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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2022 World’s 50 Best Bars: 51-100

2022 World’s 50 Best Bars: 51-100

by David Klemt

Closeup of bartender's hand pouring shot

As we approach the ceremony to announce the 2022 World’s 50 Best Bars we now know which bars across the globe are on the 51 to 100 list.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that these are 50 of the most impressive bars not just in the US, not just in Canada, and not just in North America. Rather, these are among the absolute best bars in the world.

Of particular note, Singapore continues to prove itself as a dominant cocktail destination. There are eight bars on the 2022 51 to 100 list, and I predict that at least three more from Singapore will appear on the 1 to 50 list.

Also, the UK and Cape Town each claim four spots among the best 51 to 100 bars, and Paris boasts three. Operators, bar professionals, and tourists should keep their eyes on Cape Town as it continues to transform into a cocktail hot spot.

Among the 51 to 100 list, four are from the US and, sadly, none are in Canada. Overall, 15 bars on this list are new entries, as are five of the cities represented.

1 to 50: One Week Away

Of course, this leaves us all with a few important questions.

When will we find out about bars 1 through 50? Which bars are on that list? And which bar will be number one this year?

Well, I can answer one of those questions for you. A week from now, October 4, the World’s 50 Best Bars will announce the top 50 bars in the world during a ceremony in Barcelona, Spain.

To learn more about the World’s 50 Best Bars and this year’s ceremony, listen to Bar Hacks episode 82 with Mark Sansom. Also, make sure you’re following the World’s 50 Best Bars on Twitter and Instagram.

For now, scroll down to check out bars 51 to 100. Congratulations to the bars below!

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022: 100 to 51

  1. Sin + Tax (Johannesburg)
  2. Tesouro (Goa)
  3. Zapote Bar (Playa del Carmen)
  4. Tag (Kraków)
  5. The Dead Rabbit (New York)
  6. The Bamboo Bar (Bangkok)
  7. Sweet Liberty (Miami)
  8. Mace (New York)
  9. The House of Machines (Cape Town)
  10. Antique American Bar (Bratislava)
  11. Republic (Singapore)
  12. Donovan Bar (London)
  13. Art of Duplicity (Cape Town)
  14. Re (Sydney)
  15. Freni e Frizioni (Rome)
  16. Danico (Paris)
  17. Le Syndicat (Paris)
  18. Bar Goto (New York)
  19. Indulge Experimental Bistro (Taipei)
  20. Lost & Found (Nicosia)
  21. Dead End Paradise (Beirut)
  22. Vesper (Bangkok)
  23. Röda Huset (Stockholm)
  24. The Court (Rome)
  25. Candelaria (Paris)
  26. Side Hustle (London)
  27. Nutmeg & Clove (Singapore)
  28. Camparino in Galleria (Milan)
  29. Three Sheets (London)
  30. Tjoget (Stockholm)
  31. La Sala de Laura (Bogotá)
  32. No Sleep Club (Singapore)
  33. Hero Bar (Nairobi)
  34. Atlas (Singapore)
  35. El Barón (Cartagena)
  36. Analogue (Singapore)
  37. Brujas (Mexico City)
  38. The SG Club (Tokyo)
  39. Tan Tan (São Paulo)
  40. Presidente (Buenos Aires)
  41. Caretaker’s Cottage (Melbourne)
  42. Schofield’s (Manchester)
  43. Mimi Kakushi (Dubai)
  44.  MO Bar (Singapore)
  45. Quinary (Hong Kong)
  46. 28 HongKong Street (Singapore)
  47. La Factoría (Old San Juan)
  48. Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen (Cape Town)
  49. Barro Negro (Athens)
  50. Sago House (Singapore)

Image: Louis Hansel on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canada’s Restaurant Labor by the Numbers

Canada’s Restaurant Labor by the Numbers

by David Klemt

Chef inside commercial kitchen

While there are positive signs for Canada’s foodservice industry, recruiting and retaining labor continues to be a challenge.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a challenge unique to Canada. Operators throughout North America and indeed across the globe are facing labor shortages.

Restaurants Canada addresses this topic in their 2022 Foodservice Facts report. The non-profit research and advocacy group predicts sales will reach pre-pandemic levels by Q4 of this year.

However, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs may have to achieve traffic and revenue growth despite a significant labor deficit.

Please click here to access the 2022 Foodservice Facts report yourself.

Labor Shortage by Category

In their latest report, Restaurants Canada crunches the numbers for three distinct venue categories. These are quick-serve restaurants, full-service restaurants, and bars and nightclubs.

The organization finds that QSRs and FSRs are facing the greatest shortages. In fact, in response to a survey from May of this year, at least half of QSRs and FSRs aren’t operating with fulls staffs.

For QSRs, 52 percent of respondents say they perceive restaurants and bars they’ve visited to be understaffed. A bit over a third (36 percent) think staffing is “about right.” Unhelpfully, 12 percent “don’t know” if restaurants and bars have enough staff.

So, let’s switch gears to FSRs. Precisely half of survey respondends say restaurants and bars don’t have enough staff. Just like their QSR counterparts, 36 percent say that staffing seems to be at the ideal level. Fourteen percent respond that they “don’t know,” which doesn’t tell us much.

Per Canadians who responded to Restaurants Canada’s survey, bars and nightclubs are fairing better…at first. Frustratingly, a staggering 37 percent of respondents “don’t know” if bars or nightclubs have appropriate levels of staffing. Thirty-two percent think they’re understaffed, 31 percent think staffing levels are “about right.”

Industry professionals are probably already putting two and two together here. As long as guests receive the level of service they expect, from greeting to speed of service, to closing out their check, they think things are fine. If they’re made to wait longer than they want, they’ll likely say a restaurant, bar or nightclub doesn’t have enough people on shift.

Labor Shortage by Role

Okay, so the May 2022 Restaurants Canada wasn’t entirely helpful. It still provides interesting insight. That is, we know how guests perceive staffing in at least most instances.

So, let’s get down to hard numbers: shortages in specific roles throughout the industry.

Here, Restaurants Canada provides compelling information, even if it’s not what we want to see. In comparison to 2019, every role is down by thousands of people. In some cases, tens of thousands.

Below you’ll find the deficits by role:

  • Foodservice supervisors: -3,100
  • Chefs: -10,900
  • Bartenders: -17,600
  • Maîtres d’hôtel and hosts/hostesses: -21,100
  • Restaurant and foodservice managers: -22,400
  • Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, and related support occupations: -43,200
  • Cooks: -44,400
  • F&B servers: -89,500
  • Other: -18,800

Add that up and that’s a shortage of 271,000 people throughout Canada’s foodservice industry. For further context, the industry boasted 1,265,700 workers. In 2021, the industry was down to 994,700.

Unfortunately, from 2020 to 2021, just 4,100 jobs were recovered, according to Restaurants Canada. This situation clearly shows that operators need to change their approach to staffing.

Now, more than ever, operators must focus on effective recruitment, onboarding, and retention. For tips on making improvements, click here. To learn how to implement employee surveys to boost retention and avoid costly turnover, click here.

Image: Brian Tromp on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restaurants Canada Reveals Pandemic Impact

Two Years On, Restaurants Canada Reveals Pandemic Impact

by David Klemt

Canon accounting calculator

Restaurants Canada looks at the impact of the pandemic on the foodservice industry in their latest Foodservice Facts report.

Canada’s foodservice industry research and advocacy non-profit sees a return to pre-pandemic operations. However, the path forward toward pre-pandemic traffic and sales levels won’t be without its challenges.

“While nominal sales are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before the end of the year, traffic still remains below what it was before,” says Restaurants Canada president and CEO Christian Buhagiar.

To access your own copy of 2022 Foodservice Facts, click here.

Industry Still Struggling

As an owner, operator, or foodservice professional, you probably have the answer to a specific question in mind.

When will we be “back to normal?” And, of course, the natural followup to that question. Will the industry surpass 2019 traffic and sales?

Restaurants and bars throughout Canada have survived six waves of Covid-19 over the course of two-plus years. There have been an inordinate amount of lockdowns that inarguably forced the permanent closure of far too many businesses.

As Restaurants Canada states (and the rest of us know all too well), there’s no telling if another Covid-19 variant will rear its ugly head. It’s conceivable (but with any luck unlikely) that Canada could face future lockdowns.

At the moment, according to Restaurants Canada, foodservice sales are currently 11 percent below 2019 levels. And yes, that’s after adjustment for inflation. Speaking of which, one reason traffic and sales remain below those of 2019 is consumer confidence. Many Canadians are concerned about a possible recession.

In addition, operators in Canada continue to face a labor shortage.

News Not All Bad

Now, anyone who read the previous section would be justified in lacking confidence in the industry. However, there is good news.

First, let’s compare Q1 of 2022 to Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, just 15 percent of restaurants were able to seat guests with zero restrictions. By April, though, approximately 90 percent of restaurants in Canada could serve in-person guests restriction-free.

Second, Q2 had more positivity in store for operators. According to Restaurants Canada, the FSR segment endured an 18-month decline in traffic when Covid-19 took hold. When restrictions were lifted, the floodgates of consumer demand burst. By Q2, traffic was a mere one percent lower in comparison to 2019.

Going a bit granular, QSR performance also improved in Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, QSR traffic lagged eight percent behind pre-pandemic levels. However, that number improved to just two percent under pre-pandemic levels by Q2.

Compellingly, Q2 still wasn’t done with foodservice industry positivity. While QSRs outpaced FSRs three-fold in terms of traffic, their numbers combined bring the industry back to 2019 Q2 levels.

Restaurant Canada’s positive outlook predicts that the industry will return to pre-pandemic levels by Q4.

Image: StellrWeb on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Will Virtual Kitchens Persist?

Will Virtual Kitchens Persist or Go Brick-and-Mortar?

by David Klemt

Closeup shot of double cheeseburger

Virtual kitchens and virtual brands are back in the headlines after a record-setting grand opening in Rutherford, New Jersey.

Well, I should clarify: A restaurant may now hold a specific record.

The restaurant in question is the first brick-and-mortar MrBeast Burger location. And the record it may hold claim to is most burgers sold in a single day by a single restaurant.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by MrBeast Burger (@mrbeastburger)

Now, if you don’t spend much time on YouTube, you may not know MrBeast. So, here’s a quick rundown: He’s Jimmy Donaldson, a YouTube personality known for “expensive stunts.” In fact, he may be the pioneer of that type of content.

Right about now you may be wondering what this all has to do with virtual kitchens and brands. It’s quite simple, really. MrBeast was among the highest-profile virtual brands to launch during the pandemic.

Incredibly, MrBeast Burger boasts more than 1,700 virtual kitchen locations. And now, one brick-and-mortar MrBeast restaurant.

Leveraging Demand and Popularity

So, you’re an influential YouTube content creator with tens of millions of subscribers. Obviously, your channel is monetized. What else can you do to leverage your popularity?

Well, if there’s a pandemic crippling the globe and people are stuck at home, maybe you notice the demand for takeout and delivery. And perhaps you learn about something known as a “virtual kitchen.”

If you’re a foodie or maybe just a savvy businessperson, maybe you’d jump into the virtual space. It is, it goes without saying, much less expensive than opening your own restaurant. And if you perform well, that’s an excellent way to collect data and guest feedback.

Also, an efficient way to hone your brand without a lease, buildout or the overhead of a physical restaurant. In a way, a virtual brand is akin to a pop-up restaurant, only you can test hundreds of markets simultaneously.

Okay, so now let’s say you reach a rare milestone in the creator space: 100 million subscribers. MrBeast did just that in July of this year. Do you think you’d want to leverage the support of millions of fans willing to support you and your brand?

The first physical MrBeast Burger opened last week at the American Dream mall in New Jersey. Reports claim that over 10,000 people waited in line for the grand opening.

Oh, and that’s when the location may have claimed the aforementioned record: 5,500 burgers sold in one day. After just one day of operation, MrBeast wondered if the brand should franchise:

Virtual to Physical

This (potential) record-setting event brings virtual kitchens and brands back into the spotlight.

Of course, most virtual brands don’t have the same origin story as MrBeast. One hundred million supporters? That’s rarified air.

At any rate, virtual kitchens do offer potential physical restaurant operators a less expensive method of testing their concepts. Couple data collection and feedback with an accurate feasibility study and taking the next step may make sense. And it may make a tidy profit.

It’s possible we’ll see MrBeast franchise off the success of two years of operating virtually and opening a physical location. And it’s possible we’ll see other virtual brands expand beyond the virtual kitchen.

However, it’s important that virtual brand owners keep a few things in mind. One, online success doesn’t always translate to brick-and-mortar success. Two, the restaurant space doesn’t care about your subscriber count—the KPIs are entirely different here. Three, potential operators need to perform the proper studies—or retain an agency with experience performing them—rather than rushing into the restaurant space.

It’s highly likely we’ll see more virtual brands enter the physical restaurant world. How many will do so successfully remains to be seen.

Image: Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Addressing Substance Abuse in the Industry

Restaurant Business Articles Address Substance Abuse

by David Klemt

Two full shot glasses on a bar

Two revealing Restaurant Business articles paint a startling picture of the industry’s struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.

Unfortunately, the subject of substance abuse in restaurants and bars isn’t new. This has long been a pervasive, prevalent issue in the hospitality industry.

There are, as Restaurant Business authors point out, several reasons our industry continues to grapple with substance abuse.

Since we’re nearing Sober October, this topic’s importance seems particularly poignant. Of course, the health of hospitality industry professionals should always be a paramount operator concern every day. It shouldn’t take a specific month for us to address this issue, just to forget about it after 31 days of consideration.

Hospitality workers should feel supported by the business owners and operators for whom they work. Additionally, they should feel safe among the leadership team and their fellow team members. In part, this feeling of security and safety should manifest in being comfortable speaking about substance abuse in the workplace.

A significant element of creating a supportive, safe, and healthy culture is removing the stigma of struggling with substance abuse that persists today. How can operators, leadership, and team members help one another if they make peers feel shame for struggling with drugs or alcohol?

A crucial step toward addressing the issue of substance abuse is fostering a culture of respect, support, and safety. If anyone in any role—from ownership and leadership to front of house and back of house—feels as though they can’t speak with someone safely about their struggles, we can’t address this topic effectively. And if we can’t address it in a meaningful way, we can never effect real change that can improve and save lives.

Pervasive Struggles

A Restaurant Business article from last week addresses substance abuse and culture. “How Restaurants Feed a Culture of Substance Abuse” reveals disturbing statistics.

At the start of their article, editors Peter Romeo, Heather Lalley and Joe Guszkowski share a horrific story. In February of this year, Colorado law enforcement found six adults and a toddler in an apartment. The six adults had all overdosed on fentanyl-laced cocaine; five had died. All six adults worked in chain or independent restaurants.

Four years ago, Delaware officials investigated the state’s opioid crisis. They found 10 percent of Delaware residents who died due to opioid overdoses were foodservice workers. According to Restaurant Business, state officials concluded that foodservice experienced a higher rate of opioid deaths than any other industry.

Among the most-shocking revelations in the Restaurant Business article pertains to the US workforce as a whole. Frustratingly, the US government hasn’t researched illicit drug use in the workforce since 2015. So, for all we know, the numbers I’m about to share have either increased or decreased.

In a typical month in 2015, 8.6 percent of the US workforce was using illicit drugs. However, that number pales in comparison to the rate of illicit drug use among restaurant and hotel workers: 19.1 percent.

Examining Substance Use Disease (SUD), a term encompassing drug and alcohol abuse, the numbers expose the weight of our industry’s struggle. In 2015, 9.5 percent of the US workforce suffered from SUD. For restaurants and hotels? That number was nearly double: 16.9 percent, higher than any other industry.

Fentanyl Deaths

Restaurant Business Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Maze reveals how “restaurants are ground zero” for fentanyl overdoses.

Fentanyl is cheap to produce and transport. It doesn’t take much to be deadly. And most people who have the misfortune of consuming it do so unwittingly. As it turns out, drug dealers lace all manner of other drugs with it because it’s so powerful. So, cutting drugs with fentanyl is more “cost effective” for drug dealers.

This particular excerpt from Maze’s “As Fentanyl Deaths Soar, Restaurants Are Ground Zero” is startling: “Throughout the country, restaurants and bars are such common places for overdose deaths among customers that advocates are training bartenders and servers to administer Narcan, a medication used to treat opioid overdoses. They are also becoming sources for fentanyl test strips so customers can see if the drugs they’re taking are laced with the powerful drug.”

Further, this troubling excerpt: “The fentanyl epidemic is particularly troublesome in the restaurant industry given the generally high rate of drug use among workers. Restaurant work is notoriously intense. The hours are long and late, and employees are on their feet all day. They often get hurt on the job and can turn to painkillers, legal or otherwise.”

When I say that we need to address substance abuse in our industry to save lives, I’m not employing hyperbole. I mean it quite literally.

Please take the time to read these two Restaurant Business articles in their entirety. We need to take action today.

Image: cottonbro via Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Swipe Fees Cost Over $77 Billion in 2021

Swipe Fees Cost Merchants Over $77 Billion in 2021

by David Klemt

Close up of stack of credit cards

A bill that intends to lower the credit card fees merchants pay by creating more competition within the industry is before Congress.

This bill, the Credit Card Competition Act of 2022, has bipartisan support. The two sponsors behind it are Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Marshall (R-KS).

Of particular note, the bill seeks to amend the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Specifically, the amendment targets the networks that merchants use to process electronic credit card transactions.

In short, banks that issue credit cards would have to merchants at least two processing networks. According to experts in this space, the bill prohibits banks from making those networks Visa and MasterCard.

Billions in Fees

So, why are Visa and MasterCard in the crosshairs of this bill?

According to the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), Visa and MasterCard control 87 percent of credit (and debit) card markets. Per the MPC, Visa and MasterCard account for about 576 million credit cards.

In the U.S. alone, transactions amounted to $3.49 trillion in 2021. Eye-wateringly, those transactions were accompanied by $77.48 billion in merchant fees for the two processing behemoths in the same year.

For additional context, Visa and MasterCard swipe fees totaled $61.6 billion in 2020. That represents an increase of 137 percent over the decade prior. Adding the merchant fees for all cards, the 2020 total was $110.3 billion, which is an increase of 70 percent from the previous ten years.

As veteran operators are well aware, swipe fees are among the highest costs for restaurants and bars.

Merchants Payments Coalition Sends Letter to Congress

Compellingly, the MPC is urging Congress to investigate the Visa-MasterCard duopoly. In their view, the two processors’ dominance is stifling competition; harming business owners and consumers; and contributing to inflation.

“The two giant card networks and their partner mega-banks routinely use their market power to stifle competition and charge merchants the highest swipe fees in the industrialized world,” reads the MPC’s letter to Congress.

Further, the letter states, “It is difficult to imagine any other market in the U.S. economy in which two entities set prices for thousands of businesses that should be competitors. That lack of competition or downward pricing pressure has resulted in out-of-control swipe fees and increases inflation throughout the economy.”

The MPC is urging Congress to act quickly and effectively: “It is crucial for Congress to act swiftly and implement real reforms to bring true competition, transparency and equity to the U.S. payments market.”

National Restaurant Association Supports the Bill

Interestingly, the National Restaurant Association says they’re working with the MPC.

The NRA is also working with other organizations to drum up support for the the Credit Card Competition Act of 2022.

You can read about their support for the bill on their website. Additionally, you can tell Congress to pass the bill here. As it stands currently, no action beyond the bill’s introduction to the Senate on July 28 has taken place.

Image: Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

7 Awesome Whiskey Podcasts

7 Awesome Whiskey Podcasts

by David Klemt

Gold microphone and headphones

Our National Bourbon Heritage Month celebration and inspiration continues with a roundup of seven of the best whiskey podcasts.

Of course we want you to listen to Bar Hacks for education, inspiration, and entertainment. However, we know it isn’t the only podcast you listen to.

Below you’ll find several whiskey-centric podcasts. These are absolutely some of the best podcasts out there if you’re seeking bourbon and whiskey knowledge.

So, after you catch up to your Bar Hacks listening, work the shows below into your rotation.

Cheers!

Whiskey Lore

As regular KRG Hospitality readers and newsletter subscribers know, we love diving into history and myths. When we’re researching a spirit, cocktail, or other beverage, we tend to find more fiction than fact. Of course, the facts are also just as interesting to us, so it’s a win-win for us and you.

So, it makes sense then that we’re kicking things off with Whiskey Lore. We love the rich and compelling stories that weave the intricate story of our industry. As it turns out, so does the Whiskey Lore podcast. Currently, the podcast is digging into the history and lore of Irish whiskey.

Latest episode: Irish Whiskey Pt. 5: The Lore of the River Boyne; Marrowbone Lane; Finding Old Irish Pure Pot Still

Bourbon & Banter

Honestly, I don’t know that I can describe the Bourbon & Banter podcast any better than the minds behind the show:

“Are you seeking a bourbon podcast that will educate and entertain you without the extra bloat associated with kissing a brand’s ass in search of advertising revenue or free samples? If so, welcome home my friend… In all seriousness though, give us a listen and you’ll find that we’re honest to a fault. You won’t find us pulling any punches when it comes to new bourbon reviews or when we explore the latest industry news and consumer trends.”

Latest episode: The Doctor is In – Bourbon & Banter Podcast Special Episode

The Fred Minnick Show

If you’re a whiskey lover and don’t know the name Fred Minnick, I would find that shocking. While not always a straight-up whiskey-only podcast, the Fred Minnick Show format is compelling. Rather than focus solely on reviewing whiskey, whiskey news, and interviews with industry experts, Fred also chats with guests about a wide range of topics.

Latest episode: What’s Up With Tom Brady? NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo Returns to Talk Quarterbacks | Russell’s Reserve 6 Year

WhiskyCast

The WhiskyCast podcast has been going strong since 2005. That makes this the world’s longest-running whiskey podcast. With 17 years’ worth of podcast goodness to listen to, you’ll never be without something whisky-focused to listen to and learn from. Their most current episoide is number 966, which is just staggeringly impressive.

Latest episode: Brother’s Bond: A Bourbon “Bromance”

Bourbon Lens

With nearly 200 episodes available, Bourbon Lens is delving deep into everything bourbon. However, they also discuss other types of whiskey through conversations with founders, blenders, and other industry experts. This is a must-listen podcast for whiskey lovers.

Latest episode: Off Hours with Bourbon Lens Episode 10: Sam Montgomery from Bardstown Bourbon Co.

Bourbon Pursuit

According to the show itself, Bourbon Pursuit is “the official podcast of bourbon.” With episodes going live every few days you’ll never be without something to listen to with this podcast. Bourbon news, bourbon reviews, bourbon interviews… Bourbon Pursuit may truly be the official pod of bourbon.

Latest episode: TWiB: Kentucky Bourbon Benefit Raises $1.4M, Little Book Series Launches “To The Finish”, Four Roses 2022 Limited Edition Small Batch

Dads Drinking Bourbon

The hosts of Dads Drinking Bourbon want you to #rethinkhowyoudrink. With this podcast you’ll get to hear blind tastings, side-by-side reviews, and interviews with people in the industry. While the hosts don’t claim to be experts, they do an excellent job providing listeners with useful information. As they say themselves, “At the end of the day, we know you just want to know if the whiskey is worth spending any money on.” Also, congratulations to the Dads Drinking Bourbon team on their 400th episode!

Latest episode: Review: IT’S OUR 400TH EPISODE! And we drink Barrell Batch 33

Image: Andrzej Nowak from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

3 Bar Hacks Episodes for Sober October

3 Bar Hacks Episodes for Sober October

by David Klemt

Bartender straining cocktail

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

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

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

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

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

The Sober Guest Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 28 with Tim Rita

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

Listen now.

Episode 31 with Ted Fleming

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

Click here to listen.

Episode 81 with Paul Mathew

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

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

Listen to this episode here.

Image: Jia Jia Shum on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

by David Klemt

Jack o' lantern and smoke

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord of the LTO

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Flavor Favorites

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

Top five sweet fall flavors:

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

Top five savory flavors:

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

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

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

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

Image: Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Are You Ready for Oktoberfest 2022?

Are You Ready for Oktoberfest 2022?

by David Klemt

Glass of Augustiner beer

Oktoberfest, one of the single best beer events and promotions operators can program for, kicks off on September 17 and goes through October 3.

Impressively, this year represents the 187th Oktoberfest. Of course, this would be the 189th Oktoberfest if Covid-19 hadn’t forced Munich to hit pause on the celebration.

At noon Central European Summer Time, Orktoberfest will tap the first keg. Then, Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter will declare, “O’Zapft is!” The Bavarian phrase translates to, “It is tapped!” (For you linguistics nerds out there, the phrase is, “Es ist angezapft!” in German.)

In America, that means Oktoberfest will kick off at 1 AM HAST, 2 AM AKDT, 3 AM PT, 4 AM MT, 5 AM CT, 6 AM ET or 7 AM AST.

For Canada, those times are 3 AM PT, 4 AM MT, 5 AM CT, 6 AM ET, 7:30 AM NT.

Clearly, that’s pretty early for most people to start drinking beer. But hey, if you’re in a market like Las Vegas there may be people who want to kick off Oktoberfest at your bar at 3:00 in the morning.

The Official Oktoberfest Breweries

You may have heard that there are rules about which breweries can actually be at Oktoberfest. Well, that’s not a rumor.

To clarify, just six breweries in Munich can serve beer at this world-famous event. Those six breweries are:

  • Augustiner
  • Hacker-Pschorr
  • Hofbräu
  • Löwenbräu
  • Paulaner
  • Spaten

So, why does Oktoberfest limit the event to just these breweries? Essentially, this move is to ensure that this Munich-based event remains a Munich-based event.

Luckily, it’s not too difficult for operators to get their hands on Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, and Spaten. Really, it just depends on the relationship an operator has with distributors the region in which they operate.

Oktoberfest Outside of Munich

Of course, an operator need not serve only the official Munich beers to celebrate Oktoberfest wherever they’re located.

Plenty of brewers outside of Munich brew seasonal Oktoberfest (or Octoberfest, as it were) beers. For example:

  • Bell’s
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Founders
  • Great Lakes
  • Jack’s Abby
  • Sam Adams
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Summit Brewing
  • Warsteiner

And when it comes to food programming, the Munich event serves some delicious bites. It should go without saying that yes, the following pair well with beer:

  • Roast chicken
  • Roast pork
  • Pounded, breaded thin cuts of meat (schnitzel)
  • Sausages
  • Brats
  • Pretzels
  • Tarte flambée (flammkuchen)
  • Potato pancakes (kartoffelpuffer)
  • German potato salad
  • German “cottage fries” or fried potatoes (bratkartoffeln)
  • Sauerkraut
  • German beer cheese spread (obatzda)
  • German red cabbage (rotkohl/blaukraut)

Truly, this is an amazing time of year. Just over two weeks of great beer and delicious comfort food.

To learn more about this annual celebration of beer, visit the official Oktoberfest website.

Image: Kurt Liebhaeuser on Unsplash

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