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5 Books to Read this Month: November

5 Books to Read this Month: November

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s fun and informative book selections will help you develop next-level culinary, beverage and leadership skills this November.

To review October’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s dive in!

Cook as You Are

The Great British Baking Show contestant Ruby Tandoh is a food writer with a half-dozen books to her name. Her latest will likely change how you look at food and its preparation. In particular, the “mini” version of Cook as You Are aims to be as inclusive as possible. The free download makes it easier for people who learn differently or require assistance in the kitchen to enjoy cooking. Cook as You Are features 100 original recipes created by Tandoh that don’t require hours of preparation or professional-grade kitchen equipment to execute.

The Bullhearted Brand

Expert Joseph Szala explains why operators should view branding as a strategic endeavor. Branding is more than a clever name, eye-catching logo, and slick tagline. Szala, as he explains, “lay(s) out the foundational elements and details about creating and scaling restaurant brands” in The Bullhearted Brand, drawing from years of real-world experiences.

Bourbon’s Backroads

Bourbon is one of the few spirits that America can truly claim as its own. Myths and legend abound, such as the claim that whiskey can only be called bourbon if it’s produced in Bourbon County. Karl Raitz conducted extensive research to uncover the full history of bourbon in the United States for Bourbon’s Backroads.

Gilded Age Cocktails

Author Cecilia Tichi takes readers on a cocktail journey spanning three decades. The Gilded Age, which took place between 1870 and the early 1900s, is known as the Golden Age for cocktails. Readers will be able to learn the stories of not only classic Golden Age cocktails to pass on to others, but also the stories of their creators. Gilded Age Cocktails transports us back to the pre-Prohibition Era, a time when bartenders first became famous and helped us all drink better.

Hacking the New Normal

Doug Radkey, president of KRG Hospitality, author of Bar Hacks and Hacking the New Normal, makes the case for making meaningful, impactful change in order for the hospitality industry to survive and thrive moving forward. As he explains during bonus episodes of the Bar Hacks podcast, as have multiple podcast guests like Chef Brian Duffy, the industry won’t truly recover unless we change our mindsets and the way restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, entertainment venues, and arenas operate and treat staff.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

by David Klemt

Cheeseburgers and French fries in takeout containers on pass

SevenRooms continues to grow and develop innovative partnerships.

The platform’s newest partnership benefits the hospitality industry, operators, and consumers.

In joining forces with Olo, SevenRooms further helps restaurants, bars, and hotels position themselves to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

The Bleeding Edge

Olo, which literally stands for “Online Ordering,” predates the iPhone.

In fact, the company launched before smartphones were more than niche devices.

Upon its inception, Olo’s service consisted mainly of sending mobile coffee orders to restaurant printers via text message.

Like SevenRooms, Olo seeks to stay ahead of the consumer behavior curve:

  • 2005: Olo launches, anticipating coffee drinkers will eagerly embrace mobile ordering.
  • 2008: The company predicts fast-casual restaurants will become faster than fast food.
  • 2012: Olo envisions the redesigning of kitchen restaurants to include pickup windows.
  • 2015: The platform sees the future for foodservice is delivery.

Now, Olo is dedicated to making sure online ordering customers benefit from the industry’s digital transformation.

The Partnership

SevenRooms ensures clients who also use Olo can capture their off-premise customers’ information. That data then creates profiles for those customers automatically.

This partnership leverages SevenRooms CRM and marketing automation integration. Operators will be able to send post-order surveys to off-premise, online ordering customers automatically.

So, operators can learn what is and isn’t working off-premise; elevate the experience of off-premise customers to increase online order frequency; convert those customers to in-person guests; encourage repeat visits; and increase profitability.

Moving forward, SevenRooms and Olo users will get to know their off-premise customers better.

“To meet the ever-evolving needs of our hospitality clients, we’ve continued to seek out strategic partners who help us provide an even more comprehensive solution to operators,” says SevenRooms CEO and founder Joel Montaniel. “Our integration with Olo delivers on our promise of offering a 360-degree platform focused on helping operators build deeper, direct relationships across on- and off-premise experiences. This partnership facilitates better operational efficiency and online data capture, ultimately helping operators optimize the profitability of their delivery and takeout business while strengthening customer relationships. We are excited to welcome Olo to our partner network, and look forward to our continued collaboration to drive better, more streamlined solutions for the industry.”

Learn more about SevenRooms here. Click here to learn more about Olo.

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How to Use RTDs for LTOs

How to Use RTDs for LTOs

by David Klemt

White Claw Ruby Grapefruit and pizza poolside

The RTD, aka ready-to-drink, category continues to grow and gain greater market share, particularly in the US.

However, the common association with RTDs is that consumers mostly drink them at home.

That begs a simple question: How can operators generate revenue with this popular, in-demand beverage category?

Massive Growth

Unsurprisingly, the RTD cocktail category is still one the rise.

These drinks are convenient. New brands come to market regularly. They tend to fall in line with rising consumer desire for lower-ABV options. And many brands speak to consumer desires—sustainability and outdoor interests, for example—via their visions and missions.

Per the IWSR, the US leads the charge when it comes to demand for RTDs. North America as a whole is driving growth.

However, the category grew 43 percent globally in 2020 alone. According to multiple sources, RTDs are worth USD $782.8 million. Projections have the category more than doubling by 2028: $1.7 billion.

Tequila and gin RTDs appear to be the most popular within the category, but rum, whiskey, and vodka are also growing.

So, what’s the point of all these numbers? Operators need to know what consumers are drinking and leverage that demand for the benefit of their businesses.

Simple LTOs

One of the most obvious ways to deliver on RTDs is to treat it like beer. Add a “Canned Cocktails” section and list your options. Or, hey, do what some venues do and add White Claw and other RTDs to the beer list.

After all, millions of people order canned beers every day in restaurants, bars, hotels, and entertainment and sports venues.

However, there are guests who perceive ordering an RTD instead of a traditional cocktail at a bar as a sub-par experience.

The bartender, after all, is just popping a top and handing over a can.

One way to elevate the experience is via limited-time offers. A great example comes from Nickel City, which has two locations in Texas: Austin and Fort Worth.

The award-winning neighborhood bar offers a monthly Boilermaker, and this month’s was the Rise & Shine:


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A post shared by Nickel City (@nickelcityatx)

As you can see, a High Noon Grapefruit Vodka Soda comes with a 50/50 pour of Aperol and Altos Tequila for just $8.

Other restaurants and bars—with vessels large enough—are offering riffs on the Corona-rita with RTDs. The bar team builds the cocktail as usual, then inverts and inserts the RTD.

Such a drink can certainly be leveraged via monthly LTOs.

There are a few keys to succeeding with RTDs: understanding your guests, knowing your market, and getting creative. Guests willing to spend on the RTDs they enjoy at home while at your restaurant or bar? Great. Guests unwilling unless there’s added value? Convene your bar team and tap their creativity.

Image: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

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10 Bottles for National Tequila Day

10 Bottles for National Tequila Day

by David Klemt

Shots of tequila surrounded by lime wedges and salt

This Saturday we celebrate the world’s most famous agave spirit: the one and only tequila.

National Tequila Day takes place this weekend on July 24.

Of course, there are still those out there who view tequila as a low-quality, high-proof spirit that leads to bad decisions.

Luckily, years of education are turning that around. People across the world are now aware of high-quality sipping tequilas.

Those in the know are drinking better, although that doesn’t preclude them from making bad choices afterward. Indeed, we can no longer blame the tequila, only ignorance of higher quality expressions.

Just like we did for bourbon and Lambrusco, we’ve rounded up bottles operators should consider for National Tequila Day and beyond.



Arguably the tequila most people associate with cheap shots and cocktails. Distillers don’t age blanco and they bottle the liquid soon after distillation. However, the explosion in the growth of tequila brings with it new brands and higher standards. Many blancos taste excellent and make great cocktails.

Mijenta Blanco

This blanco represents the antithesis of the mainstream stereotype of blanco tequilas. Tequilera Maestro (Tequila Master) Ana Maria Romero approaches the process of making Mijenta Blanco with the same care and attention to detail as she does reposado.

Teremana Blanco

Yes, this is a “celebrity tequila.” Yes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson owns Teremana. Being a celebrity spirit doesn’t discredit the quality of this brand. Teremana Blanco is a silver tequila that aims to drink like a luxury expression.


An interesting and rare (currently) category, joven is unaged tequila blended with one or more aged expressions.

Viva XXXII Joven

Described as a “modern sipping” expression by the distillery, Viva XXXII Joven is made with estate-grown blanco and the brand’s extra añejo. Expect crisp flavors of lemon peel, yerba buena (an aromatic mint), and white pepper.

Casa Dragones Joven

When Casa Dragones first entered the market in 2009, this was their debut expression. Five years later, they released their first blanco. In the case of Casa Dragones Joven, blanco was blended with extra añejo. Not only is it proper to include one of the first joven tequilas on the market on this list, this expression has earned its place.


Combine the bold flavors of younger blanco tequila with the smooth, refined characteristics of aged añejo. That will give you an idea of what to expect with a reposado, which is aged between two and twelve months. Equal capable in shots and cocktails or for sitting and sipping.

Volcán De Mi Tierra Reposado

Made from agaves that take well over 3,000 days to ripen, Volcán Reposado captures the terroir of the state of Jalisco. The liquid is aged in American and European oak barrels, which helps to make this a smooth expression.

Clase Azul Reposado

Arguably the most recognized bottle on the back of any bar. Clase Azul Reposado draws the eyes of guests with its unique appearance and keeps them coming back with its unique flavor profile and incredible smoothness.


This category must be aged for one to three years in oak. Of course, añejo can be enjoyed as a shot or in a cocktail, just like any spirit can be. However, these tequilas are often best when sipped slowly to appreciate every flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel characteristic.

El Tesoro Añejo

This añejo is aged between two and three years in ex-bourbon barrels. The result is intriguing, to the say the least: Master Distiller Carlos Camarena says El Tesoro Añejo, due to vanilla and maple notes, would pair well with pancakes.

Casa Dragones Barrel Blend

Known as a small-batch producer of luxury blanco and joven tequilas, Casa Dragones is finally producing an añejo. Casa Dragones Barrel Blend is aged in Quercus Sessile French oak and new American oak barrels, both of which undergo custom toasting. The result is a smooth, luxurious sipper with spice, oak, berry, and agave notes.

Extra Añejo

Once a distiller passes the three-year mark aging tequila, they have free reign to experiment. The extra añejo category is where people find truly unique and rare (and expensive, of course) expressions.

Herradura Selección Suprema

It may interest people to know that Herradura gets the credit for creating both the reposado and extra añejo categories. So, it’s only fitting that they be on this list in one of those categories. Herradura Selección Suprema rests for 49 months—four years and one month—in American white oak barrels.

Tears of Llorona No. 3 Extra Añejo

Master Distiller Germán González initially created Tears of Llorona to for his friends and family. However, the five-year-old extra añejo Maestro Gonzalez produces are sometimes made available to the public. The current private stock offering, Tears of Llorona No. 3, is aged in Scotch, brandy, and sherry oak barrels.

Image: Xavier Espinosa from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Dry January Will Be Different in 2021

Dry January Will Be Different in 2021

by David Klemt

Tomorrow marks the start of the first Dry January we’ve ever experienced under stay-at-home shutdowns and bar, restaurant and nightclub restrictions.

Like Veganuary—remember way back to yesterday when we wrote about it?—the movement as we’ve come to know can be traced back to the UK. People have chosen t abstain from alcohol in January for decades but Dry January really took off after the trademark was registered by a non-profit called Alcohol Change.

Understandably, many operators have taken issue with Dry January. Taking a hit to the bottom line for a month (or more) because of a reduction in alcohol sales isn’t an exciting proposition.

However, Dry January may be different this year. The convergence of a number of consumer behaviors driven by restricted access to restaurants and bars may present an opportunity.

Throughout most of 2020 we’ve been inundated with reports about unprecedented boosts in online alcohol sales. Premium and ultra-premium spirits grew at a faster rate than they had pre-pandemic. Operators have been forced to pivot, relying heavily on delivery, (somewhat) traditional takeout, and curbside pickup.

Put those all together but substitute premium spirits for premium alcohol-free options and there’s the potential for operators to generate revenue directly linked to zero-proof sales.

One of the keys to succeeding with zero-ABV drinks is presentation. Many alcohol-free brands are dedicated to elevating the category, meaning they can be treated the same as their low- and full-proof counterparts. Curated zero-proof drink kits that include quality modifiers, mixers, garnishes and drinkware can help generate sales. Post quick how-to videos to social media showing a member of the bar team building zero-proof cocktails to create interest.

Those are just two ideas. It shouldn’t be difficult for operators to pivot and offer alcohol-free options that are authentic to their brand and therefore resonate with their guests.

Operators that nail their Dry January menu programming lay the groundwork for succeeding with the alcohol-free category throughout the rest of the year. We finally live in an age where sober, sober-curious and intermittently abstinent consumers don’t feel uncomfortable visiting a bar. Make them feel welcome. Operators who alienate these guests will drive them straight to their competitors to ring their registers instead.

Seedlip is probably the best-known within the alcohol-free category but more premium brands are emerging. Operators should familiarize themselves with the following: Lyre’s (which crafts zero-proof spirits that taste like their traditional counterparts), Wilderton (which uses a distillation method that never introduces alcohol), and Shoki (which showcases African and Caribbean heritage and flavors). There are also brewers embracing the alcohol-free movement, such as Calgary’s Partake Brewing (which is beginning to cross into the US) and Lagunitas and their IPNA, an alcohol-free IPA.

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