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A Speakeasy Promotes Connection and Conversation

By Shannon O’Connor, communications coordinator
Rhys Osborne ’16 is the owner of an absinthe speakeasy that offers an artisanal drinking experience while fostering social interaction.
Bedroom 6 is an absinthe speakeasy that’s as alluring as its name suggests. Rhys Osborne ’16 has crafted an intimate experience that promotes conversation. For the past four years, the establishment has been operating in both New York (managed by brother Griffin ’14) and Los Angeles, with pop-up events in Portland, San Diego and Austin. 

Osborne shares his thoughts: 

On the Concept 

Bedroom 6 is an invite-only absinthe speakeasy. Guests are guided through a 20-minute ritual that explains absinthe’s history and traditions. To close out the ritual, guests are invited to close their eyes and take a deep breath. It’s the idea of being able to exercise presence at the same time as consuming. After the ritual, groups move to a table to finish their drinks and linger for a while. They’re greeted by a bowl filled with thought- provoking conversation prompts. 

On Gen-Z Alcohol Consumption and Social Patterns 

Throughout college, I observed the ways we were socializing and noticed things I wasn’t happy with. There were many occasions and spaces where people drank a ton. The binge-drinking culture in the States is widespread, especially on college campuses. There’s not much discovery or even interest in spirits. 

We weren’t actually spending any real time together. If there was a more intimate gathering, there would always be a lot of phones out. And that being said, there really aren’t that many intimate gatherings. The social life options were either frat parties or going to bars and clubs in L.A. People were not getting together in small groups, besides in their own homes and their dorm rooms. 

On Gen-Z Brand Engagement Trends 

What I was seeing among my generation [Z], is that we have a very short attention span. We are bombarded with social media, and we’ve learned to make decisions very quickly about what we want and don’t want to engage with. We can tell within seconds of interacting with a brand if it resonates for us. The digital speakeasy creates an air of mystery that builds intrigue. 

On Marketing with Social Media 

My initial idea was not to have an absinthe bar. The idea I had was to create a word-of-mouth marketing model utilizing a private Instagram account, which would help us build a waitlist and sales funnel. It drew interest despite not having any information about the experience. 

Once an Instagram follow request is accepted, the date and location are revealed to followers, who have access to sign up for a time slot with a group of two to four people. 

The private Instagram idea worked very well because I could let the business seep in gradually and spread it over time. I could choose 20 groups of people for the guest list every week, and that quickly extended out into a year of guaranteed business.

On His Connection with the “Green Fairy” (i.e., Absinthe) 

I’ve had a connection with absinthe since I was 18, traveling in Europe. I brought back a love for this esoteric spirit that carried into my junior year. I had a vintage absinthe fountain displayed in my room, but I had never used it before then—I’d never had absinthe by myself, and certainly not in my bedroom. 

On the Inspiration Behind the Name 

The day I turned 21, I bought a bottle of absinthe. My friends all wanted to try it, and we ended up in my bedroom—in off-campus housing near USC—for an absinthe ritual. It turned into a little side party— an impromptu speakeasy—upstairs in the sixth bedroom. That was February 2019, and Bedroom 6 was officially born in April of that year. 

On Growth—Quality vs. Quantity 

For me, growth is not constantly seeking the next capitalistic step. I don’t want to partner with the coolest, biggest brands and strive for huge numbers. I value slow, quiet growth, making it better and better for the people who love it and want to come back. 

Somewhere along the way in college, I realized progress and growth are not the same things. The people I actually look up to most are those who have owned family flower shops for generations and businesses like that. I think that is the most beautiful thing people can do within this system: Just create something that feeds a community, and does so over a long period of time.

ABSINTHE DEFINED Absinthe is a high-proof, aniseflavored spirit made from medicinal and culinary herbs, plants and flowers. It traditionally has a natural green color but may also be colorless, and it is commonly referred to in historical literature  as “the green fairy.” Its signature bitter anise flavor comes from a mix of herbs, including fennel and, most notably, wormwood, a bitter herb notorious for both its health benefits and supposed hallucinogenic properties.

SPEAKEASY DEFINED A hidden bar inspired by the illicit establishments that sold alcoholic beverages during the 1920s Prohibition Era in the United States when alcohol was illegal.

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