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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

3 Bar Hacks Episodes for Sober October

3 Bar Hacks Episodes for Sober October

by David Klemt

Bartender straining cocktail

We’re just two weeks away from Sober October so here are three Bar Hacks podcast episodes to get you ready for this important month.

Over the course of 100-plus episodes we’ve spoken with a handful of non-alcohol brands. These, along with other alcohol-free brands, should be on your radar.

In fact, they deserve spots on your backbar and placement on your menus. The latest estimate is that around 40 percent of Americans don’t consume alcohol. In Canada that number is roughly 33 percent.

However, those numbers don’t paint a complete picture. Over the past few years there has been increasing interest in “sober curiosity.” In this movement, people abstain from drinking alcohol from time to time rather than abstaining permanently.

Now, we tend to associate the month of January with sobriety, either permanent or temporary. Clearly, however, October is also a month where people choose to not imbibe.

The Sober Guest Experience

The following should go without saying but let’s cover it anyway. Some sober people do, in fact, spend time in bars and nightclubs.

Just as that should go without saying, so should this: Your sober guests deserve every bit as great an experience as guests who are drinking alcohol.

Moreover, sober guests deserve a guest experience free of discomfort or isolation. In short, you should seamlessly provide the same level of service at the bar to sober guests as those who enjoy alcohol.

No, it’s not enough to menu water, sugary sodas, lemonade, and tea. Sober guests should be comfortable coming to your bar. Like guests who consume alcohol, sober guests should be able to order a drink that doesn’t make them feel different or singled out.

So, put quality non-alcohol beers on your menu. Create a number of signature zero-proof cocktails. Serve both with the same attention to detail as presentation as their full-alcohol counterparts.

“I’m a professional, I want to create,” says Paul Mathew, founder of alcohol-free aperitif brand Everleaf and Bar Hacks guest. “I want to do something I’m proud of.”

Approach your alcohol-free program the same way as Mathew, a bartender and operator himself. Be professional, be creative, and be mindful of your sober guests’ experience.

Episode 28 with Tim Rita

Lyre’s Spirits crafts alcohol-free spirits that masterfully mimic their full-proof counterparts. Host David Klemt sits down with Lyre’s brand ambassador, bartender, and buddy Tim Rita to chat about the brand. In this episode you’ll learn about one of the fastest-growing brands in one of the fastest-growing beverage categories. For the alcohol-free Mai Tai mentioned on the podcast, click here.

Listen now.

Episode 31 with Ted Fleming

Ted Fleming, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Partake Brewing, stops by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk with host David Klemt. The two discuss the founding of Partake Brewing and the importance and growth of the non-alcohol beer category. Also, how operators can succeed with non-alc, advice for entrepreneurs, and more. Visit the Partake Brewing website to learn more. Connect with Partake on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Click here to listen.

Episode 81 with Paul Mathew

Paul Mathew, bartender, bar owner, and founder of Everleaf, sits down with Bar Hacks podcast co-host David Klemt. In this fun and informative episode, Paul shares his journey through bartending and bar ownership, and his entry into the drinks business. Non-alcoholic aperitif brand Everleaf is the culmination of Paul’s many years as a conservationist botanist, knowledge of plants, and nearly 30 years in the bar business.

The Everleaf portfolio consists of three unique expressions and a new RTD line. Shortly, Everleaf will begin distribution throughout the United States, and there are plans for Canada and Australia in the future. To learn more, vist the Everleaf website and follow Everleaf on Instagram and Facebook.

Listen to this episode here.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

by David Klemt

Jack o' lantern and smoke

Once again, the unstoppable march of the spooky season is upon us, bringing with it a frightening assortment of pumpkin spice items and expectations.

In the blink of an eye, hordes will descend on your restaurant or bar. “Pumpkin spiiiiiice,” they’ll croak.

Okay, so that’s overly dramatic. For the most part, pumpkin spice season is anything but scary. And really, very few people will transform into singularly focused pumpkin spice zombies.

However, fall is nearly here. So, you do need to finalize your fall/autumn menu. Beginning in September, that really does mean considering offering at least one pumpkin spice LTO item.

Interestingly, though, pumpkin spice may not deserve its perception as the flavor of fall. According to Datassential, there are ten flavors that index high enough to give pumpkin spice a challenge for the fall throne.

What are they? Well, it just so happens that Datassential has those answers, along with a bit of useful advice.

Lord of the LTO

Recently, Datassential released “Food Industry Trend Report: 2022 Pumpkin Spice Season.” As the research firm points out, pumpkin spice seems to be encroaching on summer more each year.

How far away are we, I wonder, from pumpkin spice claiming summer for itself? Will we be subjected to pumpkin spice dry rubs at summer barbecues? Is some intrepid operator going to create a pumpkin spice lemonade?

Those terrifying questons aside, pumpkin spice season coming earlier means more opportunities to benefit from LTOs. Just as it seems that pumpkin spice is descending upon us earlier and earlier, it also seems to dominate the LTO space.

In fact, per Datassential research, major chains executed 174 pumpkin spice LTOs. Now, that’s still with a five-percent drop in menuing for pumpkin space over the past 12 months. Further, that number doesn’t include small, regional chains and independents who also launched pumpkin spice LTOs.

Of course, there are also other fall flavors that deserve a place on operators’ menus. And they’re perfectly cromulent as LTO drivers.

Fall Flavor Favorites

To inspire operators to create LTOs that entice consumers this fall, Datassential has identitied ten flavors on which to focus. Helpfully, they separate them into two main categories.

Top five sweet fall flavors:

  • Vietnamese cinnamon
  • Spicy ginger
  • Allspice
  • Eggnog
  • Pumpkin pie

Top five savory flavors:

  • Coconut milk
  • “Oktoberfest”
  • Mustard cream
  • Turkey gravy
  • Cranberry sauce

Personally, I can see operators and their teams needing to get creative to leverage mustard cream and turkey gravy. Interestingly, Datassential suggests a few flavors not on either list above.

According to their report, Datassential expects apple and blood orange to be popular for LTOs this year. According to the firm, apple was popular last year. When it comes to blood orange, Datassential says 38 percent of consumers like or love the flavor.

Whichever flavors you choose, Datassential has the following advice, which we co-sign: Ensure your LTOs are fresh; make sure they’re easy and quick to make; and don’t discount them. In fact, you should create premium LTOs that come with a premium price.

Image: Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

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KRG Hospitality’s Top Bourbon Articles

KRG Hospitality’s Top Bourbon Articles

by David Klemt

Glass of bourbon whiskey next to fire

To inspire and help you program for National Bourbon Heritage Month, enjoy this roundup of our top bourbon articles.

For bourbon lovers specifically and those who appreciate whiskey in general, this is an exciting month. You can leverage that excitement throughout the month of September.

From limited time offers to pour specials and offering guests to try new bottles, National Bourbon Heritage Month is perfect for becoming a person’s go-to bourbon bar. Our resources below will help you achieve that status.

Cheers!

9 Bottles for Bourbon Heritage Month

Nine awesome bottles in three separate pricing categories. Here you’ll find bottles that retail for less than $25, several under $100, and a few that cost up to $150. Click here to read.

The 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge

In 2011, bourbon devotee and advocate Patrick Garrett founded Bourbon & Banter “to spread the Bourbon Gospel.” One way they accomplish this mission is through 30 Days of Bourbon. This challenge is simple but intriguing: Try a different bourbon every day in September. Click here to learn more.

National Bourbon Day: 2022 Trends

The history and heritage of bourbon is important. As America’s native spirit, bourbon’s history is particularly important to the nation. However, innovation and trends are crucial to the future of bourbon. In this article we examine four important 2022 bourbon trends. Click here to read.

7 Whiskeys for National Bourbon Day

Before we celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month each year we celebrate National Bourbon Day. It’s always fun to see what new and exciting bottles are available, like these seven bottles from 2021. Click here.

8 Bottles for Bourbon Day

Of course, we’re celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month 2022 this year. So, here are eight bottles worth checking out and adding to your inventory. Click here to review these bottles.

8 Bourbon Cocktails You Need to Know

Contrary to what some purists will tell you (whether you ask them or not), bourbon is great in a cocktail. From the ubiqutious Old Fashioned to the modern classic Billionaire, this article dives into eight bourbon cocktails you and your bar team need to know. And, of course, they’re perfect for National Bourbon Heritage Month limited time only menu. Click here to learn more.

7 Great Books About Bourbon

Sure, it’s awesome to enjoy a bourbon with friends. But what about pouring a dram of your favorite bourbon while reading about bourbon? Grab one or more of these books, pair them with a beautiful bourbon, and start expanding your whiskey knowledge today. Click here for our book recommendations.

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

When it comes to learning about a particular spirit, those producing them tend to know the most. So, seeking education straight from the source is a smart move. Rabbit Hole is creating, curating, and growing free bourbon resources. Have a question? They’ve got the answers, and then some. Click here.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: September 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: September 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level leadership skills and dial in your drink menu.

To review August’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Your Restaurant Culture Sucks!: Stop surviving. Start thriving. Escape mediocrity

Donald Burns, the Restaurant Coach and friend of KRG Hospitality, completes his Your Restaurant Sucks! trilogy. For the third book in the self-improvement and hospitality industry leadership series, Burns tackles culture.

In Your Restaurant Culture Sucks!, Burns helps owners, operators, and leadership team members understand the importance of workplace and company culture. Instead of complaining that “nobody wants to work anymore,” look inside and find out why perhaps nobody wants to work for you. That kind of honesty helps implement real change, change that sets you apart and improves recruitment, hiring, and retention.

“All restaurants can buy from the same vendors and hire from the same labor pool. What separates the good, from the great to the outstanding is culture!”

Subtract

Sometimes changing our outlook and improving our leadership skills is about streamlining.

“We pile on ‘to-dos’ but don’t consider ‘stop-doings.’ We create incentives for good behavior, but don’t get rid of obstacles to it. We collect new-and-improved ideas, but don’t prune the outdated ones. Every day, across challenges big and small, we neglect a basic way to make things better: we don’t subtract.”

With Subtract, Leidy Klotz explains how changing how we approach solutions can be life changing. Maybe we need to stop adding and start subtracting to improve our strategies.

Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em from the Award-Winning Bar

If you travel to New Orleans and you’re in this industry, you probably make sure to include Cure on your itinerary. For more than a decade this 2018 James Beard Award winner (Outstanding Bar Program) has been integral to the city’s craft cocktail scene.

Whether you’re after a deceptively simple beer and shot or a cocktail made with a rare, allocated bourbon, Cure is there to elevate your French Quarter visit. And soon you’ll be able to bring Cure home with you, and to your restaurant or bar as well. Available now for preorder, Cure includes 100 cocktail recipes that tell the tale of NOLA from past, present, and future.

Craft Beer Design: The Design, Illustration and Branding of Contemporary Breweries

Anyone who pauses to consider beer can design knows that it’s becoming nearly as important as the liquid. With thousands of breweries all over the US alone, how does a brewer stand out? How does a small, independent craft brewer grab a potential new customer’s attention in a sea of options? In part, through their can designs. Of course the beer itself is crucial and the most important element. However, a consumer has to be motivated to try a beer before they learn how good it tastes.

Craft Beer Design dives deep into craft beer design, featuring real-world examples and interviews with the designers themselves.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Curiosity keeps us learning. The pursuit of knowledge keeps us sharp. Learning helps us improve ourselves, our leadership, and our operations. The belief that we’ve learned all there is to know, however, prevents us from learning to our own detriment.

Much like Subtract teaches us how to remove rather than add, Think Again proposes a new approach: unlearning and rethinking. Why do we get defensive when we’re wrong? Why are we so afraid of challenges to long-held beliefs? Admitting when we’re wrong and seeking facts is a strength, not a weakness.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: Sept. 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: September 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 September 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 August’s list, click here.

September 5: Be Late for Something Day

You know what’s a great reason to be late from something? Enjoying an awesome meal or some great drinks with friends. Your bar or restaurant can provide that awesome meal and great drinks.

September 6: National Read a Book Day

As you know if you’ve been visiting KRG Hospitality throughout the week or subscribe to our newsletter, we love recommending good books. Cookbooks, cocktail books, hospitality industry history books, leadership books… We’re all about learning.

This is an excellent day to promote swapping books, recommending books, sharing books, etc.

September 8: National Ampersand Day

If there was ever a day that demands food/and or drink combos, it’s National Ampersand Day. For example, this is the perfect bar holiday to create a beer and shot limited-time offer menu.

September 13: National Positive Thinking Day

Restaurants and bars are the cornerstsones of their communities. One way operators and their teams can support their community is by ensuring they provide a positive experience.

On this day, encourage your community to stop in for a bite, a drink, a chat, and an overall happy, healthy time.

September 14: National Eat a Hoagie Day

No, hoagies aren’t weird…in Philadelphia. Everywhere else, it can sometimes be a “weird” thing to call a submarine sandwich. At any rate, guess what food you should create an LTO around on this holiday.

September 17: National Monte Cristo Day

You don’t have to agree with me, but this weird sandwich is my favorite. Sure, burgers are cool. But have you ever dipped a ham’n’cheese or turkey’n’cheese in egg, fried it, then dusted it with powdered sugar? Even weirder, have you used corn flakes as breading and then fried it? Put a few Monte Cristos on your menu to celebrate this glorious sandwich holiday.

September 22: Car Free Day

This one’s pretty simple: Encourage and incentivize your guests to use any mode of travel that isn’t a car/truck/SUV to come to your restaurant or bar. I, for one, will be opting for my motorcycle, which I don’t need to mention here but I’m going to anyway because I love it.

September 24: Innergize Day

First, a disclaimer: This isn’t a day celebrating a “performance” drink brand. Rather, Innergize Day is about relaxing and recouping. I’m sure you can see where your restaurant, bar or hotel fits in with this holiday.

September 25: National One-hit Wonder Day

This one’s simple: Commit to playing only one-hit wonders. People love nostalgia, particularly when it comes to music. Either create a playlist or hire a DJ, and if you’re feeling creative, put some themed drinks on your menu.

September 27: National Crush a Can Day

You don’t have to encourage your guests to literally crush cans to celebrate this day. Really, this is a great way to make people aware of your craft beers, RTDs, canned wines, and other canned beverages on your menu.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

by David Klemt

Sour cocktail on table in high-end bar

End the month of August with a promotion focusing on one of the most popular members of the iconic sour cocktail family.

As I’ve been saying in several of this month’s articles, August is full of bar holidays. This month we celebrate Albariño, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Prosecco. And that’s just the wine holidays, which also include National White Wine Day and National Red Wine Day.

Additionally, National Rum Day and Mai Tai Day in August. Apparently, however, eight bar holidays just isn’t enough. And that’s awesome.

You see, we have another bar holiday to celebrate this month. National Whiskey Sour Day takes place on Thursday, August 25.

The Sour Family

Family, category, type… There are several ways to distinguish groups of cocktails.

And depending on your source preference, there are either a handful of families or at least twenty. Hey, why make things easy when we can obsess over minutiae and argue with our peers?

One of the most popular lists of families comes from Gary “Gaz” Regan, an icon in his own right. Sadly, he died on November 15, 2019. Regan’s 2003 book Joy of Mixology identifies “sours” amongst 19 other families.

In 1862, Jerry Thomas included several sours in his book The Bar-Tenders Guide. (a.k.a. How to Mix Drinks). You’ll find the Brandy Sour, Gin Sour, Santa Cruz Sour, and Whiskey SOur. However, a cocktail need not include “Sour” in its name to be part of this cocktail family.

Consider the characteristics of a sour: a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener. In some cases, also egg whites.

So, those defining elements place the Collins, Daiquiri, Margarita, French 75, Gimlet, Mojito, Paloma, Rickey, Sidecar, and Southside in the sour family. However, some would place the members of this group that call for a carbonated element into either the Champagne or so-called “sparkling sour” family.

Now, if you really want to get pedantic, the Whiskey Sour could be a member of the Punch family as well.

The Whiskey Sour

So, does it surprise you to learn that we don’t know the exact origin of the Whiskey Sour? As in, we don’t know precisely who to credit for creating this classic?

Well, it shouldn’t, as cocktail history is quite often murky and mysterious at best.

However, we know that the first appearance of the Whiskey Sour recipe is from Jerry Thomas’ The Bar-Tenders Guide. So, that means the cocktail was known in 1862.

Yet, it’s believed that this recipe was known for at least a hundred years prior. Interestingly, one can argue that the Whiskey Sour is sibling to Grog. In the 1700s, British Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon commanded captains to allow sailors to purchase sugar and limes to make their watered down rum rations taste better.

Hey, sounds like a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and sweetener to me.

Alright, that’s enough history for you to share with your guests. To celebrate National Whiskey Sour Day, create a handful of LTOs. This can be as easy as offering a Whiskey Sour menu featuring an array of bourbons or other whiskeys. Additionally, you can menu a signature Whiskey Sour and have variants such as the New York Sour or Penicillin accompany it.

Also, if your local legislature permits the discounting of alcohols, you can offer a discount on Whiskey Sours. For food pairings, consider barbecue pork dishes, Cheddar cheese, or brie.

“Gaz” Regan’s Cocktail Families

For the curious, below is the list of cocktail families according to “Gaz” Regan, in alphabetical order:

  1. Beer- and Cider-based
  2. Bottled
  3. Champagne
  4. Cobblers
  5. Duos and Trios
  6. French-Italian
  7. Frozen
  8. Highballs
  9. Hot
  10. Infusions
  11. Jelly Shots
  12. Juleps
  13. Milanese
  14. Muddled
  15. Orphans
  16. Pousse-cafes
  17. Punches
  18. Snappers
  19. Sours
  20. Tropical

Image: Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top 10 States Attracting High Earners

Top 10 States Attracting High Earners

by David Klemt

The Florida Theater in Jacksonville, Florida

Using the inflow and outflow data of tax filers earning $200,000 or more, SmartAsset identifies the top ten states attracting high earners.

When it comes to the number-one state, “it’s not even close,” says SmartAsset Advisors. Not surprisingly, several top inflow cities (according to Redfin data) line up with SmartAsset’s top inflow state list.

So, why should this information matter to operators? Plainly, it’s important market information. Population, household income, and age information are crucial considerations when opening any business.

In fact, KRG Hospitality includes such data (and much, much more) when conducting research for our proprietary feasibility, business, and concept plans. Among many elements of opening a restaurant, bar, hotel, or entertainment venue, the income of one’s target audience is crucial.

Knowing where high-income households are leaving and moving to can inform many operator decisions. Where should one open their first concept? Which markets should one consider for expansion? What type of concept will work in a market? What are the threshold price points for menu items? How will this information help inform design choices?

Operators need to recoup their outlay. The income of a concept’s ideal guest should be as important to an operator as knowing their costs.

Top Ten Inflow States

Interestingly, the top state on this list did experience significant outflow in 2020. In fact, the state lost 11,756 high-earning households in 2020.

However, the state also added 32,019 such households, netting 20,263 high earners.

  1. Utah
  2. Idaho
  3. Nevada
  4. Colorado
  5. Tennessee
  6. South Carolina
  7. North Carolina
  8. Arizona
  9. Texas
  10. Florida

Another compelling detail of the states on this list pertains to income tax. In short, three of the states don’t levy personal income tax.

Above, they’re the states in bold: Florida, Nevada, and Texas.

Top 10 Outflow States

So, above are the ten states are seeing the greatest an inflow of high-earning households. Which means, of course, there’s an inverse.

Below, the ten states experiencing the greatest outflow of high earners. Unsurprisingly, SmartAsset deems several entries on the list high-tax states. Also, Washington, DC, is a high-tax area.

Moreover, the list below includes five of the top ten high personal income tax jurisdictions (in bold).

  1. Ohio
  2. Minnesota
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Maryland
  5. New Jersey
  6. Virigina
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Illinois
  9. California
  10. New York

However, it’s not as though these states are seeing a massive exodus of high-earning households. In fact, per SmartAsset, these states have more high-income households than the national average.

Nationally, high-earning households account for less than seven percent of all tax filers. According to SmartAsset, nearly nine percent of tax filers are high-income households in the top ten outflow states.

Image: Trevor Neely on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

by David Klemt

Rum and Coke cocktail

If you and your team have a commitment to programming and promotions, you have to love all the bar holidays available to you in August.

Not only are there six wine holidays in August, there are two holidays that call for rum. In fact, August is National Rum Month.

On August 16 you have the opportunity to program for National Rum Day. Obviously, rum is a legendary spirit with loads of history. So, you’ll want to honor it correctly—get creative and pull out all the stops.

Of course, one excellent way to celebrate rum is with famous perfect builds of classic rum cocktails. One of these classics is the iconic Mai Tai. Oh, yeah—that’s the other rum holiday in August!

After you program for Tuesday, August 16, prepare for Mai Tai Day on Tuesday, August 30.

June 30 is NOT Mai Tai Day

Now, if you Google “National Mai Tai Day” or “Mai Tai Day,” you’ll get an interesting result. You’ll see that some say National Mai Tai Day is June 30.

Well, Trader Vic’s says that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, a proclamation from the City of Oakland declares August 30 is Mai Tai Day.

On August 30, 2009, at-large councilmember Rebecca Kaplan made it official.

But why, I hear you asking (maybe, possibly), should we take Kaplan’s word for it? For me, it’s because Trader Vic’s themselves confirm that August 30 is “the real” Mai Tai Day.

Okay, but why should we take Trader Vic’s word for it? Because Trader Vic himself is the inventor of the Mai Tai.

Fact not Fiction

As I often point out when diving into cocktail history, much of what we “know” about certain drinks is lore. Either we simply can’t be 100-percent certain about a cocktail’s origins or multiple people are given the credit.

I mean, in some cases multiple people take the credit (and the glory) for themselves.

However, that’s not the case with the legendary Mai Tai. We know that Victor J. “Trader Vic” Bergeron is the classic cocktail’s creator.

Getting inspiration from traveling and operator peer Donn “Don the Beachcomber” Beach, Bergeron transformed his bar Hinky Dink into Trader Vic’s.

So, what do many (most, if we’re honest) operators like to do when they open or rebrand their business? Come up with a signature drink or dish.

In the case of Trader Vic’s, the Mai Tai was born.

The Real Mai Tai

Interestingly—perhaps sadly—the Mai Tai is often the subject of “mistreatment.” In part, we can blame Trader Vic for this.

Now, before you break out your pitchfork, I’m not vilifying Trader Vic. However, he did refuse to share his Mai Tai recipe with others. Author Wayne Curtis explains that this secrecy is “why we have so many bad Mai Tais with pineapple juice and other hideous additions.”

Those hideous additions? Juices, an array of rum styles, floats, garnishes beyond a lime shell and mint sprig… It’s likely you’ve never seen consistency in Mai Tai builds.

As Trader Vic himself tells it: “I took down a bottle of 17-year old rum. It was J. Wray & Nephew rum from Jamaica—surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends.”

So, that dispels the notion that you use a light rum and a dark rum to build a Mai Tai. He also only added orgeat, orange curaçao, rock candy syrup (the recipe calls for demerara simple), and fresh lime juice.

To be fair, it’s said that the popularity of the Mai Tai forced the J. Wray & Nephew rum (almost) to “extinction.” Rumor has it that original bottles can command auction prices of $50,000 or more.

Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai Recipe

A lot of us like to put our spin on things. However, there’s an official recipe from the official creator of the Mai Tai.

So, let’s honor Trader Vic and his iconic creation. Below is the recipe that most closely follows the Trader Vic’s spec. Obviously, nobody expects you to track down a $50,000 bottle of rum to follow the original with ruthless precision.

  • 1 oz. Light rum
  • 1 oz. Dark rum
  • Fresh lime juice (keep half of the squeezed lime’s shell)
  • 0.5 oz. Orange curaçao
  • 0.25 oz. Orgeat
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
  • Fresh Mint Sprig
  • 1 cup Crushed ice

Add crushed ice to a shaker. Some bartenders also add some ice cubes. Next, add the liquid ingredients, and shake. Pour—without straining—into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the lime shell and mint spring. That’s right—the original recipe doesn’t call for a pineapple wedge or cherry.

Image: Blake Wisz on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

August: Attack of the Wine Holidays

August: Attack of the Wine Holidays

by David Klemt

"Life's too short to drink bad wine" cork

August doesn’t claim just one or two or even three wine holidays, there are actually six such holidays during this month.

Kicking off August are International Albariño Day and National White Wine Day. Obviously, those days have come and gone.

However, there are still four more wine holidays you can leverage:

  • National Prosecco Day on Saturday, August 13;
  • Thursday, August 18 is National Pinot Noir Day;
  • National Red Wine Day takes place on Sunday, August 28; and
  • Monday, August 29 is International Cabernet Sauvignon Day.

So, that’s just over two weeks to draw in guests, move some inventory, and generate revenue. Below you’ll find crash courses in three varietals so you and your team can speak with guests in a way that reduces or outright eliminates wine intimidation.

As a cool bit of trivia, two of the varietals we celebrate this month are among the six “original” Noble Grapes: Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other four, for the curious, are Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Prosecco 101

First, yes, like Champagne, Prosecco is a sparkling wine. However, despite all the comparisons made between Prosecco and Champagne, the bubbles and production methods are just about the only similiarities between the two.

Champagne, of course, is French. Prosecco hails from Italy and is the country’s top sparkling wine. Like Champagne, Prosecco is protected and must be produced in a specific region.

To be Prosecco, the wine must consist of 85 percent Glera. There are two other grapes producers may use: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Until recently, Prosecco (a.k.a. as you now know, Glera) has been treated as “lesser than” Champagne, commanding much lower prices. However, producers are now making bottles that range from inexpensive to higher end. In fact, you’ll find Prosecco holding its own against its French counterpart on many fine-dining menus.

To impress with Prosecco food pairings, go with cheese, cured meats, and pizza. Pizza and Prosecco? You can’t go wrong there!

Pinot Noir 101

Given that Pinot Noir finds itself in blends, Champagne, Prosecco, and other sparkling wine, you can get creative when celebrating National Pinot Noir Day.

For American operators, two of the top Pinot Noir-producing states are California and Oregon.

In Oregon, Willamette (rhymes with “damn it”) Valley produces incredible Pinot Noir. When it comes to California, look for bottles from Russian Rivery Valley, Sonoma, and the Saint Lucia Highlands.

For Canada, the top production regions are Ontario, British Columbia, Québec, and Nova Scotia. In particular, look for bottles from Prince Edward County, the Niagara Peninsula, and Okanagan County.

Generally speaking, Pinot Noir tends to be light or medium in body. So, if conducting a tasting, you may want to taste people on Pinot Noir before bolder red wines.

When it comes to food pairings, remember that this is a more “delicate” varietal. So, you’ll want to avoid dishes and food items with big, bold, rich flavors. This is a wine that pairs wonderfully with a variety of cheeses.

Cabernet Sauvignon 101

Ah, Cab Sauv. For both America and Canada, Cabernet Sauvignon is among the most popular varietals. It’s so popular in the US that it’s called the King of Grapes.

As you likely can guess, California is the top Cab Sauv-producing state in America. In particular, Napa Valley is known for world-class Cabs.

While most people think of California, Bordeaux, and Tuscany, Canada also produces fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon. Interestingly, the grape grows well (as do many varietals we associate with Bordeaux) throughout Canada.

However, Prince Edward County and the Niagara Peninsula are two of the best regions for Canadian Cab Sauv.

A bigger and bolder wine than Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with rich, bold foods. If it’s grilled, smoky, peppery or otherwise assertive, Cab Sauv will likely play well with it.

So, there you have it. Two weeks of wine holidays for you to showcase your wine inventory and pairing skills. Cheers!

Image: D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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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