As bubbly as her grown-up drinks, Buffalo Township’s Nikki Wright 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 set out on her own in February 2021.
It offers mobile bartending services enriched with fresh juices and ingredients from local herbs. Her High Street building doubles as a mobile bartending headquarters and event space, which, of course, offers bartending.
“With all the tricks I picked up from restaurants and friends, I thought why not make my own and show others how to make cocktails?” said Wright, who often gets calls from people who want her to replicate 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,” which features non-alcoholic cocktails, BYOB, food and entertainment.
“After the pandemic, people were ready to party,” Wright said. “It was like the roaring 20s. I love the speakeasy era with those amazing cocktails — that’s where the inspiration for my Bubbly Bar came from.”
Coming this spring is Wright’s “Garden to Glass” cocktail class where visitors can learn to make their own strawberry basil Shag, with or without vodka. The basis of the drink is strawberry puree mixed with fresh basil leaves. It’s about the taste, not always the alcohol, she said.
“Mocktails are a big trend right now,” she said. “Sobriety is a big trend given people’s high tolerance for alcohol and excess weight accumulated during the pandemic.”
Wright books events for his group of bartenders, a rotation of 10 to 15 to serve at multiple events and more than 50 bartenders for their seasons.
Mayor Zack Gent said he gets excited every time a new business opens in the borough. Although Wright’s High Street Bubbly Bar “speakeasy” is not a regular walk-in bar, “having another woman-owned business in the borough just adds to the success of the city,” he said.
Wright said she wants to offer something different, interesting and fun in the borough.
“I know Sarver and Freeport are booming and I want to be a part of that and show people what kind of fun you can have.”
Wright has been bartending since she was 18 at restaurants including the Burgatory in Murrysville and the Bar Louie that used to be in Station Square. She also worked in catering, working several shifts for Bistro to Go Café & Catering in Pittsburgh, one of the largest caterers in the city.
“I just feel in love with the environment that is part of private events,” Wright said.
Then the covid-19 pandemic hit and, like many other hospitality workers, Wright’s life slowed down and she became bored.
She took the opportunity and helped with refreshments for a friend who was opening a soap shop.
“Everybody was always asking me about drinking,” she said.
During the pandemic, Wright was asked to teach cocktail classes. She decided to expand her bartending business and start a small business. She received certificates. Word got out, and then Bistro to Go worked with her and “everything blew up,” Wright said.
Given her experience and long list of contacts, Wright’s business as a mixologist was booming.
“People have reached out to me, I’ve made partnerships with big organizations at a time when venues have had staffing issues,” Wright said.
She has landed event work for her Bubbly Bartending with the Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh Zoo, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh City Parks and other major clients.
“They wanted a signature bartender,” Wright said. “I was doing something special with fresh ingredients, my simple syrups, my juices,” she said.
Wright grows herbs for his potions at his home in Buffalo Township, and plans to grow more at his building in Freeport.
To learn more about Bubbly Bar and its bartending services, visit its Bubbly Bartending Facebook page.
Mary Ann Thomas is a contributing writer for the Tribune-Review. Maria can be contacted by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .