the bartender’s accoutrements — including a secret flap to stash a bottle of Cooper & Thief Red Blend!

Is it truly a limited-edition product?

Kirk Bray: Indeed. Only 50 were produced, each hand-numbered. The demand has been so real, we’ve had to start releasing the hand-numbered pieces in drops.

Might there be another collaboration between your brands happening?

Chris Bray: You never know! The bag has been a hit, so we wouldn’t be opposed to a future collaborations.

Bag aside, what is coming up for your brand?

Kirk Bray: On the horizon is a move from our Jersey City warehouse to our new studio space in March 2020, where we’re excited to also have a retail footprint.

And brand aside, what is your drink of choice?

Chris Bray: A Bullshot from Keen’s in New York City is always a good experience

Kirk Bray: Can’t go wrong with a Negroni.

hen not busy with work, where does your free time usually go?

Chris Bray: Kids, family, running and my assemblage/sculpture work.

Kirk Bray: I’m currently working on a commission of large paintings for the corporate offices of Bombas socks. That’s literally sapped any of my free time for the last two months.

What was the last concert you attended for fun?

Chris Bray: For our 20th Anniversary party, we flew out Vikesh Kapoor to play a very intimate set. His debut album, The Ballad Of Willie Robbins, is really a work of art and we are fortunate to know him.

Finally, any last words for the kids?

Chris Bray: The Proof is in the Patina!


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About the Author

is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He has been a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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