Cocktails

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tales Announces Top Four Awards Finalists

Tales Announces Top Four Spirited Awards Finalists

by David Klemt

The number four inside a circle

It’s official: The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation announces the top four finalists in each of the 2022 Spirited Awards categories.

I don’t envy the judges who have to narrow down the top ten nominees to the top four finalists. Equally as daunting: deciding on the winner of each award in each category.

We’ll know who’s taking home each Spirited Award in just over a month. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 28 at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. For those attending the 20th anniversary Tales of the Cocktail, the Ritz-Carlton is this year’s headquarters hotel.

Purchase Spirited Awards tickets here, and check out the digital playbill here.

See you at Tales, y’all! Cheers.

US Categories

US Bartender of the Year presented by Del Maguey

  • Josh Davis (16th Street Bar, Chicago, IL)
  • Chris Hannah (Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA)
  • Masahiro “Masa” Urushido (Katana Kitten, New York, NY)
  • Christine Wiseman (BarLab Hospitality Group, Miami, FL)

Best US Bar Mentor presented by BarSmarts

  • Meaghan Dorman
  • Sean Kenyon
  • Nectaly Mendoza
  • Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Best US Brand Ambassador presented by Libbey Glass

  • Chris Cabrera (Bacardí USA)
  • Tad Carducci (Gruppo Montenegro)
  • Vance Henderson (Hendrick’s Gin)
  • Lynn House (Heaven Hill)

Best US Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

  • Half Step (Austin, TX)
  • Jewel of the South (New Orleans, LA)
  • Katana Kitten (New York, NY)
  • The Roosevelt Room (Austin, TX)

Best US Cocktail Bar presented by Absolut Vodka

  • Bar Goto (New York, NY)
  • Katana Kitten (New York, NY)
  • The Roosevelt Room (Austin, TX)
  • Thunderbolt (Los Angeles, CA)

Best US Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose

  • Dear Irving on Hudson at the Aliz Hotel (New York, NY)
  • Hey Love at The Jupiter (Portland, OR)
  • Little Rituals at the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Silver Lyan at the Riggs Washington DC (Washington, DC)

Best US Restaurant Bar presented by Maison Ferrand

  • Café La Trova (Miami, FL)
  • Cleaver: Butchered Meats, Seafood & Classic Cocktails (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Jewel of the South (New Orleans, LA)
  • Kumiko (Chicago, IL)

Best New US Cocktail Bar presented by Aviation Gin

  • Double Chicken Please (New York, NY)
  • Happy Accidents (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Temple Bar (New York, NY)
  • Yacht Club (Denver, CO)

International Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Patrón

  • Lorenzo Antinori (ARGO / Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts, Hong Kong, China)
  • Keith Motsi (Charles H. Seoul at the Four Seasons Hotel, Seoul, South Korea)
  • Rémy Savage (🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name, London, UK)
  • Matt Whiley (RE, Sydney, Australia)

Best International Bar Mentor presented by Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic

  • Monica Berg
  • Renato “Tato” Giovannoni
  • Lauren Mote
  • Agostino Perrone

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic

  • Martin Hudák (Mr. Black Spirits)
  • Daniyel Jones (House of Angostura)
  • Ricardo Nava (Bacardí Latin America)
  • Nicola Riske (The Macallan)

Best International Bar Team presented by House of Angostura

  • ALQUÍMICO (Cartagena, Colombia)
  • MAYBE SAMMY (Sydney, Australia)
  • The Clumsies (Athens, Greece)
  • Two Schmucks (Barcelona, Spain)

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by Tequila Fortaleza

  • MAYBE SAMMY (Sydney, Australia)
  • Satan’s Whiskers (London, UK)
  • Tayēr + Elementary (London, UK)
  • Two Schmucks (Barcelona, Spain)

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Perrier

  • Charles H. Seoul at the Four Seasons Hotel (Seoul, South Korea)
  • Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Hotel (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)
  • The American Bar at The Stafford London (London, UK)

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Danico (Paris, France)
  • Le Mary Celeste (Paris, France)
  • Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Sexy Fish (London, UK)

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Stranger & Sons

  • 🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name (London, UK)
  • ARGO (Hong Kong, China)
  • Schofield’s Bar (Manchester, UK)
  • SIPS (Barcelona, Spain)

Global Categories

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky
  • Citadelle Gin Jardin d’été
  • Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic – Italian Orange
  • Nixta Licor de Elote

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Little Red Door (Paris, France)
  • Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)
  • Swift Soho (London, UK)
  • Tayēr + Elementary (London, UK)

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Beam Suntory

  • In-Situ Mezcaleria (Oaxaca City, Mexico)
  • Jack Rose Dining Saloon (Washington, DC)
  • Sexy Fish (London, UK)
  • Swift Soho (London, UK)

Writing and Media Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • CLASS magazine
  • Discard the Zine
  • VinePair
  • Whisky Magazine

Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Radio Imbibe
  • Shōshin Art Club
  • The Cocktail Lovers Podcast
  • The Speakeasy Podcast

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • “Get Real: The bar world looks beyond feel-good measures on sustainability and climate change” by Max Falkowitz, for Imbibe Magazine
  • “Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Destroyed American Bar Culture?” by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, for Daily Beast
  • “Meet the Eco-Packaging Innovations Transforming the Drinks Industry” by Betsy Andrews, for SevenFifty Daily
  • “The Greatest Drinking Contest in History” by David Wondrich, for Daily Beast

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic

  • Death & Co: Welcome Home by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan
  • The Cocktail Seminars by Brian D. Hoefling
  • The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig
  • The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes by Julia Momosé with Emma Janzen

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey by Clay Risen
  • Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization by Edward Slingerland
  • Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol by Mallory O’Meara
  • The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails edited by David Wondrich with Noah Rothbaum

Image: Tim Hüfner on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: June 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: June 2022

by David Klemt

 

Flipping through an open book

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

To review May’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Doctors and Distillers

As the historians in our industry have known for a while, cocktails were once considered medicinal. Of course, in some ways that’s still the case.

Industry author, speaker, and educator Camper English shows us how medicine and alcohol have long been connected throughout human history in Doctors and Distillers. Have you head of using wine as a dewormer? How about treating wounds with beer? Would you ever consider using spirits to heal a snakebite? Well, humans have done those things and more with booze. Pre-order this book today!

A Bartender’s Guide to the World

I’m just going to be blunt here: Lauren Mote probably knows more about spirits, liqueurs, and cocktails than you. That’s not a slam—she loves sharing her knowledge and helping people improve their craft and business.

Available for pre-order now for an October launch, A Bartender’s Guide to the World shares not only Mote’s journeys around the world but also more than 75 cocktail recipes. The book’s recipes are organized by their base ingredient. Additionally, there’s an entire chapter just addressing alcohol-free drinks.

The Portugal Cookbook

Chef Leandro Carreira shares well over 500 recipes in The Portugal Cookbook. These dishes range from traditional Portuguese cuisine to modern recipes.

Every region throughout Portugal is represented in this informative and mouth-watering book, including the Duoro Valley and Algarve coast. Portugal is known as a global destination for foodies and this book will definitely help you add some delicious, on-trend recipes to your menu.

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

The world around us has changed. The food & beverage industry has changed. The hospitality industry has changed. But will some ways of life change for the better? In Doug Radkey’s second book, Hacking the New Normal, he asks the following: “Do you think you can hit the reset button on your approach to business? Do you think you can help hit the reset button on this industry? I have made the decision to do so. The question remains, have you?”

Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others

Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, addresses the leadership crisis we face today. As the author of Trust and Inspire points out, the world is changing but leadership styles remain the same. That simply won’t work moving forward. It’s crucial we change how we view leadership, and develop new leadership styles and strategies if we’re going to succeed from now on.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

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

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

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

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

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

Old Fashioned

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

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

Manhattan

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

Whisky Sour

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

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

Boulevardier

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

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

Mint Julep

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

Sazerac

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

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

Vieux Carré

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

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

Penicillin

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

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

Honorable Mentions

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

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

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

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

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

Your Own Data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

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

To review April’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Rum Rebels: A Celebration of Women Revolutionizing the Spirits Industry

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

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

Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drinking & Knowing Things

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

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

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Forward Progress: 2022 Drink Trends

Forward Progress: 2022 Drink Trends

by David Klemt

Cocktail on bar mat behind bar

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

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

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

Datassential MegaTrends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of the Rest

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

Seltzer/Beer

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

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

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

Wine

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

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

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

Cocktail

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

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

Global

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

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

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

Image: ABHISHEK HAJARE on Unsplash

 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

TOTC Launches New Philanthropic Committee

TOTC Launches New Philanthropic Committee

by David Klemt

New Orleans, Louisiana, architecture in the French Quarter

Continuing their growth and commitment to supporting the spirits and hospitality industries, Tales of the Cocktail announces a new committee.

Formerly known as the Grants Committee, this committee will act as an advisory board to TOTC Foundation. In this capacity, the new Philanthropy & Development Committee will guide decisions regarding the TOTCF’s portfolio of philanthropic endeavors.

In launching the Philanthropy & Development Committee, the TOTCF is responding directly to the needs of the spirits community.

Commitment to Philanthropy

Supporting the industry is a TOTCF cornerstone. This commitment was supercharged when the Solomon Group and Neal Bodenheimer, Jr. took over in 2018.

Upon purchasing the rights, the Solomon family and Bodenheimer, Jr. transformed TOTC into a non-profit. Since then, the organization has developed ways to benefit New Orleans and the spirits and hospitality industries.

One major avenue of support came by way of the TOTCF Grants Committee. Their mission was straightforward and lofty: “to support nascent or existing programs, non-profit organizations, and individuals developing a specific project that will impact the global hospitality community present day and beyond.”

In selecting recipients, the Grants Committee reviewed submissions. Recipients needed to support the TOTCF’s core pillars with a focus on diversity, representation, and inclusivity: Advancement, education, and support.

One such recipient that exemplifies the Grant Committee’s work is Turning Tables. From their website:

“Turning Tables advocates for equity in the hospitality industry by providing mentorship, educational tools, and platforms for exposure in a system of support for the black and brown communities of New Orleans.”

New Name, Bigger Mission

To be clear, the Philanthropy & Development Committee is still offering grants. However, the past two years saw the expansion of the Grants Committee’s mission.

In addition to grants, the committee:

  • provided direct relief to industry professionals;
  • entered into more non-profit partnerships;
  • boosted the number of Beyond the Bar activations;
  • engaged in advocacy and policy efforts;
  • and expanded mental health and wellness capabilities.

Given the evolution of the committee’s work, transforming to the Philanthropy & Development Committee better communicates the mission.

“I’m really excited about this new era of the committee,” says Philanthropy & Development Committee co-chair Kellie Thorn. “While grant-giving will still be a focus, we will now have the opportunity to diversify the way that we serve the drinks community as well as continue to provide thoughtful insight to the Foundation about our industry.”

Continental Drift and Drift Kitchen owner Eric Bennett co-chairs the committee alongside consultant and educator Thorn. The eleven current committee members are:

  • Tiffanie Barriere
  • Chris Cabrera
  • Claudia Cabrera
  • Samuel Jimenez
  • Nandini Khaund
  • Yisell Muxo
  • Lisa Nguyen
  • Chris Patino
  • Vivian Pei
  • Kelsey Ramage
  • Morgan Schick

To learn more about the Philanthropy & Development Committee, click here.

Image: Aya Salman on Unsplash

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