Holidays

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

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: April 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: April 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 April 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.

April 1: National One Cent Day

Please, please, please tell me you’re not going to indulge in an April Fool’s Day “prank” today. Instead, consider—if your jurisdiction will allow it—getting rid of dead stock for a penny with a purchase of a food and/or beverage item. You won’t get rich doing it but you also won’t be sitting on stock that’s just taking up space.

April 2: National Handmade Day

An easy riff on “handmade” is “housemade.” So, on this crafty holiday you can easily promote the housemade items on your menu. Make your own bitters? Promote it. Craft your own sauces? Let the world know.

April 6: National Tartan Day

No, it’s not “weird” to wear tartan. And no, it isn’t weird to celebrate anything and everything Scottish. However, this isn’t exactly the best-known holiday, so we’re including it on this list.

This is an easy one: Encourage your guests to wear tartan, take photos, and post it on social media (tagging your business, of course). Create a promo highlighting a Scottish whisky and/or gin and you’ve got a winner.

April 13: National Make Lunch Count Day

It’s fairly easy to celebrate and program on this holiday. The entire point of this day is to make lunch the best meal. Operators, you should know exactly what to do to execute a promo for this holiday.

April 15: National Take A Wild Guess Day

Who among us hasn’t taken a wild guess for a prize? We all know how this works: A jar or a convertible (why not, right?) is filled with jelly beans, gumballs, etc. People guess how many of said item are in said container. The person who guesses the closest wins a prize.

April 19: National Hanging Out Day

Talk about the perfect day to encourage your guests to spend a morning, afternoon, evening or night at your business with their friends. This holiday can be as simple as coming up with a few F&B promotions that will keep butts in seats for a while.

April 23: National German Beer

Hey, can you guess how you should celebrate this day? Hint: The clue is in the name.

April 24: National Pet Parents Day

If you allow dogs and other pets inside your venue or on the patio, this is the time to celebrate pet parents. Just remember when creating your promo that you need to include pet-safe F&B items.

April 27: National Tell a Story Day

As an operator, you know the importance of telling a story. Whether that story is that of your brand’s, a brand you feature, or a food or beverage item, it’s a powerful engagement technique. So, you can use this holiday to tell your brand’s story or encourage your guests to engage by telling their own stories. In fact, this is a great day to help facilitate connections between guests.

April 30: National Sense of Smell Day

Experts estimate that anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of taste is smell. Creating a promotion focusing on our sense of smell can be complicated but the payoff can be huge. So, activate your reps and see how they can help you show your guests the power of their sense of smell.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

7 Coffee Liqueurs You Need to Know

7 Coffee Liqueurs You Need to Know

by David Klemt

White Russian cocktail made with Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur

Whether you and your bar team are making Espresso Martinis, riffing on classics or creating something new, consider these coffee liqueurs.

National Espresso Martini Day takes place on Tuesday, March 15. Leading up to this bar holiday, the cocktail is experiencing yet another resurgence.

In fact, this cocktail more than any other seems to maintain an enviable rate of “surging back” in popularity. Maybe it’s time to just admit that it’s a modern classic people love to hate…but still order and enjoy.

Below are seven coffee liqueurs that shine in an Espresso Martini, Old Fashioned, Negroni, Irish Coffee, or any number of rich, flavorful cocktails. Cheers!

Mr. Black

Most of the reviews out there place Mr. Black at the top when it comes to coffee liqueurs. Once you’ve sipped it neat, you understand why. The coffee flavor is outstanding, and that should come as no surprise. After all, Mr. Black is crafted in Australia, a country with a rich coffee culture.

Additionally, Mr. Black occasionally releases special batches. In the past, the brand has produced Single Origin Ethiopia, Single Origin Colombia, and collaborations with WhistlePig and St. Ali Coffee Roasters. They also have a coffee amaro available.

Grind Espresso Shot

You really can’t go wrong making an Espresso Martini with an espresso liqueur. Grind Espresso Shot gives Mr. Black a run for their money in the coffee liqueur showdown.

This blend of Caribbean rum, espresso, coffee, and coffee extract that shines in just about any cocktail.

Kahlúa

As the saying goes, respect your elders. Kahlúa is a coffee liqueur that dates back to 1936 and there’s a reason the brand is still so visible.

Not only does the brand claim it takes seven years to produce a bottle of Kahlúa, their range is deep is flavorful. The current lineup consists of more than just the original Kahlúa expression. There’s also Blonde Roast Style, Vanilla, Mint Mocha, Chili Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and Especial currently.

Jägermeister Cold Brew

We can argue back and forth about whether Jägermeister is a schnapps or an amaro. Either way, it serves as a fantastic base for a rich coffee liqueur.

Jägermeister Cold Brew blends the original herbal liqueur with arabica coffee and a touch of cacao. There’s a Dark Matter coffee available produced by washing Guatemalan coffee beans in Jägermeister’s coffee liqueur.

Caffè Borghetti

Who among us is unfamiliar with Fratelli Branca’s products? From Fernet-Branca and Brancamenta, to Antica Formula, Punt e Mes, and Carpano, it’s difficult to imagine a bar that doesn’t have at least one Branca product in their inventory.

So, when it comes to coffee liqueur, you can’t really go wrong with another of Fratelli Branca’s bottles: Caffè Borghetti. Sweet and imbued with the rich taste of Italian espresso, this is a liqueur that deserves a place behind your bar.

Flor de Caña Spresso

Produced in Nicaragua, is not just a highly sought-after and awarded rum, Flor de Caña is also the world’s first spirit to be fair trade and carbon neutral certified.

Their coffee liqueur, Flor de Caña Spresso, is made with the producer’s 7 Year Gran Reserva rum expression. You guests will know their enjoying a premium rum-based liqueur that’s sustainably and responsibly crafted.

Jameson Cold Brew

Combine world-famous Jameson Irish whiskey with arabica coffee beans from Brazil and Colombia and you get Jameson Cold Brew.

Not only do you get intense coffee aroma and flavor, you’ll also discover notes of toasted oak. So, your guests won’t have to worry that the coffee overpowers the whiskey or vice versa.

And c’mon—if you’re going to make an Irish Coffee, why not do it with a liqueur crafted with Irish whiskey? Interestingly, Jameson Cold Brew also pairs well with cream soda or cola.

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: Feb. ’22

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: February ’22

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 February is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to food-centric 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.

February 1: Work Naked Day

Actually, ignore this holiday. But wow, February is coming out swinging.

February 2: Play Your Ukulele Day

Does anyone on your staff play the ukulele? What about your guests? If you think you can handle it, encourage them to bring their ukuleles and throw down at your restaurant or bar. Live entertainment has never sounded so tropical.

February 7: E-Day

This holiday, contrary to what you may be thinking, isn’t about celebrating electronics, email, or vaping. Rather, E-Day is dedicated to honoring the mathematical constant e. Your Pi Day fans will likely appreciate you celebrating E-Day, which you can do by offering F&B items that begin with the letter “E.”

February 8: Laughy and Get Rich Day

If only it were that easy, eh? This holiday is all about having fun, having some laughs, and appreciating simple pleasures. If any holiday is about the pursuit of happiness and enriching our lives with fun and laughter, this is it.

February 15: National Gumdrop Day

With all the candies out there, do people still know about gumdrops? They can be traced back to the 17th century and were first written about in the 1850s. Talk about a throwback! If you can get your hands on some, they make great garnishes for the right cocktails.

February 18:  National Crab Stuffed Flounder Day

Do you have flounder? Do you have crab? And do you have a kitchen staff that can stuff the latter into the former? Then you have everything you need to celebrate but this simple, seafood-focused holiday.

February 22: National Cook a Sweet Potato Day

Of course, if you’re operating a restaurant—or a bar with a kitchen—you can cook more than one sweet potato. Rich in nutrition and flavor, sweet potatoes can be the star or an incredible co-star in a wide range of dishes. Come up with a sweet potato-focused holiday menu and promote it on social media.

February 24: National Toast Day

This holiday is great for featuring breakfast all day, breakfast for dinner, toasted sandwiches… You can also plan and execute an event during which you host a group toast with a specific drink. Cheers!

February 26: National No Brainer Day

Knowing your guests and community will really help you celebrate this holiday. If there’s a food or beverage item or a local custom or event you know your guests love, this is the day to create a promotion around it.

February 28: National Floral Design Day

It’s interesting that this holiday takes place two weeks after Valentine’s Day, a holiday that has traditionally involved giving or receiving flowers. Intended to celebrate the art of floral design, you can celebrate this holiday with edible flower garnishes. Such garnishes just happen to photograph very well for social media, so your guests can help promote your venue.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: January ’22

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: January ’22

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 January is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to food-centric 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.

January 5: National Bird Day

The Jungle Bird. Grey Goose. Famous Grouse. Redbreast. Eagle Rare. Wild Turkey. Kentucky Owl. Chicken wings. Duck fat. Use this holiday to feature your bird-themed cocktails, spirits, beers, and foods.

January 7: National Tempura Day

When it comes to 2022 trend predictions, comfort food is right at the top of many experts’ lists. And when it comes to comfort foods, battering and frying is always a winner. If you can batter and fry it, put it on your menu and promote it.

January 11: National Milk Day

This is the day to perfect and promote your milk cocktails. The Coquito, Bourbon Milk Punch, the Grasshopper, the Mudslide… National Milk Day is easy and fun to celebrate.

January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day

Does your business permit guests to bring their dogs or other pets to tag along when they visit? Encourage them to dress up their pets, and make sure you document the results on your venue’s social media channels.

January 19: National Popcorn Day

Is popcorn weird? No, of course not. Is tricking out your popcorn with seasonings weird? That depends on how creative you and your back of house can be. Think outside the popcorn tub, craft some intriguing popcorn flavors, and get your guests talking on social media.

January 20: National Get to Know Your Customers Day

Yep, I’m gonna encourage your strongly to collect the data of every guest who visits and spends money at your business. This would be a great holiday to launch or heavily promote your loyalty program.

January 24: National Beer Can Appreciation Day

Creative beer can design goes hand in hand with craft beer brewing. A lot of thought goes into beer can design and particularly eye-catching labels deserve more than a passing glance. Feature the most creative and attention-grabbing beers on your menu on National Beer Can Appreciation Day. And yes, you should definitely feature them on your social media channels.

January 29: National Corn Chip Day

Ah, the corn chip, a perfect vessel for hearty dips. They’re also ideal for walking tacos, a.k.a. tacos-in-a-bag. If you have corn chips and taco fixin’s, you can offer your guests walking tacos on National Corn Chip Day.

January 31: National Backward Day

There are several ways you can celebrate this day with your guests and staff. One simple but fun way to do so is to encourage your guests to dine in backwards order: dessert first, entrée, and then appetizer. Of course, you could print a specialty menu backwards but that runs the risk of annoying your guests. But still…interesting idea.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Winter Cocktail Your Menu Craves

The Winter Cocktail Your Menu Craves

David Klemt

Coquito cocktail garnished with cinnamon stick

Sure, you can throw eggnog onto your menu and call it a cold day but what about a tastier winter rum cocktail that will wow your guests?

It’s the Coquito and we celebrate it on Tuesday, December 21 this year.

This creamy and rich rum drink makes an ideal LTO during the winter holiday season. And what better day to launch it than National Coquito Day?

So, let’s dive into the Coquito.

Origins

This delicious rum cocktail comes to us from Puerto Rico. There, it’s a traditional Christmas drink.

The name translates to “little coconut” in Spanish. Given that it’s made with coconut milk or cream of coconut, the name makes a lot sense.

Simple, straightforward, rich and creamy, the Coquito is easy to make and easier to drink.

Spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, this amazing drink embodies the flavors of the season.

Recipe

Bacardí lays claim to the original Coquito recipe. Like the phrase “No Negroni without Campari,” the rum brand says, “It’s not an original Coquito without Bacardí.”

The Bacardí Coquito recipe is as follows:

  • 1L bottle of Bacardí Superior Rum
  • 15 oz. Cream of coconut
  • 14 oz. Condensed milk
  • 12 oz. Evaporated milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon to taste

Add all ingredients to a punch bowl and refrigerate until well chilled. Pour into mugs or cordial glasses and garnish with a cinnamon stick and/or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Traditionally, the Coquito is served in a shot glass.

However, there are several alternative ways to make the Coquito. For example, the Liquor.com Coquito recipe:

  • 750 mL White, añejo or spiced Puerto Rican rum
  • 56 oz. Sweetened condensed milk
  • 48 oz. Evaporated milk
  • 24 oz. Cream of coconut
  • 4 tsps. Vanilla extract
  • 4 tsps. Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground nutmeg
  • Cinnamon sticks (one stick per bottle of prebatched Coquito, two per individual serving)

Add all ingredients except for rum and cinnamon sticks to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, bring to a simmer, and then let cool. Add the rum and stir. Pour into bottles that can be sealed, and add one cinnamon stick. Seal bottles and store in refrigerator (some sources say the Coquito can be stored for up to two weeks). Serve in rocks glasses and garnish with two cinnamon sticks.

Riffs

Some people add eggs to the saucepan version of the Coquito. The thickness of the drink can also be altered by reducing or increasing heating times.

Alternatively, swapping the cream of coconut out in exchange for coconut milk means a lower fat content. Obviously, that will affect mouthfeel and thickness.

Further, using different brands and expressions of rum will affect flavor. In fact, some recipes call for chocolate-flavored rum or adding chocolate liqueur.

Finally, using a zero-proof alternative to rum will allow guests who aren’t drinking to participate and engage with your winter menu. Lyre’s White Cane Spirit, Dark Cane Spirit, and Spiced Cane Spirit are clever alternatives. Ritual Rum Alternative is also a great zero-ABV option.

So, there are several ways to make the Coquito your bar team’s own. Spices, liqueurs, milk versus cream, garnishes, and glassware can put your stamp on your Coquito.

Mark your calendars and ready your marketing channels: Tuesday, December 21 is National Coquito Day.

Image: Maria Moledo on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Winter Sangria for the Holidays

Winter Sangria for the Holidays

by David Klemt

Sangria in a pitcher on a bar

Most people may associate Sangria with summer months and tropical locales.

However, Sangria can certainly shine during the winter months and holiday parties.

All you really need is a rich and perhaps somewhat sweet red wine and seasonal spices.

What is Sangria?

We celebrate National Sangria Day on December 20. That may seem strange to people who view it as a summer drink.

However, with the right wines and spices, Sangria easily transforms into a season-specific libation.

At its core, Sangria is a punch. It’s commonly accepted that this wine-based drink was created during the 18th century. Supposedly, the predecessor to Sangria (“bloodletting” in Spanish) was served cold or hot.

However, the cold version found its way onto American shores in the 1940s. There are stories that claim Sangria took off in the mid-1960s because of the 1964 World’s Fair.

So, what are the basics? Traditionally, Sangria consists of:

  • Red wine (Rioja is most traditional)
  • Chopped fruit (local fruits are most traditional)
  • Fruit juices (in place of some or all chopped fruits)
  • Sweeteners (orange juice and/or sugar)
  • An alcohol boost (brandy or liqueur)
  • Sparkling water or soda (for texture)

There are also Sangria recipes that use white wine, sparkling wine, and even combinations of red and white wine.

Winter Red Wines

Since you’ll be using seasonal fruits and spices to flavor your Sangria, the case can be made that the red wine base doesn’t matter.

However, your housemade recipe will benefit from careful consideration. Also, your guests will appreciate you putting some thought into your recipe.

The following red wines are excellent during the winter:

  • Red Zinfandel
  • Malbec
  • Petite Sirah
  • Petit Verdot
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Shiraz
  • Sirah/Syrah
  • Sangiovese
  • Grenache/Garnacha
  • Tempranillo

These varietals tend to have warming flavors and aromas, along with medium to full bodies.

Of particular note are Grenache, Garnacha and Tempranillo. Those varietals, along with red Riojas, are commonly used to make Sangria in Spain. By the way, Grenache and Garnacha are the same grape; it’s called Garnacha in Spain, Grenache anywhere else.

Winter Fruits and Spices

This is where you really make your winter Sangria stand out.

First, select your wine. Obviously, you don’t need to use one of your pricier wines. Get to know it, tasting it with your bar team. Consider what fruit notes and body characterize the wine. Note its level of sweetness.

Next, consider the spices that define the holiday and winter season. Cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, clove, ginger, and allspice all come to my mind.

Now, the fruits. Pears, pomegranates, cranberries, kiwis, oranges, grapefruits, Meyer lemons, kumquats, persimmons, and tangerines are all in season in the winter.

After that, decide if you want to add a modifier like Gran Marnier, brandy, ginger ale, or just sugar.

Then, experiment with your wine choice, spices, and fruits until your housemade Sangria is to your liking and authentic to your brand.

The final step? Costing and pricing. This will be a seasonal item or LTO, so you can probably get away with charging a bit more for it than you would for a standard cocktail.

Make sure to jot down your recipe. That’s not only so it remains consistent. Doing so will also help you create new Sangria recipes for each season.

And there you have it. Not only will you be able to wow your guests on National Sangria Day, you now have a Sangria recipe you can modify on a seasonal basis.

Image: Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2021 KRG Holiday Bottle & Can Guide

2021 KRG Holiday Bottle & Can Guide

by David Klemt

Red and black gift boxes and bows on black background

We’re bringing you new products and gift ideas for the 2021 holiday season for your specialty menus, raffles, and employee incentives.

Whether because they’re unique or leverages eye-catching bottling, labeling and packaging, you can’t go wrong with the bottles below.

In fact, you should probably consider adding some of these to your inventory and seasonal menu. A number of these bottles will attract attention from guests when they spot them on your back bar.

And, hey, we won’t tell anyone if you decide to treat yourself to one of these gifts. You’ve earned it.

Brandy

Few spirits shine more during the holiday season and winter months than brandy.

Château de Breuil Réserve Du Château 8 Year

This is the first entry in Château de Breuil’s “Hors d’Age” range, which means this Calvados is older than six years. The youngest Calvados in this release is eight years old, and there’s plenty of warming, comforting apple on the nose, palate and finish.

Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège x Julien Colombier Cognac

Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège x Julien Colombier 

This striking bottle, adorned with an original design by Julien Colombier, definitely stands out from the standard V.S.O.P Privilège.

Hine Cigar Reserve XO

This blend of 20 eau-de-vie is intended specifically to be enjoyed with a fine cigar. In particular, a fine Cuban cigar. A Cognac meant to help unplug, slow down, and enjoy the moment.

Gin

There is an incredible array of gins available that can sway even the staunchest “I don’t drink gin” drinkers out there.

Glendalough Rose Gin

The Glendalough distillery operates via three mantras: Wild foraged. Fresh distilled. Stand apart. Glendalough Rose Gin hits all those marks, particularly standing apart from other gins.

Hardshore Original Gin

There are a few ways to approach crafting a gin. Hardshore Distilling Company’s approach is to be simple in order to be complex. Just five botanicals are used in the production of Hardshore Original Gin: Tuscan juniper, coriander, rosemary, mint, and orris root.

New Junipero Gin bottle

Junipero Gin

With it’s striking new appearance, Junipero Gin’s bottle is now as bold as the liquid inside.

Mezcal & Tequila

The growth of the agave spirit category doesn’t seem like it will stop anytime soon. In particular, luxury mezcals and tequilas seem to be benefitting from consumers interested in spending more to drink higher-quality spirits.

Código 1530 Artesanal & Ancestral

As discussed on episode 57 of Bar Hacks with Collin De Laval, Código 1530 recently released two mezcals, super-premium Artesanal and ultra-premium Ancestral.

Sombra Reposé mezcal reposado bottle and cocktails

Sombra Reposé

This unique mezcal represents a world first: A mezcal aged in Bordeaux wine casks. It doesn’t hurt that the bottle is also attractive.

Tanteo Navidad

There are just 5,000 bottles of Tanteo Navidad, an ultra-premium añejo tequila infused with the flavors of the holiday season: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cocoa beans, ginger, and pequin chilis.

RTD

With so many hard seltzer and canned cocktail brands hitting the market, it’s difficult picking just a few standout RTDs.

Karbach Brewing Ranch Water hard seltzers in cans

Karbach Brewing

When it comes to RTDs, Ranch Water was basically destined to end up in cans. As a blend of Topo Chico, tequila and lime, Ranch Water has a legitimate claim to the hard seltzer throne. Karbach Ranch Water is available in Original, Grapefruit, Meyer Lemon, Prickly Pear, and Watermelon. It’s also produced by a brewery in a state that knows a little somethin’ about Ranch Water: Texas.

Speaking of Texas…

Shiner Tall ‘Tails

Texas’ famous brewer has entered the hard seltzer space with four expressions based on classic cocktails: Texas Mule, Mexican Martini, Watermelon Margarita, and Ruby Red Paloma.

WESAKE

Given how easily drinkable sake is, I’m surprised there aren’t more RTD sakes on the market. Four cans of Junmai Ginjo WESAKE equal one bottle.

Rum

It’s always exciting to come across something new in any spirit category. The two selections below are from countries people don’t often think of when the topic of rum arises.

Kasama

How about small-batch rum from the Philippines, aged seven years and produced by Alexandra Dorda. If that last name sounds familiar it’s likely because Alexandra is the daughter of Tad Dorda, co-founder of Belvedere and Chopin vodkas.

Phraya Deep Matured Gold Rum

When’s the last time you sipped a rum from Thailand? The answer is most likely never. A beautiful bottle of Phraya Deep Matured Gold Rum—aged seven to 12 years—can certainly fix that.

Zanj Rum Ak Zanj "with angels" Haitian rum

Zanj Rum Ak Zanj

The name of this expression of Haitian rum translates to “with angels” in Haitian Creole. Made using only pure sugarcane juice (no sugar added) and aged exclusively in Limousin oak barrels, Ak Zanj is characterized by caramel, fruit, vanilla and honey notes. The bottle also looks great on a back bar or home bar.

Vodka

All eyes may seem to be on tequila, mezcal and whiskey, but the vodka category isn’t resting on its laurels. There have been a lot of innovations in this space, such as revisiting traditional processes, playing with flavoring, and even sourcing very specific grapes for production.

Belvedere Heritage 176 vodka

Belvedere Heritage 176

As the name suggests, Heritage 176 is an homage to the old ways of producing vodka. To that end, this expression makes use of malting or kiln-drying rye for deeper, more complex flavors.

Hangar 1 Smoke Point

Produced in partnership with Crimson Wine Group, Hangar 1 used smoke-tinged grapes affected by Norther California’s disastrous Glass Fire to create Smoke Point vodka.

Wild Roots Vodka

This corn-based vodka is made in the Pacific Northwest and infused with more than a pound of real fruit. There are several flavors available in addition to the neutral expression, such as winter-friendly Apple & Cinnamon and Cranberry.

Whiskey

This category isn’t just immensely popular, it’s immense in and of itself. It was difficult to narrow it down to just three selections, particularly when it came to bourbon.

Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter Scotch bottle

Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter

Your guests, staff, family and friends aren’t the only people who wear Christmas sweaters. A Tale of Winter grabs the eye during the holiday season with a label that looks like it’s ready for your restaurant, bar, nightclub or hotel’s holiday party. This Scotch encapsulates the season with notes of cocoa powder, orange toffee, clover, ginger, and cinnamon.

High West High Country Single Malt

It may be an oversimplification to call High Country Single Malt an homage to single malt Scotch but it’s still an accurate summation. When producing the distillery’s latest release, High West uses “on-the-grain” distillation, along with fresh-charred and second-use barrels during maturation.

Redemption Cognac Cask Finish

Bottled at 99 proof, this high-rye bourbon is aged in Pierre Ferrand Cognac barrels. Expect bold but elegant flavors with baking spices, rye and sweetness on the palate.

Woodford Reserve 2021 Holiday Bottle

Woodford Reserve 2021 Holiday Bottle

Every holiday and Kentucky special edition bottle of Woodford Reserve has been a winner. However, I find the artwork on this year’s holiday bottle by Nick Hirst to the best yet.

Wine

Well, in particular, sparkling wine. When it comes to celebrating, it’s hard to beat the craving for bubbles.

Dom Maria

You can’t go wrong with Dom Maria Brazilian Sparkling Brut or Rosé. The packaging is sleek, modern and makes a statement. Both DM expressions are 60 percent Chardonnay, 40 percent Pinot Noir.

 

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Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs

It’s fair to say that most people are most familiar with Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Époque bottles, adorned as they are with Japanese anemone flowers outlined in gold. However, on episode 56 of Bar Hacks, Maxime Lecocq says that when he sees someone order a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs, “they know what they’re doing.”

Yarden Blanc de Blancs

Looking for a Kosher blanc de blancs option for the holiday season? Look no further than Yarden Blanc de Blancs produced by the Golan Heights Winery, currently releasing their 2012 vintage.

Low- and Zero-proof

There are a number of high-quality alcohol-free spirts, beers and other beverages out there. With that number growing, the biggest challenge is deciding which brands and expressions to pick as gifts and add to your menu.

The County Soda Co.

Much attention is paid to the spirits in cocktails, and for obvious reasons. However, crafting the best possible cocktail requires using the best possible ingredients. The County Soda Co. crafts “soda pop for adults” by using real cane sugar and juice concentrates, and by eschewing artificial sweeteners. Proudly produced in small batches in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada, County Soda includes flavors such as Root Beer, Cola, Ginger Ale, Blackcurrant Lime, and Orange Cream Soda.

Lyre’s

This innovative brand is named for a bird famous for it’s accurate mimicry of its avian peers, and for good reason. Lyre’s crafts zero-proof expressions that taste like their full-proof counterparts, including sparkling wine and RTDs. You can even purchase cocktail kits that provide everything necessary to make alcohol-free Negronis, Espresso Martinis, and more.

To learn more, fire up episode 28 of Bar Hacks with Tim Rita.

Partake Radler

Ted Fleming started Partake Brewing partially out of frustration. He made the choice to live sober but had no intention of giving up socializing in bars with friends. Unfortunately, the options for alcohol-free beer were incredibly slim. So, he founded Partake Brewing to produce 0.3-percent craft beer. The highly sought-after Partake Radler is back just in time for the holidays!

Learn more from Ted Fleming on Bar Hacks episode 31.

Q Tropical Ginger Beer

How does a tropical take on ginger beer sound? To me, it sounds refreshingly different. I’m a big ginger beer fan, so Q Tropical Ginger Beer, with its agave, mango, passion fruit, and pineapple notes, is intriguing.

Image: Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hard Numbers for the Holidays

Hard Numbers for the Holidays

by David Klemt

Classic vintage Dodge pickup truck with winter wreath on grille

From comfort foods and specific seasonal flavors to LTOs and traditional tastes, data reveal what consumers want this holiday season.

As we reported last week, there’s reason to be optimistic about this year’s holiday season.

According to Datassential, consumers are eager to visit sit-down restaurants this month. One of their key findings was that the average group size will likely be smaller than normal.

Specifically, most groups will probably consist of seven to 12 guests. Crucially, Datassential sees potential from people eager to gather with family and friends for the holidays. Even better, of all options, sit-down restaurants are the top choice for gatherings outside of homes.

But drilling down deeper, what do guests want from restaurants during the holidays?

The Numbers

So, when it comes to the holidays, Datassential wants operators to remember that December includes more than Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

To that end, the first numbers I’m presenting are dates:

  • Hanukkah: November 28 to December 6 (ends this evening!)
  • Soyal: December 21
  • Christmas: December 25
  • Boxing Day: December 26
  • Kwanzaa: December 26 to January 1
  • New Year’s Eve: December 31
  • New Year’s Day: January 1

Those dates reveal something compelling: Plenty of opportunity to get creative and ramp up limited-time offers. Per Datassential, nearly half (44 percent) of consumers look forward to seasonal, holiday-themed LTOs.

In fact, roughly two out of five consumers find seasonality to be an important factor in their decisions to order LTOS and new menu items.

However, it’s important to know your audience and brand when coming up with special menu items. That’s because according to Datassential, 62 percent of consumers, at least for 2021, want classics and comfort food this season.

So, Datassential cautions operators against veering “too far” from traditional seasonal menu items and comfort foods. That said, you should know how far outside the box you can push your guests.

The Flavors

We’re not technically out of the fall just yet. The start of winter is December 21.

It can be smart to begin transitioning from fall to winter flavors over the next week or so. However, it may not be wise to toss fall flavors out entirely.

Datassential identifies the following as key fall flavors:

  • Apple cranberry
  • Butternut squash
  • Chestnut
  • Duck
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Stuffing

And these are important winter flavors, per Datassential:

  • Chocolate almond
  • Candy cane
  • Lobster cream
  • Lox
  • Red velvet
  • Toasted coconut

Those are by no means the only fall and winter flavors that will appeal to your guests. However, Datassential identifies them as top fall and winter flavors.

Something to think about when finalizing your winter LTO food and beverage menus.

Another thing to think about? Updating your listings to include holiday hours, LTOs, and other menu changes.

Image: Ryan Wallace on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: December

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: December

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 December is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream—Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving, anyone?—to food-centric 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 November’s list, click here.

December 4: National Dice Day

I’m not including this holiday simply because I live in Las Vegas. Dice are for far more than just craps. Board games, role-playing games, making life decisions in a very strange manner… We need dice and they deserve a day of celebration.

One of the simplest ways to celebrate National Dice Day with your guests is to create a small beer, wine, spirits and/or cocktail menu. Then, put numbers against each offering and have guests roll the dice. Whatever number comes up, they’re getting the correlating drink. Easy.

December 5: Bathtub Party Day

Okay, let me be clear. I’m not encouraging events that involve people coming to your restaurant or bar to party in bathtubs. Rather, I’m suggesting celebrating Repeal Day (these holidays share the same date) with a cheeky nod to homemade booze made infamous during Prohibition.

Of course, you should absolutely not celebrate Bathtub Party Day by offering illicit alcohol. Instead, feature an array of gins and gin-based cocktails. You can also feature a brand like Ole Smoky Moonshine.

December 8: Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day

This is a list of weird holidays, so how could I possibly pass up this gem? If you think one day of dress-up and pretending isn’t enough (looking at you, Halloween), here’s a very specific holiday just for you. Just make sure you prepare your front-of-house staff because wow—this could get weird (read: annoying).

You can also get a little more creative and put together a tasting for a spirit or brand with a history that spans several decades or centuries.

December 9: Weary Willie Day

Hey—get your mind out of the gutter. This is another holiday that there was no way I could ignore. Weary Willie Day is a celebration of clowns. In particular, it celebrates a character created by Emmett Kelly, Weary Willie. Why do we celebrate this unique holiday on this specific date? Emmett Kelly was born on December 9, 1898.

If you’ve got a plug, this is a fantastic holiday to feature Clown Shoes beers, distributed via Mass Bay Brewing Co.

December 11: National Noodle Ring Day

What? You don’t know what a noodle ring is? Well, neither did I until very recently. If you have a kitchen and, more importantly, a kitchen staff that loves to experiment and make new items, this is an awesome holiday.

A noodle ring is essentially what it sounds like. Noodle rings tend to be savory bites inspired by pasta dishes. Set noodles and other ingredients in a mold, bake, finish, and serve. Perfect for guests who want to try something new. And comforting on a winter’s day.

December 12: National Ding-a-Ling Day

This holiday isn’t about hurling a pretty innocuous insult at people. Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble. Instead, this day is all about reconnecting with people. The idea is to give someone a ring and rekindle that relationship. Now, I’m not telling anyone what to do…but please don’t use this holiday to annoy your ex. Please. Don’t do.

Anyway, you know where’s a great place to meet up after reconnecting? A restaurant or bar, of course! So, encourage people who have reconnected with someone during the holiday season to meet up at your venue.

December 13: Green Monday

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Yes, those are the two busiest shopping days of the year. Do you know the third? It’s Green Monday, which takes place on the second Monday of December.

Green Monday 2021 is the 15th annual celebration of this holiday. How can a restaurant or bar participate in what’s generally a retail holiday? By offering gift cards, gift card deals (spend $100, get an additional $25, for example), and then promote the hell out of your gift card promotions. Start a week or a few days before Green Monday, and then really promote them via social, your email lists, and your text lists on the day itself.

December 17: National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

Fine, this isn’t exactly a weird holiday anymore. At this point, ugly sweaters are basically a requirement for any holiday gathering taking place during December. However, it’s important to note that there’s an official holiday in December that calls for people to wear their ugly Christmas sweaters. Leveraging this holiday is easy, obviously. You know what to do.

December 23: National Pfeffernüsse Day

Would you like a pepper nut? Well, what about a pfeffernüsse? The name of this German gingerbread cookie translates to “pepper nut” in English. What sets this gingerbread cookie apart from the type we’re all most familiar with is that they’re rolled into balls before being baked, and then finished with confectioner’s sugar.

This tasty German cookie (also popular in Denmark and the Netherlands) certainly fits with the holiday season. And I bet you can think of a few beers, wines, spirits, and cocktails that pair well these cookies, which are made with all-spice, anise, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, and nutmeg.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

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