What separates good bars from great bars? Attention to detail. Everything from lights and music to glassware, napkins and even the way a place smells can influence a guest’s experience. One person helping bars manifest those details is Brooklyn’s Tanwi Nandini.
Author by day, candle maker by night via the moniker Hi Wildflower Botanica, Nandini designs personalized candles that set an aromatic tone for bars around the country. So far, she’s created custom scents for Donna, Death & Co. and The Heyward in NYC and Hinterland LA in Los Angeles. Nandini makes each candle in a way that captures the essence of a bar and contributes to its unique atmosphere. The process is highly collaborative with bar owners, and no element is too small to take into consideration when developing the scents—everything from music to lighting comes into play.
“The blend has to fit the space and how the owner wants patrons to feel,” she says. “So, just as each bar has a unique vibe, so does its candle!”
The first collaboration with The Donna was inspired by the mezcal-fueled cocktails served at the bar. The final blend, which includes hints of cinnamon, clove and orange peel, remains Nandini’s favorite combination to date. From there, the team at Death & Co. commissioned her to create a “woodsy, sandalwood scent that is grounding and classic and wouldn’t interfere with the aromatics of the cocktails,” she says. “I crafted the blend of driftwood and sandalwood with a touch of Demerara sugar; the result was a warm, subdued scent that fit what they had in mind.”
The approach for her two other clients—the Heyward and Hinterland—focused on capturing the essence of each bar’s geographic focus. Heyward features a blend of Carolina Jessamine and Old Carolina Bitters to reflect the soul of Charleston, while Hinterland’s candle with Royal Hawaiian sandalwood and sea salt evokes a California coast vibe.