by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tales Reveals 2022 Spirited Awards Winners

Tales of the Cocktail Reveals 2022 Spirited Awards Winners

2022 Spirited Award winner Lynn House

2022 Spirited Award winner Lynn House

Congratulations to the 2022 Spirited Awards winners, revealed last week during the 20th anniversary of Tales of the Cocktail.

First opening their doors in 2018, NYC’s Katana Kitten took home two awards. The dream team trio of Masahiro Urushido, Greg Boehm, and James Tune won Best US Cocktail Bar and best US Bar team.

Another American venue that won two Spirited Awards is Jewel of the South in New Orleans. Opened in 2019, Jewel of the South was crowned Best US Restaurant Bar. Additionally, the US Bartender of the Year is Chris Hannah, co-owner of the NOLA dining and drinking destination.

We also want to extend a special congratulations to Bar Hacks guest Lynn House. To learn more about House, this year’s Best US Brand Ambassador, check out episode 52 of Bar Hacks.

Internationally, two bars also took home multiple awards. 馃敹馃煡馃數 A Bar with Shapes for a Name and Lyaness at Sea Containers London, both in London, won two Spirited Awards. The former is this year’s Best New International Cocktail Bar. Plus, it’s the home of Remy Savage, the 2022 International Bartender of the Year.

Lyaness at Sea Containers London clinched Best International Hotel Bar andWorld’s Best Bar. So, London, New Orleans, and New York showed out at the 2022 Spirited Awards.

To view the finalists in each category, please click here.

US Award Categories

U.S. Bartender of the Year presented by Del Maguey: Chris Hannah (Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA)

Best U.S. Bar Mentor presented by BarSmarts:聽Sean Kenyon

Best U.S. Brand Ambassador presented by Libbey: Lynn House聽(Heaven Hill)

Best U.S. Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons:聽Katana Kitten (New York, NY)

Best U.S. Cocktail Bar presented by Absolut Vodka:聽Katana Kitten (New York, NY)

Best U.S. Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose:聽Silver Lyan at the Riggs (Washington, DC)

Best U.S. Restaurant Bar presented by Maison Ferrand:聽Jewel of the South (New Orleans, LA)

Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar presented by Aviation Gin:聽Happy Accidents (Albuquerque, NM)

International Award Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Patr贸n Tequila: Remy Savage (馃敹馃煡馃數 A Bar with Shapes for a Name, London, UK)

Best International Bar Mentor presented by Lyre鈥檚 Non-Alcoholic:聽Lauren Mote

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Lyre鈥檚 Non-Alcoholic:聽Martin Hudak (Mr. Black Spirits)

Best International Bar Team presented by House of Angostura:聽MAYBE SAMMY (Sydney, Australia)

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by Tequila Fortaleza:聽Tay膿r + Elementary (London, UK)

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Perrier:聽Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Amaro Montenegro and Select Aperitivo:聽Sexy Fish (London, UK)

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Stranger & Sons:聽馃敹馃煡馃數 A Bar with Shapes for a Name (London, UK)

Global Award Categories

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation:聽Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Italian Orange

World鈥檚 Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy:聽Little Red Door (Paris, France)

World鈥檚 Best Spirits Selection presented by Beam Suntory:聽Jack Rose Dining Saloon (Washington, DC)

Pioneer Award Presented by The Blend:聽Amanda Gunderson (CEO and co-founder, Another Round Another Rally)

Timeless International Award presented by J盲germeister:聽Harry’s New York Bar (Paris, France)

Timeless U.S. Award presented by Johnnie Walker:聽Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (New York, NY)

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award presented by William Grant & Sons:聽Julie Reiner (Co-founder Clover Club, Leyenda, Social Hour Cocktails, Mixtress Consulting)

World鈥檚 Best Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation:聽Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)

Writing and Media Award Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Diageo Bar Academy:聽VinePair

Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Diageo Bar Academy:聽The Cocktail Lovers

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Diageo Bar Academy:聽“Get Real: The bar world looks beyond feel-good measures on sustainability and climate change” by Max Falkowitz for Imbibe Magazine

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Lyre鈥檚 Non-Alcoholic:聽The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by聽Diageo Bar Academy:聽The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails edited by David Wondrich with Noah Rothbaum

Image: Cory Fontenot

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Summer 2022 is the Summer of Mezcal

Summer 2022 is the Summer of Mezcal

by David Klemt

C贸digo 1530 Mezcal bottle

Move over tequila, rum and gin, because this year the drink of the summer is something different.

Summer 2022 is the Summer of Mezcal.

Traditionally, sure, we’re led to believe that lighter spirits (white rum, gin) are best for the hotter months. Of course, dark rum is another route people often take during the summer.

However, mezcal is on fire at the moment. In fact, it has been for the past few years now. So, why not feature it on your summer drink menu?

Mezcal adds depth and complexity to classic cocktails, engaging guests by offering new flavors. And, of course, mezcal is also a fantastic starting point for modern drinks.

Below you’ll find six summer mezcal recipes from Collin De Laval, company mixologist for C贸digo 1530. He turned his attention to C贸digo 1530 Mezcal Artesanal for the Summer of Mezcal.

To learn more about C贸digo 1530 and De Laval, check out Bar Hacks episode 57. Cheers!

C贸digo 1530 La Palomita

La Palomita

  • 1.5 oz C贸digo 1530 Mezcal Artesanal
  • 0.75 oz Lime juice (fresh, of course)
  • 0.25 oz Aperol
  • 4 oz Yuzu-lime soda
  • 0.25 oz Simple syrup
  • Lime wheel or wedge to garnish

Prepare a cocktail glass with fresh ice. In a shaker, combine C贸digo 1530 Mezcal, lime, Aperol and simple syrup. Shake well, pour into cocktail glass, top with yuzu-lime soda, and garnish with lime wheel or wedge.

C贸digo 1530 Tropicana


Combine all ingredients in a shaker and prepare a cocktail glass with fresh ice. Shake vigorously, pour, and garnish with a pineapple wedge.

C贸digo 1530 Mezcal Margarita

Mezcal Margarita

Prepare a cocktail or Margarita glass with fresh ice, then combine all ingredients in a shaker (also with ice). Shake, pour, and garnish with a lime.

C贸digo 1530 Mezcal Ranch Water

Mezcal Ranch Water

Combine C贸digo 1530 Mezcal, lime juice, and agave nectar in a cocktail or highball glass with ice, top with soda water, and stir.

C贸digo 1530 Mango Mezcal Paloma

Mango Mezcal Paloma

In a shaker with ice, combine C贸digo 1530 Mezcal and all three juices. Shake vigorously, strain into a highball glass with fresh ice, top with soda water, and garnish with grapefruit peel.

C贸digo 1530 Mezcal Espresso Martini

Mezcal Espresso Martini

If you own, operate or are on the leadership team at a bar鈥攐r if you’re a bartender or server鈥攜ou know the Espresso Martini has once again found itself having a moment. So, while you’re building out your summer mezcal menu, don’t forget this trendy drink.

Add all the liquid ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Pour into a Martini glass (consider preparing by chilling if you don’t already) and garnish with coffee beans.

Images courtesy of C贸digo 1530

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Alright, Seriously鈥擶TF, Grubhub?

Alright, Seriously鈥擶TF, Grubhub?

by David Klemt

Or, more to the point, stop working with “partners” who exploit our industry rather than support it.

In spectacular and entirely predictable fashion, Grubhub’s “free lunch” further reveals that third-party delivery platforms don’t care about restaurants.

Of course, they all say they support restaurant owners and operators. And, of course, they’re quick to pat themselves on their backs for being a pandemic lifeline.

But…no. Time and time again, mainly through their exorbitant and exploitative fees, they prove the opposite is true.

Restaurants and bars aren’t third-party delivery partners. Rather, these relationships are adversarial and detrimental. So much so, in fact, that some states passed laws to limit third-party delivery fees.

In Nevada, for example, Clark County Commissioners passed an emergency ordinance in August 2020 capping those fees at 15 percent. Clearly, we need to stop enriching companies that prove they don’t support the hospitality industry but cause it significant harm.

Free Lunch?

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Apparently, Grubhub really wants to prove that maxim true.

That’s one of the takeaways from their disastrous promotion. Last Tuesday, in what’s being reported as an attempt to claim the delivery throne in New York City, Grubhub offered “free” lunch to anyone who placed an order for delivery.

The requirements for this promotion? Place an order for delivery through Grubhub on May 17 between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM and use the code “freelunch.”

Of course, customer orders weren’t entirely free. Rather, the code was good for a $15 discount. Still, a wildly attractive offer as the ensuing debacle reveals.

Unsurprisingly, the promotion made for some eye-grabbing and eye-rolling headlines. Buzzfeed News published the most attention-grabbing one: “GrubHub Was Getting 6000 Orders A Minute During Its Promo Today That Left Restaurant Workers Stressed And Customers Hangry.”

Six thousand orders per minute during a promotion with a three-hour window in a single market.

In addition, the outlet reported that one unsatisfied customer was number 3,630 in the Grubhub customer service queue. Apparently鈥攁nd who can blame him鈥攈e hung up before he could speak with a Grubhub rep about his missing order.


Who could’ve seen this coming? Any of the restaurant owners, operators, or team members Grubhub “serves,” that’s who.

In fact, anyone who works in this industry with on-premise experience knew this was going to happen. So, too, any journalist who specializes in hospitality.

The fact that whoever came up with this promotion didn’t see this coming is revealing. Unless the creators of these apps and services have real-world restaurant experience, they don’t understand the business.

How can one effectively and properly serve an industry without an understanding of how it operates? Hospitality is about service. Shouldn’t the companies attempting to work within our industry work hard to serve alongside us?

Let’s be clear鈥攖his promotion was in no way designed to help struggling restaurants. It wasn’t intended to boost their traffic and revenue. Rather, it was solely created to serve Grubhub’s desire to be number one.

As we all know, we’re experiencing major staff shortages. There are also supply shortages making it difficult for operators to obtain product reliably. Grubhub made those problems exponentially worse.

Some restaurants stopped taking delivery orders. Others canceled orders. There were operators who closed in an effort to catch up with orders and prevent the situation from worsening.

According to news stories, some social media users posted that they planned to stop ordering through third-party platforms.

Negative Impact

If you’re new to KRG Hospitality, welcome. You’re likely realizing that we’re not fans of third-party delivery.

Those of you who are familiar with us have known for quite some time that we support direct delivery. That is, delivery controlled and executed by the restaurant itself.

It’s not that we’re against innovation. Rather, our dislike of these platforms, generally speaking, comes from our perception of their behavior.

In our opinion, they take control away from operators and cost them money. Again, speaking generally, they collect customer data that operators should control. Their fees are ridiculous in most cases. And when it comes to the customer experience, their inconsistencies and shortcomings reflect poorly on the operators far too often.

Studies show that customers who have issues with third-party deliveries often place the blame on the restaurant. Food the wrong temperature? Order arrive late? Packages in less-than-ideal condition? While those issues and others can be the fault of the driver, the restaurant often takes the brunt of a customer’s dissatisfaction.

Of course, there’s also the financial impact of third-party delivery on restaurants. A SevenRooms report from last year reveals how these platforms harm operators and their bottom lines.

The Solution

Look, we know operators have a ton on their plates. But protecting and boosting the bottom line is a non-negotiable element of this business.

Yes, it’ll take some time, effort, and money to set up direct delivery. However, it’s the best solution.

Direct delivery means the operator collects and control valuable data. Likewise, the operator can ensure consistency. Through direct delivery, the operator shapes and controls the experience.

Control. Inherently, third-party delivery takes some control away from operators. That’s not a good thing, and neither is their financial impact.

Look into setting up direct delivery, take control, and protect your revenue ASAP. Friend of KRG “Rev” Ciancio and SevenRooms CEO Joel Montaniel each address delivery on the Bar Hacks podcast. Listen to episode 13 with Rev and episode 24 with Joel to learn more about delivery.

We need to stop rewarding companies that exploit our industry and take advantage of our owners, operators, and hard-working staff members.

Direct delivery is the answer. Take steps to implement it today.

Image: Rosie Kerr 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.


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鈥攁nd in life in general鈥攑opped 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聽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聽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聽Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon, a prominent addition to the Deutsch Family of wine and spirits.聽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聽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聽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聽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!

Image: Amr Taha鈩 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鈥攕uch as “Safe Bars: Crafting a New Culture of Safety and Respect” and the immersive “Mind Full” experience鈥攖hat 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.

Image: mana5280 on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month鈥檚 engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level culinary, beverage and marketing skills throughout 2022.

To review February鈥檚 book recommendations,聽click here.

Let鈥檚 jump in!

My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef

This book is scheduled to be released on May 17 of this year. I anticipate this cookbook by Chef Kwame Onwuachi, which includes 125 recipes, to come flying off the shelves. In addition to more than 100 recipes, Chef Onwuachi connects his personal journey to food, culture, and places. Pre-order My America now!

Paddy Drinks: The World of Modern Irish Whiskey Cocktails

Jack McGarry, Sean Muldoon, and Jillian Vose are back with their latest Dead Rabbit book. The trio’s latest release, Paddy Drinks, shares Irish whiskey drink recipes you’ll find on the actual Dead Rabbit menu. However, that’s just one portion of this informative book. Inside are whiskey flavor wheels, tasting notes, illustrations depicting whiskey production, and more. And if that’s not enough for you, David Wondrich provides the foreword.

Founder Brand: Turn Your Story Into Your Competitive Advantage

In Founder Brand, Dave Gerhardt explains why your brand’s story is one of the most valuable assets you own as an entrepreneur.

From the Amazon listing: “This is a tactical guidebook that first shows you how to tell your story, then how to put your story to use as a marketing strategy. You鈥檒l learn how social media provides a bridge between you and your customers, the platforms that are appropriate for your business, and how to measure results to truly determine value.”

Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico

You don’t have to be a veteran bartender or spirits expert to know that mezcal continues to rise in popularity. Written by Ron Cooper, founder of artisanal mezcal brand Del Maguey, Finding Mezcal includes 40 cocktail recipes from bartenders and chefs; photographs; Cooper’s own artwork; and much more.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

Industry expert and KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey wrote this informative and conversational book. This is the perfect read for aspiring or seasoned bar, pub, lounge, or even restaurant owners, operators, and managers looking for that competitive edge in operations. If you鈥檙e looking for both fundamental and in-depth planning methods, strategies, and industry focused insight to either start or grow a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent venue in today鈥檚 cut-throat industry, Bar Hacks is written just for you


by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Heritage & Innovation: Glendalough

Heritage & Innovation: Glendalough Distillery

by David Klemt

Glendalough Distillery 7 Years Mizunara single malt Irish whiskey and glasses

Glendalough Distillery’s five founders are on a mission to honor Ireland’s rich distilling history and heritage.

As Bar Hacks guest Donal O’Gallachoir describes them, the whiskeys Glendalough crafts are remarkably different.聽O’Gallachoir, co-founder, national brand ambassador, and cheeky bottlewasher, aims to elevate Irish spirits.

More accurately, Glendalough’s founders want to return Irish whiskey to its rightful, historic place. That place? Among the top whiskeys in the world.

As you’ll learn, Glendalough will elevate your St. Patrick’s Day menu. In fact, these whiskeys and gins will elevate your entire menu, period.

Centuries of History

On episode 71 of Bar Hacks, O’Gallachoir briefly but compellingly shares Irish whiskey’s story. As he tells it, it was once estimated Irish whiskey accounted for up to 90 percent of world whiskey consumption.

That’s easy to believe when you factor in how Irish whiskey production can be traced back to at least the sixth century. There’s also the fact that Irish distillers were crafting, as O’Gallachoir puts it, “a wealth of styles.”

Unfortunately, a terrible string of wars鈥攍iteral and economic鈥攁ll but eradicated Ireland’s distilleries. When I say eradicated, I mean that when Glendalough Distillery opened in 2011, it became the fourth or fifth distillery in the country.

There used to be 200 licensed distilleries in the country, along with around 1,800 unlicensed distilleries. For decades of the 20th century, there were only two to three licensed distilleries in operation.

So, it makes sense that consumers outside of Ireland think the country produces only one style of whiskey: Irish. Meaning, light-bodied, sweet, and meant to be thrown back as a shot.

O’Gallachoir is well aware of the compelling paradox of modern Irish distillation. If the blended style of Irish whiskey most people know today hadn’t kept the industry alive, Glendalough and its expressions may not exist today.

Distillation Innovation

All Glendalough whiskeys are single malt and chill filtered. This stands in stark contrast to blended Irish whiskeys, the current dominant (modern) style.

Glendalough is, to oversimplify it, honoring centuries of Irish whiskey production. Single-malt Irish whiskey was what we would now label super- or ultra-premium. The difference between Irish and Scotch whiskey was the latter’s smoked, peated profile. The former was once preferred worldwide.

Glendalough is dedicated to crafting super-premium Irish whiskey. Doing so means they don’t make things easy on themselves.

Glendalough Distillery Double Barrel single grain Irish whiskey

Let’s start with Glendalough’s Double Barrel expression.

As the name suggests, this whiskey is finished twice. First, it’s aged in ex-bourbon barrels. Second, it’s matured in Oloroso sherry casks. Eschewing blends, Glendalough studies the science of different types of barrels to craft its styles.

Glendalough Distillery Pot Still single malt Irish whiskey

Of course, they also honor Irish distilling heritage through another expression: Glendalough Pot Still. To say no other style of whiskey embodies Irish production like pot still doesn’t do this distillation method justice.

In fact, Irish pot still whiskey is geographically protected; it can only be crafted in Ireland. However, when it comes to honoring Ireland, Pot Still doesn’t end there.

Glendalough initially ages Pot Still in ex-bourbon barrels. However, it’s finished in Irish oak. Truly, this expression captures the terroir of the mountainous region Glendalough calls home.

In other words, Pot Still is a super-premium taste of Ireland in a bottle.

And then there’s the distillery’s newest expression.

The Red String of Fate

About two weeks ago, Glendalough released their latest innovation: 7-Year-Old Single Malt Mizunara Finish.

7-Year-Old Single Malt Mizunara Finish in Wicklow, Ireland

Whiskey aficionados will recognize mizunara instantly and begin scheming to add this bottle to their collections.

Mizunara, Japanese oak, is renowned for several reasons. The wood imparts incredible flavors unlike those from other barrels. But, like all things rare and magical, mizunara is also incredibly challenging.

The challenges begin with the trees themselves, which can take hundreds of years to grow fully. This oak doesn’t grow straight, so crafting even one stave can be difficult.

Then there’s the water content. Mizunara translates to “water oak,” and it’s not an ironic nickname. The water content of mizunara is sky high, and it’s also highly porous.

It takes fantastic skill and experience for coopers to craft mizunara barrels that don’t crack or leak. To learn more, please click here to hear O’Gallachoir tell the story of Glendalough traveling to Hokkaido in Japan to form a relationship with an independent cooperage to craft Mizunara Finish casks.

Incredibly, the latest Glendalough expression isn’t a limited-edition release. Rather, this joins the core lineup and will be released twice per year. Be on the lookout for batch 001.

It seems that Glendalough whiskey and mizunara barrel coopers were fated to find one another. In fact, the red thread on each bottle of Mizunara Finish pays homage to the Japanese legend of the red thread of fate.

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to find one another. It grows shorter and shorter as their paths collide.

Going Wild

You may recall that I said Glendalough doesn’t make things easy on themselves. This is evidenced by their gin.

Unlike other distilleries, Glendalough started with whiskey distillation and later pursued gin production.

Glendalough Distillery Wild Gin Irish gin

They also forage for the ingredients used to craft their Wild Gin. If it’s not within ten miles of the distillery and growing wild, it’s not in the bottle.

According to O’Gallachoir, it takes a year to produce one bottle of this gin. Rejecting easier methods of production like automation, each batch of Wild Gin is crafted by taste and aroma.

Glendalough Distillery Rose Gin Irish gin and cocktails

Then there’s the visually and aromatically impactful Rose Gin. Crafted to honor Glendalough’s head distiller’s mother Rose, this is a rose-petal gin.

Now, you may assume it’s like drinking a bottle of decades-old, overpowering, rose-scented perfume. However, O’Gallachoir assures me this is absolutely not the case.

Instead, this striking bottle is intensely floral but balanced, and undeniably unique. O’Gallachoir suggests trying it in a Bee’s Knees.

In just over a decade, Glendalough has elevated Irish craft spirits. There are more innovations to come and I can’t wait to try them.

To learn more about O’Gallachoir and Glendalough Distillery, please listen to episode 71 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

Image: Glendalough Distillery

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Volley RTD: Clean, Lean & Green

Volley Tequila Seltzer: Clean, Lean & Green

by David Klemt

Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano, founders of Volley Tequila Seltzer holding cans of Volley

The founders of the world’s first clean tequila RTD, Volley Tequila Seltzer, are on a mission that values transparency and giving back to the planet.

Dynamic entrepreneurial duo Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano are the guests on episode 66 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

The two share the Volley story, including what drove them to create the brand and their mission.

Transparency is Challenging

It turns out that being transparent on your labeling isn’t as easy as it sounds. When it comes to beverage alcohol in the US, there are limits on what a brand can include.

You see, alcohol labeling isn’t the FDA’s purview. Rather, it falls under the authority of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB.

A little bit of digging reveals that when the Alcohol Administration Act was passed in 1935鈥攖wo years after prohibition was repealed鈥攖he Federal Alcohol Administration was created.

This federal body replaced the Federal Alcohol Control Administration. The Federal Alcohol Administration had statutory powers and, as the name implies, had authority over the alcohol industry.

Seventy years later, the TTB was created and is the federal agency tasked with alcohol industry regulation. That means they control alcohol labeling.

So, when the FDA implemented nutrition labels, alcohol was unaffected. As far as the TTB is concerned currently, there’s no requirement for the labeling of alcohol similar to what’s required for packaged food.

But David, I bet you’re not asking, just because it’s not required doesn’t mean I couldn’t choose to include transparent nutrition labeling for my bottle of spirits or ready-to-drink canned cocktail, right?

Apparently, no鈥攖hat’s incorrect. As you’ll hear in episode 66 with Soriano and Wirth, it’s not that simple. In fact, the TTB may reject your information-laden packaging for being too transparent.

Without policy changes, there’s no incentive for alcohol producers to be more transparent鈥攁nd they may be prohibited from doing so.

Simple Changes are Impactful

All that said, Soriano and Wirth were able to introduce new packaging after just launching in 2020.

You may have seen people wipe off the tops of cans before opening and drinking from them.聽In fact, you may be one of these people. If so, great鈥攜ou know why Volley now has foil covering the tops of their cans.

As Soriano explains on the Bar Hacks podcast, the tops of canned drinks are horrifyingly unsanitary. And as far she and Wirth are aware, Volley is the only canned beverage other than San Pellegrino with foil caps (in the US, anyway).

Volley Tequila Seltzer RTD can lineup with new foil packaging

This simple packaging change carries a big impact. Likewise, it fits with the brand’s identity and mission. The brand is driven to be healthier, more thoughtful, and more transparent.

A single 12-ounce can comes in at just 100 or 110 calories, depending on expression (there are four). All Volley RTDs are gluten-free and free of added sugars. You won’t find fermented cane sugar, corn syrup, fake sugars, essences, or “natural” flavors.

In fact, there are just three ingredients in a can of Volley: 100-percent blue agave tequila, 100-percent organic fruit juices (never from concentrate), and sparkling water. And yes, Soriano and Wirth can tell you exactly who their sources are for each ingredient.

Win-Win-Win Mission

That brings us to their drive to give back and be responsible stewards of the planet. Volley is in a partnership with Leave No Trace, a non-profit committed to caring for the outdoors.

If some industry experts are proven correct, 2022 will be the year that tequila dethrones vodka as the top-selling spirit throughout North America. Not only does Volley resonate with tequila lovers, the brand is also at the forefront of other trends popular with today’s consumer: sustainability, ethical business practices, active lifestyles, transparency, and healthier options.

Add the facts that RTDs make for excellent delivery order add-ons and can be served as quickly as a beer and you’ve got a no-brainer for your restaurant, bar, hotel or resort.

We love a brand that offers upside in droves. Volley is a win for consumers, a win for operators, a winning brand, and a win for the planet.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Volley or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: Volley Tequila Seltzer

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Bring the Heat: It’s Spicy Margarita Day!

Bring the Heat: It’s Spicy Margarita Day!

by David Klemt

Tanteo Tequila Jalape帽o Margarita made with Tanteo Jalape帽o Tequila

Today is the day to dial up the heat and deliver some fiery flavors to your guests with spicy Margaritas.

Why? Because it’s the second annual National Spicy Margarita Day!

Originally known as Founder’s Day, this bar holiday comes to us from Tanteo Tequila.

Participation is easy enough, and even easier if you have Tanteo Jalape帽o, Habanero, and Chipotle bottles.

Tanteo CEO and Master Blender Neil Grosscup explains the signature cocktail holiday on the Bar Hacks podcast. During episode 64, Grosscup shares that the inaugural celebration honored late Tanteo founder Jonathan Rojewski. The holiday also highlights the brand’s mission: Crafting a tequila that makes the world’s best spicy Margarita.

However, it’s not just about promoting the brand and their favorite cocktail. Rather, Tanteo leverages this holiday to encourage people to give back.

Sustainability Initiatives

As Grosscup explains on Bar Hacks, he and the Tanteo team value three forms of sustainability:

  • Economic
  • Social
  • Environmental

The Tanteo distillery’s ownership spans 84 agave-farming families. Tanteo Tequila is the 85th owner. This business model鈥攖he only distillery owned by a co-op of agave farmers鈥攊s an example of economic sustainability.

There are a few reasons for this approach. One of those is that it helps the farmers weather market swings. Indeed, agave is acutely susceptible to shifts in market value. When there’s too much agave, the value of a kilo of agave can plummet quickly. Another reason for the Tanteo co-op is transparency.

About 150 bars are participating in this year’s National Spicy Margarita Day. For every spicy Margarita made with Tanteo Tequila sold at these venues through January 30, $1 will go to a variety of waterway cleanup charities:

  • Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
  • Friends of the Chicago River
  • Friends of the LA River
  • Keep the TN River Beautiful
  • Ohio River Foundation
  • Orange County Coastkeeper
  • San Diego River Park Foundation
  • Trinity River Audubon Center
  • Un Salto Con Destino. This organization is cleaning up the Rio Santiago. The Tanteo distillery is in Juanacatl谩n, Jalisco, Mexico, and the Rio Santiago is crucial the surrounding community.

How to Participate

It’s a little late to join officially as a bar partner with Tanteo. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate the holiday.

Serving up spicy Margaritas is always a great idea. One simple way to leverage National Spicy Margarita Day is to create a small specialty menu. With at least three Margaritas, you can boost the heat level of each version to appeal to different guest’s spice preferences. You can alter heat levels using different Tanteo expressions, infusions, bitters, syrups, etc.

Or, you can simply perfect your restaurant or bar’s signature spicy Margarita. Either way, promote your participation on across your social platforms.

Speaking of social, snap a pic of your Margarita(s) and use the tag #NationalSpicyMargDay. Notice the spelling: the hashtag uses “Marg,” not “Margarita.” For every social media post tagged #NationalSpicyMargDay, Tanteo will donate $1.

See below for three Tanteo spicy Margarita recipes. 隆Salud!

Tanteo Jalape帽o Margarita

Tanteo Jalape帽o Margarita cocktail and bottle of tequila

  • 2 oz. Tanteo Jalape帽o Tequila

  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice

  • 戮 oz. Agave nectar

Prepare a rocks glass by adding ice. Optionally, rim glass with Tanteo Jalape帽o Salt or your signature blend. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into prepared rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or jalape帽o slice (or both).

Tanteo Habanero Margarita

Tanteo Habanero Margarita on a board with habanero peppers with tequila bottle in background


  • 2 oz. Tanteo Habanero Tequila

  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

  • 戮 oz. Agave Nectar

Prepare a rocks glass by adding ice. Optionally, rim glass with Tanteo Jalape帽o Salt or your signature blend. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into prepared rocks glass. Garnish with a habanero pepper.

Tanteo Chipotle Margarita

Tanteo Chipotle Margarita in garnished rocks glass next to tequila bottle

  • 2 oz. Tanteo Chipotle Tequila

  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

  • 1/2 oz. Agave Nectar

Prepare a rocks glass by adding ice. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into prepared rocks glass. Garnish with a chipotle pepper, orange slice, or lime wedge.

Image: Tanteo Tequila

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top 10 Bar Hacks Bonus Episodes: Goals

Top 10 Bar Hacks Bonus Episodes for Setting and Achieving Goals

by David Klemt

We’ve rounded up the ten best bonus episodes of Bar Hacks that feature KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey offering goal-setting guidance.

Obviously, we all want to succeed. However, it’s not always obvious where we should start.聽This has been proven all the more true the past two years.

Doug has a way of cutting a path through the overwhelming noise and distractions operators face each day. The Bar Hacks bonus episodes below can help listeners take a deep breath, reset, and take the necessary steps to identify, measure, and achieve their 2022 goals.

Bonus #1: Strategic Clarity

Doug explains strategic clarity as the understanding of who we are, what we’re working toward, and how we’re going to get where we want to go. Click here to listen.

Bonus #3: Simplification

In this episode, Doug asks listeners a simple question: “Is your vision for your restaurant or bar’s systems complex or simplified?”

Bonus #4: Acceptance

We can’t really make achievable goals if we don’t understand the current situation we’re facing. In this bonus episode, Doug explains why it’s important to be able to accept change and differences.

Bonus #6: Decision Making

We make thousands of decisions every day, from the simple to the complex and everything in between. Doug shares his insights into clearly and confidently making decisions for your business. Click here to learn more.

Bonus #7: Innovative Leadership

What is innovative leadership? It’s confidence in your abilities and your team, knowing when to get out of the way, and the culmination of a few other key concepts. To listen, click here.

Bonus #9: Flexibility

For this bonus episode, Doug explains why success in this era of hospitality requires owning the entire guest journey, frictionless omni-channel experiences, and other elements of a flexible approach to business.

Bonus #12: Self Care

Doug shares his thoughts on one of the most crucial elements of operating a business in the hospitality industry. Hint: He’s not talking about menus, marketing or making money in this episode.

Bonus #13: Confidence

Do you think you have a growth-based mindset or a fixed mindset? Doug discusses confidence and the impact it has on your ability to lead effectively in Bar Hacks Bonus #13.

Bonus #14: Self Learning

Knowing that you don’t know it all opens up your world and makes you a better leader. Doug explains how seeking out knowledge, experiences and opportunities to learn makes you a better operator, keeps you sharp, helps you better relate to and mentor others, and improves your business in every way. Listen now!

Bonus #17: The Seven Cs

Doug explains each of the Seven Cs and how they’ll help you build a winning team. Without the right people on staff, you don’t have much of a chance to achieve your goals. Click here to listen to this important episode.

To listen to the first five bonus episodes in this list in one convenient episode, please click here for today’s Bar Hacks podcast episode. Cheers!