Tasting room

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

So, What’s Up with that $180 Million?

So, What’s Up with that $180 Million?

by David Klemt

Fanned out hundred dollar bills

It’s not much in comparison to the $40 billion we need to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund but $180 million is still significant.

According to a June 14 report, the Small Business Administration is sitting on $180 million in RRF funds. This information came to light due to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation.

Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, the funds likely won’t reach operators for a while. Why is that? Well, the SBA is working with the Justice Department to “formulate a plan on how to distribute” the money.

As we know, bureaucracy tends to move at a glacial pace. Additionally, $180 million is nowhere close to the roughly $42 billion it would take to fund RRF applicants who have not received grants.

Where did this Money come From?

We know that $24 million is from funds set aside by the SBA for litigation. However, according to the National Restaurant Association, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 didn’t expressly include such a set aside.

Interestingly, the NRA is calling for the SBA to disperse the litigation set aside to RRF applicants. This is due to their interpretation of “the spirit of the law” and unobligated funds.

Now, on to the biggest chunk of the tens of millions of dollars in unawarded, unobligated RRF money. Where, exactly, are these funds from?

Well, it’s a little murky at the moment. Per the GAO, awards returned by either recipients or their financial instutions amount to $56 million. The rest, according to the GAO, comes from “realized or anticipated recoveries,” per their report.

However, some sources report that $156 million was clawed back by the SBA and that the $24 million set aside make up the $180 million.

So, Who gets the Money?

In short, we don’t know yet. In fact, we don’t even know if RRF applicants will have to apply again for a piece of the $180 million.

Additionally, we don’t know if applicants who received an approval for an RRF grant but didn’t receive the award will be processed first.

What we do know is that if every dollar of this “leftover” $180 million is distributed to RRF applicants, a mere 0.44 percent would receive a grant.

As Nation’s Restaurant News reports, 150,166 RRF applicants were in fact approved for a grant but never received one. It would take over $41 billion to fund all 150,000-plus applicants.

When the Justice Department and SBA finalize a plan, we’ll let you know.

Image: John Guccione on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

August: Attack of the Wine Holidays

August: Attack of the Wine Holidays

by David Klemt

"Life's too short to drink bad wine" cork

August doesn’t claim just one or two or even three wine holidays, there are actually six such holidays during this month.

Kicking off August are International Albariño Day and National White Wine Day. Obviously, those days have come and gone.

However, there are still four more wine holidays you can leverage:

  • National Prosecco Day on Saturday, August 13;
  • Thursday, August 18 is National Pinot Noir Day;
  • National Red Wine Day takes place on Sunday, August 28; and
  • Monday, August 29 is International Cabernet Sauvignon Day.

So, that’s just over two weeks to draw in guests, move some inventory, and generate revenue. Below you’ll find crash courses in three varietals so you and your team can speak with guests in a way that reduces or outright eliminates wine intimidation.

As a cool bit of trivia, two of the varietals we celebrate this month are among the six “original” Noble Grapes: Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other four, for the curious, are Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Prosecco 101

First, yes, like Champagne, Prosecco is a sparkling wine. However, despite all the comparisons made between Prosecco and Champagne, the bubbles and production methods are just about the only similiarities between the two.

Champagne, of course, is French. Prosecco hails from Italy and is the country’s top sparkling wine. Like Champagne, Prosecco is protected and must be produced in a specific region.

To be Prosecco, the wine must consist of 85 percent Glera. There are two other grapes producers may use: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Until recently, Prosecco (a.k.a. as you now know, Glera) has been treated as “lesser than” Champagne, commanding much lower prices. However, producers are now making bottles that range from inexpensive to higher end. In fact, you’ll find Prosecco holding its own against its French counterpart on many fine-dining menus.

To impress with Prosecco food pairings, go with cheese, cured meats, and pizza. Pizza and Prosecco? You can’t go wrong there!

Pinot Noir 101

Given that Pinot Noir finds itself in blends, Champagne, Prosecco, and other sparkling wine, you can get creative when celebrating National Pinot Noir Day.

For American operators, two of the top Pinot Noir-producing states are California and Oregon.

In Oregon, Willamette (rhymes with “damn it”) Valley produces incredible Pinot Noir. When it comes to California, look for bottles from Russian Rivery Valley, Sonoma, and the Saint Lucia Highlands.

For Canada, the top production regions are Ontario, British Columbia, Québec, and Nova Scotia. In particular, look for bottles from Prince Edward County, the Niagara Peninsula, and Okanagan County.

Generally speaking, Pinot Noir tends to be light or medium in body. So, if conducting a tasting, you may want to taste people on Pinot Noir before bolder red wines.

When it comes to food pairings, remember that this is a more “delicate” varietal. So, you’ll want to avoid dishes and food items with big, bold, rich flavors. This is a wine that pairs wonderfully with a variety of cheeses.

Cabernet Sauvignon 101

Ah, Cab Sauv. For both America and Canada, Cabernet Sauvignon is among the most popular varietals. It’s so popular in the US that it’s called the King of Grapes.

As you likely can guess, California is the top Cab Sauv-producing state in America. In particular, Napa Valley is known for world-class Cabs.

While most people think of California, Bordeaux, and Tuscany, Canada also produces fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon. Interestingly, the grape grows well (as do many varietals we associate with Bordeaux) throughout Canada.

However, Prince Edward County and the Niagara Peninsula are two of the best regions for Canadian Cab Sauv.

A bigger and bolder wine than Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with rich, bold foods. If it’s grilled, smoky, peppery or otherwise assertive, Cab Sauv will likely play well with it.

So, there you have it. Two weeks of wine holidays for you to showcase your wine inventory and pairing skills. Cheers!

Image: D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Congress Fails Us Once More

Congress Fails Us Once More

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building through trees

A “compromise” and “far from perfect,” the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is yet another bill that could include the RRF but fails to do so.

Not content to deliver just the gut punches our industry has already endured, Congress is leaving us out. Again.

A bill that targets inflation in the US should, logically, include replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. However, RRF replenishing isn’t among Inflation Reduction Act compromises.

By the way, that isn’t my assessment. It’s President Joe Biden’s summary of the bill’s passage in the Senate: “This bill is far from perfect. It’s a compromise.”

To clarify, this compromise is a $430 billion spending bill that doesn’t include $40 billion to replenish the RRF. That’s interesting, considering Democrats claim the bill will not only generate enough revenue to pay for itself, they say it will generate another $300 billion throughout the next decade.

Restaurants in the US are projected to generate nearly $900 billion in sales this year. Apparently, however, that’s not enough for our politicians and lawmakers to consider us important to the economy.

Instead, those who enjoy near-inscrutable power and are in the position to stop another bout of restaurant and bar closures have chosen not to help. Our industry, which employs millions upon millions of hard-working Americans is once again on the outside looking in.

The Road to Nowhere

In a word, the road to RRF replenishment is exhausting. One Instagram user commented as such on the Independent Restaurant Coalition‘s post about us being left out of a massive spending bill yet again.

Three months ago, the US Senate killed RRF replenishment when they voted against even debating the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022.

Midway through June I reported that Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, posited that the RRF could be replenished via a reconciliation bill.

Addressing the possibility, Kennedy made clear it was a longshot. He was correct.

Indeed, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed by the US Senate via reconciliation bill. A simple majority consisting of all 50 Democrat senators and Vice President Kamala Harris sends the bill to the House.

Compellingly, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Inflation Reduction Act indicates the bill’s name is a misnomer. According to the CBO, the bill will either have zero or nearly-zero impact on inflation this year or in 2023. A group of 230 economists warn the bill may increase inflation.

The bill is expected to pass the House in its current form and be signed by President Biden by the end of this week.

Response from the IRC

Immediately after news broke that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 passed the Senate but failed to include RRF replenishment, the IRC’s Erika Palomar responded.

The executive director of the IRC said:

“For nearly three years, independently owned restaurants and bars have weathered multiple COVID-19 surges, government-mandated closures, consumer hesitancy, rising prices and ongoing restrictions, while fighting to keep their doors open and staff employed. Restaurants and bars are the heartbeat of every community, and we are incredibly disappointed to not be included in the reconciliation vote this weekend. 177,300 small businesses have been patiently waiting for relief and their needs are being ignored, again.

“Thousands of restaurants and bars are at risk of closing permanently as a result of continued Congressional inaction on the replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The failure of Congress and the White House to act swiftly is impacting neighborhoods in every state across the country. Congress has failed these businesses, but the Independent Restaurant Coalition is not giving up the fight in any way possible to support independent restaurants.”

Further Disappointment

Over the past 15 months (longer if we really look back), our politicians and lawmakers have been consistent about one thing. They have continually failed to recognize restaurants and bars for what they are: cornerstones of their communities.

Of course, they’ll happily use our businesses for political theater and their fundraisers. But giving us more than lipservice? Not on the agenda.

Image: Paula Nardini on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Datassential Identifies Top Design Trends

Datassential Identifies Top Design Trends

by David Klemt

Maximalist interior bar or restaurant design

For their latest FoodBytes research topic, Datassential tackles some of the top restaurant design trends.

Click here to download Datassential’s “Foodbytes: Restaurant Design Trends” report. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to sign up for FoodBytes reports.

As the title states, this Datassential resource addresses the state of restaurant design. Now, we recommend reading the report for yourself but below you’ll find the points that really stand out to us.

If you’re among the 22 percent of operators that Datassential says are either considering a dining room redesign or have completed one, this report is particularly relevant to you.

Back-0f-house Design

Unsurprisingly, most people envision the interior dining area when considering restaurant design. However, as Lauren Charbonneau of Reitano Design Group says in Datassential’s latest FoodBytes, “Restaurants are living spaces that need to be agile.”

That means considering the entire space, not just the front of house. There’s also this stat from Datassential: 64 percent of operators think shrinking their footprint would be detrimental. If that’s the case, making the BoH smaller rather than the front may be the way forward.

So, let’s take a look at what Charbonneau identifies as BoH design trends to consider.

Clearly, it’s crucial operators consider their back-of-house teams. Providing a better workplace experience and improving efficiency can be done through design. Per Charbonneau, operators can use clever design and equipment choices to reduce steps, movement, labor, footprint, and costs.

Additionally, sustainability is not only crucial to responsible operation, being sustainable can reduce costs. Selecting Energy Star, Water Sense, and multi-functional equipment can make tasks easier for BoH teams, make a business more sustainable, and, again, drive down costs.

Maximalist Design

Finally, it seems, the minimalist design trend is losing its stranglehold on restaurant design. Of course, if that approach and design language works for a particular concept, it works.

However, maximalism is growing in popularity. For this type of design, think lots of color and bold patterns. Then, think about using multiple patterns and textures, including on the floors.

So, wallpaper, artwork, plush seating, loud tiles… Per Datassential, maximalism appeals to younger guests. In part, this is because these spaces can offer so many Instagrammable moments.

Monochrome Design

Okay, before we begin, “monochrome” doesn’t only mean a black-and-white palette. While that can work very well depending on the concept, monochrome also means using different tones of a single color.

Of course, there are multiple ways to approach this design trend. For example, if one does want to select a black-and-white scheme, Matte Black Coffee in Los Angeles is compelling.

Not only is the design monochrome, guests feel as though they’re inside a two-dimensional image. Per Datassential, this type of design is growing in popularity across the US specifically.

In terms of colorful monochrome, a great example is NYC’s Pietro Nolita. Not only have they chosen pink for their palette, it’s a core element of their branding: Pink AF.

Yet another way to approach this trend is for operators to use varying tones of particular colors to delineate different spaces. So, the dining room may be tones of pink while the bar is green and a private dining room is blue.

Nostalgic Design

As we’re all well aware, the pandemic derailed people’s plans. In particular, people hit the pause or cancel button on travel and vacations. Now, people appear to restarting their travel plans and getting back out there.

However, we’re also dealing with inflation. So, many people are holding off on spending money on travel. This is where restaurant design comes into play.

According to Datassential, “nostalgic escape” is a trend to watch moving forward. While very specific, this trend combines a dive into the past and capturing vacation vibes.

Per their FoodBytes report, Datassential identifies the following elements as key to this design approach:

  • Soft shades of colors. In particular, pink.
  • Tropical designs.
  • Fifties, Eighties, and Nineties design elements.

One concept that leverages this trend and did so before the pandemic is the Hampton Social. Currently, there are eight locations and two more are on the way.

Of course, it’s imperative that operators commit only to design language that’s authentic to their concepts. Pursuing a trend simply to pursue it is a clear path to disaster. That said, these design trends have massive appeal and can work for many operators and their brands.

Image: Davide Castaldo on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

8 Books to Read this Month: TOTC Edition

8 Books to Read this Month: Tales of the Cocktail Edition

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections consist of the eight finalists from two of the 2022 Spirited Awards writing categories.

For your convenience, the award winner kicks off each category below. To review July’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book

WINNER: The Japanese Art of the Cocktail

This is the first cocktail book written by Masahiro Urushido, the award-winning bartender from NYC’s Katana Kitten. After just one year with Urushido at the helm, Katana Kitten took home a 2019 Spirited Award. The Japanese Art of the Cocktail features 80 recipes and serves as a deep dive into a unique approach to cocktails and technique.

Death & Co: Welcome Home

The third book from Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan, the team behind Death & Co., features more than 400 recipes. Now, while this book targets home bartenders, it’s also beneficial to bar professionals as it delves into the Death & Co. cocktail development program. Is that worth a $35 investment? Absolutely. Pick up  Death & Co. Welcome Home today.

The Cocktail Seminars

As the story goes, author Brian D. Hoefling taught his fellow Yale students about cocktails and build techniques during his senior year. The Cocktail Seminars is a collection of five of Hoefling’s education seminars and spans 30 cocktail recipes. Along with technique, readers will learn about the history of cocktails, which they and their bar teams can leverage to engage with guests.

The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes

The Way of the Cocktail comes from Julia Momosé, one of the minds behind Chicago cocktail destination Kumiko. From classics to new riffs, the recipes in this book are based on 24 micro-seasons.

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits

WINNER: The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum team up for likely the deepest dive into the role alcohol plays in human history. The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails is everything you ever wanted to know about fermentation, distillation, aging, cocktails, cocktail bars, and more. In addition to global techniques and processes, readers will be treated to illustrations, a guide to making drinks, and even a timeline of distillation and spirits.

Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey

Clay Risen is considered an authority on spirits. In particular, he’s lauded as an expert on whiskey. Bourbon lovers will appreciate the Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey box set for what it is: a definitive history of America’s native spirit. Along with profiles of Kentucky distillers, Risen has included interviews and photographs to tell the story of bourbon.

Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization

Edward Slingerland takes a look at not just the history of imbibing but what has motivated humans to catch a buzz with alcohol. Drunk goes far beyond anecdotes, myth and lore and uses science to address why alcohol is so important to so many people. More case study than well-spun yarn, Drunk is as entertaining as it is investigative.

Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol

Written by Mallory O’Meara, Girly Drinks takes a hard look at the gendering of bars, brewing, distillation, and drinking culture. O’Meara also delves into the history and cultural importance of women bartenders like Ada Coleman, creator of the Hanky Panky.

“Filling a crucial gap in culinary history, O’Meara dismantles the long-standing patriarchal traditions at the heart of these very drinking cultures, in the hope that readers everywhere can look to each celebrated woman in this book—and proudly have what she’s having.”

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: August 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: August 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 August 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 July’s list, click here.

August 5: National Work Like A Dog Day

It probably sounds like this day is all about being as productive as possible at work. However, National Work Like a Dog Day is a celebration of service animals (mainly dogs). So, this is the day to invite your guests with service animals to grab a bite and drink and make new friends—four-legged and otherwise—at your bar or restaurant.

August 8: National Happiness Happens Day

This is a day that focuses on finding happiness wherever we can. And as we know, there’s plenty of happiness to be found in local restaurants and bars. National Happiness Happens Day is a blank canvas on which to create a fun, engaging promotion.

August 8: National Dollar Day

For the history nerds out there—and I say that with reverence, not ridicule—the first US dollar was minted in 1794. Leveraging this holiday is as simple as offering a food or drink item for $1. Of course, that’s if such a discount is legal where you’re operating. And I recommend requiring the purchase of a full-price item to receive the discount.

August 11: National Rasberry Bombe Day

If you’re not familiar with the raspberry bombe, you’re probably not alone. This tasty treat isn’t a commonly known dessert item. A raspberry bombe is a pastry that consists of heavy cream, sugar, candied fruit (raspberries, in this case), and nuts placed in a spherical design. The bombe is then frozen before being served. Bonus points for adding rum before freezing.

August 12: National Vinyl Record Day

There are a couple ways to celebrate this holiday. One, you can require your house DJ or hired gun to spin actual records. Two, you can team up with your local vinyl store to create a mutually beneficial promotion. Get a little creative and celebrate that warmest of sonic mediums, the vinyl record.

August 15: Discovery Day

This day likely isn’t very weird to Canadians. In particular, it’s well-known among those familiar with the Yukon. But for the rest of us, this is a celebration of the discovery of gold in this famed area. Celebrate with gold-flaked F&B items, caramel-drizzled desserts and cocktails, and whatever else you can think of where gold makes sense.

August 20: World Honey Bee Day

Where would we be without the honey bee? Not in a good place at all, that’s where. Perfect your Bee’s Knees and other cocktails that feature honey. And, of course, feature honey in some creative places on your food menu as well.

August 27: National Just Because Day

Obviously, this is another awesome blank-slate cocktail. You can essentially create any promotion you want to celebrate this day. Why? Because whatever you choose to do, it’s just because.

August 29: According to Hoyle Day

Here’s an odd one for you. On According to Hoyle Day, you live life according to one of the 300 (!) games for which Edmond Hoyle wrote the rules. This day certainly requires getting creative but card games and cocktails do go hand in hand.

August 31: National Eat Outside Day

Hey, guess how this day is celebrated…

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tales Reveals 2022 Spirited Awards Winners

Tales of the Cocktail Reveals 2022 Spirited Awards Winners

2022 Spirited Award winner Lynn House

2022 Spirited Award winner Lynn House

Congratulations to the 2022 Spirited Awards winners, revealed last week during the 20th anniversary of Tales of the Cocktail.

First opening their doors in 2018, NYC’s Katana Kitten took home two awards. The dream team trio of Masahiro Urushido, Greg Boehm, and James Tune won Best US Cocktail Bar and best US Bar team.

Another American venue that won two Spirited Awards is Jewel of the South in New Orleans. Opened in 2019, Jewel of the South was crowned Best US Restaurant Bar. Additionally, the US Bartender of the Year is Chris Hannah, co-owner of the NOLA dining and drinking destination.

We also want to extend a special congratulations to Bar Hacks guest Lynn House. To learn more about House, this year’s Best US Brand Ambassador, check out episode 52 of Bar Hacks.

Internationally, two bars also took home multiple awards. 🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name and Lyaness at Sea Containers London, both in London, won two Spirited Awards. The former is this year’s Best New International Cocktail Bar. Plus, it’s the home of Remy Savage, the 2022 International Bartender of the Year.

Lyaness at Sea Containers London clinched Best International Hotel Bar andWorld’s Best Bar. So, London, New Orleans, and New York showed out at the 2022 Spirited Awards.

To view the finalists in each category, please click here.

US Award Categories

U.S. Bartender of the Year presented by Del Maguey: Chris Hannah (Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA)

Best U.S. Bar Mentor presented by BarSmarts: Sean Kenyon

Best U.S. Brand Ambassador presented by Libbey: Lynn House (Heaven Hill)

Best U.S. Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons: Katana Kitten (New York, NY)

Best U.S. Cocktail Bar presented by Absolut Vodka: Katana Kitten (New York, NY)

Best U.S. Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose: Silver Lyan at the Riggs (Washington, DC)

Best U.S. Restaurant Bar presented by Maison Ferrand: Jewel of the South (New Orleans, LA)

Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar presented by Aviation Gin: Happy Accidents (Albuquerque, NM)

International Award Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Patrón Tequila: Remy Savage (🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name, London, UK)

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

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic: Martin Hudak (Mr. Black Spirits)

Best International Bar Team presented by House of Angostura: MAYBE SAMMY (Sydney, Australia)

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by Tequila Fortaleza: Tayēr + Elementary (London, UK)

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Perrier: Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Amaro Montenegro and Select Aperitivo: Sexy Fish (London, UK)

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Stranger & Sons: 🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name (London, UK)

Global Award Categories

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation: Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Italian Orange

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy: Little Red Door (Paris, France)

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Beam Suntory: Jack Rose Dining Saloon (Washington, DC)

Pioneer Award Presented by The Blend: Amanda Gunderson (CEO and co-founder, Another Round Another Rally)

Timeless International Award presented by Jägermeister: Harry’s New York Bar (Paris, France)

Timeless U.S. Award presented by Johnnie Walker: Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (New York, NY)

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award presented by William Grant & Sons: Julie Reiner (Co-founder Clover Club, Leyenda, Social Hour Cocktails, Mixtress Consulting)

World’s Best Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation: Lyaness at Sea Containers London (London, UK)

Writing and Media Award Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Diageo Bar Academy: VinePair

Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Diageo Bar Academy: The Cocktail Lovers

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

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic: The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by Diageo Bar Academy: The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails edited by David Wondrich with Noah Rothbaum

Image: Cory Fontenot

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How One Resort Fills the Choco Taco Void

How One Resort is Filling the Choco Taco Void

by David Klemt

Klondike Original Choco Taco

We hate to be the bearers of bad news but after 40 years Klondike is officially retiring the Choco Taco, now a casualty in the supply chain battle.

According to the Klondike website, the decision to discontinue the Choco Taco comes down to demand. After four decades, the Choco Taco is falling to the wayside so that Klondike can focus on the rest of their legendary portfolio.

Unfortunately, sometimes intense consumer demand can lead to hard choices. Per Klondike, a spike in demand for their product lineup means narrowing their focus. So, we must all bid a fond but bitter farewell to the Choco Taco.

Now, lest we raise an eyebrow and cast a cynical eye toward this news, Klondike provides an assurance this isn’t a PR stunt. Cruise on over to their Instagram account and you’ll see a post denying any stunt Choco Taco retirement. Observe:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Klondike (@klondikebar)

It’s a bummer and a fake or quasi-discontinuation would be welcome. However, this appears to really be happening.

Filling the Void

Now, the great news is that restaurant and bar owners can recreate the flavors of the Choco Taco. Below, you’ll find a recipe from a casino resort offering their guests a taste of their favorite ice cream treat.

Calling Atlantic City home, Oceans Casino Resort and their F&B team are the masterminds behind the Chocotini. This $11 cocktail is available at Oceans now through the end of August.

Wisely, Oceans is making the Chocotini available to guests via four locations on property. Guests can order one at the Lobby Bar, restaurants Distrito and Makai, and the property’s Topgolf Swing Suite. Notably, Ocean Casino Resort boasts the largest Topgolf Swing Suite in America.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ocean Casino Resort (@theoceanac)

In fact, Oceans recently completed a $15 million property improvement—and has committed to investing a further $85 million into the resort. With amenities like HQBeachclub, this casino resort rivals Las Vegas night- and daylife. Sets by Tiësto, DJ Snake, and Steve Aoki near the Atlantic City Boardwalk? Yes, please, and hand me a Chocotini.

Of course, you and your bar team can also create a creamy, chocolatey Martini to provide guests with a Choco Taco-like treat. I recommend also testing out a non-alcohol version for a tasty and booze-free sip.


Oceans Casino Resort Chocotini

Recipe and image courtesy of Ocean Casino Resort

First, prepare a Martini glass by striping the interior with chocolate syrup. If preferred, place in refrigerator to chill glass and harden syrup striping. Add vodka, liqueurs, and cream to a shaker with ice. Next, shake until well chilled and strain into prepared Martini glass. Top with whipped cream, and garnish with chocolate chips and waffle cone piece.

Image: Klondike

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

One White Wine, Two Wine Holidays

One White Wine, Two Wine Holidays

by David Klemt

World of Wine Porto grape wall relief

In August, operators and their front- and back-of house teams can celebrate two restaurant and bar holidays with one white wine.

Obviously, that means two bites at the apple—or grape (my apologies, I’ll see myself out)—in the same week. In turn, that generates revenue and move wine inventory.

Okay, so what wine does double duty in August? Albariño, a popular white wine with origins in Portugal. In fact, there are two countries that dominate Albariño production, Portugal and Spain.

On Monday, August 1, your guests have the opportunity to celebrate International Albariño Day. Just three days later, August 4, we have National White Wine Day. How convenient!

As we know, while many of today’s guests have their favorites and stick to them, they like to try new things. This August, add Albariño to your Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc lineup.

So, what do you need to know about Albariño? Let’s take a look at this refreshing white wine below.

The Wine Nerd Stuff

As I say above, Albariño traces its origins to Portugal. In its home country, this varietal’s name is Alvarinho.

Most people who are familiar with Albariño are familiar with bottles from Spain. So, Albariño is the same grape as Alvarinho.

Call it by either name, this white wine is an Old World wine. In fact, some of these vines are a few hundred years old. For those wondering, Old World wines come from Europe, speaking generally. And New World wines? Well, they come from anywhere not in Europe.

However, there is indeed New World Albariño. Also, if you happen to operate a restaurant or bar in North America, these New World versions can be easy to acquire.

Unsurprisingly yet conveniently, there are wineries producing Albariño in California. Of course, these California Albariños are different than their Portuguese and Spanish counterparts. California’s Central Coast wine region is warmer than Spain’s cool Galicia region.

The Flavors and Aromas

Alright, so what’s Albariño like on the nose and palate, and how does it finish? To answer these questions, let’s look at the Old World wine first.

Again, I’m speaking about this white wine in broad strokes. You and your staff will need to taste a few bottles to understand their nuances.

So, Portuguese and Spanish Albariño tends to be light-bodied and dry, with high acidity. On the nose, expect peach and citrus like grapefruit, lemon, and lime. You may also detect a hint of wet stone, owing to its minerality.

On the palate, there’s usually a touch of salinity, plenty of acid, and notes of grapefruit, honeysuckle, nectarine, honeydew, and granite. Expect a long, dry finish.

Now, since Old World versions tend to be grown in cool climates, they tend to be light-bodied. Since Californian Albariño grows in a warmer climate, its characteristics are different.

Generally speaking, California Albariño is medium-bodied in comparison to its Old World counterparts. The Californian wines tend to have both floral and tropical notes on the nose. Along with the notes one would expect from Spanish and Portuguese wines, California Albariño can also feature orange and elderberry flavors.

Don’t Forget the Food

Obviously, wine pairs well with food—that should go without saying. And it would have too, but I said it.

Anyway, maximize guest spend by including your back-of-house team for your International Albariño Day and National White Wine Day promotions.

For this varietal, think lighter foods. Seafood, freshwater fishes, chicken, tofu, salads, grilled vegetables, and fruits pair well with Albariño.

Of course, you’ll also want to consider cheese pairings. So, try your Albariños with Chèvre, Manchego, Burrata, Feta, Gruyère, and Brie.

You have time to add some crisp, delicious Albariños from multiple regions to your menu. Create two promotions that showcase these wines and lure in your guests with irresistible pairings.


Image: World of Wine Porto, Portugal (Hayffield L on Unsplash)

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

US Cities with Greatest Outflow and Inflow

US Cities with Greatest Outflow and Inflow

by David Klemt

Brickell in Miami, Florida

Seattle-based real estate brokerage Redfin reveals the US cities seeing the greatest numbers of people leaving and moving in.

Obviously, real estate brokers need to know where people are selling and where they’re buying. Going deeper, they also need to know if populations are growing, remaining the same, or dwindling.

However, there’s another group of people who need this information: restaurant, bar, and hotel owners, operators, and workers.

Regardless of experience, owners and operators know site selection is one of the most important decisions they’ll make. Seriously, is there anyone who hasn’t heard the maxim, “Location, location, location” at this point?

Let’s say a new operator is considering where they should locate their business. When looking at major cities, it’s important to understand out- and inflow trends. The same holds true for operators seeking to expand. Clearly, it’s beneficial to know what cities are growing. Equally as important to consider: Is it best to open a location in the heart of the city or the surrounding suburbs?

Of course, there are considerations when looking at outflow and inflow data. For example, operators in cities seeing an influx need to strategize to leverage the area’s growth. How will they appeal to new residents? What can they do to convert them to regulars? Looking at operations, do they need to fill roles and are these new residents looking for work?

Now, when people are leaving cities in significant numbers it affects business. So, if there’s a noticeable downturn, it could be a good idea for operators to contact landlords. And for new operators, an exodus can be a bargaining chip to use during lease negotiations.


According to Redfin, these are the top ten cities experiencing outflow.

  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  2. Chicago, Illinois
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Detroit, Michigan
  5. Boston, Massachusetts
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Washington, DC
  8. New York, New York
  9. Los Angeles, California
  10. San Francisco, California

Of particular note, Redfin reports that the average cost of a house in San Francisco is now over $1.5 million. No wonder so many people are leaving. Selling a home in that market can give sellers an influx of cash that will go much further elsewhere.


Conversely, these are the ten American cities seeing the greatest inflow.

  1. Dallas, Texas
  2. San Antonio, Texas
  3. North Port, Florida
  4. San Diego, California
  5. Cape Coral, Florida
  6. Las Vegas, Nevada
  7. Sacramento, California
  8. Phoenix, Arizona
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. Miami, Florida

Now, looking at this list, Florida is crushing it in terms of homebuyer growth. So, new and veteran operators should look into the Sunshine State for their first location or expansion.

Of course, the rest of this list is also certainly worthy of consideration, per Redfin’s data analysis. However, the brokerage notes that net inflow for Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Sacramento is slowing in comparison to 2021.

Interestingly, to me, half of the outflow list is on Time Out’s 2022 top cities list: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. On the other hand, Miami is also on the Time Out List.

This is to say that data can be interpreted a multitude of ways, so always proceed with caution. The best way to select locations is with focused feasibility studies that drill down to particular ZIP codes and neighborhoods.

Image: Ryan Parker on Unsplash