Menu programming

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The NRA’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

The National Restaurant Association’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

by David Klemt

Cheesy chicken sandwich on paper wrapper

Ahead of the beginning of a new year, the National Restaurant Association unveils their culinary trend predictions for 2023.

The report is the result of a collaboration between the NRA, Technomic, and the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

For those unfamiliar, Technomic is at the forefront of foodservice trend tracking, industry research, and analysis. Likewise, the ACF is a premier industry organization. Tracing its founding to 1929, the ACF promotes “the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education of culinarians at all levels.”

To predict what will be “hot” next year, the NRA, Technomic, and ACF sent the 17th annual What’s Hot survey to thought leaders and chefs. In direct partnership with the Technomic Menu Research & Insights Division, the NRA predicted the top menu trends from 110 items spanning 11 categories.

Now, this isn’t a full dive into the report in its entirety. Rather, we strongly encourage our readers to download a copy of What’s Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast for themselves and their teams.

What readers will find below are the top 10 trends for 2023. Additionally, we’ll share the top three macro trends for next year, as forecast by the NRA and their partners.

More than Food

Somewhat surprisingly, the NRA’s top-ten list of culinary trends isn’t just a list of food items. Instead, this forecast paints a picture of where restaurants are heading in 2023.

While there are some specific cuisine predictions, the NRA’s top culinary predictions show us, in part, how consumers want to experience the restaurants they visit.

  1. Southeast Asian cuisines (examples: Vietnamese, Singaporean)
  2. Zero waste/Sustainability/Upcycled foods
  3. Globally inspired salads
  4. Sriracha variations
  5. Menu streamlining
  6. Flatbread sandwiches/Healthier wraps
  7. Comfort fare
  8. Charcuterie boards
  9. Fried chicken sandwiches and Chicken sandwiches “3.0” (example: fusion of flavors)
  10. Experiences/Local culture and community

As we can see, operators and consumers expect tighter, more concept-specific menus. Also, comfort foods; shareable (and “Instagrammable”) items like charcuterie boards; and items that show local and global influences may be hot in 2023.

One can consider, then, streamlining their menu to include their top sellers along with local and/or global flavors authentic to their brand.

Below, readers will see that three of the trends above make up the NRA’s top-three 2023 macro trends:

  1. Menu streamlining
  2. Comfort fare
  3. Experiences/Local culture and community

Operator and Consumer Behavioral Shifts

Looking at the macro trends, it’s reasonable to believe the past few years will influence 2023 heavily.

Operators are dealing with inflation, higher costs for everything, labor shortages. Further, according to Datassential, more than a third of American operators are experiencing low traffic and sales levels.

We can expect these issues to follow us into 2023, at least for Q1 and Q2. Therefore, the NRA’s macro trends forecast makes sense. Streamlining menus often leads to streamlining the back and front of house. In turn, doing so can lower costs and boost staff retention.

On the consumer side, it appears comfort foods, chicken sandwiches, and experiences are driving visits and online orders. These are, as we all know, behavioral shifts we can trace back to the start of the pandemic.

We always suggest proceeding with caution, logic, and data when considering embracing trends. Missing out on trends can be just as costly as latching onto a trend too late.

That said, the macro trends certainly seem reasonable. Only time will tell, but the NRA’s 2023 forecast certainly contains several items operators and their teams should give serious consideration.

Image: Arabi Ishaque on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you hone your culinary, cocktail, and leadership skills to dial in your menus and operations.

To review October’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel: A Cookbook

The next time you visit New Orleans, plan to dine at least once at the James Beard Award-winning Shaya. I’ve had the opportunity to do so and the experience was stunning. Of course, you’ll also want to check out Domenica and Pizza Domenica while in NOLA. To give you an idea of what to expect, pick up the Shaya cookbook.

Chef Alon Shaya’s personal journey through cooking is truly unique, embracing Israeli, Italian, and American Southern cuisines. Shaya tells Chef-operator Shaya’s moving story and more than 100 incredible recipes. Pick it up at Amazon.

Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans

After moving to New Orleans and working in fine dining, Chef Mason Hereford opened his own restaurant and put his stamp on the scene: Turkey and the Wolf. Both the restaurant and this cookbook focus on creative and enticing takes on Southern cooking.

Fancy deviled-egg tostadas? Fried bologna sandwiches absolutely heaving with potato chips? How about purposely burnt tomato casserole? Well, you’ll find these recipes and 92 others in this book, along with photographs and illustrations. This is sure to get you salivating and get your creative wheels turning. Grab Turkey and the Wolf here on Amazon.

Last Call at Coogan’s: The Life and Death of a Neighborhood Bar

As those of us in the industry know, restaurants and bars are the cornerstones of the communities they serve. Last Call at Coogan’s is the true tale of a neighborhood bar that, unfortunately, closed its doors for good during the pandemic after more than 30 years in operation.

From Amazon: “This book touches on many serious issues facing the country today: race relations, policing, gentrification, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, readers will meet the bar’s owners and an array of its most colorful regulars.” Purchase here via Amazon.

Spiritual Coffee

Bar co-founder, bartender, brand ambassador, and author Martin Hudak’s informative and exciting cocktail book is available now for purchase. Hudak is one of the brilliant minds behind Sydney destinations Maybe Sammy and Sammy Junior. Also, he’s a brand ambassador for Mr. Black, the ridiculously tasty coffee liqueur.

Spiritual Coffee focuses on coffee cocktails, a passion of Hudak’s. However, you’ll get more than recipes when you purchase this entertaining book. In these pages you’ll also find a wealth of coffee history, knowledge, and stories. Buy here!

The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World

This book, from award-winning author David Sax, asks poignant culture questions about our rush toward a digital world, an undertaking that was supercharged during the pandemic.

“Is our future inevitably digital? Can we reject the downsides of digital technology without rejecting change?” Sax asks. “Can we innovate not for the sake of productivity but for the good of our social and cultural lives? Can we build a future that serves us as humans, first and foremost?” Purchase here via Amazon.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Menus in Canada: Who Wants What Items?

Menus in Canada: Who Wants What Items?

by David Klemt

Bar and restaurant food and drink menus

Nobody has a crystal ball telling them what they should put on their menus to boost traffic and revenue, but we do have data.

In this instance, we have useful data regarding Canadian consumers specifically. Not only do we have helpful information from Restaurants Canada, David Henkes from Technomic has also weighed in. For those who are unfamiliar, Technomic is one of the best foodservice research and consulting firms.

Before we dive into Restaurant Canada’s menu trend information, this is not a review of the top menu item orders in Canada. For a deep dive into that topic in particular, please read our article “F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items.”

Instead, in this article we’re reviewing broader menu categories and interest in them among Canadian consumers. For your own copy of the 2022 Foodservice Facts report, click here.

Word of Warning

Now, it’s important to bear in mind that the data below is a snapshot. It’s important, informative data but it shouldn’t influence your menu completely.

In other words, when considering revising your menu in any way, make sure you’re staying true to your brand and the community you serve. If your data differs from Restaurants Canada and Technomic data, that’s okay.

Not only are there always outliers, not all data applies to every concept. So, don’t take drastic action on your menus based solely on the data below.

For this particular topic, Restaurants Canada asked three age groups about their interest in eight menu categories.

The groups are: 18 to 34, 35 to 54, and 55-plus. The industry advocacy group then reviewed the numbers for those who indicated they’re “very interested” or “somewhat interested” for each category or item.

Who Wants What?

The menu category generating the most interest from Canadian consumers, according to Restaurants Canada data, is food sourced from local farmers. Overall, 93 percent of survey respondents very or somewhat interested. Those in the 55-plus age group are the most interested.

More than 80 percent are interested in comfort foods, or creative riffs on comfort foods. Age groups 18 to 34 and 35 to 54 have the most interest. Precisely 80 percent are interested in trying globally inspired foods and flavors, led by the 18 to 34 age group.

Foods that promote health and wellness come next, with 79 percent of Canadian consumers showing interest. The 55-plus age group is particularly interested. However, dishes that utilize ingredients that boost one’s immune system are only popular among 53 percent of survey respondents. Interestingly, it’s the 18 to 34 age group with the most interest in this category.

In what’s possibly a contrast from American consumers, the final three categories have no more than 41 percent of survey respondents’ interest. Forty-one percent have interest in meatless and vegetarian items. Next, just 38 percent show interest in alcohol-free cocktails. Finally, just 33 percent are interested in plant-based burgers and sausages.

For each of those categories, the greatest interest comes from the 18 to 34 age group, and the 55-plus group shows the least amount of interest.

Recommended Reading

We’ve been reviewing the 2022 Foodservice Facts report from Restaurants Canada in depth for several weeks. To learn more about this important report, please read the following:

Image: Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items

F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items

by David Klemt

Closeup of hands holding burger

Those wondering what food and beverage menu items are performing best among consumers throughout Canada need wonder no more.

And why is that? Well, Restaurants Canada has the answers, revealing the top ten food and top ten beverage items.

Further, the organization compares each item’s performance. In this instance, Restaurants Canada analyses the percentage of orders that contained each food or beverage item from January to April 2022 in comparison to 2019.

These insights (and many more) are available in Restaurants Canada’s 2022 Foodservice Facts report. In fact, you can find our reviews of several of the restaurant advocacy group’s report topics via the links below:

For your own copy of this year’s Foodservice Facts report, click here.

Top 10 Canadian Drink Menu Trends

As you’ll see below, coffee is outperforming nearly every other beverage category. Specifically, Hot coffee is at the top, while Iced or frozen coffee is ranked third.

Unsurprisingly, Carbonated soft drinks / Pop / Soda split the two coffee categories. According to Restaurants Canada, the Carbonated soft drink category can credit its performance in large part to QSRs.

  1. Milk: 1.8% (2019) to 1.8% (2022)
  2. Iced tea: 2.9% (2019) to 1.6% (2022)
  3. Milkshakes / Smoothies: 2.1% (2019) to 2.0% (2022)
  4. Fruit juice: 3.8% (2019) to 3.0% (2022)
  5. Hot tea: 5.5% (2019) to 4.5% (2022)
  6. Alcohol beverages: 5.1% (2019) to 5.7% (2022)
  7. Water: 6.6% (2019) to 5.0% (2022)
  8. Iced or frozen coffee: 5.3% (2019) to 7.5% (2022)
  9. Carbonated soft drinks / Pop / Soda: 19.7% (2019) to 20.2% (2022)
  10. Hot coffee: 40.9% (2019) to 41.9% (2022)

Compellingly, Alcohol beverage performance in restaurants fluctuated by age group between 2021 and 2022. Alcohol order shares in restaurants, per Restaurants Canada:

  • Legal drinking Age (LDA) to 34: 46% (2021) to 43% (2022)
  • 35 to 49: 17% (2021) to 21% (2022)
  • 50-plus: 37% (2021) to 36% (2022)

Alcohol order shares in bars, according to Restaurants Canada:

  • LDA to 34: 35% (2021) to 35% (2022)
  • 35 to 49: 17% (2021) to 19% (2022)
  • 50-plus: 49% (2021) to 47% (2022)

Overall, the 35 to 49 age group appears to be consuming less alcohol in bars and restaurants in comparison to the LDA to 34 and 50-plus cohorts.

Top 10 Canadian Food Menu Trends

As Restaurants Canada notes, the Sandwich / Sub category has grown in 2022. Interestingly, the category just below it in growth, Chicken, is partially responsible for boosting Sandwich / Sub performance.

As far as entrees or “main attractions,” the Burger category remains at the top, beating out Breakfast, Sandwich / Sub, Chicken, and Pizza menu items.

  1. Cake / Squares / Muffins: 3.7% (2019) to 3.3% (2022)
  2. Salad: 4.3% (2019) to 3.8% (2022)
  3. Donuts / Beignets: 3.0% (2019) to 3.8% (2022)
  4. Breads: 4.3% (2019) to 3.4% (2022)
  5. Pizza / Panzerotti / Calzone: 4.1% (2019) to 4.3% (2022)
  6. Chicken: 7.6% (2019) to 8.5% (2022)
  7. Sandwich / Sub: 8.0% (2019) to 8.5% (2022)
  8. Breakfast: 10.8% (2019) to 11.4% (2022)
  9. Burger: 9.0% (2019) to 10.9% (2022)
  10. French fries / Potato / Sweet potato / Onion rings: 15.0% (2019) to 16.1% (2022)

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Go Clean this International G&T Day

Go Clean this International G&T Day

by David Klemt

CleanCo Clean G bottle

Today we raise a glass to a centuries-old spirit and a classic cocktail that historians can trace back to at least the mid-1800s.

In other words, happy International Gin & Tonic Day!

Now, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that you and your bar team probably have your G&T builds down. It’s one of—if not the—most well-known highballs in existence.

So, no, I’m not going to write an article about how to make a G&T. It’s elegant, it’s simple, and bar professionals shouldn’t be behind the stick if they can’t make at least a decent one.

Instead, I want to introduce you to a non-alcohol spirits brand you should know: CleanCo. As an alcohol-free brand, CleanCo is ideal for Sober October and beyond.

If you already know CleanCo, cheers! But if this is you’re first time getting to know the brand, here’s what you need to know.

About CleanCo

Spencer Matthews founded CleanCo in 2018. At just a few years old, this isn’t a brand-new company.

However, anyone who knows the beverage industry knows it takes time for young brands to fight through the noise and be heard. Suffice to say, CleanCo is making themselves known in 2022.

Before starting the alcohol alternative brand, Matthews “lived in a cycle of drinking excessively for most” of his twenties. In fact, under the About section on the CleanCo website, Matthews states he sought out jobs that encouraged his hard-drinking lifestyle. That changed before the arrival of his first child. Matthews decided to “go clean” and says it changed his life.

However, Matthews doesn’t expect others to abstain from alcohol consumption completely. That is, of course, a personal choice. Rather, Matthews seeks to provide an alternative that people will actually want to drink.

Whether a guest is choosing to not consume alcohol for a round, an evening, a week, a month, or for the foreseeable future, CleanCo’s mission is to help deliver a seamless drinking experience without the alcohol.

Along with Clean G, CleanCo’s gin alternative, the brand offers rum, vodka, and tequila expressions that are 0.5-percent ABV or lower.

Clean G&T

Just like the original classic this non-alcohol-cocktail mimics, the Clean G&T is simple to make.

In fact, the ratio of Clean G gin alternative to tonic is same as its full-alcohol counterpart.

  • 2 oz. Clean G
  • 4 oz. Tonic
  • Two lime slices or wheels to garnish

To build, add Clean G and tonic to a tall glass. Next, add ice along with one lime slice or wheel to layer the garnish throughout the length of the drink. Finally, place the other lime slice or wheel on top, and serve.

Image: CleanCo

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

by David Klemt

Sour cocktail on table in high-end bar

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

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

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

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

The Sour Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Whiskey Sour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gaz” Regan’s Cocktail Families

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

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

Image: Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

by David Klemt

Rum and Coke cocktail

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

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

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

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

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

June 30 is NOT Mai Tai Day

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

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

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

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

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

Fact not Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Mai Tai

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai Recipe

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

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

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

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

Image: Blake Wisz on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

by David Klemt

 

Bunny painting or graffiti

Those who want to learn about bourbon can access free resources from a credible and knowledgeable source: Rabbit Hole Distillery.

When it comes to learning about a particular spirit, those producing them tend to know the most. So, seeking education straight from the source is a smart move.

Now, hospitality professionals have a reliable, informative resource to add to their toolbox. Learn About Bourbon is Rabbit Hole’s ever-growing bourbon resource.

Bourbon Basics

If your restaurant or bar has bourbon on the menu, you’re likely at least familiar with the basics:

  • To carry the “bourbon” designation, one must produce the liquid in America.
  • The mashbill must consist of at least 51 percent corn.
  • It’s not permissible to use any additive except water.

Similarly, you are likely aware of some bourbon myths:

  • Only distilleries in the state of Kentucky can produce bourbon.
  • The name “bourbon” comes from Bourbon County.
  • The whiskey must be at least two years old to be bourbon.

As you can see from the first bullet point at the start of this segment, bourbon can come from any state in America. As far as the second myth, the origin of the name “bourbon” is a bit murky.

Interestingly, the third myth is somewhat true. To include “straight bourbon” on the label, the bourbon must be a minimum of two years old. Otherwise, once new-make whiskey comes into contact with the oak barrel in which it’s going age, it’s bourbon.

Rabbit Hole bourbon barrel rolling into rickhouse

Learn About Bourbon

Rabbit Hole goes far beyond simple definitions on their Learn About Bourbon page.

Instead, the distillery dives deep into every element of bourbon production. As important, this page receives regular updates. In other words, much like bourbon itself, this resource gets better with age.

To give you an idea of how in-depth Rabbit Hole gets, let’s look at the Bourbon Barrel Char / Charring section. It’s essentially an article in and of itself at nearly 400 words. Additionally, there’s a link within this section that leads to an even deeper dive into toasting and charring barrels.

Elsewhere on the Learn About Bourbon page you can learn about esters. In fact, there’s a list of over a dozen esters for you to—yep, I’m gonna make the pun—go down the rabbit hole.

Rabbit Hole Blog

Now, it turns out that the distillery isn’t content with offering one bourbon education resource. There’s also the Rabbit Hole Blog.

Looking for bourbon cocktail recipes? Check out the brand’s blog. Currently, the top recipe posts feature the Golden Ponzu and Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade.

Curious about cooking with bourbon? How about a recipe for nasi goreng with a Rabbit Hole bourbon ginger sauce? As a bonus, this recipe should perform well with guests looking for plant-forward dishes with small amounts of animal protein.

Of course, there are also Bourbon 101 articles. For example, this link will take you to an article about wheated bourbons.

If you want to boost your bourbon knowledge and update your food and cocktail menus, check out Rabbit Hole’s blog and Learn About Bourbon page today.

Image: Vincent Pelletier

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Brutal: These Drinks are Heavy

Brutal: These Drinks are Heavy

by David Klemt

Marshall amplifier closeup

Several legendary and iconic heavy metal bands are stepping into the arena of the drinks industry, from beer to whiskey, and more.

You won’t find a celebrity rosé wine or mezcal on this list. Instead, you’ll find bourbon and rye blends, unique processes, full beer lineups, and small-batch releases.

Most importantly, these are products that deserve a place on your menus. These aren’t spirits and beers that rely on band names and their global recognition. Each of these can stand on their own.

In fact, one whiskey from Slipknot and an Iowa distillery won an award from Fred Minnick in 2019.

Metallica

You may familiar with Blackened, a rye and bourbon blend that finishes in brandy casks. This limited-edition, super-premium whiskey is also subjected to the proprietary Black Noise process.

In short, each batch of Blackened is enhanced by the frequencies of curated Metallica playlists. This whiskey is a true collaboration. Legendary Master Distiller Dave Pickerell partnered with Metallica and Meyer Sound for the recipe and process.

However, Master Distiller and Blender Rob Dietrich has crafted a rye expression. Rye the Lightning is, as you can likely tell from the name, a rye whiskey. This expression also undergoes a very specific Black Noise process.

To craft Rye the Lightning, the live recording of Ride the Lightning in its entirety from Metallica’s Orion Music + More set is played to enhance the liquid. Taking things a step further, Rye the Lightning is finished in Madeira and rum casks.

Not content with just two expressions, there are also the Master of Whiskey Series and limited edition whiskeys available.

Iron Maiden

Iconic English heavy metal band Iron Maiden has steered heavily into the beer business. You won’t find a limited-release Lager here and a Pilsner there. No, Iron Maiden has a full lineup of beers in several styles.

Trooper, named for their song “The Trooper,” is the name under which the band crafts their beers in partnership with brewers like Bodebrown and Robinsons. You’ll find many beer styles under the Trooper label: Strong Bitter, English Extra Special, Porter, Golden, IPA, and more.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Trooper (@ironmaidenbeer)

Of course, there are limited editions. And why shouldn’t there be? Iron Maiden and there brewer partners want to have rock out, like they did with the Number of the Beast, a Bitter.

Motörhead

Since there’s a bourbon and a beer carrying the Motörhead name, you can create a Boilermaker honoring the heavy band. And as you may imagine, one-half of the Boilermaker is named after the song “Ace of Spades.”

In this case, Ace of Spades is a bourbon crafted in Fargo, North Dakota, by Proof Artisan Distillers. This distillery produced North Dakota’s first-ever bourbon, Crooked Furrow. Ace of Spades is a full-bodied, 90-proof high-rye bourbon with warm, sweet notes and a cinnamon finish.

For the beer, Motörhead tapped Madison, Wisconsin, brewers Ale Asylum. Röad Crew is a crisp, hoppy American Pale Ale with citrus notes.

Cannibal Corpse

This whiskey, Golden Blood, is actually the inspiration for this article and product roundup. Golden Blood by Cannibal Corpse, one of the heaviest bands on this list, is crafted in collaboration with Three Floyds Distilling.

Since opening their doors in 2017, Three Floyds has been known for doing things differently. In fact, the distillery itself says their approach is “not normal.” So, this collaboration with Cannibal Corpse makes a lot of sense.

According to Three Floyds, the band itself selected the liquid. A single barrel straight malt whiskey, Golden Blood was aged four years in new, charred oak. And the label is sure to draw attention on your back bar.

GWAR

As the story goes, GWAR is not of this planet. Rather, GWAR is an intergalactic rock band that arrived on Earth via comet.

Well, when you have an origin mythology that incredible, you can’t phone in products tied to your name. I promise that you’ve never encountered a whiskey-crafting process like the one that produces Catoctin Creek Ragnarök Rye:

“The mad scientists at Catoctin Creek conducted experiments on aging the blood of GWAR in barrels made from the different types of wood scorched by the comet’s blast. They used the rarest of grains and watered their mash bill with the melted Antarctic ice to create a 92 strength rye whisky, pot stilled and then aged in charred new white oak. Members of GWAR then hurled the whiskey barrels into the orbit of the moon, causing contraction to take place as the barrels spun under the influence of the deathly coldness of space and the life-giving heat of the sun.”

Well, that’s different.

Slipknot

Cedar Creek Distillery in Iowa crafts two whiskey expressions for Slipknot. The first expression is Slipknot No.9, a four-year-old blend of straight bourbon and straight rye whiskeys.

Then there’s Slipknot No. 9 Reserve. For this special release, award-winning Cedar Creek bottles the same bourbon and rye blend at 99 proof. Fred Minnick named Slipknot No. 9 Reserve the Best Celebrity Whiskey in 2019. That’s no small feat.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Slipknot Whiskey (@slipknotwhiskey)

An equally daunting feat? Getting your hands on Slipknot co-founder and percussionist Clown’s Iowa Shine. If you can find it, this bottle is Clown’s very own moonshine.

Honorable Mentions

The Deftones have partnered with Belching Beaver to craft an IPA called Deftones Phantom Bride. This IPA, a collaboration between head brewer Thomas Peters and the Deftones’ Chino Moreno, is made using Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic hops.

And then there’s Bay Shore, New York’s Great South Bay Brewery. The brewery has honored Pantera with a limited edition beer called Vulgar Display of Lager. Obviously, this is intended to honor the 30th anniversary of the thrash metal band’s brutal 1992 Vulgar Display of Power album.

Image: Alexander Kampmann from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What’s Up with Meat, Poultry and Seafood?

What’s Up with Meat, Poultry and Seafood?

by David Klemt

Barbecue food plate on wooden table

We know how plant proteins are performing with consumers but what do we know about how meat, poultry, and seafood are doing?

Well, because of a recent report from Datassential, we know many consumers are “meat-limiters.” And research from the World Resources Institute shows that plant-based performance is nuanced.

Interestingly, the performance of animal proteins on-premise appears to be following a beverage trend: Moderation. According to Datassential, more consumers are reducing their consumption of meat and poultry than increasing it in comparison with 2021.

So, meat-limiters may be indicative of the future of meat consumption.

Consumer Shifts

As the name implies, meat-limiters are limiting or otherwise reducing their consumption of animal proteins. Importantly, it doesn’t appear that a significant percentage of consumers are eliminating animal proteins from their diets.

Rather, many people are simply increasing the amount of plant-based items they’re eating. However, that increase is more aspirational than real in some cases.

Per Datassential’s survey of 1,500 consumers in the US, just over 70 percent of people are meat eaters. In contrast, nearly 25 percent are “flexitarian.” Just two percent are vegan or pescatarian, and only three percent are vegetarian.

So, the vast majority of Americans are still consuming meat, poultry, and seafood. We just now have reason to believe that more consumers may be leaning toward a flexitarian diet.

A bit over a quarter of consumers consume meat every day. Still, many people aspire to eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, per Datassential.

However, there are more pescatarians, vegans, and vegetarians among Gen Z than the overall population. According to Datassential, this could indicate a shift away from animal proteins in the future.

Meat Performance is Nuanced

Just like plant-based performance, meat performance is nuanced. There are many factors at play.

Shifts in what consumers value are driving changes to the performance of proteins. Health, sustainability, the climate, taste, and affordability have an effect on all proteins, animal and plant.

Undeniably, inflation and shaken consumer confidence are impacting protein performance. Everything, it seems, is more expensive at the moment. Generally speaking, animal proteins are pricier than plant-based items.

It makes sense, then, that some consumers are reducing their intake of animal proteins and filling that void with fruits, veggies, and legumes.

Of particular note are shifts in daily and weekly consumption of animal proteins in 2022. Meat consumption once or more per week—beef, lamb, pork, veal—is up three percent. However, there’s a ten-percent increase in consumers eating poultry once or more per week.

Interestingly, daily poultry consumption is down seven percent in comparison with 2021. Likewise, daily consumption of seafood is also down seven percent, and fewer people are consuming it less than once per week.

Plant-based is Down

Despite what some would think, meat-limiters don’t appear to be driving up plant proteins significantly.

In fact, according to Datassential, the daily consumption of plant-based proteins is down. Per the research firm, seitan, tempeh, and tofu are the experiencing the greatest drop in daily consumption.

The fact is that across generations, more consumers eat animal proteins on a daily basis than their plant-based counterparts. Gen Z, per Datassential, consumes more animal proteins on a daily basis than other generations.

So, how does it make sense that people are reducing their meat intake but plant-based isn’t seeing a sizable jump in consumption?

In part, the answer is the growing popularity of plant-forward dishes. These are items, like bowls, that offer a small amount of meat, poultry, seafood or dairy. The majority of these menu items consists of plants but are not free of animal proteins completely.

The path forward may indeed be a plant-forward menu. Of course, this is heavily reliant on a specific concept or brand. Still, it’s likely many restaurants can do well offering mixed dishes, those heavier on plant proteins than animal proteins.

Image: Peter Pham on Unsplash

Note: This article is based on information from Datassential’s “2022 Plant-Forward Opportunity” report. To access a number of free reports, sign up with Datassential today.

Top