As effervescent as her adult beverages, Nikki Wright of Buffalo Township is adding spirits to Freeport with her new Bubbly Bar and bartending business at 506 High St.
A longtime mixologist and bartender for restaurants and caterers in the region, Wright struck out on her own in February 2021.
She offers mobile bartending services enhanced with fresh juice and home-grown herb ingredients. Her High Street building serves as headquarters for the mobile bartending business and event space, which, of course, offers bartending.
“With all of the tricks I picked up from restaurants and friends, I thought why don’t I make my own and show other people how to make cocktails?” said Wright, who often receives calls from people wanting her to mimic cocktails from their favorite restaurant.
Although she doesn’t offer a walk-in bar, the public can check out her events such as “Murder Mystery at the Speakeasy,” featuring nonalcoholic cocktails, BYOB, food and fun.
“After the pandemic, people were ready to have parties,” Wright said. “It was like the Roaring ’20s. I love the speakeasy era with those amazing cocktails — that’s where the inspiration came from for my Bubbly Bar.”
Coming this spring is Wright’s “Garden to Glass” cocktail class where patrons can learn to make their own Strawberry Basil Shag, with or without vodka. The drink’s base is strawberry puree muddled with fresh basil leaves. It’s about the taste and not always the alcohol, she said.
“Mocktails are a huge trend now,” she said. “Sober living is a huge trend given people’s high tolerances to alcohol and the extra pounds put on during the pandemic.”
Wright is booking events for her covey of bartenders, a rotation of 10 to 15 to serve at multiple events and more than 50 bartenders for their busy seasons.
Mayor Zack Gent said he is excited every time a new business opens in the borough. Although Wright’s High Street Bubbly Bar “speakeasy” isn’t a regular walk-in bar, “having another female-owned business in the borough just adds to the town’s success,” he said.
Wright said she wanted to offer something different, engaging and fun in the borough.
“I know Sarver and Freeport are going through a boom, and I want to be part of that and show people what kind of fun you can have.”
Wright has been a bartender since she was 18 in restaurants including Burgatory in Murrysville and Bar Louie formerly in Station Square. She also worked in catering, picking up a few shifts for Bistro to Go Café & Catering in Pittsburgh, one of the city’s largest caterers.
“I just feel in love with the environment being part of the private events,” Wright said.
Then the covid-19 pandemic hit, and, like many other food-service workers, life slowed down for Wright and she grew bored.
She jumped at the chance to help with refreshments for a friend who was opening a soap shop.
“Everybody was always asking me about drinks,” she said.
During the pandemic, Wright was asked to teach cocktail classes. She decided to grow her bartending and start a small business. She earned certifications. Word got out, then Bistro to Go worked with her, and “everything blew up,” Wright said.
Given her experience and long contact list, Wright’s mixologist business flourished.
“People reached out to me, I landed partnerships with large organizations at a time when places were having staffing problems,” Wright said.
She landed event work for her Bubbly Bartending with the Duquesne Club, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh Citiparks and other major clients.
“They wanted signature bartending,” Wright said. “I was making something special with fresh ingredients, my simple syrups, my juices,” she said.
Wright grows herbs for her drinks at her Buffalo Township home and plans to grow more at her Freeport building.
To learn more about the Bubbly Bar and bartending services, visit her Facebook page at Bubbly Bartending.