Cocktails

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Your Drink Menu Deserves an Ice Program

Your Drink Menu Deserves an Ice Program

by David Klemt

Cocktail with large king ice cube, overhead view

All ice is not created equal—there’s a reason behind their shapes and sizes.

Taking the time to consider your ice and build a dedicated program that includes it is crucial for your beverage program and the guest experience.

Remember that just like there are rules for building cocktails, there are rules for using ice:

  • Dilution is your friend. Water is a crucial component for cocktails.
  • Is your ice floating? Your build balance is off.
  • Store ice in plastic bags if it’s not being used right away.
  • Don’t use ice that’s two weeks old or older.

Types of Ice

Standard Cube (1 inch x 1 inch): These absolutely have a place in the cocktail glass. Just adhere to this standard when using standard ice cubes: Never use a water source you wouldn’t drink.

King Cubes (2 inches x 2 inches): Use these for spirit-forward drinks for consistent temperature and dilution. Examples: Manhattan, Negroni, Old Fashioned, Vieux Carré.

Collins Spear/Shard/Cylinder: For highballs. These make a Tom Collins or G&T look elegant and cool.

Ice Block: Use blocks in punches to keep large-format cocktails cold and control dilution over time.

Ice Slab: These are impressive blocks of ice bars and restaurants use to cut and shape their own cubes and spheres, often providing guests with entertainment (see below). Operators either form slabs in-house or retain the services of producers who drop them off. (In fact, there are services out there that will provide perfect and bespoke cubes, spheres and spheres.)

Sphere: Ice spheres are ideal for stirred cocktails and enjoying spirits straight. They melt very slowly in comparison to other shapes and deliver an impressive visual impact, so they often wind up in cocktails that call for king cubes.

Pebble/Crushed: Use in drinks that are heavy on syrup and/or juice, tiki drinks, and drinks served in hot climates. Examples: Frozen Daiquiri, Margarita, Mint Julep, Moscow Mule, Swizzle.

Hands-on Approach

According to many well-known bartenders, mixologists and operators, the best method for perfectly clear ice is “directional freezing.” Camper English outlined the process on the Alcademics site in 2009. But what do you do to turn a single slab into several cubes?

You’ll need an ice saw to get through the slab, a traditional single-prong ice pick to break off smaller cubes, a three-prong ice pick to break off smaller cubes and shape them into spheres if you prefer (be careful!), and an ice mallet to help the ice picks do their jobs.

Treat this process as a show for the guests. For a real-world example, the bars inside Zuma restaurants have ice stations dedicated to turning an ice slab into ice cubes. These stations are an experiential feature of the cocktail program.

Semi-hands-on Approach

An aluminum ice sphere mold is a type of “set it and forget it” device.

It may seem like these would be time-consuming to use and low-yield, but most take just a minute to form a ready-to-use sphere. Most manufacturers claim their molds can produce 30 to 40 spheres per hour.

While the mold is creating a perfect sphere of ice, the bartender grabs a glass and builds the cocktail. The guest, meanwhile, enjoys the “drama” of drink production versus ice sphere production: Will the drink and ice be ready at the same time?

Ice sphere molds range in price from under $200 to $800 (and beyond). The molds themselves are appealing to the eye, simple to use, and justify higher cocktail prices. Yes, there are bars that successfully charge more for large ice spheres, often offering different types of ice for at additional charge.

Molds make spheres in a range of diameters, normally from 1.2 inches to 2.8 inches. Higher-end models also offer shapes, such as perfect spheres, diamonds or snowflakes. Several bars that use these molds utilize custom versions that “brand” the ice with their logo.

Ice Machines

There are multiple manufacturers of commercial-grade icemakers. However, there are two that are considered top of the food chain.

Hoshizaki America’s headquarters is in Georgia and the company makes dozens of icemakers. People can choose from ice shape and the pounds of ice a machine produces in a day. We’re fans of Hoshizaki for their quality and the pandemic information they added to their FAQs last year.

Manitowoc operates out of Wisconsin and manufactures several models. There are cubers, flakers, nugget producers, and there are several solutions that work for an array of venue types, layouts and service volumes.

To learn even more about creating an epic beverage program, click here for our latest download.

Image: Moritz Mentges on Unsplash

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

Bacardi Predicts How We’ll Drink in 2021

Bacardi Predicts How We’ll Drink in 2021

by David Klemt

Bartender making a cocktail

What will alcohol consumption look like this year? Bacardi has answers.

In association with the Future Laboratory, Bacardi’s second-annual cocktail trends report—a well-sourced 25-page document—is available.

As is the case when we begin a new year, we’re being deluged with trend predictions and reports. I’d say the Bacardi 2021 Cocktail Trends Report goes deeper than most.

The report is organized into five macro trends identified by Bacardi Limited. Let’s get to it!

Reinventing the Bar

I’m not presenting Bacardi’s macro trends in order. Instead, I’m starting with the trend arguably most relevant to operators: bar reinvention.

Industry experts have been pointing to the ease of access to knowledge along with consumer interest in learning more about spirits and cocktails as an important trends for years now. It’s no longer a trend—it’s standard that guests are better informed.

Like other sources, Bacardi predicts guests will seek out more personalized experiences. They also predict guests will want to connect more with bartenders. However, the brand goes deeper in their report.

Bacardi thinks to-go cocktails, cocktail and meal kits, and e-commerce will become standard. Going a step further, the report posits that some venues will create cocktail menus that will change according to weekly inventory; sommeliers will add spirits knowledge to their skillset; and that guests will be eager to try drinks they’ve never had before.

Perhaps most importantly, Bacardi predicts bar culture will become more positive and inclusive, resulting in gender stereotypes—including those inherent to bottle design—will fall to the wayside.

Purpose and Transparency

According to a study conducted by IBM and the National Retail Federation and cited in Bacardi’s report, a massive 70 percent of American and Canadian consumers think it’s important that brands are eco-friend or sustainable.

Bacardi predicts sustainability, transparency, and the authentic embrace of social causes will be crucial this year and beyond.

In response to climate change, sustainability, eco-friendliness, and the zero-waste movement, Bacardi plans to wipe out 80 million plastic bottles with their new biodegradable bottle design, rolling out in 2023.

Pointing to a statistic from ZypMedia—that 36 percent of consumers plan to keep buying from local businesses post-pandemic—Bacardi predicts hyperlocality will grow stronger in 2021. Operators who source more local items, including beverage alcohol, will likely find more support from consumers.

Mindful Drinking

Per a Bacardi survey, 22 percent of consumers across the globe are drinking alcohol less. More than half (55 percent) of “mindful drinkers” are drinking low-ABV options.

Bacardi predicts low- and no-ABV drinks to perform well this year. Spritzes, for example, is on the rise as a bar culture in its own right.

Per Bacardi, zero-proof spirits are getting the most attention of any other category, worldwide.

Mindful drinking is also affecting how spirits are made. Consumers, more conscious of their health because of the pandemic, are showing a preference for beverages free of artificial ingredients. Furthermore, Bacardi expects consumers to seek out drinks that have health-boosting benefits.

The report, as an example, cites a Global Wellness Institute finding that in 2019 alone, “U.S. sales of ginger rose by 94%, while turmeric and garlic sales were up by 68% and 62%.” Today’s consumer is seeking out functional cocktail ingredients.

Drinking by the Numbers

Bacardi’s report puts all the brand’s cards on the table. Operators looking to program or reprogram their menus will find this information helpful.

Consider the info below for delivery and to-go drinks since Nielsen finds that 40 percent of US consumers are interested in make-at-home cocktail kits, 37 percent are interested in pre-made bottled cocktails, and 37 percent are interested in grab-and-go cocktails.

Flavor and Experience: Extreme heat (chilies), Super-sweet, Sour, Bitter, Smoked

Experiences: Pleasure, Nostalgia, Escapism, Quality over quantity, Light-hearted drinks, Flavor-filled indulgences

Most Popular Cocktails, Globally (Descending Order): Low-ABV, Other spritzes, Negroni, Classic cocktails with a twist, G&T (including riffs), Non-alcohol, Whiskey Highball, Espresso Martini, Old Fashioned, Vermouth cocktails

Premiumization Opportunities: Gin, Rum, Tequila

Top 5 Spirits (by Interest): Gin, Mezcal, Tequila, Vermouth, Bitter/Amaro Liqueurs

Top 5 RTDs in North America: Vodka Soda and flavors, Margarita, Moscow Mule, Low-ABV, G&T

Click here to read the report in its entirety.

Image: Helena Lopes on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Does the Margarita Still Reign Supreme?

Does the Margarita Still Reign Supreme?

by David Klemt

Whatever’s happening here, I’m in…

The Margarita has maintained the title of Most Popular Cocktail in the United States year after year.

But is the classic cocktail still wearing the crown and clutching the scepter?

Most Popular 2020 Cocktails

Midway through last year, Google revealed the top cocktail searches in each state:

  • Alabama: Hurricane
  • Alaska: Whiskey Sour
  • Arizona: Paloma
  • Arkansas: Frozen Daiquiri
  • California: Paloma
  • Colorado: Hurricane
  • Connecticut: Margarita
  • Delaware: Screwdriver
  • Washington, DC: Old Fashioned
  • Florida: Cuba Libre
  • Georgia: Sazerac
  • Hawaii: Lemon Drop Martini
  • Idaho: Kamikaze
  • Illinois: Manhattan
  • Indiana: French 75
  • Iowa: Kamikaze
  • Kansas: Screwdriver
  • Kentucky: Lily
  • Louisiana: Bushwacker
  • Maine: Margarita
  • Maryland: Kamikaze
  • Massachusetts: Old Fashioned
  • Michigan: Cosmo
  • Minnesota: Oliveto
  • Mississippi: Painkiller
  • Missouri: Gin and Tonic
  • Montana: Blue Hawaiian
  • Nebraska: Old Fashioned
  • Nevada: Grasshopper
  • New Hampshire: Old Fashioned
  • New Jersey: Manhattan
  • New Mexico: Old Fashioned
  • New York: Manhattan
  • North Carolina: Bushwacker
  • North Dakota: Kamikaze
  • Ohio: Boulevardier
  • Oklahoma: Black Russian
  • Oregon: Old Fashioned
  • Pennsylvania: Whiskey Sour
  • Rhode Island: Cosmo
  • South Carolina: Tequila Sunrise
  • South Dakota: Screwdriver
  • Tennessee: Buschwacker
  • Texas: Paloma
  • Utah: Cape Cod
  • Vermont: Cosmopolitan
  • Virginia: Old Fashioned
  • Washington: Old Fashioned
  • West Virginia: Kamikaze
  • Wisconsin: Grasshopper
  • Wyoming: White Russian

Margarita Slipping?

As you can see, the Margarita was only the top search in two states, Connecticut and Maine. Perhaps their access to the Atlantic Ocean coastline motivated residents of those states to enjoy the refreshing classic that invokes summer and escapism.

Regardless, the Margarita didn’t even make it into the top three. Third place went to the Cosmo, Manhattan and Screwdriver in a three-way tie, with each the most popular in three states.

Second place went to Kamikaze, the top cocktail search in Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Before I get to the first-place cocktail—according to a snapshot of time by Google—I have to address the clear winner of the Most Unique Search title. Minnesota’s top search was for the Oliveto cocktail, shaken and strained into a rocks glass:

  • 2 oz. Dry gin
  • 1 oz. fresh Lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz. Licor 43
  • 1/2 oz. full-bodied Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh Egg white
  • Ice cubes

New Number One?

The Old Fashioned, clinching seven states, was the number-one cocktail…for about 30 days in 2020.

Much has also been made about a supposed surge in interest for the Gin & Tonic.

However, scouring the Internet for data and articles, the Margarita is still sitting comfortably on the throne. According to multiple sources, the Margarita is a to-go cocktail mainstay, it’s succeeding in the RTD space (meaning it’s performing well on- and 0ff-premise), and home bartenders are driving up sales of tequila and cordials.

Trends are fun but classics are classics for a reason. So, make sure your Margs, G&Ts, Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and other staples are dialed in this year.

Image: Menú Acapulco on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Mardi Gras Transforms Into Yardi Gras

Mardi Gras Transforms Into Yardi Gras

by David Klemt

In a glaring, neon sign of the times, Mardi Gras is built for socially distanced enjoyment this year.

This year, the parade “floats” will be stationary and the revelers will come to them.

Initially created as a grassroots campaign to raise money for artists who craft Mardi Gras parade floats, “Yardi” Gras just may become an annual tradition. In fact, it has been reported that artists have already been commissioned for Yardi Gras in 2022.

What is Yardi Gras??

It’s simple. Well, it’s simple to understand—designing and constructing a Mardi Gras float is a complex undertaking that takes about a year.

Anyway, Yardi Gras celebrates Mardi Gras by transforming buildings into stand-ins for their float counterparts. As you read this, there are hundreds of homes and businesses decorated to celebrate Carnival.

Given that the most common way to enjoy Yardi Gras is via driving tours, I can see this taking off in cities across the world…in conjunction with traditional Mardi Gras parades, of course.

Via @nolashirtclub on Instagram

Alright, Who Did This?

The Krewe of Red Beans has been credited with kicking off what I hope becomes a tradition in NOLA (along with the return of floats, of course) and other cities. To raise funds for Mardi Gras artists and float builders who found themselves out of work when the city canceled parades.

A krewe, by the way, is a social group that organizes Carnival parades or balls.

Announced via press release another krewe, the Krewe of House Floats, also supported artists and the community: The Krewe of House Floats (KoHF) today announced a giving campaign to raise $100,000 for those affected by COVID-19 restrictions and Mardi Gras event cancellations, with Culture Aid NOLA and Grace at the Greenlight as the first partners for the initiative. The magic of Carnival, while often billed as the ‘Greatest Free Show on Earth,’ isn’t possible without float artisans, service industry workers, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians and other culture bearers.”

Click here to donate via the Krewe of Red Beans, and click here to give to the Krewe of House Floats. The latter has created a map of Yardi Gras participants.

Via @tb_lenswork on Instagram

Why Am I So into this Idea?

In its 164-year history, Mardi Gras has only been canceled 14 times. Mardi Gras is most closely associated with New Orleans, a city that should hold a place a reverence in the hearts of all hospitality workers.

Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Orlando come to most people’s minds when they think of US cities known for hospitality. However, New Orleans deserves a top ranking on any hospitality list.

New Orleans has nurtured the careers of several notable chefs, bartenders and operators:

  • Chef Leah Chase, who passed in 2019, was anointed the Queen of Creole Cuisine. Dooky Chase, her NOLA restaurant, has been recognized as one of the most important restaurants and was an important gathering spot for the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Emeril “So Famous You Don’t Need to Hear His Last Name to Know Who I’m Talking About” Lagasse helmed the storied Commander’s Palace in NOLA.
  • The Brennan family took ownership of Commander’s Palace in 1969 and has succeeded in building a family-owned restaurant empire.
  • Chef Nina Compton is a James Beard Award winner who worked in NYC and Miami. Before opening the award-winning Compère Lapin in 2015 and Bywater American Bistro in 2018 in NOLA, Chef Compton competed on season 11 of Top Chef.
  • Chris Hannah worked at the world-famous Arnaud’s 75 for close to 15 years before opening Manolito and Jewel of the South with Nick Dietrich.
  • Jeff “Beachbum” Berry cemented his legacy as one of the most influential people in the bar world long before he opened Latitude 29 in the French Quarter. He has written seven books focused on cocktail and culinary history, “lost” recipes, and culture.

That’s just a tiny handful of culinary and cocktail influencers with ties to New Orleans.

Cocktails Created in New Orleans

NOLA is the home of several classic cocktails, including:

  • Sazerac. Antoine Peychaud, the inventor of Peychaud’s Bitters, is credited as the creator of the Sazerac.
  • Vieux Carré. It means “Old Quarter” in French and references what we now know as the French Quarter.
  • Brandy Crusta. Created by Joseph Santini in the 1850s at the “original” Jewel of the South bar.
  • Ramos Gin Fizz. Originally called the New Orleans Gin Fizz but eventually changed to honor its creator, Henry Ramos.
  • Hurricane. Invented at Pat O’Brien’s Bar, which is still in operation and has been serving Hurricanes since the 1940s.

Next time you serve or enjoy one of these classics, toast New Orleans.

We hope you have a great Mardi Gras or Yardi Gras!

Image: beebutter from Pixabay

Top