What’s shakin, cocktail fans?
Welcome to Episode 275 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast! I’m your host, Eric Kozlik.
Thanks for joining me for this special 2023 Year in Review episode, where we take a glance back through the last calendar year, using the power of both raw data and fuzzy feelings to understand the trajectory of this audio project we’ve been on together since I launched it back in 2017 and make some projections about the future as we forge our way forward into 2024.
Longtime listeners will know that I like to share some of the key analytics pertaining to downloads and other metrics, but these year-end summaries are about much more than just that. Like your traditional “This year is ending, next year is about to begin” mindset, it’s a space where I can sort of think out-loud about what I’ve managed to get done in the last calendar year and set some goals and projections that will guide the course of the year to come.
2023 by the Numbers
This past year, we published a total of 27 episodes, which puts us at a rate of a little over two episodes per month. Compared to the 39 episodes we published the previous year in 2022 that represents a publishing frequency dip of about 31%.
But here’s the little ray of sunshine in these numbers that has me smiling:
Despite that 31% decrease in publishing, we only had a 21% decrease in downloads, which sit at around 55,000 for 2023, compared with the 70,000 we recorded in 2022. So when I zoom out and truly get a sense of the health of the podcast, I’m really pleased that our downloads seem to be up about 10% year-over-year, which is the same organic growth rate I’ve been tracking since 2017.
I don’t pay a dime to advertise the show. There are no Modern Bar Cart billboards or paid placements. That ten percent is just people who are curious about spirits and cocktails and who find a home with our guests and with the topics we discuss. So ten percent might not sound like a whole lot of growth to you, but to me, it’s like hearing the same steady heartbeat that’s kept me going since the very beginning.
The other number I’m happy to report isn’t a number at all…mostly because I don’t have a way of easily tracking it without sifting through months worth of emails. But I’m pleased to report that DOZENS of you have reached out to me to subscribe to the Modern Bar Cart community Discord specifically for the purpose of grabbing that sweet FREE industry promo we had for Jordan Hughes’ Cocktail Camera eCourse. The goal of the Discord community was (and remains) to add more value to our body of listeners, so it was really gratifying to me that so many of you took advantage of that free eCourse.
Introducing Direct Fire Consulting
Before I play us out of this New Year retrospective-slash-preview episode with a really fun snippet from a podcast I recently recorded a few weeks ago for another show, I do want to share with you one last update that, for me, is pretty, pretty big.
It’s my pleasure to announce that my next major step in the world of spirits, cocktails, and hospitality is as the principal consultant at Direct Fire Consulting, a service I’m launching to help distillers, spirits brands, cocktail programs, and other liquid ventures achieve their business goals.
This is a logical evolution of all the work I’ve done with spirits and cocktail education over the years, and it allows me to funnel all the different spokes of my work–from the podcast, to sensory training, to spirits judging, to cocktail competition design and implementation–into a single project.
Isn’t that the dilemma for generalists who, like I do, enjoy diving deep and eventually specializing in a few different verticals? How do you tie those verticals together in a way that gives you energy and…God forbid…makes you money?
I picked the name “Direct Fire Consulting” because it represents a type of still that applies a flame directly to the belly of the pot, rather than using an internal heating element or a steam jacket. Not only is this a nod to the deep, centuries-long tradition of distillation that spread across the entire globe, but it’s also a nod to the way I try to work:
Do you have a spirits brand, or product, or beverage program that needs a little help? Great. Let’s light a fire under it.
If you had the opportunity to listen to my keynote introduction speech for this year’s American Distilling Institute Conference and Trade Show, you’ll know that I think a lot about thermodynamics, energy, and the literal combustion that takes place to make the spirits we love. And to that end, there are three governing principles that I’ve selected to guide the work that I do with Direct Fire Consulting:
- Fire Ignites – Launching any product, cocktail program, or drinks brand is hard. I’m here to offer the insights and guidance that will ignite the project and help kindle it into something meaningful.
- FIre Refines – Let’s say you’ve got a cocktail program that’s good, but could be better. Maybe a product that’s hanging in there, but can’t seem to differentiate itself from the pack enough to achieve the growth you’re hoping for. This is a great opportunity to bring me in to help you refine your approach, to cut out the stuff that’s not working and replace it with new, more effective strategies.
- Fire Illuminates – This one is simple. I’ve spent the last six or seven years learning how to get people’s attention in the spirits and cocktail space. If you’d like to shine some light on your spirits brand or cocktail program so that more people notice you…well, come and see me.
You’ll be learning more about Direct Fire Consulting in drips and drabs over the next few months. Don’t worry – it’s not gonna be overbearing. But if anything I’ve said thus far has you curious, please go ahead and reach out so that we can chat. I’ve already got one pretty large consulting project slated for 2024, with another few in the pipeline, so do let me know sooner than later if you think you might like to reserve some time on my calendar.
Guest Appearance: Heritage Mezcal Podcast
Wrapping up this New Year, New Me episode, I wanted to share a clip of a recent episode I recorded with my friend and Colleague, Chava Periban. You may remember him from the interview we conducted when he was a co-host of the Agave Road Trip podcast, but he’s now got a new podcast project called Heritage Mezcal, which you can download and subscribe to anywhere podcasts are found. Chava was kind enough to have me on his show as a guest recently to talk about all things bitter, sweet, and funky, and I’ve picked out a small portion of that long-form interview as a little teaser in hopes that you might check out his program and add it to your regular listening diet.
Chava (and I don’t say this lightly) is one of the good guys. He’s thinking and working so passionately in the agave space, and I find his approach to learning and exploration to be really engaging.
So with that, I hope you enjoy this snippet from my recent appearance on Heritage Mezcal, and I raise to you a virtual glass and toast to our mutual good health and fortuitous blessings in this year 2024.