Osito’s Tap

Chicago, Illinois, USA.

We take a trip to the States, where we speak withMike Moreno Jr, Owner of Osito’s Tap, and learn more about his inclusive and fun, Latin-inspired, speakeasy bar.

Tell us about Osito’s Tap and the inspiration behind the business.

Established in 2019, Osito’s Tap is a speakeasy inspired bar, highlighting the art of craft spirits, beer, and cocktails, that brings a modern Latin flair to the classic Chicago era. With a fresh and health-conscious food menu, our venue is value-driven in educating and creating a community space that is inclusive, fun and historically memorable. Our vision for Osito’s was always to highlight the community, Little Village, the largest Mexican community in Chicago and Midwest. We believed that everyone deserved to be given the opportunity to enjoy hand-crafted cocktails and high-end dining, without having to travel too far or spend downtown prices. The major inspirations for the design of the bar were our beautiful greystone building and prohibition history. Once home to one of Al-Capone’s underground bookie joints, we wanted to showcase this classic Czech style building with an all walnut bar, but with a twist of our rich Mexican heritage.

What would you say have been the key elements to your success?

Thinking outside the box, as well as building a strong network. Our finely curated drink and food selection was meant to showcase lesser known Latin ingredients and food. We wanted to give customers an experience they couldn’t find elsewhere, and that was accomplished by the wealth of knowledge, with more than 46 years in the industry and culinary background, of our Head Chef and sister, Angelique Moreno. Our network has allowed us to bring in lesser known brands and rare spirits, giving us the platform to get the word out about Moreno’s Liquors – a long-running beer, wine and spirits store known for its extensive selection of tequila, which has elevated the Chicago bar scene.

What are your short and long-term goals?

Currently we are in talks with a local canning company to start selling ready-to-drink canned cocktails, which will be distributed to local liquor stores, utilising our ingredients and showcasing our rich Latin culture. Our long-term goal is to eventually expand to the second floor of our building, creating a speakeasy within the speakeasy, with Latin dance, live music and a fully open rooftop bar.

How do you stay current and up to date with trends in an ever-changing industry?

Our unique selection of rare spirits, unusual drinks and family reputation has helped us bring in an eclectic mix of customers from across the country and world. This gives us unique insight into various trends hitting markets, with expert advice from chefs, fellow bartenders and influencers. We are also firm believers in education, and tend to focus on educational seminars for our staff and customers, along with researching heavily, or visiting, industry events, such as Bar Convict & Tails of the Cocktail. Last but not least, we travel frequently and collaborate with other bars and liquor purveyors, as well as constantly seeking ingredients during our travels, to showcase lesser known spirits and ingredients in our flavours.   

What advice would you give to an up and coming bar?

Do your research and be true to who you are. Being a trendsetter means you will be put to the test on all fronts. So be sure your staff are properly trained, take customer service seriously and make sure you are always striving to be the best version of yourself.

What trends do you see arriving in the UK industry?

Tequila, and all things agave, is the fastest growing category around the world right now, already surpassing Vodka as the number one category in the United States. With people looking for low calorie, gluten free drinks with a lot of flavour, you can set yourself apart from the competition by checking our agave spirits.

What advice would you give UK bar operators?

Be sure to have weekly and monthly meetings with your team to ensure everyone is staying on task. Lead by example and inspire the staff, as well as making a fun and safe environment. Remember that the bar is only as strong as the staff that you surround yourself with. 

If you were to open a bar in the UK scene, what aspects of your venue would you bring?

Everyone loves dogs, so why not welcome that by showcasing a different dog named bar that pays homage to our best friends. Having that elegant and classic 1920’s theme with Latin flair would, of course, be a key part of our decor. As well as educational seminars for our guests, with Latin inspired food and drinks that can be infused with UK culture.



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