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From Brooklyn to Madison, Bartender 608 founder leverages a lifetime of experience

China Moon Crowell (L) has run Bartender 608 for 16 years. Photo supplied.

Mixology skills cultivated from a young age, China Moon Crowell wants to use a lifetime of experience to make Bartender 608 Intoxicologists and Cocktail Caterers in Monona the business to call for all your events.

Bartender 608 is a mobile cocktail catering company that specializes in servicing weddings, galas, black tie and corporate events since 2007. The caterers formerly served locations around Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and Iowa but decided to scale back its focus to southern Wisconsin after the COVID-19 pandemic. Crowell is currently in the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce’s business accelerator program in hopes to get a refresher on some business concepts and get Bartender 608 back to its pre-COVID strength.

“Having a degree in hospitality and business management, along with being in business for almost 16 years, there are some things that you need a refresher on,” said Crowell. “With the population of Madison growing, we want to stay close to southern Wisconsin right now to get back up and going… and getting back to where we were.”

She didn’t originally set out to bartend and was a Latin dance instructor for 16 years. Still, Crowell has been bartending since she was a child. Her grandfather in Brooklyn would host speakeasy events where she learned to mix drinks at 8 years old.

“He was a runner of numbers in Brooklyn, and always had these speakeasy type of arrangements with friends and neighbors and he would have his friend Louie come over with cold cut sandwiches,” said Crowell. “And people thought I was cute, so they would give me tips of a dime or a quarter.”

Crowell started her career bartending at brick-and-mortar gigs. She tended at dive bars, house parties, underground events, celebrity bashes and fine dining establishments around New York and the Midwest. She realized she had a following and would be approached by patrons to bartend their backyard parties and wedding receptions.

Between her brick-and-mortar bartending and weekend private bartending gigs, Crowell realized there was something there she could capitalize on. She decided to do some market research and settled on officially launching Bartender 608 on May 14, 2007.

Bartender 608 offers packages to meet the varying needs of catered events. The build-your-own bar package offers a range of bar service from beer and wine, a limited bar, a standard bar and a luxury bar. The type of event affects its full-service approach. Tables, tents, bar equipment and, of course, alcohol are provided by Bartender 608 to remove any hurdles event planners are facing.

“I don’t like counting on other people for what we need to use for work. I do like to let people know as a full-service luxury cocktail catering service, we will take care of everything,” said Crowell.

When a client approaches Bartender 608, they are met with a menu of choices on their website. Crowell then calls the client to ascertain their exact needs. She does not like clients to be nitpicky in offerings when they offer the necessary supplies for the event. Crowell wants her clients to feel at ease in assuring that everything will be taken care of from Bartender 608’s end from cups to trash bags so they can just sit back and focus on being at their event.