Food & Beverage

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

This Saturday is the eleventh annual celebration of World Whisky Day, the perfect day to highlight your whisky and cocktail menus.

One revenue-generating method of drawing in guests is a promotion showcasing popular, lesser-known, or rare whiskies. Operators can also create a whisky and beer combo promotion.

Of course, there’s also the specialty cocktail menu. There are a few different approaches to this promotion.

An operator and their bar team can focus on one specific cocktail, offering three or four “takes” on it. Another way to make this work is to take the same cocktail and feature a different whisky in each one.

A different approach is to create a World Whisky Day menu consisting of three or more of the most popular whisky cocktails. To help you identify which drinks to feature we looked into the top whisky drinks. Check them out below.

Old Fashioned

C’mon—you knew this was going to be on the list before you read past the title of this article. Drinks Digest ranked the Old Fashioned the number-one cocktail of 2021.

VinePair‘s list didn’t rank their most-popular cocktails overtly but this classic got its expected mention.

Manhattan

Just like the Old Fashioned, you expected this drink to make this list. While it can certainly be made with bourbon or an array of single malt American whiskies, the Manhattan shines when made with rye.

Whisky Sour

As Drinks International points out, the Whisky Sour may not be the top drink in most bars. In fact, it may not make it into their top three.

However, the simple but refreshing Whisky Sour is at least in the top ten of several bars, making it a solid choice for your specialty menu.

Boulevardier

Want to get some of the cocktail aficionados among your guests to flip out? Tell them loudly and confidently that the Boulevardier is better than the Negroni. That’ll certainly get them talking.

Or, hey, don’t do that. Just perfect this bourbon cocktail, a cousin of the Negroni, and highlight your build for World Whisky Day.

Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby may be over but summer is just around the corner. People are still craving this centuries-old cocktail and VinePair called it “essential” last year.

Sazerac

Like many classics, the Sazerac was “medicinal” when it was first created in the 1830s. In 2008, this drink was made the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana state legislature.

The Sazerac is another cocktail recipe that VinePair said was an essential one for bars in 2021.

Vieux Carré

It’s difficult to overstate the important role New Orleans has played and continues to play in American cocktail culture.

The recipe, created about 100 years after the Sazerac, combines American whisky (rye, traditionally), Cognac, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, and Peychaud’s bitters.

Penicillin

Created by Sam Ross when he was behind the stick at Milk & Honey, this is my favorite whisky cocktail. The recipe was one of Punch’s most popular last year, and it was on Drinks International’s top 50 list for 2021.

On a personal note, this is one of my all-time favorite whisky cocktails. In fact, the Penicillin is one of my favorite cocktails in general.

Honorable Mentions

These may not be top sellers for most bars (if any) but they’re worth consideration for World Whisky Day.

The Chauncey is a 1:1:1:1 combination of rye whisky, Cognac, gin, and sweet vermouth plus two dashes of orange bitters, served up.

Of course, there’s also the Mule, which lends itself to an incredible number of riffs. Select a whisky or two to come up with specialty Mules of your own.

Irish whisky stands out in an Irish coffee, which can be served iced/frozen when it’s hot outside.

And then we have the Rob Roy. If you want to be glib about it, this is a Manhattan made with Scotch rather than rye whisky.

Your Own Data

There’s an excellent resource for determining what drinks to feature at your restaurant or bar. It’s quite literally at your fingertips: your POS.

If you want to know what your guests are drinking and what they want, run a report.

How deep you get into the data is up to you, of course. Monthly, quarterly, seasonally, annually… There are myriad methods to determine your World Whisky Day’s best options.

Sure, you can probably safely assume that your top whisky cocktails are the same as those above. But why not be absolutely certain with your own data? You invest money and time into your POS—wring everything you can out of it.

Also, your bar team and servers. Ask them what whiskies guests have been asking for that you don’t have.

Use your POS to identify the whiskies gathering dust in your stockroom, then find a way to move them quickly (a well-priced LTO should work) and replace them with what guests want.

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top Whisky-centric Bar Hacks Episodes

Top Whisky-centric Bar Hacks Episodes

by David Klemt

Golden podcast microphone

We’ve had the privilege of speaking with dozens of industry experts on the Bar Hacks podcast, including whisky distillers, brand reps, and bartenders.

So, to inspire you to pull out all the stops for your World Whisky Day promotion, we’ve rounded up twelve whisky-centric Bar Hacks episodes for your listening delight.

Cheers!

Episode 12

Co-host David Klemt (that’s me) of the Bar Hacks podcast chats with Jared Boller, Canadian National Whiskey Ambassador at Proximo Spirits. Tending bar gave him the opportunity to live, work and travel around the world.

At the time of this podcast, Boller represented brands like Bushmills and Proper No. Twelve at Proximo Spirits in Canada. On episode 12, Jared discusses his journey through the world of hospitality and how operators can benefit more from working with brand ambassadors.

Episode 25

One of our favorite people in the industry—and in life in general—popped by to speak with Bar Hacks. Megan Breier is one of the most engaging, entertaining and knowledgeable educators in the hospitality and spirits industries.

In this episode, Megan explains what sets Maker’s Mark apart from other bourbons, some of the amazing activations she’s executed, Private Selection, Maker’s 101, Margie Samuels’ contributions to the brand and industry, and more. Listen now!

Episode 28

Lyre’s Spirits crafts alcohol-free spirits that masterfully mimic their full-proof counterparts. Bar Hacks co-host David Klemt sits down with Lyre’s brand ambassador, bartender and buddy Tim Rita to chat about the brand.

On episode 28 you’ll learn about one of the fastest-growing brands in one of the fastest-growing beverage categories. How is an alcohol-free brand relevant on World Whisky Day? Lyre’s makes American Malt, a zero-proof take on bourbon.

Episode 31

Ted Fleming, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Partake Brewing, stops by to discuss the founding of the alcohol-free beer brand, the importance and growth of the non-alcohol beer category, how operators can succeed with non-alc, advice for entrepreneurs, and more.

Given the importance of low- and no-proof drink options to bar operations, Partake Brewing pairs well with brands like Lyre’s to make sober-friendly Boilermakers. Listen to this episode here.

Episode 32

Woodford Reserve brand ambassador Michael Toscano stops by to talk about the Kentucky Derby, crafting the perfect Mint Julep, maximizing the operator-brand-rep relationship, and more. Check it out now!

Episode 39

Anthony “Terry” Bohlinger, national brand ambassador for new William Grant & Sons whiskey brand Fistful of Bourbon, drops by Bar Hacks. Terry talks about launching a brand during a pandemic, representing an irreverent brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the hilarious videos Fistful of Bourbon created to introduce the brand, lessons learned during his journey in hospitality, and more. Listen here!

Episode 50

In our 50th episode, Travis explains the difference between a dive bar and a neighborhood bar, and notes that both Nickel City locations are “anytime bars” that welcome everyone. He also shares his hospitality journey, which saw him go from Buffalo, NY, to Florida, Las Vegas, and ultimately Texas; tips for staying on brand; hiring and retaining team members; how the hospitality industry is the entertainment industry; supporting the community during a crazy winter storm; location scouting; how there’s no better time to open a bar or restaurant than right now; and much more.

Nickel City is known for an incredible range of whiskeys, monthly whiskey specials, and specialty Boilermaker combinations. Listen to episode 50 now.

Episode 52

Lynn House, national spirits specialist and portfolio mixologist for Heaven Hill, drops by Bar Hacks to speak with host David Klemt about the second annual Old Fashioned Week.

Lynn and David also discuss bourbon, rye, hospitality, building balanced cocktails, and how trust plays a role in educating guests so you and your team can introduce them to new drinks and experiences. Listen now!

Episode 59

Whiskey expert, spirits judge, and sommelier Theo Rutherford stops by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk about Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon, a prominent addition to the Deutsch Family of wine and spirits. Rutherford shares the Bib & Tucker brand story, what sets the brand apart from other bourbons, and why the 6 Year expression appeals to all categories of whiskey drinkers. He also shares tips for tasting bourbon, including how easily Bib & Tucker wins over non-whiskey drinkers.

Listen now to learn why Theo wants you to smell everything and stop swirling your whiskey at tastings.

Episode 63

David Vitale, founder of Starward Whisky, shares his journey into whisky distillation and how craft beer brewing plays a significant role. The two also discuss Australian whisky, making inroads throughout North America, and why Starward expressions work so well with food and food programs.

In this episode you’ll also find out which Starward whisky David Vitale calls the “Swiss Army knife of whiskies,” which makes the perfect Manhattan, Starward Solera, and more.

Episode 71

Glendalough Distillery co-founder, national brand ambassador, and bottlewasher Donal O’Gallachoir comes on the podcast to explain what makes the distillery’s whiskey and gin “remarkably different.” Ever since they opened their doors, Glendalough has been on a mission to honor Irish distilling heritage and returning Irish whiskey and gin to the top of their respective spirits categories.

Donal also shares the details of Glendalough’s newest release: batch number one of 7 Years Mizunara Finish. Listen now!

Episode 74

David Vitale, founder of Starward Whisky, returns from Australia and returns to the Bar Hacks podcast! The Australian whisky producer took home an incredible amount of medals from the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. David tells host David Klemt what it was like to see the final award tally, how the Starward team reacted, and dove into the mission and vision of Starward Whisky.

The two also discuss the award-winning expressions that are either already available in the US or on their way to American shores. David shares the details of the Fortis, Octave Barrels, Unexpeated, and Dolce expressions. And for the single-barrel lovers out there, David also dives into the magic behind single barrel bottlings Nos. 684, 3278, and 4539. It’s exciting to learn about the expressions joining Two-Fold, Nova, Solera, and Ginger Beer Cask #6. Listen to episode 74 here!

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What’s Next in the F&B Design Space?

What’s Next in the F&B Design Space?

by David Klemt

Interior of world's first crypto bar

Design driven by a story and narrative, technological innovation, and people’s desire to socialize are what’s next in hospitality design.

The influences above are factoring into the current approach to design in the F&B space. Be it a hotel or restaurant, the F&B landscape is going to look different for several reasons.

Five leading industry experts addressed this topic during HD Expo 2022‘s “F&B Trends: What’s Next?” panel.

Technology

Well, let’s start with arguably the biggest “trend” in F&B. Our industry is finally making major advancements in the area of technology.

It may not seem like it to some, but speaking generally, hospitality hasn’t always found itself on tech’s bleeding edge. That’s changing.

In fact, some industry experts feel we may be moving too quickly. For example, an interesting prediction from Restaurant Leadership Conference 2022 is a more deliberate approach to developing and implementing hospitality-specific tech.

Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll see a significant slowdown in tech innovation. Rather, innovators may take a more calculated approach to truly relieve hospitality pain points.

For example, Adam Crocini, senior vice president and global head of food and beverage brands for Hilton, points to a few innovations now common throughout the industry. Digital order, digital pay, and the ability to deliver food essentially anywhere within a hotel, resort or casino property are tech solutions driving efficiency.

However, Crocini sees one segment in need of a specific solution. In the luxury segment, guests prefer in-person engagement with staff and tactile engagement with physical menus.

Ari Kastrati, chief hospitality officer for MGM Resorts International, seems to agree. Tech, says Kastrati, shouldn’t replace human connections. Rather, technology needs to enable and enhance.

The Experience

When it comes to design, much of the focus is on the impact it will have on the guest or consumer. However, the end user is hardly the starting point.

For Kastrati, a successful project begins with the development of a relationship. That relationship is between the designer, the operator, and the concept. If care isn’t taken to nurture that relationship, it will likely show in the final product.

In Crocini’s eyes, that relationship informs the development of the operator’s concept. How? Through the development of a story and narrative.

If the designer and operator can develop a story, the design can be grounded in said story. Further, every element of a design can be held up against that story to see if it “fits.” If it does, the design will deliver a holistic experience and engage the guest or consumer.

In terms of F&B, Kastrati and Crocini make similar points. Both feel knowing the guest and anticipating their needs is crucial.

Addressing design elements that impact the experience, Crocini believes design should start with lighting. A design without proper lighting, Crocini says, is like a Scorsese film without the score.

Alexis Readinger, founder of Preen, is focusing in part on unique floorplan design. In particular, Readinger likes features that encourage interaction between guests, such as communal loveseats. However, “protecting the introverts” is also important for some guests’ comfort levels.

It’s safe to say that Caroline Landry Farouki, partner at Farouki Farouki, agrees with Readinger and Crocini. Seating, says Landry Farouki, can create different levels of intimacy to engage extroverts and introverts, and lighting designers are crucial and can really tell the story.

F&B Trends

In terms of consumer trends, Kastrati points to something specific he’s seeing in Las Vegas. People are seeking out specialty restaurants and luxury retail. At least anecdotally, this confirms what many reports and experts have been saying for the past few years: Consumers are showing increased interest in luxury.

However, Kastrati’s focus in the F&B space isn’t solely on guests and consumers. Rather, he suggests that the next step is bringing people back to the workforce. As Kastrati says, there’s no hospitality without people. Kastrati believes all of us in the industry need to encourage people to pursue hospitality careers.

Switching gears, Jessica Gidari, director of design and concept development for Union Square Hospitality Group, points to an effective pivot as a possible industry trend.

At least one concept in the Union Square portfolio has pivoted from a restaurant to a cocktail bar. A menu with shareable plates leverages guest desire to socialize and share. Gidari also says doing away with some traditional two- and four-top tables and replacing them with communal seating can “rebrand” a space as a “convivial” lounge.

Landry Farouki thinks operators can count on two compelling trends in the F&B space. One is the return of the restaurant as “the bar.” As someone who lives and works in Las Vegas, I can attest to treating restaurants more as bars myself.

Another possible trend Landry Farouki predicts is “mature dining” replacing fine dining. Explaining mature dining, Landry Farouki says such a concept is chef-driven but doesn’t focus solely on the chef.

Trend predictions must be taken with a grain of salt. However, I only see upside for design that helps operators engage guests more from the start.

Image: LYCS Architecture on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

TOTC 2022 Agenda and Tickets Now Live

Tales of the Cocktail 2022 Conference Agenda and Tickets Now Available

by David Klemt

Greetings from NOLA artwork

The time is now to grab your Tales of the Cocktail tickets and plan your trip to New Orleans for the last week of July.

Not only are tickets available for purchase via this link right now, you can also check out the schedule here.

Of particular note is the amount of complimentary programming available to 20th anniversary TOTC attendees.

Free to Attend

Attendees will have access to several activations and workshops that are free to attend.

Beginning Sunday, complimentary programming is available throughout the week. For example, the Day of Service on Sunday, July 24 is free attend and a way to give back.

Also on Sunday, the 11th annual Pig & Punch Volunteer Day of Service. This is another opportunity for those in the industry to do some good in the NOLA community.

The return of Pig & Punch was mentioned by an excited Lola Thomas on episode 72 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

On Monday, all attendees can attend the keynote address; Diversity Distilled Career Fair; the Welcome to Wellness! therapeutic stretch and self-massage session; and “#FromTheBarToTheFarm” sustainability workshop.

There are several more workshops—such as “Safe Bars: Crafting a New Culture of Safety and Respect” and the immersive “Mind Full” experience—that are free to attend on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Incredible Activations

More reasons to plan your trip around an action-packed Sunday? Speed Rack Redemption, the National Tequila Day Pool Party at the Royal Sonesta, and Ode to the Bowl.

The rest of the week is absolutely packed. From workshops to seminars, cocktail tours to tasting rooms, and all manner of activations, parties, and events in between, the 20th anniversary celebration of Tales of the Cocktail will be an experience to remember.

On the subject of cocktail tours, there are eight such experiences available during this year’s Tales. For example, attendees can register and secure tickets for Hunting Down the Sazerac, Downriver: Bars Beyond the French Quarter, the Big Gay Bar Tour, and Bourbon Street and How it Got that Way.

Learn More

To be honest, there’s simply too much going on at this year’s TOTC to list here. The sheer number of workshops, seminars, and activations must be checked out online.

And that’s to say nothing of the industry icons that will be presenting seminars and workshops, and hosting activations and special events.

Simply put, there’s programming for everyone. Health and wellness? Yes. Furthering your career? Absolutely. Perfecting technique and tasting new products? Of course. Business, culture, advocacy, diversity, inclusion, equity… Check, check, check, check, check, check!

We hope to see you at Tales of the Cocktail 2022! Be sure to check out the agenda and grab your tickets today.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Reveals Hotel Guest Study

SevenRooms Reveals Hotel Guest Study Results

by David Klemt

Male passenger with suitcase at airport

Americans eager to get back to normal and make up for lost time are traveling in droves, and hotels will have to adapt in order to earn their business.

To give hotel and resort operators an edge, SevenRooms today reveals the results of their latest study.

“Booking Behaviors: Exploring Hotel Guest Loyalty,” contains datapoints all hotel operators should know.

The report, a collaboration with YouGov, focuses on two types of travelers.

Competitive Incentives

Before I address the who, let’s take a look at data that highlights the what.

According to the SevenRooms and YouGov report, nearly half of consumers say that loyalty programs are important. Per SevenRooms, loyalty programs influence hotel choice for 44 percent of guests.

Regarding American hotel guests specifically, 34 percent of guests will consider rebooking if their loyalty status receives recognition upon check-in.

However, loyalty status recognition isn’t enough for guests to book a hotel again. To understand what will influence that decision we need to take a look at SevenRooms’ traveler types.

Leisure

SevenRooms and YouGov look at two travelers for their report. There’s the Personal Patron and the Business Traveler.

Let’s focus on the former first. Per SevenRooms, to say the Personal Patron is eager to return to travel is an understatement.

The Personal Patron is a leisure traveler who has been climbing their walls for more than two years. They’re planning to travel “with a vengeance” this summer.

Diving deeper, the Personal Patron is most probably a female over the age of 35.

While recognizing this traveler for their loyalty program membership is smart, it’s not enough to influence a rebook. Rather, the Personal Patron places greater value on:

  • receiving more loyalty program points in exchange for dining and drinking at property-operated restaurants and bars;
  • enhanced credit card rewards; and
  • earning dining credits upon reaching a new loyalty program tier.

However, there’s a problem inherent to the Personal Patron and loyalty programs. Just 45 percent—so nearly half—of this traveler type are loyalty program members.

The reason for that low program buy-in? Almost 60 percent don’t think they travel enough to benefit from hotel loyalty programs.

Per SevenRooms, there’s a rather simple solution: local benefits. Tempt Personal Patrons with staycations and access to amenities at hotels in their home markets. Another idea is to offer points exclusively for dining that this traveler can use where they live.

Business

Obviously, the business traveler is now different. In fact, SevenRooms considers two versions of the Business Traveler.

On the one hand, there’s the extended-stay version traveling all over the country. And on the second hand, there’s the long-distance Business Traveler who’s seeking a midweek “home base” hotel.

Either way, the Business Traveler is most likely a male aged 18 to 34.

Per SevenRooms—and as most hotel operators likely know—this traveler probably doesn’t have time (or interest) in exploring off property. Therefore, the Business Traveler can be influenced to rebook through incentives that make their stays better.

These include:

  • receiving more loyalty program points in exchange for dining and drinking at property-operated restaurants and bars (like the Personal Patron);
  • receiving recognition for being a loyalty program member; and
  • getting a complimentary drink on check-in; or
  • being given a choice of an F&B amenity on arrival.

Unsurprisingly, the Business Traveler is more likely than the Personal Patron to join a hotel loyalty program. Per SevenRooms, 55 percent of Business Travelers say that the ability to participate in such a program influences their hotel choice.

Focusing on perks that “reward” the Business Traveler for their hard work can convert a Business Traveler to become a loyal guest for a particular hotel or hotel group.

SevenRooms suggests priority reservations for the lunch daypart at restaurants on property. Also, providing their favorite drink (wine, cocktail, beer, etc.) with their room service orders can be influential.

Takeaway

Travel is gaining steam, restaurants and bars are seeing an influx of reservations, and hotel operators need to prepare for summer travelers.

As a reservation, guest experience, and guest retention platform, SevenRooms can ensure operators can easily collect guest data. Guest data, for example, like F&B and room preferences.

More importantly, the platform makes it simple to use that data responsibly, effectively, and simply.

To learn more about SevenRooms, click here.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

These engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level beverage skills and motivate you throughout May, 2022.

To review February’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Rum Rebels: A Celebration of Women Revolutionizing the Spirits Industry

Written by authors Martyna Halas and René van Hoven, Rum Rebels raises a glass to women in the rum world. Readers will learn the inspiring stories of Lorena Vasquez from Zacapa, Joy Spence of Appleton, and more women driving rum forward and shaping this iconic spirit’s flavors, aromas, and textures.

In addition, this book serves as a masterclass in rum production, from tasting to aging. And since that’s enough for these incredible and ambitious authors, Rum Rebels also contains rum cocktail recipes.

Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails

Operators, bar managers, and bartenders should see value in the driving ethos behind this cocktail book. Drink Lightly, authored by Nitecap bartender Natasha David, pairs precision drink-building techniques with a relaxed drinking experience.

Drinking lightly doesn’t mean sipping drinks bereft of complexity and depth. Along with 100 recipes, readers will enjoy a foreword by Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, whose concepts include Death & Co. and Nitecap.

Call Me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran’s Journey from the Rural South to the White House

Hospitality is rooted in sacrifice and a commitment to serving others. Chef Andre Rush and his story embody service. Call Me Chef, Dammit! is the inspiring story of Chef Rush.

The storied chef has led an incredible life which includes a career in the US Army that spanned 24 years, advocating for military personnel and veterans, and winning multiple awards as a chef. Oh, and Chef Rush and his 24-inch biceps have also worked in the White House for four US presidents.

While there are no recipes in this book, there is one hell of an inspiring story in these pages.

The New Kindred Spirits: Over 2,000 All-New Reviews of Whiskeys, Brandies, Liqueurs, Gins, Vodkas, Tequilas, Mezcal & Rums from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

Anyone looking for a spirits bible need search no further. F. Paul Pacult’s The New Kindred Spirits includes over 2,400 in-depth reviews spanning a wide range of spirits. This tome evaluates a massive number of brandies, gins, liqueurs, rums, tequilas, vodkas, and whiskeys.

This all-encompassing compilation of spirit evaluations doesn’t just cover the usual suspects. The New Kindred Spirits also takes a deep dive into the craft side of the beverage industry.

Drinking & Knowing Things

Author and certified sommelier Michael Amon would like to know a couple things from those considering picking up Drinking & Knowing Things. “Do you want to uncork a bottle of whoop-ass on every winedouche and uppity sommelier?” And, “are you too lazy to spend any time whatsoever learning things?”

Anyone who answered “yes” to either or both questions needs this book. Amon says that readers who commit to spending five minutes reading the weekly wine recommendations found in Drinking & Knowing Things will give sommeliers a run for their wine-knowledge money. Wine intimidation? Not after reading this book.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: May 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: May 2022

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

Want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Then commit to keeping it weird.

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and May is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to “weird.”

Pay attention to the latter to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, weird or otherwise. And this month’s list in no way includes every odd holiday.

Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

For last month’s list, click here.

May 3: National Two Different-colored Shoes Day

Promotions don’t need to be complicated to generate traffic, revenue, and social media engagement. Encourage guests and staff to wear mismatched shoes and program around that call to action.

May 6: International No Diet Day

The fact that this holiday comes at the start of the weekend is awesome. It’s Friday, this holiday is all about indulging food and drink cravings, and people want to get back out there after being unable to gather for more than two years. Put your most decadent F&B items front and center!

May 8: National Have a Coke Day

Are you a Coca-Cola account? If so, great—create specialty menu items using Coke and promote them.

Not a Coke account? Well…you can always take a play out of some of the cheeky QSR brands’ playbooks and counter-program on this holiday.

May 13: National Crouton Day

Ah, the mighty-but-mini crunchy treat that is the crouton. Not only are they great in soups and salads, they can be an appetizer or shareable on their own. Better yet, they’re easy to make in-house, such as the revered grilled cheese crouton.

May 16: National Sea-Monkey Day

As we pointed out last week, Datassential has identified drinks that evoke nostalgia are a trend to watch this year. The infamous Sea-Monkeys have been around since the 1960s and also resonate with ’70s, ’80s, and even ’90s kids.

May 17: National Graduation Tassel Day

Most colleges hold their graduations in May. So, if you operate a restaurant or bar in a college town, this is your time to shine. A simple food and/or drink promotion aimed at new graduates is an excellent way to drive traffic and generate much-needed dollars.

May 22: National Craft Distillery Day

You most likely have at least a few products from craft distilleries on your menu. This is the day to highlight them, particularly if they’re local to your business.

May 24: National Scavenger Hunt Day

There are a few ways to program for this holiday. One way, of course, is to focus on your own operation(s) and come up with a scavenger hunt that keeps guests on property.

However, you can also team up with surrounding businesses to create a multi-venue scavenger hunt that engages the entire community and drives business to small operators.

May 25: National Sing Out Day

Do you host karaoke? Are you operating a piano bar? What about a raucous supper club? If your restaurant or bar is set up for singalongs, this is the holiday for you.

May 30: National Creativity Day

Hey, guess what you should do on this holiday? Tap into you and your team members’ creativity and come up with a promotion that’s truly unique.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Forward Progress: Trends by Venue Type

Forward Progress: Trends by Venue Type

by David Klemt

High contrast image of blue cocktail with lemon zest

One notable difficulty with considering new trends is that they’re not all necessarily a universal fit for all venue types.

For example, what may work well in an upscale restaurant perhaps won’t perform as well in a sports bar. Pursuing a trend that isn’t a good fit, obviously.

As any operator with experience knows, chasing fads and trends just to chase them can be costly. Doing so costs money (inventory, training, labor hours) and time deserving of better allocation.

However, failing to embrace any trends can also be costly. Watching a lucrative trend pass by can cost an operator guest engagement, perception, and traffic.

Take, for instance, the success of White Claw. Plenty of operators and consumers scoffed at the hard seltzer category as a whole at first.

Then, some people decided it was a drink category “for women.” As it exploded in popularity, hard seltzers proved immensely popular with men.

Basically, it’s an incredibly strong beverage alcohol category that resonates with a wide range of consumers. On some menus, hard seltzers are listed alongside beers.

So, hard seltzer, led largely by White Claw, showed itself to be a worthwhile trend to adopt.

Clearly, however, hard seltzer doesn’t resonate with all guests on all occasions in all types of hospitality venue types. For instance, generally speaking, a bucket of White Claws likely to be a top seller in a high-end restaurant specializing in seven- to nine-course meals.

Drink Trends by Venue

During Bar & Restaurant Expo in March of this year, Amanda Torgerson of Datassential presented 2022 drink trends operators should know.

One trend has essentially proliferated the industry. Really, it’s likely wise for us to all view this trend—hard seltzer—as mainstream now.

In the context of Torgerson’s presentation, Datassential is saying that hard seltzers are here to stay.

Among other trends, Torgerson shared Datassential’s data-backed view of drink trends segmented by venue category.

While every venue is unique and not every trend will work for every bar or restaurant in a given category, the results are no less intriguing.

Pubs: Dry-hopped beers, pastry stouts, and hard or spiked coffee.

Sports Bars: Mini-beers, hard seltzer, and reusable growlers.

Casual Bars: Seltzers with unique flavors, hard tea, hard lemonade, and drinks featuring local ingredients.

Upscale Bars: Negroni, wine-barrel-aged spirits, and flaming cocktails.

Nightclubs: Hard seltzers served with spirits, cocktails and punch bowls served with dry ice, and flaming cocktails.

Casual Restaurants: Wine cocktails, elevated brunch cocktails, and tea-based alcohol beverages.

Upscale Restaurants: Flaming cocktails (smoked may be better), all-natural wines, and made-to-order cocktail cart presentations.

Hotels, Resorts and Casinos: Made-to-order cocktail carts, alcohol vending machines, and drinks made with cold-pressed juices.

Interestingly, a few of the above trends identified by Datassential appear in multiple venue types.

The main things for an operator to keep in mind is what will resonate with their guests and what’s authentic to their brand. When it comes to trends, one size doesn’t fit all and an individual venue’s mileage will vary.

However, the above list should at least show operators what Datassential sees resonating with guests in an array of venues.

Image: Ozge Karabal on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Forward Progress: 2022 Drink Trends

Forward Progress: 2022 Drink Trends

by David Klemt

Cocktail on bar mat behind bar

Curious about what drink trends to leverage throughout 2022 to fulfill guest desires and expectations? Datassential has answers.

Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. However, as their name suggests, Datassential has something similar: data.

A trove of their valuable data was shared during Bar & Restaurant Expo 2022. Amanda Torgerson, senior account manager at Datassential, revealed the trends operators should be aware of this year.

Datassential MegaTrends

During this informative session, Torgerson shared what Datassential has identified as three “megatrends.” In other words, two trends that are particularly noteworthy.

First up, self-service. Whether beer, wine, or cocktails, Datassential thinks today’s guest wants more control.

Self-service beverage alcohol taps offer control in multiple ways, pour size and customization among them.

In addition, guests don’t have to wait for servers or bartenders when serving themselves. And, of course, self-service cuts down on front-of-house labor costs.

Second, experiential imbibing. In this context, this doesn’t simply relate to occasion, service, location, and ambiance.

Rather, the drink itself is an experience. Experiential cocktails engage multiple senses and include:

  • color-changing cocktails (those using butterfly pea powder, for example);
  • cocktail carts (similar to tableside guacamole preparations, tableside cocktail prep and service);
  • fire and smoke: smoked, charred, and burnt cocktails;
  • drinks that invoke nostalgia and guests’ childhoods;
  • frozen drinks; and
  • beer, wine, spirit, and cocktail flights.

Finally, botanicals. As we know, scent is a crucial component of taste. Botanicals, obviously, activate one’s olfactory sense.

Additionally, botanicals can affect a drink’s appearance and taste. So, break out the Chartreuse, Lillet, and elderflower liqueurs.

And while your team is at it, consider how else scent can be used to entice guests and enhance the drinking experience.

Best of the Rest

Treating this as more of a speed round, let’s review Datassential’s trend predictions in four major categories.

Seltzer/Beer

When it comes to hard seltzer, Datassential has (re)confirmed what we all know: This category has staying power. And as many operators found out during the pandemic, seltzers can boost to-go and delivery sales.

Beer cocktails are also trending up, per Datassential. Mini-bottles of beer also having a moment, and can easily tie into the beer cocktail trend.

Finally, heirloom beers—those made with heirloom grains—are proving popular with consumers.

Wine

According to Torgerson, wine seltzer is poised for a moment. Relating it to the hard seltzer trend, consider this Wine Cooler 2.0, as Torgerson said.

Other key wine trends are frizzante and red sparkling wines, orange wines, and canned sake.

Then there’s fruit wines, which means any wine not made from grapes. During her session, Torgerson suggested using these in cocktails.

Cocktail

In addition to cocktails on tap, Datassential sees the following as cocktail trends to watch:

  • Drinks made with genever.
  • Hybrid rums, blends of light and dark rums.
  • Ranch Water (typically a highball made with tequila and lime juice, topped with Topo Chico).
  • Single-serve, premade cocktails such as RTDs. These are great for off-premise sales.
  • Boozy frozen desserts.

Global

Focusing first on increasingly popular spirits, Datassential’s data shows that pisco, mezcal, and Japanese whisky are trending up.

In terms of wine, operators should look into regions that are perhaps “lesser known” in North America. Some examples from Torgerson’s presentation are Georgian and Hungarian wines.

And finally, what Datassential identifies as “drinking for a cause.” Such causes and beverage activations can be local or global as the world is so much more connected.

Image: ABHISHEK HAJARE on Unsplash

 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Código 1530 Pursuing Low-waste Initiatives

Código 1530 Pursuing Low-waste Initiatives

by David Klemt

Blue Weber agave plant in Tequila, Mexico

Tequila Código 1530 is making the upcycling of the agave they use a cornerstone of the brand’s sustainability efforts.

Some agave growers and tequila producers the plant as mulch, fertilizer, and biofuel. Bagasse, the fibrous material distillers separate from agave piñas, along with the leaves, is composted and used to fertilize agave fields.

While not common, some distillers will even take other producers’ agave bagasse and leaves to compost it.

However, Código 1530 is now doing even more with their agave.

Agave Sustainability

According to some in the spirits and hospitality industries, tequila may end vodka’s dominance in the US this year. Obviously, this would be the result of an increase in consumer demand.

Well, that necessitates an increase in production. So, it follows that agave growers have motivation to grow and harvest as much mature agave as possible.

However, it takes about eight years for some agave plants to mature. Others take more than ten years. For some rarer species, maturation takes twelve years or more.

Of course, production leads to waste. In simple terms, that’s the problem producers must solve.

One definition of “sustainability” is striking an ecological balance that preserves natural resources. For tequila production in particular, this means finding ways to meet consumer demand while harvesting agave reponsibly.

While composting and mulching is a great idea, Código 1530 sees the need to take things further.

More than Mulch

We’ve probably all been given at least one drink served with a paper straw. Unfortunately, that means most of us know how quickly that experience can become less than enjoyable.

Even some of the best-made paper straws can turn soggy long before a drink is finished. On the operator side, that’s not great for the guest experience, to say nothing of the costs associated with stocking paper straws.

However, some operators and their guests are willing to stick with paper straws to be sustainable. That’s admirable but there may be a better way, and it involves agave.

“We quickly realized that after harvesting agave to distill Código 1530 Tequila, the remaining agave was only being used as mulch to top our soil for future plants or burned as a fuel source,” explains George Strait. “We are still using some of the excess agave fiber as mulch, and now have begun producing straws and cups in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.”

Strait, as some may know, is an investor in Código 1530. A lesser-known fact is that Strait graduated Texas State University (formerly known as Southwest Texas State University) with a degree in agriculture.

“This is a lifesaving program for sea life affected by plastic pollution,” says Strait of Código 1530’s new agave sustainability efforts.

Unlike paper straws, agave straws don’t get soggy or deform. Additionally, they can be thrown out in normal trash after use as they’re biodegradable.

However, this agave initiative doesn’t end with straws. Código 1530 is also making agave fiber cups, coffee cups, cocktail shakers, and shot glasses.

Tea-quila

To celebrate Earth Day and their sustainability efforts, Código 1530 has created the drink below.

Codigo 1530 low waste tequila cocktail

Image: Amir Shafii, Código 1530

  • 1.5 oz. Código 1530 Blanco
  • 3 oz. Bergamot tea
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. Lavender simple syrup
  • Lavender sprig to garnish

Housemade simple cuts down on the waste associated with producing and shipping bottles of syrup. To make the lavender simple syrup, bring one cup of water and one cup of sugar to a boil. Add ten sprigs of lavender while water and sugar are boiling, let cool, then strain. For this low-waste cocktail build, add all ingredients and ice to a shaker. Shake, then strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with a sprig of lavender.

Image: BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash

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