Restaurant operations

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

Eatertainment Poised to Come Roaring Back

Eatertainment Poised to Come Roaring Back

by David Klemt

Two women playing cornhole

People are eager to return bars and restaurants, and that focus is beneficial to the growth of one hospitality category in particular: Eatertainment.

As the name suggests, an “eatertainment” venue operates as both an entertainment space and restaurant.

Those who have been to such a concept know the key elements that define eatertainment. A robust F&B program; an array of bar games and other entertainment; room enough to play games and attract groups, but so large it draws massive crowds; and an interest in extending guest stays rather than constantly turning and burning.

Pre-pandemic, the eatertainment category was heating up, steadily growing in popularity. As recently as 2019, SevenRooms and YouGov partnered to study these concepts. When your category draws the attention of data-focused platforms and research firms, you know it’s a winner.

So, what did SevenRooms and their research partner conclude? That eatertainment venues are the new nightclub.

Eatertainment Muscles in on Nightlife

Per the SevenRooms report from 2019, nightlife preferences in the United States were shifting away from traditional nightclubs. This switch was, according to SevenRooms, partially driven by three factors:

  • Nightclubs draw large crowds;
  • they play very loud music; and
  • such venues embrace exclusivity.

Now, that isn’t to say that the nightclub is dead. Particularly in destination cities like Las Vegas and Miami, nightclubs are a major draw.

However, as people reach their thirties or seek out more casual spaces, eatertainment becomes increasingly attractive. For the most part, people can leave work and go straight to an eatertainment concept to meet up with friends. They’ll be able to carve out a space, grab a bite and a drink, and socialize while engaging with an array of entertainment options.

Such venues also tend to be open seven days per week, from noon or early afternoon into late night. Their F&B programs, focus on entertainment, and hours of operation position them to play an important role: the third place.

Home Away from Home

As any dive or neighborhood bar operator knows, becoming a person’s third place is crucial. The third place, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the spot you go to in between the workplace and home.

So, becoming someone’s home away from home is a big deal. It’s the ultimate in consumer loyalty. Become someone’s third place and you’ll be on your way to building an army of brand advocates.

The third place is where we unwind after work. We’re friendly with the staff: they know us, know our usual orders, and know what recommendations to make.

Now, what if a regular’s third place offered not just quality F&B but also entertainment and an atmosphere that shifted with dayparts? You’d have a supercharged third place, a.k.a. an eatertainment concept.

Eatertainment will Continue to Grow

Where should people go when they decide they’re beyond their nightclub years? Feeling uncomfortable in a nightclub doesn’t mean the interest in nightlife simply disappears.

Well, they turn to eatertainment. And why do they find these concepts appealing? For several important reasons driven by shifts in consumer behavior.

One, I think we’re all tired of endless text and DM exchanges attempting to organize an outing. An eatertainment venue is a restaurant, bar, entertainment space, and nightclub in one place. No more planning to travel to a restaurant, then a bar for drinks afterward, and then a nightclub, concert, or lounge.

Two, today’s consumer is seeking out restaurants and bars that offer more inclusive, more welcoming, more personalized experiences. Again, eatertainment hits all those marks.

According to SevenRooms, there are key datapoints that indicate eatertainment will continue to grow. And while their report was published in 2019, their findings are still relevant given the past two years:

  • Around a quarter of Americans want more eatertainment venues close to them.
  • A quarter of Americans prefer a venue that combines quality food and drinks with fun activities in one space.
  • Nearly 30 percent of Americans consider food quality when deciding where to spend their time and money.
  • Close to 20 percent want a venue to offer something to do beyond drinking.

More recently, May of this year, in fact, Datassential also found that eatertainment is on the rise again. Per their data, half of consumers “are very interested in revisiting an eatertainment experience.

Takeaway

Eatertainment concepts are positioned to perform well moving forward.

Think about it: people are eager to socialize without being packed together; guests are showing interest in innovative, high-quality F&B items; people want entertainment that spans live music and DJs to cornhole (or bags, if you want to have that argument), axe throwing, and arcade games; and having access to an incredible, personalized experience in one venue is an attractive prospect.

Punch Bowl Social, Topgolf, Pinstripes, and Flight Club are among the best representatives of the category. Do you have the idea for the next big eatertainment brand? Let us know!

Image: Elevate 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

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

5 Books to Read this Month: June 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: June 2022

by David Klemt

 

Flipping through an open book

These engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level food and beverage skills, and motivate you throughout June, 2022.

To review May’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Doctors and Distillers

As the historians in our industry have known for a while, cocktails were once considered medicinal. Of course, in some ways that’s still the case.

Industry author, speaker, and educator Camper English shows us how medicine and alcohol have long been connected throughout human history in Doctors and Distillers. Have you head of using wine as a dewormer? How about treating wounds with beer? Would you ever consider using spirits to heal a snakebite? Well, humans have done those things and more with booze. Pre-order this book today!

A Bartender’s Guide to the World

I’m just going to be blunt here: Lauren Mote probably knows more about spirits, liqueurs, and cocktails than you. That’s not a slam—she loves sharing her knowledge and helping people improve their craft and business.

Available for pre-order now for an October launch, A Bartender’s Guide to the World shares not only Mote’s journeys around the world but also more than 75 cocktail recipes. The book’s recipes are organized by their base ingredient. Additionally, there’s an entire chapter just addressing alcohol-free drinks.

The Portugal Cookbook

Chef Leandro Carreira shares well over 500 recipes in The Portugal Cookbook. These dishes range from traditional Portuguese cuisine to modern recipes.

Every region throughout Portugal is represented in this informative and mouth-watering book, including the Duoro Valley and Algarve coast. Portugal is known as a global destination for foodies and this book will definitely help you add some delicious, on-trend recipes to your menu.

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

The world around us has changed. The food & beverage industry has changed. The hospitality industry has changed. But will some ways of life change for the better? In Doug Radkey’s second book, Hacking the New Normal, he asks the following: “Do you think you can hit the reset button on your approach to business? Do you think you can help hit the reset button on this industry? I have made the decision to do so. The question remains, have you?”

Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others

Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, addresses the leadership crisis we face today. As the author of Trust and Inspire points out, the world is changing but leadership styles remain the same. That simply won’t work moving forward. It’s crucial we change how we view leadership, and develop new leadership styles and strategies if we’re going to succeed from now on.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: June 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: June 2022

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

Want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Then commit to keeping it weird.

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and June is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to “weird.”

Pay attention to the latter to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, weird or otherwise. And this month’s list in no way includes every odd holiday.

Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

For last month’s list, click here.

June 4: National Bubbly Day

Fine, so maybe sparkling wines aren’t weird. Sometimes I just add holidays that have the potential to be fun while driving traffic and revenue to these lists.

As I’m sure you’re already guessing, National Bubbly Day is the perfect time to make your guests aware of your sparkling wines. Bubbly is even more attractive to guests as temperatures rise.

June 5: National Veggie Burger Day

There’s no question that plant-based food items are only growing more popular with consumers. This is the day to showcase your veggie burgers and other meat and dairy alternatives.

June 10: National Herbs and Spices Day

Without herbs and spices, where would F&B be? Task your kitchen and bar teams with creating dishes and drinks that are made better with herbs and spices. Tell your bartenders to break out the torches and light the rosemary!

June 13: International Axe Throwing Day

If you’re an eatertainment venue, bar, or restaurant with an axe-throwing setup, this is one-hundred-percent your day to shine.

June 14: International Bath Day

There are a few different ways to design a promotion around this holiday. One, you can feature distillers who specifically produce gin expressions labeled “Bathtub Gin.” Ableforth’s, for example, is one such producer. Two, you can purchase bathtub-shaped drinkware. Three, you can combine the first two for an LTO pour.

June 16: National Dump The Pump Day

It’s not exactly a secret that gas prices are rising across the nation. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too difficult to encourage your guests to arrive at your business by bicycle, scooter, skateboard, foot, electric car, or other means of conveyance that doesn’t use gasoline or diesel for fuel.

June 20: American Eagle Day

Interested in a holiday that requires very specific planning? Try American Eagle Day.

One way to celebrate is to design a promotion around award-winning Eagle Rare bourbon. And no, they didn’t pay us to mention them. They just make really good whiskey that works great for this holiday.

June 25: National Leon Day

There’s an entire contingent of people who simply can’t wait for Christmas to come around each year. In fact, they don’t think it’s fair that they only get to celebrate it once a year.

National Leon Day is celebrated every June 25th because it’s the midway point to Christmas. So, forget Christmas in July—celebrate Christmas in June with your guests and specialty LTO menus.

June 29: National Waffle Iron Day

Your guests may be surprised to learn the number of foods that can be waffled. Create an LTO menu that showcases how creative your kitchen team can get with waffle irons. For bonus points, include your bar team with waffled garnishes.

June 30: National Social Media Day

I suppose it was only a matter of time from social media reaching ubiquity to this form of media having its own holiday. Mashable launched the first National Social Media Day in 2010.

Create post-worthy F&B items, come up with your own hashtags, and ask your guests to post pics using those tags to promote your business.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2022 Cocktail Apprentice Program Class

TOTC Announces 2022 Cocktail Apprentice Program Class

by David Klemt

 

Tales of the Cocktail Red Coat apprentices

The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation has announced the 32 members of this year’s Cocktail Apprentice Program, also known as CAP.

For 2022, the CAP apprentices come from seven countries, Washington, D.C., fourteen American states, and Puerto Rico. First launched in 2008, CAP has played host to over 400 apprentices.

These bar professionals are thrown into the organized chaos that is Tales of the Cocktail each year. Well, to be fair, the event likely only feels like chaos to Tales attendees. This gathering of hospitality pros is a precision machine behind the scenes.

Of course, CAP apprentices and veterans are one of the keys to Tales’ success. These bar pros work together to prepare cocktails for for Tales seminars. They also make the many tastings possible. CAP Red and Grey Coats also batch the Dame Hall of Fame and Spirited Awards drinks.

As you’ll see while reviewing the lists below, CAP Red Coats work at some of the world’s premier bars, restaurants, hotels, distilleries, portfolios and brands, and hospitality groups. Moreover, they gain an incredible amount of experience and mentorship from industry veteran Grey, Black, and White Coats.

Valuable Experience

This is, of course, great news for attendees. Many will recognize the names and venues below. And, hey, these apprentices keep the good times flowing at Tales.

But there’s another reason this news is important.

Operators should encourage their bar team stars to apply to be TOTC CAP apprentices each year. The program is open to bartenders, barbacks, and bar managers.

Considering who they’ll meet, work with, and learn from, operators can think of CAP as an investment in their bar team.

In addition to returning to work with a wealth of knowledge and new industry contacts, they’ll be eligible to apply for the Cocktail Apprentice Scholarship Program. Since 2022 CAP Red Coats can apply when applications open next year, it’s reasonable to assume that 2023 Red Coats will be eligible to apply in 2024 for the TOTCF Cocktail Apprentice Scholarship Program.

So, operators who are serious about furthering their bar team’s careers and helping to mentor them should help them apply for the 2023 Cocktail Apprentice Program.

2022 Red Coats

Below are this year’s 32 CAP Red Coat apprentices. You’ll also find their place of work.

  • Patience AdjeiTwist Night Club and Level Up Lounge (Accra, Ghana, West Africa)
  • Gerald AkinsHamlet and Ghost (Saratoga Springs, NY)
  • Israel Baròn, Casa Prunes (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Tammy Bouma, Bluebird Cocktail Room (Baltimore, MD)
  • Dylan BrentwoodBar Kismet (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Napier Bulanan, Viridian (Oakland, CA)
  • Yosue Cordero BadilloFairmont El San Juan Hotel (Carolina, Puerto Rico)
  • Chelsea DeMarkThompson Hotel Savannah (Savannah, GA)
  • Milton DeyaMelinda’s Alley (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Linda DouglasCurly Bartender (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Kai DuartePacifico on the Beach and Down The Hatch (Wailuku, HI)
  • Cody DunavanBreakthru Beverage Virginia (Richmond, VA)
  • Glenn EldridgeROKA (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • Tim FrandsenJane Jane (Washington, D.C.)
  • John FryRumba / Inside Passage (Seattle, WA)
  • Delena Humble-FischerGolden Pineapple Craft Lounge (Tempe, AZ)
  • Princess JohnsonAllegory (Washington, D.C.)
  • Maria KimSouthside Parlor (Seoul, South Korea)
  • Sungjoo KooMidnight Rambler (Dallas, TX)
  • Rylen KomeijiHere Kitty Kitty / Zouk Group (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Lars LunstrumThe Black Cypress (Pullman, WA)
  • Jacob MentelPolite Provisions (San Diego, CA)
  • Brian “Vito” MoralesSaso Bistro (Pasadena, CA)
  • Julian Bella RobinsPursuing MS in Hospitality Management at FIU (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Jomar SantosThe Peacock Lounge Savannah (Savannah, GA)
  • Jeremiah SimmonsSeven Three Distillery (New Orleans, LA)
  • Colin SimpsonThe Aviary (Chicago, IL)
  • Taylor SweeneyBar Shiru (Oakland, CA)
  • Vivi SzalavariUptown Cafe (Bloomington, IN)
  • Irlanda VargasBacal (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Noor WafaiThe Eddy & Durk’s Bar-B-Q (Providence, RI)
  • Tim WeigelVegas Vickie’s (Las Vegas, NV)

2022 Grey Coats

Identifiable by their grey chef coats, Grey Coats are CAP leaders.

  • Hagay I. AbramovitzImperial Craft Cocktail Bar (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Justine BockGin & Juice (Bristol, UK)
  • Patrick BragaHappy Accidents (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Fifi BruceBarrel Brothers (Berlin, Germany)
  • Richie DelahoydeLyre’s Non Alcoholic Spirits (Dublin, Ireland) 
  • Amy DunkiBarr Hill and Caledonia Spirits (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Arianna Hone, High West Saloon, Post Office Place (Park City, UT)
  • Renson Malesi, House of Sage Cocktails (Nairobi, Kenya) 
  • Nicholas McCaslin, The Ritz-Carlton Nomad (New York City, NY)
  • Allie Phifer, Cayo Coco Rum Bar and Restaurante (Birmingham, AL)
  • Jessi Pollak, Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Eric Scott, Thyme X Table (Bay Village, OH) 
  • Britt Simons, The Eddy (Providence, RI)
  • Joey Smith, Chez Zou (New York City, NY)
  • Sarah Syman, The Dandy Crown (Chicago, IL)
  • Nigal Vann, The Berkshire Room (Chicago, IL)

2022 Black Coats

CAP assistant managers can be identified by their black chef coats.

  • Cam BrownSelf-employed (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  • Kaleena Goldsworthy-WarnockThe Bitter Bottle and Proof Bar and Incubator (Chattanooga, TN)
  • Alex LermanPearl Street Hospitality (Denver, CO)
  • Samm McCullochRed Wall Distillery (Sedona, AZ)

2022 White Coats

The industry veterans are CAP managers and wear white chef coats.
  • Alexis Belton-TinocoJohnnie Walker/Proof Media Mix (Chicago, IL)
  • Cris DehlaviDiageo Hospitality Partnership (Columbus, OH)
  • John DeragonResy (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Trevor KalliesFreehouse Collective (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  • Juyoung KangZouk Group at Resorts World Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)

Whenever you come across a Red, Grey, Black or White Coat at Tales, be sure to thank them for all their work. Well, if they don’t have their hands incredibly full. In that case, please get out of their way—they’ve got our drinks!

Image: M.S. Meeuwesen on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Is Your Brand Engaging the Community?

Is Your Brand Engaging the Community?

by David Klemt

Sign on wall that reads, "We like you too"

Many speakers at HD Expo 2022 are focusing on an important element of design and the hospitality industry: the people we serve.

In other words, designers, their collaborative partners, and their clients want to engage communities.

Now, it’s true that HD Expo 2022 speakers were mainly talking about the hotel side of hospitality design. However, much of what they have to say on the subject of community relates to restaurant and bar projects as well.

Below are helpful insights into engaging the community your business operates in and serves.

Valuing the Community

Crystal Vinisse Thomas, vide president and global brand leader of lifestyle and luxury brands for Hyatt Hotels is bringing Caption by Hyatt to life.

A core element of Caption is community engagement. Yes, travelers are crucial to the success of a hotel brand. However, so are the locals.

After all, hotels, restaurants, and bars employ people from the community. Engaging the community leads to the creation of a loyal guests. During slower times, those loyal locals keep those registers ringing.

As Vinisse Thomas says, operators need to focus on locals as much as travelers. Further, she defines her approach to community as creating a space that’s open to everyone.

One way that Caption is staying true to Vinisse Thomas and Hyatt’s vision for the brand is the Talk Shop. As the name suggests, this is a hangout space. Talk Shop is a communal workspace, a a restaurant, a coffee shop… It’s a hangout for everyone, hotel guest or community guest.

However, Vinisse Thomas does admit that there are challenges when designing and operating for community engagement. One of those challenges is scalability.

Then there’s another big challenge. Designing and operating with the community in mind looks great on paper. But there’s no guarantee that this approach will give an operator an edge of the competition.

To that point, Vinisse Thomas suggests it may be best to speak with one’s competitors to partner on community engagement efforts.

Honoring the Community

An additional challenge when attempting to engage a community is authenticity. It’s a great buzzword, as Vinisse Thomas says, but it needs to be more than that.

Dyonne Fashina, principal of Denizens of Design, has some thoughts on community engagement and authenticity.

Putting it bluntly, Fashina says that honoring a community requires more than a Google search. Rather, designers and operators need to spend time in a given community. They need to get to know the people, the culture, and the vibe.

At KRG Hospitality, we agree. One of our services is site selection. We conduct intensive research to identify the best site for a concept.

However, operator clients need to ensure they know the location. Not just the ZIP code, not just the address, not just the cross streets—the community.

After KRG identifies ideal sites, the client should spend time in those communities, speaking with the people who live and work in them.

Fashina also has another excellent piece of advice for operators. The project, as we often say at KRG, isn’t over after the grand opening. Fashina’s advice speaks to that point.

If an element of an operator’s business isn’t working for the community, she says, they need to be flexible enough to fix it. For owners who perhaps don’t spend every day inside their business or businesses, Fashina recommends visiting to analyze community engagement.

Hospitality is about service, and service requires commitment to being a responsible host and steward. To that end, operators should ensure their concepts improve communities rather than exploit them.

Image: Adam Jang on Unsplash

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