Beverages

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8 Books to Read this Month: TOTC Edition

8 Books to Read this Month: Tales of the Cocktail Edition

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections consist of the eight finalists from two of the 2022 Spirited Awards writing categories.

For your convenience, the award winner kicks off each category below. To review July’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book

WINNER: The Japanese Art of the Cocktail

This is the first cocktail book written by Masahiro Urushido, the award-winning bartender from NYC’s Katana Kitten. After just one year with Urushido at the helm, Katana Kitten took home a 2019 Spirited Award. The Japanese Art of the Cocktail features 80 recipes and serves as a deep dive into a unique approach to cocktails and technique.

Death & Co: Welcome Home

The third book from Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan, the team behind Death & Co., features more than 400 recipes. Now, while this book targets home bartenders, it’s also beneficial to bar professionals as it delves into the Death & Co. cocktail development program. Is that worth a $35 investment? Absolutely. Pick up  Death & Co. Welcome Home today.

The Cocktail Seminars

As the story goes, author Brian D. Hoefling taught his fellow Yale students about cocktails and build techniques during his senior year. The Cocktail Seminars is a collection of five of Hoefling’s education seminars and spans 30 cocktail recipes. Along with technique, readers will learn about the history of cocktails, which they and their bar teams can leverage to engage with guests.

The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes

The Way of the Cocktail comes from Julia Momosé, one of the minds behind Chicago cocktail destination Kumiko. From classics to new riffs, the recipes in this book are based on 24 micro-seasons.

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits

WINNER: The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum team up for likely the deepest dive into the role alcohol plays in human history. The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails is everything you ever wanted to know about fermentation, distillation, aging, cocktails, cocktail bars, and more. In addition to global techniques and processes, readers will be treated to illustrations, a guide to making drinks, and even a timeline of distillation and spirits.

Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey

Clay Risen is considered an authority on spirits. In particular, he’s lauded as an expert on whiskey. Bourbon lovers will appreciate the Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey box set for what it is: a definitive history of America’s native spirit. Along with profiles of Kentucky distillers, Risen has included interviews and photographs to tell the story of bourbon.

Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization

Edward Slingerland takes a look at not just the history of imbibing but what has motivated humans to catch a buzz with alcohol. Drunk goes far beyond anecdotes, myth and lore and uses science to address why alcohol is so important to so many people. More case study than well-spun yarn, Drunk is as entertaining as it is investigative.

Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol

Written by Mallory O’Meara, Girly Drinks takes a hard look at the gendering of bars, brewing, distillation, and drinking culture. O’Meara also delves into the history and cultural importance of women bartenders like Ada Coleman, creator of the Hanky Panky.

“Filling a crucial gap in culinary history, O’Meara dismantles the long-standing patriarchal traditions at the heart of these very drinking cultures, in the hope that readers everywhere can look to each celebrated woman in this book—and proudly have what she’s having.”

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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Blasphemy! National Scotch Day Cocktails

Blasphemy! National Scotch Day Cocktails

by David Klemt

Craft cocktail in upscale bar

Psst! Don’t tell the purists but this article encourages the adulteration of Scotch by combining it with other ingredients to make *gasp!* cocktails.

Now, I jest…mostly. To be fair, I don’t often encounter purists who scoff or outright lost their minds if someone doesn’t enjoy their favorite spirit neat. However, it does happen every now and again. Seriously, it shouldn’t really matter how someone decides to order and enjoy their drinks. Want to order Johnnie Walker Blue Label with soda? Go for it.

So, below you’ll find cocktails rather than bottles for National Scotch Day. Sure, you can contact your reps, incur costs, and bring in some boast-worthy bottles. However, you can also spotlight what you already have on hand with revenue-generating Scotch cocktails.

No, you won’t find Scoch & Soda or the Rusty Nail among the recipes below. I would hope you and your bar team already have those down since they’re essentially two-ingredient drinks.

Also, I’ll award bonus points to anyone who locks eyes with a Scotch snob as they gulp down a Glenmorangie Signet Penicillin. Sure, that’s petty of me; it’s also fun. What are the bonus points good for? Hey, why are you asking so many questions?

A quick note: If you’d rather go with food on this holiday, check out our Scotch and cheese pairing article.

Penicillin

So, I’m going to start with my personal favorite Scotch cocktail. If you’re a KRG Hospitality regular, you already know this is one of my favorite drinks in general.

This is a modern-day classic—the Penicillin dates all the way back to the early 2000s. Operator, bartender, and cocktail creator calls for two types of Scotch to make this delectable drink.

  • 2 oz. Blended Scotch
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 0.75 oz. Honey-ginger syrup (1 cup honey, 1 cup water, 1 6-inch bit of peeled and thin-sliced ginger)
  • 0.25 oz. Peaty Islay Scotch to float
  • Candied ginger to garnish

Prepare a rocks glass with ice. Add first three ingredients to a shaker with ice, and shake until well chilled. Strain into the rocks glass and float Islay Scotch on top. Then, garnish and present.

For the syrup: Combine syrup ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce, simmer for five minutes, and set aside overnight in refrigerator. The next day, strain through cheesecloth.

Rob Roy

If you want to be flippant about it, the Rob Roy is a Scotch Manhattan. Of course, it’s easy to make that argument as cocktail historians believe the Rob Roy is an homage. At any rate, both are true classics, dating back to the late 1800s.

One of the fun elements of the Rob Roy is creating a signature version. Obviously, the Scotch and vermouth selection will impact the flavors of this drink. So, come up with a combination all your own to make this one of your bar’s specialties.

  • 2 oz. Scotch
  • 0.75 oz. Vermouth (equal parts sweet and dry vermouths to make a Perfect Rob Roy)
  • 0.75 oz. Angostura Bitters
  • Brandied cherries to garnish

You’ll want to ensure you have chilled cocktail or Nick & Nora glasses on hand before starting this build. Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir unti well chilled and strain into chilled glass. Spear cherries, garnish, and serve.

Bobby Burns

Interestingly, some believe this cocktail is a riff on the Rob Roy. So, why not have Rob and Bobby on your National Scotch Day drink menu?

Now, the drinks are similar, but the flavor profiles are vastly different. After all, the ratio of Scotch to vermouth is 1:1, and the recipe uses Bénédictine rather than bitters.

  • 1 oz. Blended Scotch (supposedly, this should be at least 12 years old)
  • 1 oz. Sweet vermouth
  • 0.5 oz. Bénédictine
  • Lemon peel to garnish

Of course, this is where the argument that the Bobby Burns is a version of the Rob Roy gets stronger. See the build instructions for the Rob Roy above? Do the same, but garnish with a lemon peel.

Blood & Sand

Oddly enough, we don’t know the creator of this drink. We do know it appears in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930. However, we don’t know for certain that he’s the inventor.

At any rate, we do know this 1:1:1:1 cocktail is delicious and a hit with whiskey fans.

  • 0.75 oz. Scotch
  • 0.75 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 0.75 oz. Orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 0.75 oz. Sweet vermouth
  • Orange peel to garnish

Again, make sure you have chilled glassware to build this cocktail. In this case, coupes and cocktails. Combine all ingredients but the garnish in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Next, strain into the glass, then garnish and present.

Rusty Compass

So, this build is a bit different from the others in that it calls for a particular Scotch and two specific liqueurs. Also, this one is bold as the Scotch you’ll use is rather powerful.

Obviously, this is a bit like a Rusty Nail, so you shouldn’t have any trouble with the recipe.

  • 2 oz. Compass Box The Peat Monster
  • 01.75 oz. Drambuie (for making Rusty Nails, too)
  • 0.5 oz. Cherry Heering (which you have on hand for making Blood & Sands)
  • Orange twist to garnish

As you’re probably already guessing, you combine all the ingredients but the garnish in a shaker with ice for this build. Shake it, strain it, and garnish it. Oh, and you’ll want to present this in a coupe.

Image: Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

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This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

by David Klemt

Two drinks in mason jars

Beverage-top media platform Ripples is reporting 2022’s big drink trend, focusing heavily on Gen Z imbibing habits.

The unique company produces devices that make it possible to print images atop drinks. With beverages of all types as their focus, the company is a great position to study drink trends.

Interestingly, Ripples focuses primarily on Gen Z drinking habits. However, the company’s data identifies an intriguing trend that transcends a single generation.

Let’s jump in.

Zero-proof Beverage Growth

At KRG Hospitality, we appreciate numbers; we’re a data-driven agency. Well, amongst all the stats Ripples latest findings reveal, two are massive.

First, in comparison to 2019, zero-alcohol products are up 166 percent. Second, the non-alcohol category is growing four times faster than its low-ABV counterpart.

Another impressive number? Non-alcohol spirits have grown by over 113 percent since 2020.

Per Ripples, Gen Z is driving the growth in the no-alcohol space. According to the beverage-tech company, this is likely due to social media presence.

I’m sure you read articles at least from time to time about Gen Z social media habits. Those written by their older counterparts make it seem like Gen Z doesn’t understand the risks of recording their every action.

Well, it’s highly likely that much of Gen Z would rather not have their drunken shenanigans on display on every social platform.

Values Drive Purchase Decisions

Beyond risk aversion, Ripples identifies values as key to Gen Z purchase and consumption decisions.

Generally speaking, members of Gen Z value transparency and authenticity. Brands that share those values are more likely to succeed with Gen Z.

And, again, speaking broadly, smaller, independent brands are often perceived as more transparent, authentic, and responsible. Large, mainstream brands are often seen as anything but green and responsible, never mind transparent or authentic.

Ripples posits that small indies aren’t encountering daunting barriers to entry. So, small-batch, craft non-alcohol brands are apt to find Gen Z support.

Craft sodas, RTDs offering health benefits, and zero-proof cocktails in cans or bottles are flooding the market. And they’re finding success. In fact, according to Ripples, RTD sales are up 400 percent on Drizly since 2019.

The Big Trend

If you’re a listener of our Bar Hacks podcast you’ve likely heard our episodes with David Allison. If you haven’t heard them, they’re episode 46 and episode 67.

As the founder of the Valuegraphics Project, Allison isn’t a fan of focusing on demographic stereotypes. Instead, he recommends a focus on values in conjunction with demographic and psychographic data.

In part, the Valuegraphics Project approach encourages business owners and operators to identify and target their customers’ values. This is, according to Allison, far more powerful than focusing on age and sex. As important is the fact that demographics tend to divide us, and stereotypes are dangerous.

So, he and the Valuegraphics Project team probably wouldn’t like all the focus on a single generation in this article and Ripples’ findings. Well, there’s some good news and it pertains to what’s likely this year’s biggest drinking trend.

Across all generations, one drinking trend is common: Moderation. An interest in no- and low-alcohol beverages is shared among all generations.

In fact, according to Ripples, 78 percent of consumers purchasing zero-proof drinks aren’t doing so exclusively. These consumers are still buying they’re favorite full-alcohol beverages.

Takeaway

Leveraging the moderation trend is fairly simple. The growth of all zero-proof categories means operators can succeed with alcohol-free spirits, beer, and wine.

RTD cocktails—full-, low- and zero-proof—are selling very well and work in restaurants and bars.

In short, ensure you have low-ABV and zero-alcohol versions of your full-ABV drinks on your menu. Include these in a dedicated non-alcohol section.

Operators don’t need to be afraid of guests drinking more moderately. The stereotype that guests who choose zero- or low-proof drinks are bad for the bottom line simply isn’t true.

Image: Chris Curry on Unsplash

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Stand Out with Weird Holidays: June 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: June 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 June 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.

June 4: National Bubbly Day

Fine, so maybe sparkling wines aren’t weird. Sometimes I just add holidays that have the potential to be fun while driving traffic and revenue to these lists.

As I’m sure you’re already guessing, National Bubbly Day is the perfect time to make your guests aware of your sparkling wines. Bubbly is even more attractive to guests as temperatures rise.

June 5: National Veggie Burger Day

There’s no question that plant-based food items are only growing more popular with consumers. This is the day to showcase your veggie burgers and other meat and dairy alternatives.

June 10: National Herbs and Spices Day

Without herbs and spices, where would F&B be? Task your kitchen and bar teams with creating dishes and drinks that are made better with herbs and spices. Tell your bartenders to break out the torches and light the rosemary!

June 13: International Axe Throwing Day

If you’re an eatertainment venue, bar, or restaurant with an axe-throwing setup, this is one-hundred-percent your day to shine.

June 14: International Bath Day

There are a few different ways to design a promotion around this holiday. One, you can feature distillers who specifically produce gin expressions labeled “Bathtub Gin.” Ableforth’s, for example, is one such producer. Two, you can purchase bathtub-shaped drinkware. Three, you can combine the first two for an LTO pour.

June 16: National Dump The Pump Day

It’s not exactly a secret that gas prices are rising across the nation. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too difficult to encourage your guests to arrive at your business by bicycle, scooter, skateboard, foot, electric car, or other means of conveyance that doesn’t use gasoline or diesel for fuel.

June 20: American Eagle Day

Interested in a holiday that requires very specific planning? Try American Eagle Day.

One way to celebrate is to design a promotion around award-winning Eagle Rare bourbon. And no, they didn’t pay us to mention them. They just make really good whiskey that works great for this holiday.

June 25: National Leon Day

There’s an entire contingent of people who simply can’t wait for Christmas to come around each year. In fact, they don’t think it’s fair that they only get to celebrate it once a year.

National Leon Day is celebrated every June 25th because it’s the midway point to Christmas. So, forget Christmas in July—celebrate Christmas in June with your guests and specialty LTO menus.

June 29: National Waffle Iron Day

Your guests may be surprised to learn the number of foods that can be waffled. Create an LTO menu that showcases how creative your kitchen team can get with waffle irons. For bonus points, include your bar team with waffled garnishes.

June 30: National Social Media Day

I suppose it was only a matter of time from social media reaching ubiquity to this form of media having its own holiday. Mashable launched the first National Social Media Day in 2010.

Create post-worthy F&B items, come up with your own hashtags, and ask your guests to post pics using those tags to promote your business.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

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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.

Image: mana5280 on Unsplash

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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

 

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XDar Vodka Resumes Ukraine Production

XDar Vodka Resumes Production in Ukraine

by David Klemt

XDar Vodka distillery in Ukraine

Over the past several weeks, the people of Ukraine have shown the world their resilience, tenacity, and refusal to submit to Russia.

The sovereign European nation has endured attacks and atrocities that began on February 24 of this year. Nearly six weeks since the invasion, Ukraine has resisted and repelled the vaunted Russian military.

There’s no end in sight. The world is learning daily about the atrocities and possible war crimes being perpetrated in Ukraine.

Because of this, any good news coming from Ukraine is welcome.

“Gift of Grain”

Incredibly, Ukrainian distiller XDar Vodka is resuming production. The brand, whose name translates to “gift of grain,” is reopening their distillery.

Now, this is all no small feat: XDar Vodka’s distillery is in the Cherkassy region of Ukraine. So, when I say XDar Vodka is a Ukrainian product, I mean they distill their spirits in Ukraine.

This wheat vodka is made using the region’s artesian water. Impressively, the result is a clean vodka that scored 92 points in the 2016 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

Further, XDar Vodka flies in the face of the “definition” of vodka. Supposedly, vodka is meant to be odorless, colorless, and flavorless. Not XDar.

Instead, tasting notes include wet sand, floral notes, vanilla, cotton candy, burnt sugar, and a touch of sweetness.

And yes, XDar does have distribution in North America via Liquorum Imports, Inc. In addition, XDar can be purchased through Royal Wine Merchants.

Those who want to try XDar Vodka as well as support this tenacious Ukrainian brand can also place orders through Drizly.

Bittersweet Anniversary

2022 marks XDar’s 20th anniversary. Obviously, this is bittersweet for the brand and its 4,400 employees.

To that point, XDar stopped production when Russia attacked Ukraine. However, the distillery continued to pay its workers.

“The people at XDar are committed to their employees,” says Natalya Kolosok of Liquorum Imports, Inc. “They are some of the strongest people in the world.”

XDar Vodka production line

Now, the brand is resuming production. According to the distillery, XDar is doing so safely. According to a statement from Kolosok, this is in part due to the desires of the distillery’s team.

“The employees, while grateful for the assistance, don’t just want a check, they want purpose,” says Kolosok. “They want to work, which is why, as safely as possible, XDar opened up their facility to resume production.”

That’s resilience. That’s tenacity. And those characteristics exemplify the people of Ukraine.

Images provided by KLG Public Relations

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Let’s Talk About Rum Styles

Let’s Talk About Rum Styles

by David Klemt

Havana Club Mojito rum cocktail

Last Monday, August 16, was National Rum Day. Of course, millions of people drink rum every day. So, there’s really not a bad day to learn more about the many styles of this versatile spirit.

Obviously, we love restaurant and bar holidays. Just review Exhibits A and B, National Tequila Day and National Scotch Day.

But, we also love learning and teaching others about spirits and cocktails any day of the week. Today, let’s dive into rum!

Cheers!

Molasses vs. Juice vs. Syrup

There are three main types of rum in terms of the main ingredient distillers ferment to make this classic spirit.

First, the more common source: molasses from sugarcane. Then, there’s fresh sugarcane juice. Finally, rum can be made with sugarcane syrup.

However, there are also spirits like aguardiente made from the distillation and fermentation of fruit. Additionally, beet sugar can be an ingredient. However, many countries—including the US—require rum to be made from cane sugar.

Light Rums

Generally speaking, rums can be broken down into two characteristics beyond molasses, juice or syrup: light rum and dark rum.

White / Clear

It doesn’t get much lighter than clear, does it? Simply put, the production method for making a white or clear rum includes filtering out the color. Contrary to what some assume, these rums aren’t necessarily unaged: many rest for one or two years.

Again, speaking generally, these light rums are often less flavorful than other styles. Daiquiris, Mojitos and Piña Coladas tend to be made mostly using white or clear rums. Of course, it can be profitable to upsell those classics with golden, pale, dark, and premium aged rums.

Gold / Pale

One way to think about gold or pale rums is that they’re a step up in flavor profile. They also tend to receive longer aging times than their white and clear counterparts.

However, since they’re not normally the rums that are rested for particularly long times, they’re usually affordable.

Dark Rums

Dark

So, let’s kick this section off with the creatively named dark rum category called…dark.

To be clear, this category can include gold and pale rums, technically. When people refer to dark rums, that’s an awfully broad description. So-called “dark rums” can run the gamut from aged a couple of years to aged for incredibly long times. Not only do these rums not undergo a filtering process to remove their color, distillers may actually add color.

Black

Now, this is a more specific categorization among the catch-all “dark rum” descriptor.

When one encounters a black rum, they can expect several elements: dark in color, rich and bold flavor, a full body, and a rum made from molasses. Often, the barrels used to age black rums are given a heavy char.

Navy

This is another full-body rum. Arguably, this is the most traditional form of rum that harkens back to the 1600s.

It bears the name “navy” because it’s the style of rum that British Royal Navy sailors made famous. As many people are aware, rum was a staple ration on the Royal Navy’s ships.

Specialty

Drilling deeper, there are several categories of rum that are too specific to simply bear the label “light” or “dark.”

Flavored / Spiced

Prepare for amazement: This category of rums receives enhancements from spices and/or flavorings. Shocking, I know.

Coconut is among the most common rum flavorings. However, you’ll also find apple, pineapple, and even gingerbread.

In terms of spiced rum—hello, Captain Morgan—common spices are cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

Overproof

I’m willing to bet this label isn’t difficult for most people to figure out.

Speaking generally once again, most rum in the US and Canada weighs in between 40- and 50-percent ABV. Overproof rum, then, is a high-proof spirit.

Cask strength for rum can reach as high as 84.5-percent ABV, or 169 proof. Interestingly, the US prohibits rum over 155 proof from entering the country (in most cases).

In Canada, up to 190-proof spirits are legal.

Funky

This is an incredibly fun and unique style of rum hailing from Jamaica.

Jamaican funky rums offer the drinker the opportunity to try something different, bold, and that embodies the island country’s terroir. To make these unique rums, distillers often add what’s called “dunder” during the fermentation process. Dunder it leftover material from previous distillations, and when added in large quantities, it can be referred to as “muck.”

Get heavy in the muck and the rum gets truly, unforgettably funky.

Rhum Agricole

At the top of this article are the three main sources for rum: sugarcane molasses and sugarcane juice. Distillers produce rhum agricole by distilling pressed sugarcane sugar directly.

Also, rhum agricole was created in the island nation of Martinique. Now, many people have likely read that only Martinique distillers can make rhum agricole. The reality is more nuanced.

For a rhum agricole to be labled “Rhum Agricole AOC Martinique,” the product must meet specific requirements.

Cachaça

There’s a saying well-known by bar professionals across the globe: “No Negroni without Campari.” Well, there’s no Caipirinha without cachaça.

Also known as the National Spirit of Brazil, cachaça must be made from fermented sugarcane juice. The use of many species of trees throughout Brazil give distillers the opportunity to produce cachaça with terroir and distinctive flavor profiles.

Image: Christo Anestev from Pixabay

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Where are To-Go Cocktails Legal?

Where are To-Go Cocktails Legal?

by David Klemt

Bottled Negroni mixed drinks and to-go cocktails

We’re still coming to grips with what the industry will look like post-pandemic. One pandemic-driven adaptation is to-go cocktails.

For this article, “cocktails” means mixed drinks specifically, as that is how most jurisdictions are defining such to-go drinks.

In some markets, operators can now offer to-go mixed drinks permanently. Some jurisdictions are offering extensions to temporary sales, while others are considering bills.

The To-Go Pivot

Clearly, our industry responds to guest demands and expectations. And what does today’s guest expect? For their every customized whim to be fulfilled—conveniently.

Therefore, it only makes sense that operators constantly adapt to encourage guest loyalty (as far as that’s possible).

People are itching to get out more, impatient to return to their pre-pandemic lives. Even so, the convenience of drinking and dining at home appeals to large swaths of the public.

Of course, it’s not just convenient.

Providing guests the choice to enjoy a restaurant or bar’s F&B offerings and semblance of their unique experience at home—including cocktails—is also about safety and comfort levels.

Obviously, we want guests to be able to comfortably and safely gather in restaurants, bars, hotels, and every other type of hospitality venue. That’s a given.

However, if some people are more comfortable at home for now, operators in a position to meet guests where they are to generate revenue should do so.

Lawmakers Respond

Carryout and delivery beer and wine sales have been legal for some time in many states. Mixed drinks, not so much.

The rules addressing “to-go” cocktails (carryout and delivery are more accurate) were relaxed in several markets in response to indoor dining bans and shutdowns.

However, “loose” laws aren’t permanent changes. Some jurisdictions will eventually rescind their relaxed approach and ban to-go cocktails unless specific legislation passes.

Iowa is the first American state to legalize to-go cocktails permanently. The vote was unanimous in the Iowa House and nearly so in the Iowa Senate.

Operators in Canada or America who intend to sell to-go cocktails must be aware of their jurisdiction’s specific rules, including but not limited to packaging requirements, volume restrictions, food sale components, and transportation laws.

Canada: Delivery and Carryout Rules

Currently, KRG Hospitality operates in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario for the Canadian market. Therefore, we’re focusing on those provinces for this article.

Alberta

While packaged, unopened liquor may be sold for off-site consumption, pre-made cocktails may not. Food sales must accompany liquor sales.

British Columbia

The province’s approach to liquor sales for delivery and carryout are the same as Alberta’s. Operators can’t sell to-go mixed drinks.

Ontario

Restaurants and bars can sell pre-made cocktails sealed in bottles, cans, and bags. Like the other two provinces, food sales must accompany to-go liquor sales.

America: Permanent, Extended, Up for Consideration

In total, 11 states have made the move to legalize to-go mixed drinks permanently:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Others have introduced bills to make to-go cocktails legal permanently:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania

A handful have extended to-go cocktails until at least 2022:

  • Delaware (March 2022)
  • Illinois (2024)
  • Maine (September 2022)
  • Virginia (July 2022)
  • Washington (July 2023)

Image: Jonas Tebbe on Unsplash

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