Hospitality industry news

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What Politicians Get Wrong about Us

What Politicians Get Wrong about Our Industry

by David Klemt

Restaurant and bar with exterior windows open

It still stings that the 43 senators chose to vote against replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

The fact that four senators didn’t vote at all on S.4008 is nearly as insulting and painful.

Now, while all the “nay” votes came from Republican senators, I’m not here to bash one party in particular. Four Republicans voted “yea,” as did two Independents.

Unfortunately, given how hostile Democrats and Republicans in Congress seem to be, it’s difficult to be objective. Right now, it appears that the RRF was left to die a slow death because many—not all, of course—Republicans in power don’t want their Democrat peers to “win” at anything.

To be used as political pawns and be left out in the cold… It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Cornerstones

Too many politicians, it seems, view restaurants and bars as they would other types of businesses. Perhaps the perceived success of national and global brands paint the picture that independent venues and small chains don’t need any help.

More disappointingly, maybe politicians, from local lawmakers to state representatives, take our business’ role for granted.

Look at the history of restaurants and bars, of hospitality. Think about the rich history of hospitality in America alone, let alone globally.

Yes, independent restaurants and bars are small businesses. But like so many small businesses in so many towns across the country, they’re so much more.

Restaurants and bars are pillars, cornerstones of the communities they serve. These are businesses that welcome people in, treat them like family. They’re there for them as they move through their lives.

People who were seemingly at odds with another routinely found common ground over a bite and a sip. More often than not, that’s still the case.

Operators and their teams give back to their communities through food drives, quietly feeding those in need, and finding other ways to give back.

And they look out for their communities.

Lifesavers

Last week, the team at a cafe in the Bronx called the Chipper Truck helped rescue a woman from an alleged hostage situation.

Permitted by her assailant to place a food order via Grubub, the victim thought quickly and sent a life-saving note with her order:

“Please call the police… don’t make it obvious.”

A staff member read the note in the “additional instructions” section of the order and called one of the owners. Nobody at the Chipper Truck knew if the situation was real but they chose to err on the side of caution.

When the alleged assailant—who was arrested and charged with a list of serious offenses—opened the door for the Grubhub order, he was met with police officers.

A Facebook post from the cafe addressing the situation read, in part, “I’ve often heard of this happening but never thought it would happen to us. Thankfully we were open and able to help her.”

It’s terrifying that this happens enough that the cafe owners hear about it “often.” But it’s telling of the role restaurants and bars play in their communities that they’ve saved multiple lives.

This is to say nothing of the restaurants and bars that have put coded safety systems in place to help patrons who find themselves in danger.

No Such Thing as “Just” a Restaurant or Bar

There isn’t a restaurant or bar out there that’s “only” a restaurant or “only” a bar.

Every one is a source for food, for socializing, for an escape from the stresses of life. Restaurants and bars are committed to service and sacrifice.

They’re pillars of their communities, the cornerstones that play important roles in our everyday lives and the special moments as well.

Perhaps our politicians, local and otherwise, need to a reminder. Restaurants and bars play crucial roles in the lives of the people politicians are supposed to represent.

Too many politicians claim to support small businesses while their actions and votes prove otherwise. Talk, as we all know, is cheap.

Restaurants are not “just” restaurants. Bars are not “just” bars. We deserve better.

Image: Scott Webb on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

WCK Shares Chefs for Ukraine Update

World Central Kitchen Shares Chef for Ukraine Update

by David Klemt

Ukraine flag blowing in wind

World Central Kitchen has been on the ground helping refugees since Russia first invaded the sovereign nation of Ukraine.

I mean that quite literally. In their video update, it was revealed that a WCK team arrived in Poland within hours of the invasion.

Maggie Leahy, director of donor relations at WCK, spoke with WCK CEO Nate Mook to share the details of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization’s #ChefsForUkraine campaign.

Mook shared that the WCK activated a fast-response team which is informally referred to as the Tip of the Spear. When the team arrived at the Poland-Ukraine border, they had gotten there so quickly that they weren’t certain what they’d find.

Assessment and Coordination

In fact, WCK wasn’t certain if their humanitarian efforts would even be needed. However, as we all know now, they certainly were in demand. The United Nations, as it turns out, wasn’t even on the ground yet.

Shockingly, Mook shared that WCK hadn’t encountered a crisis at the level of Ukraine’s invasion for many, many years.

For the past 12 years, WCK has responded to crises all over the world. From natural disasters like massive floods and earthquakes to, unfortunately, shootings and warzones, the humanitarian organization has provided nourishing meals for those displaced and in need.

So, assessing the situation in Ukraine quickly was of the utmost importance. Some refugees crossing the 24-hour pedestrian border at which the first WCK team had arrived hadn’t eaten a meal in two days.

Responding as fast and efficiently as possible, the organization connected with catering companies and local restaurants in Poland to feed those fleeing Ukraine.

However, that was simply a quick fix.

Systems in Place

Mook shared the following anecdote to explain WCK’s commitment to fast responses in its humanitarian efforts.

Chef José Andrés, who co-founded World Central Kitchen his wife Patricia, says that they’re the world’s largest non-governmental organization, or NGO. Going further, Chef Andrés says this is because they have chefs and restaurants around the world WCK can activate to respond to crises…even if those chefs and restaurants don’t know it now.

Getting the refugees crossing into Poland fed quickly was just one step to providing assistance. What WCK really specializes in is coordination and setting up systems, per Mook.

Speed is just one element of WCK’s humanitarian efforts. Reliability, consistency, accountability, and efficiency are the other keys.

Without systems in place, WCK simply wouldn’t be able to do what they do, which is provide nourishment, stability, and a sense of dignity to those in crisis.

Millions of Meals

Soon after arriving and setting up in Poland, WCK teams arrived in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Moldova, and Romania.

When refugees started heading west, WCK teams set up in Germany and Spain. And while it wasn’t clear initially if teams would be needed in Ukraine directly, WCK has indeed set up inside the war-torn country.

There are WCK teams serving and supporting people in communities hosting refugees, liberated Ukraine cities, and even cities under fire.

Currently, WCK’s mission is providing hundreds of thousands of fresh meals to those in need. The organization is also providing tens of thousands of meal kits.

WCK has provided a staggering amount of meals. As of June 22, the day Leahy and Mook provided the #ChefsForUkraine update, they’ve served more than 54 million meals in response to Ukraine’s invasion.

It’s results like that incredible amount of meals that inspire our continued support of WCK through our KRG Cares program. We encourage you to support WCK as well.

Image: Daria Volkova on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tales Announces Top Four Awards Finalists

Tales Announces Top Four Spirited Awards Finalists

by David Klemt

The number four inside a circle

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

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

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

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

See you at Tales, y’all! Cheers.

US Categories

US Bartender of the Year presented by Del Maguey

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

Best US Bar Mentor presented by BarSmarts

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

Best US Brand Ambassador presented by Libbey Glass

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

Best US Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

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

Best US Cocktail Bar presented by Absolut Vodka

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

Best US Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose

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

Best US Restaurant Bar presented by Maison Ferrand

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

Best New US Cocktail Bar presented by Aviation Gin

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

International Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Patrón

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

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

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

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

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

Best International Bar Team presented by House of Angostura

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

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by Tequila Fortaleza

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

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Perrier

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

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

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

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Stranger & Sons

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

Global Categories

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

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

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy

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

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Beam Suntory

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

Writing and Media Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Diageo Bar Academy

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

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

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

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Diageo Bar Academy

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Tim Hüfner on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Raise a 7&7 to National Dive Bar Day

Raise a 7&7 to National Dive Bar Day

by David Klemt

Dive bar or neighborhood bar

We celebrate one of the most hallowed of drinking establishments on July 7, also known as National Dive Bar Day.

Look, we love a visit to a high-end, luxurious cocktail bar. But there’s nothing quite like discovering a casual, comfortable, unpretentious bar that feels like home.

Often times, the local watering hole is a cornerstone of a given community. So, we’re looking forward to the fifth annual National Dive Bar Day in just over two weeks.

You should have plenty of time if you’re a dive or neighborhood bar owner to create your National Dive Bar Day promotion.

A Little History

It’s hard to believe that National Dive Bar Day is a mere five years old. In fact, Seagram’s 7 Crown launched the first annual celebration in 2018.

Not only does this holiday honor a true institution, Seagram’s donated $25,000 to the National Trust for Historic Preservation on its inception. (This year, Seagram’s 7 Crown is supporting Main Street Alliance.)

This makes a lot sense when you think about it. After all, dive bars are often located in a historic building or are landmarks themselves.

Some people may not like it, but drinking culture is an integral part of many a community across not just America, not just North America, but the world.

Not so long ago a bartender could set beers and shots in front of two people with opposing views and they’d find common ground to bond over. The optimist in me hopes we can return to those days, visiting our local neighborhood bars and focusing on what we all have in common rather than letting ourselves grow further divided.

Where some people see a “just” a dive bar, those of us in the know see social and cultural centers that support neighborhoods and communities.

Given their commitment to unpretentious and welcoming service, we need to support and protect our local dives.

What Makes a Dive Bar?

There are some key elements that set dive bars apart from other drinking establishments.

Characters on both sides of the bar, inexpensive drinks, familiar bar food, and an approachable feel are, I would say, the hallmarks.

Now, there are those who think a dive bar also includes an “earthy” smell, to be generous. They may also feel that they call dirty buildings with questionable structural integrity home.

However, “dive” doesn’t have to mean filthy. First and foremost, a dive bar needs to be comfortable and welcoming. Filth tends to give off an unwelcoming, dangerous vibe. That’s not exactly the spirit of hospitality.

Just as a great dive bar should be clean, it should also have a solid F&B program. Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean cheap. Oh, and no, the staff doesn’t have to be surly and untrained.

Dives are Neighborhood Bars

When I first learned about Nickel City, as an example, I saw what a dive bar should be. Both locations, Austin and Fort Worth, are described by co-owner Travis Tober as “anytime bars.”

Nickel City commits to serving the community, and they’re open when people need them. In fact, as you’ll learn during episode 50 of the Bar Hacks podcast, Tober made sure they were open to serve people during the infamous winter storm of 2021 that shut down much of Texas.

In speaking with Tober and reading other interviews with him, I learned that he prefers the term “neighborhood” to “dive.” Due in part to the negative perception some have of dive bars, I can understand his preference.

In my opinion, the difference lies in subtle but important nuances. However, I’ll probably still refer to neighborhood bars as dive bars.

Either way, Nickel City is a dive bar done right and a concept that other operators should certainly study. Nickel City is exemplary, a standard that dive/neighborhood bars should aspire to reach.

The 7&7

As far as Seagram’s is concerned, the 7&7 is “the quintessential Dive Bar drink.” It’s difficult to argue: it’s a highball, it’s fast and simple to make, it’s refreshing, and it shouldn’t be pricey.

But, hey, if you’ve never made or ordered one, here’s the recipe:

Simply prepare a highball glass with ice, add Seagram’s 7 Crown and 7UP, and stir. Then just stir, garnish, and serve.

Cheers!

Image: Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Viral Post Highlights Real Leadership

What a Viral Reddit Post Reveals About Leadership in Hospitality

by David Klemt

Reddit app icon on smartphone

A text exchange between a restaurant manager and delivery driver posted to Reddit went viral last month.

Refreshingly, it didn’t make the rounds on news sites for the wrong reasons. Rather, the text conversation is a succinct example of emotional intelligence, empathy, and leadership.

Those interested in reading the text exchange in its entirety can follow this link. However, I’ll sum it up here.

Posted to the subreddit Kitchen Confidential, the conversation begins with the manager checking in on the driver, asking, “You doing OK?”

The driver says they’re “doing better but” is still dealing with a lot. After the manager asks if they should cover their shift that night, the driver reveals they may need to quit the job.

Instead of blowing up at the driver, trying to talk them out of their decision, or cutting the exchange short, they say, “It’s alright [sic].”

Going further, the manager says, “You’re [sic] happiness is more important.” They add that the business hopes the driver will return to the job when they’re ready.

Shall I Cover You Tonight?

Now, I tend to believe that most members of restaurant, bar, and hotel leadership teams are empathetic. I also lean toward believing that most are competent problem solvers.

However, we’ve all come across people who don’t belong in a leadership role. In some cases, a person’s lack of leadership qualifications doesn’t manifest until they’ve been in the role for some time.

My business partner Doug Radkey and I have had conversations about leaders who don’t seem to lead. At best, they’re examples of what not to do. At worst, they’re chasing away a business owner’s staff and guests.

Most recently, these conversations have centered around managers insisting that staff solve scheduling problems themselves.

Before I proceed, I acknowledge fully that we’re facing an unprecedented labor shortage. That’s no excuse for poor leadership.

What, exactly, is the leadership team doing that they can’t manage the schedule? Further, with today’s modern scheduling platforms, why is filling available roles difficult for leaders? Several scheduling apps make it a painless, automated process.

The manager in this Reddit text exchange doesn’t demand the driver find someone to cover their shift. Instead, they behave like a manager and handle it themselves.

Don’t Ever Discount Yourself

If you’re active on LinkedIn and have a sizeable hospitality-centric network, you’ve likely seen posts about how the industry needs to be more people-focused. Not in terms of guests—that’s obvious.

Rather, the consensus is that we’re not going to solve the labor problem if we don’t treat staff as well as we treat guests. Some of these posts may be a bit saccharine, but they’re not incorrect.

Let’s review the texts from this manager:

  • “You doing OK?”
  • Your “happiness is more important.”
  • “We love having you here.”
  • “You’re an awesome person.”
  • “Don’t ever discount yourself.”

When’s the last time you and other members of the leadership team asked a staff member if they’re okay? And if you’ve asked recently, did you get an honest answer? Did you want an honest answer?

A restaurant or bar team that doesn’t trust leadership isn’t going to bother providing an honest answer to that question—they feel like the leaders don’t care about them.

Looking at the rest of the texts above, do you and your leaders take the time to recognize and thank staff? Even the shyest team member wants recognition for a job well done.

Those in leadership roles need to develop their skills constantly. Contrary to some in those positions, leaders aren’t there simply to lord their authority over others and dish out punishments.

So, before your next team meeting, gather the leaders. Find out if every member of the team is checking on staff, valuing their health and wellness, and tackling the mundane tasks that are inherent to their roles.

The maxim is true: People don’t quit jobs, they quit people. If your leadership team isn’t leading with empathy, you can expect your labor issues to compound. No amount of excuses will turn that around.

This article by KRG Hospitality director of business development David Klemt was first published by Bar Business and can be read in its entirety by following this link.

Image: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top 10 2022 Spirited Award Finalists

Top 10 2022 Spirited Award Finalists

by David Klemt

Bartender presenting cocktail

With just six weeks to go until the 20th anniversary of Tales of the Cocktail, the foundation announces their Spirited Award finalists.

Unsurprisingly, a number of the nominees can also be found on the North America’s 50 Best Bars list.

However, the Spirited Awards honor more than bars. The awards span four categories: US, International, Global, and Writing & Media.

Along with bar nominees, you’ll find mentors, bar teams, brand ambassadors, spirits, cocktail ingredients, books, articles, podcasts, videos, and publications in the list below.

Congratulations to the Spirited Awards’ top ten nominees! We’ll see you in New Orleans.

Cheers!

US Categories

US Bartender of the Year presented by Del Maguey

  • Josh Davis (16th Street Bar, Chicago, IL)
  • Chris Elford (Trade Winds Tavern, Navy Strength, Rob Roy, Here Today Brewing, Seattle, WA)
  • Chris Hannah (Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA)
  • Caer Maiko Ferguson (DrinkWell, Austin, TX)
  • Chris McMillian (Revel Bar & Cafe, New Orleans, LA)
  • Shauna O’Neil (Sweet Liberty, Miami, FL)
  • Kapri Robinson (Allegory, Washington, DC)
  • Christian Suzuki-Orellana (Wildhawk, San Francisco, CA)
  • Masahiro “Masa” Urushido (Katana Kitten, New York, NY)
  • Christine Wiseman (BarLab Hospitality Group, Miami, FL)

Best US Bar Mentor presented by BarSmarts

  • Colin Asare-Appiah
  • Julio Cabrera
  • Kevin Diedrich
  • Meaghan Dorman
  • Alba Huerta
  • Alex Jump
  • Sean Kenyon
  • ms franky marshall
  • Nectaly Mendoza
  • Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Best US Brand Ambassador presented by Libbey Glass

  • Kiowa Bryan (Spiribam)
  • Chris Cabrera (Bacardí USA)
  • Tad Carducci (Gruppo Montenegro)
  • Cameron George (Ardbeg)
  • Vance Henderson (Hendrick’s Gin)
  • Lynn House (Heaven Hill)
  • Jenna Murray (The Glenlivet)
  • Natasha Sofia Velez (Davos Brands)
  • Ryan Wainwright (Bombay Sapphire)
  • Daniel Warrilow (Campari America)

Best US Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

  • Attaboy (New York, NY)
  • Cleaver: Butchered Meats, Seafood & Classic Cocktails (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Half Step (Austin, TX)
  • Jaguar Sun (Miami, FL)
  • Jewel of the South (New Orleans, LA)
  • Katana Kitten (New York, NY)
  • The Long Island Bar (Brooklyn, NY)
  • The Roosevelt Room (Austin, TX)
  • The Snug (Sacramento, CA)
  • Thunderbolt (Los Angeles, CA)

Best US Cocktail Bar presented by Absolut Vodka

  • Bar Goto (New York, NY)
  • Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 (New Orleans, LA)
  • Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour (Phoenix, AZ)
  • DrinkWell (Austin, TX)
  • Julep (Houston, TX)
  • Katana Kitten (New York, NY)
  • Occidental (Denver, CO)
  • Pearl Diver (Nashville, TN)
  • The Roosevelt Room (Austin, TX)
  • Thunderbolt (Los Angeles, CA)

Best US Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose

  • Bar Marilou at Maison de la Luz (New Orleans, LA)
  • Champagne Bar at The Surf Club Miami (Miami, FL)
  • Dear Irving on Hudson at the Aliz Hotel (New York, NY)
  • Hey Love at The Jupiter (Portland, OR)
  • King Cole Bar at The St. Regis New York (New York, NY)
  • Libertine Social at the Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Little Rituals at the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Midnight Rambler at the Joule (Dallas, TX)
  • Mountaineering Club at the Graduate Seattle Hotel (Seattle, WA)
  • Silver Lyan at the Riggs Washington DC (Washington, DC)

Best US Restaurant Bar presented by Maison Ferrand

  • Café La Trova (Miami, FL
  • Cleaver: Butchered Meats, Seafood & Classic Cocktails (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Crown Shy (New York, NY)
  • Gramercy Tavern (New York, NY)
  • Jewel of the South (New Orleans, LA)
  • Kimball House (Decatur, GA)
  • Kumiko (Chicago, IL)
  • L’Oursin (Seattle, WA)
  • Republique (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis, MN)

Best New US Cocktail Bar presented by Aviation Gin

  • Double Chicken Please (New York, NY)
  • Happy Accidents (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Kona’s Street Market (San Francisco, CA)
  • Law Bird (Columbus, OH)
  • Overstory (New York, NY)
  • Palmetto (Oakland, CA)
  • Temple Bar (New York, NY)
  • Tiki Tatsu-Ya (Austin, TX)
  • Trade Winds Tavern (Seattle, WA)
  • Yacht Club (Denver, CO)

International Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Patrón

  • Moe Aljaff (Two Schmucks, Barcelona, Spain)
  • Lorenzo Antinori (ARGO / Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts, Hong Kong, China)
  • Giorgio Bargiani (The Connaught Bar, London, UK)
  • Kate Boushel (Atwater Cocktail Club / Milky Way Cocktail Bar, Montréal, Québec, Canada)
  • James Grant (Little HK, Edmonton, Canada)
  • Keith Motsi (Charles H. Seoul at the Four Seasons Hotel, Seoul, South Korea)
  • Rémy Savage (🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name, London, UK)
  • Daniel Schofield (SCHOFIELD’S BAR, Manchester, UK)
  • Ezra Star (Mostly Harmless, Hong Kong, China)
  • Luke Whearty (BYRDI, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Matt Whiley (RE, Sydney, Australia)

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

  • Monica Berg
  • Arijit Bose
  • Simone Caporale
  • Renato “Tato” Giovannoni
  • Tim Etherington Judge
  • Trevor Kallies
  • Dre Masso
  • Lauren Mote
  • Danil Nevsky
  • Agostino Perrone
  • Christina Veira
  • Camille Vidal

*Includes 12 nominees due to a tie

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

  • Jenna Ba (Diageo)
  • Claudia Cabrera (Fratelli Branca)
  • Irene Díaz (Ron Diplomático)
  • Martin Hudák (Mr. Black Spirits)
  • Daniyel Jones (House of Angostura)
  • Ally Martin (Hendrick’s Gin)
  • Dave Mitton (Lot No. 40 / JP Wiser’s)
  • Ricardo Nava (Bacardí Latin America)
  • Tim Phillips-Johansson (Johnnie Walker)
  • Nicola Riske (The Macallan)

Best International Bar Team presented by House of Angostura

  • ALQUÍMICO (Cartagena, Colombia)
  • Atwater Cocktail Club (Montréal, Québec, Canada)
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel (Singapore)
  • La Factoría (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
  • MAYBE SAMMY (Sydney, Australia)
  • Salmon Guru (Madrid, Spain)
  • Tayēr + Elementary (London, UK)
  • The Clumsies (Athens, Greece)
  • Tres Monos (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Two Schmucks (Barcelona, Spain)

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by Tequila Fortaleza

  • ALQUIMICO (Cartagena, Colombia)
  • Atwater Cocktail Club (Montréal, Québec, Canada)
  • Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen & Cape Brandy Bar (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • COA (Hong Kong, China)
  • Florería Atlántico (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • MAYBE SAMMY (Sydney, Australia)
  • Paradiso (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Salmon Guru (Madrid, Spain)
  • Satan’s Whiskers (London, UK)
  • Tayēr + Elementary (London, UK)
  • Three Sheets (London, UK)
  • Two Schmucks (Barcelona, Spain)

*Includes 12 nominees due to a tie

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Perrier

  • Bar Trigona at the Four Seasons Hotel (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  • Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
  • Bulgari Bar at The Bvlgari Resort (Dubai, UAE)
  • Charles H. Seoul at the Four Seasons Hotel (Seoul, South Korea)
  • Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Hotel (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel (Singapore)
  • Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)
  • MO BAR at the Mandarin Oriental (Singapore)
  • Origin Bar at The Shangri-La Hotel (Singapore)
  • The American Bar at The Stafford London (London, UK)
  • The Donovan Bar at the Brown’s Hotel (London, UK)

*Includes 11 nominees due to a tie

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Bar Kismet (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Caffe Fernet (Singapore)
  • Danico (Paris, France)
  • Le Mary Celeste (Paris, France)
  • Locale Firenze (Florence, Italy)
  • LPM Restaurant & Bar (Dubai, UAE)
  • Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Sexy Fish (London, UK)
  • The Continental Deli (Newtown, Australia)
  • Tjoget (Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Zuma Dubai — Dubai, UAE)

*Includes 11 nominees due to a tie

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Stranger & Sons

  • 🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name (London, UK)
  • Amaro Bar (London, UK)
  • ARGO (Hong Kong, China)
  • Dead End Paradise (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • DEAN & NANCY (Sydney, Australia)
  • RE (Sydney, Australia)
  • Schofield’s Bar (Manchester, UK)
  • Side Hustle at the NoMad (London, UK)
  • SIPS (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Wax On (Berlin, Germany)

Global Categories

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

  • Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky
  • ANGOSTURA® cocoa bitters
  • Citadelle Gin Jardin d’été
  • Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Vida de Muertos
  • Equiano Light Rum
  • Fever-Tree Sparkling Lime & Yuzu
  • Fever-Tree Sparkling Pink Grapefruit
  • Hendrick’s Lunar Gin
  • Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic – Italian Orange
  • Nixta Licor de Elote
  • Lost Irish
  • Ojo de Tigre Mezcal Artesanal
  • SAVOIA Americano

*Includes 13 nominees due to a tie

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • ALQUÍMICO (Cartagena de Indias, Colombia)
  • Dante NYC (New York, NY)
  • Himkok (Oslo, Norway)
  • Little Red Door (Paris, France)
  • Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)
  • Mace Bar (New York, NY)
  • Paradiso (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London (London, UK)
  • Swift Soho (London, UK)
  • Tayēr + Elementary (London, UK)

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Beam Suntory

  • ATLA (New York, NY)
  • Brandy Library (New York, NY)
  • In-Situ Mezcaleria (Oaxaca City, Mexico)
  • Jack Rose Dining Saloon (Washington, DC)
  • Origin Bar at The Shangri-La Hotel (Singapore)
  • Rumba (Seattle, WA)
  • Sexy Fish (London, UK)
  • Swift Soho (London, UK)
  • The Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago, IL)
  • The Doctor’s Office (Seattle, WA)

Writing and Media Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • CLASS magazine
  • Difford’s Guide
  • Discard the Zine
  • DRiNK Magazine Asia
  • Drinks International
  • Liquor.com
  • The Cocktail Lovers magazine
  • The Spirits Business
  • VinePair
  • Whisky Magazine

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

  • A Life In Whisky: The Dennis Malcolm Story (A documentary by Whisky Magazine)
  • Behind the Bar with Cara Devine
  • El Club de los Cantineros (Documentary)
  • Freepour
  • Happy Hour History
  • Hospitality Forward Podcast by Hanna Lee Communications
  • Radio Imbibe
  • Shōshin Art Club
  • The Cocktail Lovers Podcast
  • The Speakeasy Podcast

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • “Get Real: The bar world looks beyond feel-good measures on sustainability and climate change” by Max Falkowitz, for Imbibe Magazine
  • “Getting high from a new supply: a revolutionary flavour extraction method for cocktails is being pioneered in South Africa” by Leah van Deventer, for TheWorlds50Best.com
  • “Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Destroyed American Bar Culture?” by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, for Daily Beast
  • “Making it Through: How a Bar’s Regulars Helped During a Pandemic,” by Rebecca Cate as told to Paul Clarke, Imbibe
  • “Marc Farrell Wants to Change the Way You Think About Rum” by Yolanda Evans, for Food & Wine
  • “Meet the Eco-Packaging Innovations Transforming the Drinks Industry” by Betsy Andrews, for SevenFifty Daily
  • “Mexican Terroir” by Liza Weisstuch, for Whisky Magazine
  • “The Greatest Drinking Contest in History” by David Wondrich, for Daily Beast
  • “The Hard Reset – Creating a New Hospitality Culture” by Anna Sebastian, for CLASS
  • “Turns Out Rye Whiskey Isn’t an American Creation After All” by Lew Bryson, for Daily Beast

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

  • Claridge’s The Cocktail Book by Denis Broci and Nathan McCarley-O’Neill
  • COCKTAIL DIVE BAR: Real Drinks, Fake History, and Questionable Advice from New Orleans’s Twelve Mile Limit by T. Cole Newton
  • Death & Co: Welcome Home by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan
  • Difford’s Guide to Cocktails Sixteenth Edition by Simon Difford
  • Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails by Robert Simonson
  • The Cocktail Seminars by Brian D. Hoefling
  • The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig
  • The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes by Julia Momosé with Emma Janzen
  • Tokyo Cocktails by Nicholas Coldicott
  • Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking by Elva Ramirez

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

  • A Good Drink: In Pursuit of Sustainable Spirits by Shanna Farrell
  • Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey by Clay Risen
  • Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization by Edward Slingerland
  • Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol by Mallory O’Meara
  • L’Ora dell’Americano by Mauro Mahjoub & Lucio Tucci
  • Something & Tonic by Nick Kokonas
  • The Big Book of Amaro by Matteo Zed
  • The New Kindred Spirits by F. Paul Pacult
  • The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails edited by David Wondrich with Noah Rothbaum
  • The Spirit of Rye by Carlo DeVito

Image: Jia Jia Shum on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

After RRF Failure, What’s Next for Us?

After RRF Failure, What’s Next for Us?

by David Klemt

Super Mario Bros. game booth

After the US Senate failed to even debate the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, instead opting to let it die, what’s next?

Obviously, trusting our elected officials to do the right thing isn’t a viable option. After all, the Senate slow-walked the RRF’s death march. It took six weeks after the House voted “yes” on RRF for senators to filibuster the bill to death.

Last Thursday, the National Restaurant Association addressed moving forward. Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs, released a 90-second video in which he spoke about the RRF and where we are now.

Reconciliation?

One of the first options Kennedy proposes in his video is a reconciliation bill. That, however, is highly unlikely to come to fruition.

So, what’s a reconciliation bill? Simply put, it has to do with the Senate’s supermajority requirement.

In order for a bill to advance to a vote, 60 percent of the Senate must support ending a filibuster. On that topic, a filibuster is a procedural tool that prolongs a debate. The filibuster is used to delay or prevent a vote on a bill, resolution, etc.

Now, a budget reconciliation bill circumvents the supermajority requirement. A simple majority—51 senators for the US Senate—is all it takes to override a filibuster in this instance.

Technically, from what I’ve come to understand, the Senate can pass a maximum of three budget reconciliation bills in a year. Most often, it passes a single such bill per year.

Obviously, Kennedy feels that this would be a longshot to cross our fingers and hope the RRF is funded via these means.

Staying Ready

As they say—yes, “they”—if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. According to Kennedy, the NRA is prepared to act in any way they can should replenishing the RRF or similar aide once again become an option.

“We’re gonna continue to closely monitor the situation and we certainly can activate if there any signs of movement,” he says. “We’re not seeing them yet.”

The “yet” there is perhaps a bit hopeful. And as we like to say, hope isn’t a strategy. However, optimism is far healthier than pessimism and hopelessness.

Additionally, Kennedy and the NRA are grateful to the bipartisan group of representatives and senators who have shown their support for our industry and replenishing the RRF.

“We’re incredibly appreciative of the works of our champions in Congress,” says Kennedy.

In particular, he acknowledges Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and senators Ben Carden (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). In the House, Kennedy thanks Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

What’s Next?

As Kennedy says, much of what he discussed with people at the 2022 NRA Show centered around this very topic. Just what are we supposed to do moving forward?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer, no simple solution we can point to and implement.

Instead, we have several issues we must navigate to keep restaurant and bar doors open:

  • What can we do to more effectively recruit and retain staff?
  • How can we best address increases in food costs and problems with availability?
  • Is there a way to address rising credit card transaction fees?

Of course, that’s but a handful of what we must address and solve. And at least when it comes to the first question, we know some of the elements for the solution:

  • Treat staff with respect.
  • Value diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Improve pay and offer benefits.
  • Develop a healthy company culture and workplace.

On the topic of state and local policymakers, expecting help is a dicey proposition.

Unless they engage with the owners, operators, and industry professionals in their states, counties, cites, and towns, they’ll hurt these businesses. The only effective and helpful way forward is for them to engage with us and not simply introduce and pass legislation that hurts. Possible, of course, but a big ask as we’ve seen proven time and time again.

Image: Minator Yang on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2022 50 Best Bars: North America

2022 50 Best Bars: North America

by David Klemt

Door with number 50 address

Probably a speakeasy.

The World’s 50 Best Bars ranking for North America is official and the bars are, of course, extraordinary.

Unsurprisingly, much of the list consists of “household” names in our industry. Now, where some people may see a list of the “cool kids,” I see something different.

In a word, consistency. Sure, the more cynical among us roll their eyes at rankings and awards.

However, I see approaches to operations, service, menu and design innovation, and guest experiences to learn from and emulate.

Would I like to see bars in markets outside of the usual suspects on these lists? Absolutely. As so-called secondary and tertiary markets develop their scenes that may start to happen more often.

So, congratulations to this year’s 50 Best Bars in North America! Cheers!

Canada

This year, the second-largest country in the world claims eight of North America’s 50 best bars. One bar is in the top ten.

As Ontario’s capital and Canada’s most-populous city, it should come as no surprise that Toronto takes four spots. Bar Mordecai is number 47, Bar Raval is 41, number 38 is Mother, and Civil Liberties is tenth.

It’s a bit surprising to see just one bar from Vancouver—number 25, The Keefer Bar—but Montréal has two venues on the list. The Cloakroom Bar is number 45 and 29 is El Pequeño Bar.

Bar Kismet, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is sitting in the 49th spot on the 2022 North American list.

America

Impressively, the US boasts 30 of North America’s 50 Best Bars, six of which are in the top ten. Intriguingly, ten of the bars on this list were ranked on the World’s 50 Best Bars last year.

As one would assume, New York City dominates the 2022 rankings. Eleven bars are on the list, with the number one spot going to Attaboy. Congratulations to Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross, their teams, and their partners. Katana Kitten is number four, and Dante earns the eighth spot on the list.

Moving to the south, two bars on the list are in Miami: Broken Shaker (32) and Sweet Liberty (14). Heading northwest, Kumiko in Chicago is in the top ten at number five.

On the other side of the country, Los Angeles claims three spots, one in the top ten. Genever holds number 50, Death & Co. is 34, and Thunderbolt is ninth. The Bay Area has two bars on the list. ABV in San Francisco is number 39 and Oakland’s Friends and Family is in the 33 spot.

Somewhat surprisingly, Las Vegas and New Orleans each have just one bar in the rankings. One of my personal favorites, Herbs & Rye, is number 28 on the list. Jewel of the South in NOLA is in the top half of the list, holding number 24.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, the beloved La Factoría is twelfth on the list.

Mexico

Achieving 11 spots—three in the top ten—Mexico is crushing it this year. Remarkably but not surprisingly, the three bars in the top ten are all in Mexico City.

Baltra Bar earns number nine, and Handshake Speakeasy and Licorería Limantour are second and third, respectively. Overall, Mexico City boasts six bars on this list.

Two spots are in Oaxaca: Selva, which is number 22, and Sabina Sabe, number twenty.

Arca, number 37, is in Tulum. Number 21, El Gallo Altanero, is in Guadalajara. And Zapote Bar in Playa del Carmen almost breaks the top 10, coming in eleventh.

Cuba

The legendary El Floridita grabs Cuba’s only entry on the 2022 list.

Impressively, El Floridita can trace its opening to the early 1800s. Originally, the space was La Piña de Plata. About a century later, a bartender, Constantino “Constante” Ribalaigua Vert, became the owner and changed the name.

Oh, and he just so happens to be the inventor of the frozen Daiquiri. Along with its impressive history, El Floridita also has an awesome statue with its own seat at the bar. Ernest Hemingway is immortalized in bronze.

50 Best Bars: North America

Below, the full list in ascending order.

  1. Genever (Los Angeles, CA)
  2. Bar Kismet (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  3. Teardrop Lounge (Portland, OR)
  4. Bar Mordecai (Toronto, Ontario)
  5. Julep (Houston, TX)
  6. Cloakroom Bar (Montréal, Québec)
  7. Bitter & Twisted (Phoenix, AZ)
  8. Clover Club in (New York, NY)
  9. Bar Leather Apron (Honolulu, HI)
  10. Bar Raval (Toronto, Ontario)
  11. El Floridita (Havana)
  12. ABV (San Francisco, CA)
  13. Mother (Toronto, Ontario)
  14. Arca (Tulum, Quintana Roo)
  15. Death & Co (Denver, CO)
  16. Mace (New York, NY)
  17. Death & Co (Los Angeles, CA)
  18. Friends and Family (Oakland, CA)
  19. Broken Shaker (Miami, FL)
  20. The Dead Rabbit (New York, NY)
  21. Employees Only (New York, NY)
  22. El Pequeño Bar (Montréal, Québec)
  23. Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas, NV)
  24. Overstory (New York, NY)
  25. Dear Irving (New York, NY)
  26. The Keefer Bar (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  27. Jewel of the South (New Orleans, LA)
  28. Amor y Amargo (New York, NY)
  29. Selva (Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca)
  30. El Gallo Altanero (Guadalajara, Jalisco)
  31. Sabina Sabe (Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca)
  32. Raised by Wolves (San Diego, CA)
  33. Service Bar (Washington, DC)
  34. Double Chicken Please (New York, NY)
  35. Hanky Panky (Ciudad de México)
  36. Café de Nadie (Ciudad de México)
  37. Sweet Liberty (Miami, FL)
  38. Kaito del Valle (Ciudad de México)
  39. La Factoría (San Juan)
  40. Zapote Bar (Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo)
  41. Civil Liberties (Toronto, Ontario)
  42. Thunderbolt (Los Angeles, CA)
  43. Dante (New York, NY)
  44. Baltra Bar (Ciudad de México)
  45. Café La Trova (Miami, FL)
  46. Kumiko (Chicago, IL)
  47. Katana Kitten (New York, NY)
  48. Licorería Limantour (Ciudad de México)
  49. Handshake Speakeasy (Ciudad de México)
  50. Attaboy (New York, NY)

Image: Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Here Come the NFT Restaurants…

Here Come the NFT Restaurants…

by David Klemt

Blue and white NFT concept

It was inevitable, really, that after seeing cryptocurrency nightclubs we’d eventually see non-fungible-token-focused venues.

Not too long, in fact, a crypto nightclub set up shot in an ultra-lounge inside a Las Vegas casino. Members had access to a VIP section inside the venue provided they had minimum amounts of certain coins.

Bottles were popped, Instagram models made appearances, and the crypto contingent were given the VIP treatment.

Other such venues are in operation. However, the “new thing” leveraging the proliferation of the blockchain is the NFT restaurant.

Interestingly, two such restaurants are set to open in the US in two major markets. One is New York City, the other Los Angeles.

What’s an NFT?

Okay, bear with me here. I’m not an NFT expert, nor do I own an NFT. So, I’ll do my best to make this as simple as possible.

First off, the acronym NFT stands for “non-fungible token.”

Second, an NFT is a digital asset—quite often artwork—bought and sold online. Quite commonly, these assets are purchased with cryptocurrency. In fact, many sellers won’t accept any other form of payment for an NFT.

Their ownership is recorded, just like cryptocurrency, on the blockchain. It’s important to know that the purchase of an NFT doesn’t necessarily come with licensing rights, but that’s another issue entirely. So, yes, there are people who “own” an NFT but don’t actually own the rights to do much with it.

For now, what’s important to know is that NFTs are exclusive, unique digital assets. Oh, and the market (industry?), as of 2021, was worth a reported $41 billion. Not entirely surprising when one considers that a single NFT once sold for almost $92 million.

What’s an NFT Restaurant?

It is, perhaps, more accurate to refer to these hospitality venues as NFT clubs. Yes, there’s a restaurant component, but the main draw is a membership.

In New York City, for one example, the NFT is the membership. The planned venue is Flyfish Club by VCR Group, and it’s billed as “the world’s first member’s only private dining club.”

What does a Flyfish NFT membership get you? Well, the space isn’t open yet. However, the following benefits are expected:

  • Unlimited access to a 10,000-square-foot dining room.
  • Exclusive culinary, social, and cultural experiences.
  • An “iconic, New York City location” for the dining room, cocktail lounge, omakase room, and outdoor area.

It’s rumored that—dependent on crypto exchange rates, of course—the Flyfish membership will cost around $13,000.

On the other side of the country is another NFT membership. This concept comes from SHŌ Group and is slated to debut in 2023 on top of the Salesforce Transit Center.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any pricing information available (publicly) just yet for SHŌ Club. However, three tiers of membership have been revealed:

  • Earth: The lowest tier.
  • Water: The “core” membership.
  • Fire: Offers “ownership-like benefits.”

Per SHŌ, these memberships are not only verifiable via the blockchain, members will be able to sell or transfer their ownership of a membership.

If you’re curious about costs and a full breakdown of SHŌ Club benefits, you can sign up for notifications here.

Niche Concepts

Honestly, what else can we categorize these venues as besides “niche”? While both venues’ operations would likely be familiar to any hospitality professional, the NFT element certainly designates them as highly specialized.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Niche” isn’t inherently negative. In fact, identifying and servicing an underserved niche can be incredibly lucrative for any entrepreneur.

Indeed, the locations of Flyfish and SHŌ Club are telling. NYC is often labeled the finance capital of the world. And, of course, San Francisco is home to Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the world.

Obviously, many who work in finance and tech live in NYC and San Francisco. So, it makes sense that they’d be interested in these memberships and, as importantly, can afford them.

Clearly, VCR and SHŌ are targeting a group with a shared niche interest, and they’re doing so with upscale venues and experiences. Should these concepts come to life and their experiences live up to member expectations, they’ll have hit a homerun.

As an operator, you may not be interested in targeting the cryptocurrency or NFT crowd. However, the ubiquity of subscriptions in our lives may motivate you to consider a membership program.

If so, remember to offer value, avoid alienating non-members, and offer benefits authentic to the business.

Image: Riki32 from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

8 Bottles for National Bourbon Day

8 Bottles for Bourbon Day

by David Klemt

Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon barrels

Next week, June 14, is National Bourbon Day, the day America celebrates the country’s “native” spirit.

Clearly, that means one thing: Make sure your promotion catches the eye of the whiskey aficionados, bourbon lovers, and bourbon curious among your guests.

One of the most effective ways to boost traffic on National Bourbon Day is deceptively simple. Simply put, add new bourbon releases to your inventory.

Of course, you should also ensure you have enough of what your regulars normally drink on hand. And let’s not neglect your bourbon cocktails.

First Things First

When deciding what to feature on your promotional or LTO menus, there’s a smart and simple first step to take.

You probably already know what I’m going to suggest: Run reports.

What are your top-selling bourbons? Which are more burden than bourbon, collecting dust in your inventory?

Introduce new bourbons recently? How are they selling?

Then there’s the cocktail menu. Do you know which cocktails are your guest favorites and which they’re not ordering? Are any of these bourbon cocktails?

So, don’t just jump into National Bourbon Day by guessing or assuming what bottles and cocktails to promote. Instead, leverage the power of your POS and run reports. Put hard data behind your promotions, always.

Of course, that’s not your only resource. Curious about what your guests would like to see on the menu and back bar? Ask your bar team.

New Releases

Now, this may come as a shocker: People want to try what’s new. Yeah, I know—hot take.

So, if people want the new thing, give ’em what they want. Below you’ll find some bottles worth asking your reps about for National Bourbon Day.

Obviously, you should ensure you have plenty of the standards on hand. And be cautious about just how much new bourbon you bring in. After all, you don’t have data on how they’ll perform yet.

That said, here are some bottles worth considering.

Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke

Far too often, “smoky” on a label means “tastes like you’re drinking a campfire.” Of course, some of us are into that, depending on our mood or personal tastes.

However, some guests aren’t into smoke bombs. Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke delivers what’s on the label: their high-rye Kentucky bourbon with smoke notes that aren’t overwhelming.

Ben Holladay

Don’t freak out after you read the following sentence. Not all bourbon comes from Kentucky.

Of course, you and your team probably know that. And I’m sure we all think that by now, people know a whiskey doesn’t need to come from Kentucky to be bourbon. However, there are still people who think otherwise.

Educate them with bottled-in-bond Ben Holladay, crafted in Missouri. It’s an interesting bottle labeled Real Missouri Bourbon. According to laws enacted in 2019 and 2020, for a whiskey to earn that designation the producer must:

  • mash, ferment, distill, age, and bottle in Missouri;
  • age in oak barrels made in Missouri; and
  • be made with corn grown in Missouri.

Bottled-in-bond and Real Missouri Bourbon. This bottle should get your guests’ attention.

Blood Oath Pact No. 8

When it comes to bourbon releases, Blood Oath Pacts are always big news. Blood Oath Pact No. 8 should be a welcome addition by the bourbon lovers among your guests.

For this release, Lux Row Distillers combined a a 14-year ryed bourbon, an 11-year ryed bourbon, and an 8-year ryed bourbon finished in Calvados casks.

OKI Reserve

The OKI story goes that two entrepreneurs in Ohio, Chad Brizendine and Jake Warm, bought the brand from New Riff Distilling two years ago.

For those wondering, OKI stands for “Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana,” the tri-state area responsible for most of the world’s bourbon. According to OKI, 99 percent of OKI Reserve is more than eight years old.

Thomas S. Moore

Alright, I’ll admit it—I count this section as four bourbons. But I have a good reason for doing so.

Thomas S. Moore is crafted by Barton 1792 and consists of four expressions: Cognac, Madeira, sherry and Merlot. Any one of these alone is worth the time and effort for a bourbon or whiskey lover to track down. However, think of the potential having two or more expressions available to taste against one another offers you and your guests.

Each Thomas S. Moore expression starts with five- or six-year-old Barton 1792 high-rye bourbon. Depending on the cask used for finishing, the bourbon is aged for another one to four years.

Image: Josh Collesano on Unsplash

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