by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Get Ready for Old Fashioned Week

Get Ready for Old Fashioned Week

by David Klemt

Old Fashioned Cocktail on bar

Old Fashioned Week is returning for its second year to raise money for the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation.

The RWCF is a non-profit restaurant and bar worker advocacy and action organization.

In its inaugural year, Old Fashioned Week set and met a goal of raising $100,000. This year, the goal and mission are the same: Raise $100,000 to help hospitality workers financially.

How to Participate

Lynn House, national spirits specialist and portfolio mixologist for Heaven Hill, shares the details of Old Fashioned Week on episode 52 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

Over the course of nine days, October 15 through 24, Elijah Craig is celebrating the bourbon cocktail they feel best showcases America’s native spirit.

Old Fashioned Week is another win-win-win restaurant and bar promotion. Operators can drive in-person and to-go (where legal) traffic, consumers enjoy an iconic cocktail while supporting the industry, and struggling hospitality workers can receive financial assistance.

Luckily, participating in this philanthropic campaign is simple. First, operators can use their social media channels and guest database to let people know they’re celebrating Old Fashioned Week. Publish posts, send emails, and send out marketing texts.

Second, operators can use the “contact us” form on the Old Fashioned week website. From there, they can ask to have their venue included in the ZIP code search function.

Third, anyone can post pictures of their Old Fashioned to social media. Simply include #OldFashionedWeek and tag Elijah Craig. The brand will donate $5 to the RWCF for every properly hashtagged and tagged photo.

Like I said, it’s simple to participate and raise money for those in need.

Elijah Craig Old Fashioned

Hey, you can make your Old Fashioned however you want. However, if you want to make the signature Elijah Craig Old Fashioned, see below:

Elijah Craig signature Old Fashioned cocktail

Add bitters, simple syrup, Elijah Craig Small Batch, and ice to a mixing glass. Stir—do not shake!—until well chilled. Strain cocktail over a large ice cube in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a swath of orange and a brandied cherry.

If you’d like to make this classic how Lynn House does, add four dashes of bitters instead of three. Two dashes of Angostura bitters, two dashes of Regan’s orange bitters.

Image: Paige Ledford on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Bee’s Knees Week: Save the Bees!

Bee’s Knees Week: Save the Bees!

by David Klemt

Honey bee on a yellow flower

What if you could help the planet with a simple but refreshing three-ingredient cocktail, a photo, and a hashtag?

Would you do it? We think you and your guests would.

Today marks the start of Bee’s Knees Week, which runs through October 3.

Learn more about how you, your business, and your guests can participate below!

Bee’s Knees Week

We all know Negroni Week. In fact, the ninth annual Negroni Week concluded this past Sunday.

Lesser known but making a name for itself is Bee’s Knees Week. First launched in 2017, this is the campaign’s fifth year.

Nearly 1,000 bars participated in Bee’s Knees Week last year. Since 2017, participants have raised more than $70,000.

We’d love to see more than 1,000 bars take part this year, so click here to register your business to participate.

Save the Bees

So, why save the bees? They’re an integral part of our planet’s ecosystem.

As we know, bees pollinate flora and crops. That means these keystone insects help develop and maintain habitats, and also ensure sufficient food supplies.

Unfortunately, bee populations are on the decline. Simply put, if the bees die, most of life on Earth dies next.

So, when you participate in Bee’s Knees Week and encourage your guests to do so as well, what’s the result?

For every photo posted to social media of a Bee’s Knees cocktail that includes #beeskneesweek and @barrhillgin, Barr Hill Gin will plant ten square feet of bee habitat.

Simply put, it can’t be any easier to participate in this eco-friendly campaign. Once you register your restaurant, bar, entertainment venue, or hotel, build a Bee’s Knees, snap a photo, tag and post it, and use it to promote your participation to guests and followers.

Build the Cocktail

The Bee’s Knees cocktail is a straightforward, three-ingredient drink with a simple garnish:

  • 2 oz. Gin
  • 0.75 oz. Honey syrup (make your own: 2 parts honey, 1 part hot water, let cool)
  • 0.75 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon twist to garnish


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A post shared by BARR HILL (@barrhillgin)

First, chill a cocktail glass. In a mixing tin, combine the three ingredients with ice. Second, shake and double strain into the prepared glass. Third, garnish with a lemon twist.

Next, serve and ask your guests to post a photo of their refreshing cocktail that includes the tags #beeskneesweek and @barrhillgin.

And that’s it—you’re helping save the bees and the planet.

Image: Dmitry Grigoriev on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: September

5 Books to Read this Month: September

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

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

To review last month’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s dive in!

Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! (revised second edition)

The world is steadily becoming more and more enthralled with all agave spirits. Mezcal, of course, helped spearhead this interest and the category’s growth. If you want a deeper understanding of mezcal, John P. McEvoy’s Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! is the book you’re looking for. Click here for the black-and-white version, and here for the full-color version.

Cocktails of the Movies: An Illustrated Guide to Cinematic Mixology New Expanded Edition

There’s no doubt that pop culture has an impact on food and beverage trends. In Cocktails of the Movies, authors Will Francis and Stacey Marsh take a look at cocktails featured in film. Not only are there recipes, you’ll find a history of each cocktail, the scene it was in, and artwork.

The Infused Cocktail Handbook: The Essential Guide to Homemade Blends and Infusions

One excellent way to set your bar program apart from the competition’s is with house infusions. Kurt Maitland’s The Infused Cocktail Handbook dives into what spirits pair best with specific ingredients, including bacon and gummy bears.

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.

5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential

John C. Maxwell’s book 5 Levels of Leadership helps people become true leaders. Remember, becoming a leader is a journey in and of itself, not just a position you find yourself in.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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How to Use RTDs for LTOs

How to Use RTDs for LTOs

by David Klemt

White Claw Ruby Grapefruit and pizza poolside

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

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

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

Massive Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple LTOs

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A post shared by Nickel City (@nickelcityatx)

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

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

Such a drink can certainly be leveraged via monthly LTOs.

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

Image: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: August

5 Books to Read this Month: August

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

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

To review last month’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s dive in!

Something & Tonic: A History of the World’s Most Iconic Mixer

Author and bartender Nick Kokonas takes readers on a historical, global journey that focuses on the history of tonic. This informative book also contains tips, tricks, and 60 original cocktail recipes. Click here to purchase Something & Tonic now.

America Walks into a Bar

Do you have a passion for this business? Do you actually love bars and the rich history of our industry? Then you need to read Christine Sismondo’s America Walks into a Bar, equal parts adventure, entertainment and history.

Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End

I could try to sum up Burn the Ice for you, but Danny Meyer seems to have captured the essence of this Kevin Alexander’s book in one word: “Inspiring.”

The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World

When we come across a great bar, restaurant or hotel, we never encounter strangers. Instead, we meet friends we never knew we had. In The Power of Strangers, author Joe Keohane addresses the importance of getting over the fear of engaging with strangers and why, particularly in these divisive times, we need “strangers” more than ever in our lives.

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

The world around us has changed, as has the food & beverage industry and the hospitality industry as a whole. But will some ways of life change for the better? Will restaurants, bars, and hotels come out of the pandemic even stronger? In Hacking the New Normal, author and president of KRG Hospitality Doug Radkey addresses the need to hit the reset button on the hospitality industry for its long-term survival.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Father’s Day Food & Beer Pairings

Father’s Day Food & Beer Pairings

by David Klemt

Burger with onion rings and beer

Father’s Day is right around the corner and while it isn’t usually quite as busy as Mother’s Day, this year could be different.

After all, states and provinces are reopening, and the weather is getting warmer. In fact, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that restaurants and bars are no longer subject to social distancing restrictions.

And hey, who isn’t looking for an excuse to get out and return to restaurants and bars?

Now, I’m going to assume that most operators who plan to celebrate Father’s Day this weekend have their promotions in place. However, to help give those promos a boost, I want to share beer pairings for classic Father’s Day menu items.

Of course, these pairings work well on any day of the week, and they’re in no way limited to dads. Anyone who enjoys beer will appreciate operators putting an emphasis on food and beer pairings.


One of the most popular foods, particularly for those seeking out comfort, burgers and an array of beers go together. For a classic hamburger, suggest an IPA, APA or Lager. Known for your mushroom and Swiss cheese burger? Brown ales, amber ales and porters work well. Pale ales go well with bacon burgers, and wheat ales and Witbier pair with veggie burgers.


Fried chicken is certainly right up there with burgers in terms of comfort foods. And it’s certainly great for Father’s Day. Suggest pairing fried chicken with a Kölsch, Märzen, Helles, and Hefeweizen. For barbecue chicken, recommend a light lager, Pilsner, Saison, Hefeweizen and Witbier. Honey glazed chicken (baked or as wings) work very well with a Kölsch.


If you have ribs on the menu, there are a few ways to go with beer pairings. Porters, stouts and German lagers are medium- to full-bodied and can stand up to bold, rich flavors and compliment smoke. On the other hand, pale ales and IPAs (lighter versions tend to work better) are lighter but can compliment barbecue flavors as well. Porters and American pale ales sip well with pulled pork sandwiches. A Märzen, Hefeweizen or Porter pairs nicely with pork chops.


Just like there are several cuts of beef for steaks, there are several beer types that pair well with steak. Brown ales, stouts, porters, IPAs, lagers and IPAs work well for different reasons. Cuts that are more flavorful (ribeye, top sirloin, porterhouse, T-bone) pair well with darker beers (generally speaking). But cuts like filet mignon, known to be lighter in flavor, work well with lighter beers (some lagers and IPAs).


Much like steak, seafood presents plenty of variety for beer drinkers. You’ll find that Pilsners compliment many different types of seafood. Generally speaking, lobster dishes pair well with a Pilsner or an IPA (that isn’t too assertive). Pilsners work great with an array of fish, so suggest one with your fish and chips or tilapia. When it comes to many crab dishes, lagers and—yep—Pilsners are excellent recommendations. Wheat beers pair well with mussels, and sours and Goses drink well with oysters.

Grilled Vegetables

When it comes to grilled and charred vegetables, dark beers with roast coffee, malty and chocolate flavors pair very well. Imperial stouts can certainly hold their own with grilled, roasted and charred veggies. However, black lagers and porters are lighter than imperial stouts with similar flavor characteristics, meaning they won’t overpower the vegetables.

Of course, the best way to make winning pairing suggestions is to try them yourself. Even better, include kitchen staff, servers and bartenders and get their feedback. There’s no substitute for being able to make pairing recommendations based on personal experience.

Image: Edward Franklin on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Multi-gen Recipe Becomes RTD

Multi-gen Recipe Becomes RTD

by David Klemt

Fishers Island Lemonade cans and flavors

Not just another RTD, Fishers Island Lemonade is a premium brand that transforms a multi-generational recipe into a can cocktail.

Now, the brand is launching four new expressions, right in time for summer.

Let’s take a look at these craft RTD cocktails.

A Recipe with History

There’s only one place to drink on Fishers Island in New York, the Pequot Inn. The restaurant and bar is known for its signature cocktails.

One intrepid member of the Shillo family, who owned the Pequot for more than two decades, is putting her spin on one of the signature cocktails into cans.

Bronya Shillo tended bar at the Pequot when it was under her family’s ownership. She launched Fishers Island Lemonade (FIL) in 2014.

FIL’s original expression is a 9.0-percent blend of premium vodka, barrel-aged whiskey, lemon and honey. Now, the Original spiked lemonade has four new friends: Spiked Tea, Pink Flamingo, Fizz, and Frozen Spirits Pops.

Brand Expansion

Like Original FIL, the brand’s new lineup consists of signature cocktail recipes. In fact, you’ll find several FIL recipes on the brand’s website.

FIL Spiked Tea and Pink Flamingo both ring in at 7.0 percent ABV. The former is the original recipe with black tea, while the latter is made with cranberry.

Fishers Island Fizz is the lower-ABV version of Original FIL, coming in at a more sessionable 5.0 percent ABV.

Fishers Island Lemonade Frozen Spirits Pops

Perfect for summer, FIL Frozen Spirits Pops are exactly what they sound like: popsicles made with Original FIL.

Finding FIL

Currently, FIL is available in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

However, the brand is utilizing direct-to-consumer sales to reach consumers across America. FIL is also available on Drizly.

A four-pack of FIL RTDs have an SRP of $15.99. The Frozen Spirits Pops come in ten-packs with an SRP of $27.99.

Images provided by Fishers Island Lemonade

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Are You Ready for St. Patrick’s Day?

Are You Ready for St. Patrick’s Day?

by David Klemt

Green neon "DRINKS" sign on brick wall

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Operators need to make sure they’re ready for in-person, delivery and takeout guests eager to celebrate.

An interesting element for this year’s holiday is that many people will be celebrating at home. That makes themed delivery, takeout and pickup packages important.

Over the past 12 months, consumers have grown to correlate drinking occasions with drinking at home. That shift in behavior can make it more challenging to succeed with holidays.

Of course, challenges also present opportunities. Working from and drinking at home has made weekday day-drinking more common. Operators can leverage new behaviors to offer in-person, delivery and takeout packages starting earlier for St. Patrick’s Day.

Such packages can include Irish Coffees for the morning or early lunch, Irish beers for lunch or dinner, Irish whiskey and beer packages for dinner and late-night…you get the idea. Classic and modern riffs on St. Patrick’s Day food mainstays are also a crucial element. The key is to get creative with inventory and offers, attracting a combination of in-person and off-premise consumers.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Irish, Canadian and America whiskeys. We’re including the standards but also focusing on innovative and single malt expressions that boost guest spends and overall revenue.

Irish Whiskeys

One thing all operators know when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day: Irish whiskey and high-visibility brands must be represented.

After all, according to the Spirits Business, Irish whiskey generated well over $1 billion for distillers last year in the United States alone.

Jameson, Bushmills, Tullamore DEW, Kilbeggan and Redbreast shine on St. Patrick’s Day. Proper No. 12 is just a few years old but is on its way to becoming a St. Patrick’s standard.

In markets that can bear it, premiumization can help generate more revenue during this year’s holiday.

There’s nothing wrong with OG Jameson but consider premiumization with Jameson Black Barrel or 18 Years, which is finished in first-fill barrels.

When it comes to Bushmills, the original expression is great. Rare Cask 01, however, is the distillery’s Cognac cask premium dram.

For the adventurous guest, Cider Cask Finish, XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, and Old Bonded Warehouse Release from Tullamore DEW will get their attention.

Operators who feature Kilbeggan would do well to consider premiumization in the forms of Single Pot Still and Small Batch Rye.

Redbreast 12 Cask Strength and Redbreast Lustau are undeniable elevations of traditional Irish whiskey.

Canadian Single Malts

When people hear or think about St. Patrick’s Day, they tend to immediately leap to Irish whiskey. However, this holiday can be a time to highlight whiskeys from other countries.

Central City crafts Lohin McKinnon Single Malt with “pure British Columbia” water, per their website. The distiller recommends adding a splash cold, filtered water, a tip you can share with your guests.

Another Central City single malt takes Canadian in an interesting direction. Lohin McKinnon Tequila Barrel Finished instills single malt with unique flavors.

Eau De Claire boasts the distinction of being Alberta’s first craft distillery and first single malt whisky producers. The distillery uses only Alberta barley and rye to craft their liquid.

American Single Malts

There are a number of superlative American single malt whiskeys to consider promoting on St. Patrick’s Day.

Westland produces American single malt in Seattle, Washington. The distillery’s Outpost Range—Garryana, Colere, and Solum—celebrates American tradition, innovation and Pacific Northwest provenance.

Westward aims to craft and bottle the spirit of the American Northwest. Westward Pinot Noir Cask and Stout Cask elevate the distillery’s American single malts.

Those searching for a Rocky Mountain single malt need look no further than Stranahan’s. Each of their expressions is thoughtfully crafted, so it can be hard to choose just one. However, Blue Peak is interesting because it undergoes high-altitude distillation and is also finished using the Solera Method.

Also hailing from Colorado is Deerhammer. The distillery’s American Single Malt mash bill can experience temperature swings of well over 40 degrees in a single day.

Image: Stéphan Valentin on Unsplash