For more stories on TikTok, check out our whole series here.
Experiencing Los Angeles’s cocktail culture at bars and shops around the city is what first sparked Hannah Chamberlain’s passion for spirits back in 2015. So the Wisconsin native, who currently resides in L.A., decided to start sharing all the great cocktails she discovered around town, as well as the cocktails she’d make at home, on Instagram with her aptly named account, @spiritedLA. Within a few months, she invested in a camera and created a blog (also called SpiritedLA ) for more in-depth recipe exploration, long-form cocktail culture pieces, and bar reviews. And for the last several years, Chamberlain has worked with a number of liquor brands, visited spirit regions, and shared a lot of recipes with fellow cocktail fans. So when TikTok became all the rage a few years ago, it seemed only fitting that Chamberlain would take her talents to the video-sharing platform as well.
On TikTok, Chamberlain exudes the vintage glam of Hollywood — complete with swanky outfits to set the mood — that would make anyone crave a classic cocktail. And it does the trick for her over 200,000 followers. Her cocktail repertoire is pretty extensive, including everything from a bourbon and peach Arnold Palmer and a classic espresso Martini to recipes for broken hearts (played to the tune of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party”). But it’s Chamberlain’s playful humor and commitment to inventive drinks that has cocktail lovers — and anyone who loves a good performance, really — returning for more.
We chatted with Chamberlain about her rise to TikTok fame, how she got into drinks, and where she sees SpiritedLA heading in the future.
When did you first decide to get on TikTok and why?
I started posting in 2019 (which I think is a long time in TikTok years). When I first got onto the platform, I immediately found it really exciting. Content on TikTok felt less fussy and perfectionistic than it was on Instagram, and the emphasis on fun and playful mischief seemed like the perfect fit for cocktail videos. It soon became my favorite place to share recipes.
Why did you decide to explore cocktail making?
Cocktails have always been romantic to me. My favorite people (both real and fictional) always seemed to have one in hand, and they had clear ideas about how they should be made (Margot Channing, Winston Churchill, Hemingway, and Lucius Beebe to name a few). However, it wasn’t until a friend made me a decently complicated cocktail at home in her kitchen that I realized I could actually make them myself. I think the first cocktail I mixed up at home was probably a badly made Sazerac (my godfather’s favorite drink) and I started branching out from there.
What do you find most appealing about TikTok versus other platforms?
I’ve found that making cocktails on TikTok captures the social nature of drinking better than other platforms. And during the pandemic, that’s been particularly valuable. I usually love hosting friends and family for cocktails at my home, but haven’t been able to do it since last March. On TikTok, I feel like I’m inviting the audience into my home for a pretty personal and more realistic experience of what it would actually be like to host guests, and I think the result is that viewers feel more connected to the drinks and the person making them. Who doesn’t miss drinking with friends or out at bars right now? If it feels close to similar, sign me up! TikTok’s FYP is also magical and has a very sophisticated way of getting your content out to the people who’d really want to see it. I don’t think any other platforms understand users’ tastes as well as TikTok does.
What have been some of your most popular cocktails on TikTok?
It depends on how you define popularity. My most popular cocktail video was a sour I mixed on a plane. I packed a vial of watermelon mint syrup, a lime, dried rose petals, a coupe, and a mini shaker in my carry-on, purchased some gin on the plane, then mixed up the cocktail while sitting in coach. The video performed well, but the cocktail wasn’t recreated as often as some others. The two cocktails that I think have been remixed the most were a fall punch with pineapple rum, apple cider, lemon, and mulling spices, and a gin and tonic made with grapefruit and Empress gin.
How do you grow your following?
It’s a hard question to answer. I try to keep recipes approachable and easy to make at home on TikTok so that they’ll be useful to people who might be a little less steeped in cocktail culture.
Have there been any challenges on TikTok?
The most challenging part of TikTok was when we thought it might be banned. It was heartbreaking to think that you’d spent so much time making drinks and connecting with people in a world that might disappear at any moment. Luckily that didn’t happen.
What are you excited about exploring on your channel in the future?
I’ve done a few videos about drinking etiquette and famous drinkers throughout history that I thought were super fun — I’d love to do more of those in the future. I also get a lot of requests for budget-friendly and diet-friendly cocktails that I might pursue at some point, too. Lastly, at some point once quarantine ends I’d love to make videos at bars and with guest bartenders — it would be great to bring in more of the social aspect of drink culture.
What is your favorite go-to cocktail?
An impossible question, but I think the three most made cocktails in my kitchen are Gibsons, Black Manhattans, and Caipirinhas. Something savory, something sweet, and something sour.